The sixth grade started out easily enough, I had Elisa, but of course it had only been a year since my best friend died, and no one in my opinion really understood. I was still branded as “the girl with the dead best friend”; even by the kids who you thought would be more understanding, like the kids who had lost a parent. No way though, I was still completely fascinating.I mostly stuck to Elisa during the first half of that year, and then when I went home it was back to Mitchi’s house. He had changed quite a bit over the past year, he was getting more muscular, and felt different when I hugged him,and his voice had cracked, but it was still pretty high pitched. I spent almost my entire winter break with him watching him choreograph new routines; he was getting more and more serious by the day about his dancing, and by now already knew that dance was going to be his career. “Don’t you ever get bored, just watching me dance all the time?” he asked me and I shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong…you’re really good, but I think we need to find something else to do sometimes,” I said gently. “What do you think we should do?” he asked, and once again I shrugged, “I’m sure we’ll find something.”
We certainly did, when I returned to school after winter break we had a new student. We seldom got any new kids because Oak Bay was such atight knit community, but everything about this girl screamed different. She had black hair, wore all black clothes, with black eyeliner, and black lipstick. Her name was Jayla, and she told us all proudly that she had been in and out of foster care her entire life, and now her most recent foster parents lived in Oak Bay, and thought she would do better in a private school. I definitely have to say that at first I was a lot more thankful for Jayla, than I was curious. Everyone was fascinated with her, so instead of whispering about poor Chelsea with a dead best friend, it was “oh my God who is that?” about Jayla. For some reason however, Jayla liked me, and I liked her. She was Mitchi’s age but had failed the third and the fifth grade, she told me, so now here she was stuck with “babies”. “You’re different though,” she said to me.“You seem a lot older.” I shrugged my shoulders not really knowing what to say.“Is it true your best friend died last year?” she asked me. “Yeah it’s true,” I sighed, not really wanting the sympathy which I got pretty much daily. “So that’s why you are the way you are, I’ve lost people too, almost everyone. It pisses me off,” she said. “It pisses me off also, when I think of Alex being gone,” I said honestly. “Hey do you want to meet me after school?” she asked,“okay,” I said. “I’m going to show you what I do whenever I get mad.”
When the bell rang I headed off with Jayla, much to the confusion of my classmates. We walked towards the woods, and she pulled me off the path under a bunch of trees. “What are we doing?” I asked confused. “I have something for you,” she said and pulled out something that looked like a cigarette. “What is that?” I asked her, even though I was fairly certain that I already knew. “Just try it,” she said, and took out a lighter. She then took a hit of the joint, and exhaled it slowly. “Your turn,” she said, it wasn’t a question, and I would have been too afraid to refuse her anyway. My hands were shaking as I took the joint, and inhaled. I immediately started coughing, and Jayla laughed. “Nice toke Chels,” she said, “have another,” so I did. Then I had more and more until suddenly I felt wonderful. “Whoa,” I breathed. “It’s good stuff hey?” she asked, and I nodded silently before falling into a fit of giggles. “Here, take one for later,” she said stuffing a joint and a lighter into my backpack.
The next day, Friday, I ran over to Mitchi’s house after school.“Come to the forest with me!” I said, and we walked over to the woods right byour houses. A couple of months ago we were bored and had taken Mitchi’s dads tool kit and some spare wood boards, and had built a small shelter off the path of the woods. We called it our “secret house” and it was filled with magazines,a wireless radio, walkie talkies (for some reason), and CD’s. “Do you want to try this?” I asked him and pulled out the joint once we had arrived. “How the hell did you get a joint? You’re not even twelve yet!” “My friend gave it to me,” I shrugged. “Which one?” “Jayla,” I said. “Who’s that?” “Does it matter? Do you want to try this or not?” I asked and he eyed the joint curiously. “Have you tried it before?”he asked. “Yeah, yesterday after school, it got me fucked,” I told him. “It did? Alright, I always did want to try it,” he said and I lit it. “This is how you do it, watch,” and I inhaled it just like Jayla taught me. Mitchi then did the same thing, and after a few turns we were both giggling like maniacs. “I’m hungry!” he whined, “It does that to you,” I told him. “Ugh I’m too lazy to walk to the store!” he said and for some reason we both found that really funny, and burst into a fit of laughter. I then took out one of the magazines, and flipped through it absent mindedly. “Ew, Leonardo Di Caprio got ugly!” I giggled, and Mitchi looked over. “Um, no he didn’t, what are you talking about?He looks fine!” he said happily, and I turned the page, processed what he had just said, and did a double take. “Are you trying to tell me something?” I asked him, and he grinned. “I just did didn’t I, are you surprised?” he asked,and I really couldn’t say that I was. “Do you care?” he asked next. “Why the hell would I care?” I asked and we both burst into another laughing fit.
What was shocking however, was how much Mitchi loved weed, hewould give me all of his allowance money to give to Jayla so that I could buy him more joints, I would smoke one with him usually, but then he would smoke another one by himself every evening. I didn’t know then, but already he was showing signs of addiction, it only got worse from marijuana.