Mar 17


I already knew some of the drugs. By fifth grade,
my mom had grown skunk plants in the you-must-not
-open-closet. My brother cut his foot on the mirror
with the white snow. He shouldn’t
have crawled under the bed. The work

sheet showed a list of ways to influence
someone to do drugs. Next to “Bandwagon”
a group of kids drawn on a hay ride saying
“Everyone’s doing it!” I thought they seemed
happy, too happy to be bad guys, but they

were bad the officer said. He was not
tolerant of excessive happiness. I remember
looking at his gun. That was another technique
of persuasion. I studied these methods
of influence, eager to see how I might manipulate

words to do what I wanted. The officer announced
there was an essay contest. The winner would
read at graduation. So I wrote about how bad
drugs were and how I would never do them. I said
other kids should join me. That it’s dumb to do drugs

and I listed famous people who thought so too. I found
quotes and made grand claims. I didn’t believe what
I was writing, but I didn’t believe anything else either.
It was an experiment in hearing myself think. Mom
couldn’t come to see me read. She was scrubbing

someone’s teeth at the time, but she would have
enjoyed the end when I called for a revolution.
When I got home, I sat on the couch and read her
the paper. I watched her smoke a blunt and hoped
the school would never come and find us out.

–Heather Dorn