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A week. One freaking week. That’s how many days in advance they told us that he was coming. They told us for an entire week that we were not to make him feel uncomfortable. That we were not to stare or bring up his past. I wondered how much past he could possibly have after only 18 years.

Apparently he handled his first big fame relatively well, with only one bad breakdown. Then they put out three more albums, and did a full U.S. tour. Things grew steadily worse. He did some minor drugs. Mostly light prescription drugs, a little marijuana, and a bit of heavy drinking.

The extreme fame that came with the release of “This Time Around” was the straw that broke the camel’s back, or in this case, the Hanson’s back. The album and the single "If Only" did quite well. Somebody’s ego got REALLY big.

He started doing hardcore drugs, and regularly got drunk. He also started fucking fans a lot more. This went on for about 5 months. Then one of the girls told him that she was pregnant. It wasn’t true of course, but it sent him in a downward spiral of depression. He didn’t want to be a father. He drank even more, and began locking himself into his hotel room. About a month later he tried to commit suicide three times by slitting his wrists. His parents, finally realizing they couldn’t handle him themselves, took the advice of his doctor and sent him here, to a rehab clinic in the wilderness of Vermont.

All the residents on my floor were warned that he would be living in one of the empty rooms at the end of the hall, and that we were not to disturb him. I personally thought that this was a load of bull, and that most likely, he would be the one disturbing us. I kept my mouth shut. So here I was sitting in the recreation room playing gin rummy with Jay, the 16-year-old alcoholic, waiting for the arrival of, according to Jay, the most fucked up kid in the universe.

I was just about to call gin rummy when I heard a commotion in the hall. I walked to the door and peered down the long corridor. Two orderlies were struggling to contain a tall, slender, and rather muscular boy with medium length dirty blonde hair.

“DAMMIT YOU BASTARDS!” He yelled in a pissed off tone, “Will you fucking lemme go? I can fucking walk down the fucking hall by my fucking self!! I’m not a goddam baby for Christ’s sake!”

I laughed. He sounded exactly like I did when I came here for cocaine abuse. He caught my gaze. I stopped laughing. The orderlies took him up to his room. Nothing else even remotely significant happened after that.

Later that evening, as I lay awake in my bed, my mind wandered back to the moment when I had caught his eyes. He had looked like a deer caught in an oncoming car’s headlights, an abused child who had done something wrong and knew he would be hurt, physically and emotionally because of it. His eyes had been wide with fear and they didn’t have the dull, bloodshot look that most drug users have. They shined with unshed tears. At that moment I felt as though my heart would split in two.

My situation wasn’t half as bad as his was. I hadn’t been betrayed my own family, my own flesh and blood. I had simply been arrested. It’s actually kind of a weird story. Not weird cool, but weird creepyish slash odd, or as a friend who speaks French would say, “Un peu bizarre”, like it doesn’t happen in normal everyday life. But then again, when do cocaine busts happen in normal everyday life? Anyway, what happened was that we were snorting lines in the basement of a convenience store, without the owners’ permission. The cops busted in because they suspected that they were hiding illegal aliens in the basement, and caught us doing coke. They got me, my friend Ari, my ex Micah, and some girl we didn’t know, but had supplied us with the cocaine because she thought it might get her into the ‘in’ crowd. The girl got sent to a rehab clinic in Wyoming, and since this was not a first for Ari and Micah, they both got several months in a juvenile detention center. This was the first time I had been caught, key word, ‘caught’. I had been doing numerous drugs for about two years. The court didn’t know that. They sent me to a rehab clinic for 28 days, but once I got out, I went right back to the drugs. Once again, I was arrested, but fortunately for me, I have an extremely good lawyer, so they sent me back to rehab, this time for 1.5 months. Still didn’t work. I went right back to drugs the week I got out, but I got caught AGAIN, and since my aforementioned lawyer is so good, I got 8 months in the same rehab clinic. I think the folks here requested that I be sent back here, I’m guessing they like me around, plus, whenever new kids come here, they put them under my care. I’m pretty good about showing them the ropes. My parents aren’t thrilled with my various stints in rehab, but they write…occasionally, and by occasionally I mean like once every two months.

That night, as I lay in my bed reading some funny-ass novel (Daniel Pinkwater, if you must know) I heard a sobbing in the next room, and I just knew it was him. I didn’t do anything though. Nobody had comforted me on my first night here. I would talk to him tomorrow. Sleep finally came; followed by an all too shrill alarm letting me know that it was time for breakfast and group.

I slowly walked downstairs, and had my usual breakfast of dry frosted flakes. It took me a total of eleven minutes to eat them, and I sleepily stumbled down the hall to the group room. I guessed I was a bit late by the fact that everybody was already sitting in the circle. I grabbed my usual seat between Jay and Ryan, the other teen alcoholic who was 19. I noticed that there was still an empty seat, but I paid no mind to it.

