Just One Drink

Just One Drink

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Just One Drink

Drinking and driving: there are stupider things, but it’s a very short list.

~Author Unknown

There’s a small cross by the side of Highway 128, near the town of Boonville. If this cross could talk, it would tell you this sad story:

Seven years ago, my brother Michael was at a friend’s ranch. They decided to go out for dinner. Joe arrived and volunteered to drive — after just one drink.

Lightheartedly, the four friends traveled the winding road. They didn’t know where it would end — nobody did. Suddenly, they swerved into the opposite lane, colliding with an oncoming car.

Back home we were watching E.T. on video in front of a warm fire. Then we went to bed. At 2:00 a.m. a police officer woke my mom with the devastating news. Michael had been killed.

In the morning, I found my mother and sister crying. I stood there bewildered. “What’s wrong?” I asked, rubbing my sleepy eyes.

Mom took a deep breath. “Come here. . .”

Thus began a grueling journey through grief, where all roads lead to nowhere. It still hurts to remember that day.

The only thing that helps is telling my story, hoping you will remember it if you are tempted to get into a car with someone who has had a drink — even just one drink.

Joe chose the road to nowhere. He was convicted of manslaughter and served time. However, the real punishment is living with the consequences of his actions. He left us with an ache in our hearts that will never go away, a nightmare that will haunt him — and us — for the rest of our lives. And a small cross by the side of Highway 128.

~Chris Laddish, age 13

Dedicated with love to the memory of Michael Laddish

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