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[ Personal Narratives ]

  Stealing Lighters

It was a cold morning, the ground and treetops were lightly covered with snow. It was in the middle of October when I got in my car in Tahoe to go to work. I reached for my pack of cigarettes and lit one up. It was the first one of the morning. I could feel the smoke crawl into my lungs and creep back out. I was addicted to smoking, I knew that for sure. I never quite thought about how addicted I actually was to smoking but I knew that I needed one every morning, after every meal, when I was bored, when I would smoke pot, and before I went to bed. 

Addiction is for the weak, I thought. I got to work continuing my usual routine as a barista. Today was going to be different though. My best friend/ brother was going to arrive today. It was his first day out of rehab. He had been addicted to heroin on and off for about three years. I was more excited than a little kid on Christmas. I was going to save him. I was going to save him from the evil, demonic drug. No one does heroin in Tahoe I thought. 

He showed up and I ran outside! He had a full truck loaded of all his stuff including his cat Tyrone. I made him one of his favorite meals. Chicken tenders, fries, with a lot of ranch. I was so excited he was here! Everyone of my friends came to my house to give him a welcome greeting, letting him know that Tahoe was a safe place. No one did heroin and he would finally get his life on track. We all gathered around and each of us lit up a cigarette. I reached for my lighter and it was gone. “Steve!” I yelled. I knew this was going to be one of many times that my lighter would be stolen. He had a horrible habit of stealing my lighters. 

Steve and I went to move all of his stuff in. Our house was very small and so his mattress blocked the front door from opening. Lexy, my roommate didn’t care. A hot young man was moving in. We had to climb through the window to get in and out of our home. It was more funny than annoying. We had so much fun while Steve was here. We had a bear visit us 5 times because Steve would make brownies every night. One time he even busted in while I was sleeping. Thank god the door would only open a couple inches. I went out that night  for a cigarette, my lighter was gone. I was so mad. I called Steve and screamed at him, “DONT TAKE MY LIGHTERS!” He apologized. I shook it off. 

Lexy and Steve started to get really close. I would come home and they would be laughing and smoking. It made me so happy to see my brother clean and sober. Also, I was so happy to see him flirting with a girl. Lexy had a boyfriend though and this bothered Steve quite a bit. One day I caught them hooking up. I cannot lie, I was just so truly excited to see Steve with a girl that I didn’t even care. I would come home and they would be cuddling taking naps together. It wasn’t till a month later that I started to finally realize that it was a whole lot worse… they were not just bonding over laughs and lighters, now they were bonding over drugs.

Lexy had a drug problem with coke a few months back. Three days before Thanksgiving Steve stole my lighter. I yelled at him that it was time to find his own place, and he moved out the next day. He found a little studio apartment. He invited me over but I was too busy to come that night. Lexy didn’t hesitate though, and the next day, the day before Thanksgiving, I asked Steve to go snowboarding with me and our friends. 

He said, “I have to pick up Lexy from work at 5.”

 I begged him to come and after he said no a million times, I went anyways. I finished around 7pm and had about 15 text messages from Steve. “Her boyfriend picked her up, I need a cigg, this is the only girl I’ve fucked and still want to be with, where are you Jen!?”

I was annoyed. I knew they were doing drugs. I ignored him. He showed up at my friends house. I was furious. My friend Zack took him home. The next day was Thanksgiving. I drove down to our hometown with my friend. I left Steve stranded in Tahoe with no money and no way to get home. Our friend Jamie ended up lending him 20 bucks to get home for Thanksgiving. 

We had a great day. I knew he was fucked up. I chose not to confront him or be mad at him. He made sure we called our sister that day in New York. That night I left with Brandon and he left by himself. I said bye to him at my mom’s. Three days later our friend hit me up asking for me to come over at 12am. I drove to Incline Village from Kings Beach to come hang out. I heard guitar as soon as I walked in the house. I immediately thought, Steve is here! When I walked into the living room it was John playing guitar. I asked, “Has anyone seen Steve?” Everybody said no. I immediately knew something bad was going on.

I spent the night and woke up the next morning to Jake telling me to go with him to find Steve. We had no idea where his house was. We called and called but Steve had a broken phone. We were on our way to where we thought he lived when we spotted his truck. His snowboard and everything was left in the back. I knew something was wrong. His truck was unlocked. There was foil with little track marks everywhere.

 I knew at that moment he was dead…

I finally found his house because there were Marlboro cigarette butts in front of the house. I knocked and knocked and knocked. No answer. I called my dad. He told me to break a window. While I was telling the neighbor I was going to break the window Jake had got in the side door. He ran out to screaming the news I somehow knew I was going to hear:

“Steve’s dead!!” I looked at him with hope like he could bring him back to life or something. He shook his head. Thats when it set it, that my brother was never coming back

 I fell to the ground, called my parents. I couldn’t even speak. Jake took the phone from me and called 911. I was on the floor crying having to call and tell my mom and dad that Steven, there only son, was dead. It was hard. It was real hard. I thought about every moment we’d ever spent together in a total of 5 minutes. How he taught me to snowboard, taught me guitar, taught me all the music I knew. Everything. 

I couldn’t believe it, my best friend was dead. I thought all about the times he’d pissed me off, stealing my lighters. I would do anything in the world to have him steal my lighter just one more time. I would do anything in the world to have him alive and continue to keep on stealing my lighters. Every problem of mine in the world seemed so small. My best friend was dead. I spoke at his funeral. I told everyone how much he did for me and what great of a spirit he had. Everybody already knew and that is why they were there. Friends, coworkers, family; everyone was there. All I could think about was Steve, can you please just come back. You can have all my lighters. He never came back. It didn’t hit me at first. It took about a year and I went full on crazy. I’ve always been crazy but I wanted my life to end. I wanted to be in heaven with Steve. I tried to kill myself twice and ended up in the mental hospital several times. I found out that benzo’s alone with not kill you unless you take copious amounts. I only took 50. I went to Heritage Oaks out patient rehab for the depressed for a few months. Nothing could fix me. I then started my anti depressants. They saved my life. Now I want to live every moment I can for Steve. Every time I think of him and start to get sad, I do something that he taught me. I know he is with me. I wish he would steal my lighter just one more time.