Literary Orphans

Irony by Tonja Matney Reynolds

When my grades dropped, my teachers blamed ADD. I just needed to do my homework, but Mom got me some meds.

A month ago, Mr. Bolton asked us to discuss irony. I said it was ironic that adults teach us to say no to drugs, but then they get us strung out on Adderall. “I’m not taking mine anymore. Who’s with me?”

No one answered. Only Doug looked at me. When he smiled so big his dimples showed, I melted into my chair.

“That’s hypocrisy,” Mr. Bolton said, “not dramatic irony. And I’d appreciate it if you all took your prescribed medications.”

The next morning, Doug sat next to me on the bus, so close our legs touched. “Did you really stop taking your Adderall?”

I nodded while he kept talking. I couldn’t stop looking at his lips.

He told me how cool it was that I said no to drugs in front of the class. But he needed his Adderall. Doug handed me an iTunes gift card. “I use Pandora.” He leaned in close. “You got it with you?” he whispered.

“What?”

“The Adderall. I forgot mine, and I’ve got a Chem final.”

I gave him the bottle from my purse. I thought he’d take one pill, but he shoved the whole bottle into his pocket and kissed me on the cheek with those lips.

After lunch, I was texting in the restroom. A dozen girls burst in. “Drug dogs,” one said. “Some jackass was selling Adderall on the bus. Five guys overdosed.” The girls ran into the stalls two and three at a time with the doors open. “Outta the way! Gotta flush my Percocet.”

In the hallway, Mr. Bolton stood next to the lady cop with a dog. He pointed at me.

Doug and his friends got three-day suspensions. I got nine months in juvie. The irony, hypocrisy—whatever you want to call it—is that every day I’m forced to stand in line for meds. Antidepressants. They think I’m going to kill myself before I ever got a chance to live. Now, that’s irony.

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Tonja Matney Reynolds is a previous contributor to Literary Orphans. Her short fiction has appeared in The Hong Kong ReviewStreetlight Magazine, Flash Fiction MagazineWomen Speak anthologies, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a 2018 Peter Taylor Fellow for the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and a recent recipient of the Michael Kenneth Smith Novel Fellowship at Porches. Tonja has completed work on a novel set in a 1930s Appalachian coal town. 

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–Art by Marcos Lomba