“Alrighty then,” the psychiatrist said, in a WAY too perky tone, “Who did we stop with yesterday?” Ryan raised his hand. “Ah, Ryan. Well then, let’s begin, shall we?”

“We shall” Jay muttered. Ryan nodded his head.

“Ryan, how did you feel when you were drinking?”

“Um…” Ryan started, in his terribly cute, deep voice, “It was like cool and shit.”

“Language.” The psychiatrist reminded Ryan, who winked at me.

“Okay, it was like, all cool and stuff.” Ryan emphasized ‘stuff’. “I could do anything, and I was all floaty and shi-…stuff.”

“Mmmhmm…And how did you feel the morning after?”

“Mmmm, I wanted some more of that shi-…stuff. It tastes good, makes me feel good, and the morning after, with a glass of egg and two Advil, I’m good to go again.” Ryan grinned at Jay and me. The psychiatrist looked like she was about to say something else when somebody ran through the door. It was him. He looked extremely confused.

“Uhh, I think I’m supposed to be somewhere else.” He mumbled, blushing furiously.

“Hanson?” The psychiatrist asked

“Um, that’d be me.”

“Ah, Mr.Hanson. The shrink said, “Why don’t you join us. There’s a chair somewhere.” She pointed in Paige’s direction, where he was stretched out over two chairs. “On second thought, Jay, you go wake Paige up, we wouldn’t want him mad at Mr.Hanson on his first day, so you give him your seat and then go take on of Paige’s seats.”

Jay grumbled and then got up. He walked over to Paige and shoved him off one of the chairs. Then He came to sit in Jay’s chair. He was sitting so close that I could smell his shampoo. It was odd. Not odd weird, but odd good. It didn’t smell like the generic chemically stuff that everybody here uses; it had a tinge of strawberries.

“Hi” he whispered

“Hullo” I replied

“Didn’t I see you yesterday?”

“Yeah”

“What’s your name?”

“Amira, yours?” there was a slight pause.

“Taylor”

“Ah, the infamous Taylor”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.” That shut him up. Fortunately for me, group ran short because the psychiatrist needed to pick up her daughter from school. As I was heading upstairs, Taylor came up behind me.

“Amira?” he said quietly

“Hmm?”

“Um,” He paused, “Could I maybe hang out in your room for a while? I mean…it’s awfully lonely in my room, and I’ve never been alone for that long and I-“

“Sure, just no bugging me, kay?” He sighed in relief.

“Thanks.” I opened the door to my room and pointed to where he could sit. I went over to my laptop and flipped it on. Taylor flopped down on my bed and began to flip through a copy of Circus. I logged onto AOL (AOHell for all of you users) and checked my mail. I had 4 new personal e-mails, 27 newsletters, and 142 e-mails related to my website. I opened my personal E-mail folder. I read Rayna’s letter first. All it basically said was that she had just gotten back from Bakersfield, CA with her brother Trent. Not that great except for the fact that 2 of my favorite bands (Korn and Orgy if you must know) are from Bakersfield. “You like this kind of stuff?” a voice said, calling me from my fantasy of marrying Ryan Shuck.

“Eh?” I asked

“This kind of music, you like it?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well…it’s just kind of harsh, I mean, not that it’s bad or anything, it’s just well, different.”

“Just be glad I’m not a screaming teeny.”

“You have a point, but is Korn any good?”

“Very, plus one of the guitarists is wicked hot.”

“I see…” there was a slight pause. “Do you have anything to drink?”

“There’s a bottle of Snapple on the night table.”

“No, like a beer or some vodka or something.”

“You really are quite stupid.” I said bluntly.

“Huh?”

“You’re in here for alcohol and substance abuse and you’re asking me for a beer. Are you out of your fucking mind?”

“Geeze, chill. All I wanted was a drink. It’s not like I’m gonna get fucking drunk outta my mind.”

“I bet that’s what you said the first time you took a drink.” The miscivious look fell from his face.

“Don’t bring that up.” He said in a dark tone.

“Okay, well listen, I’m gonna take a nap, so that means you’re gonna go back to your room. This evening, after dinner, you’re gonna come back here, and we’re gonna talk about your ‘problems’”

“And what makes you so sure you’ll understand?”

“Hon, I’ve been here long enough, and talked to enough screwed up kids. You’re problems are nothing. You wanna see a kid with problems? Bobby Hewitt, three doors down. His mom was a crack addict and he was born a crack addict. His dad was an abusive drunk and Bobby’s the youngest alcoholic in this place. His nose was broken so many times that it had to be reconstructed by a plastic surgeon. So don’t tell me about problems.”

“Um…”

“Just be here after dinner, now leave me alone, I’m tired.” He promptly left.

*Hmmm…I wonder what will happen next? *


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