Book Excerpts

Helpless (Snippet 1)

“Can you state your name and the reason you are here miss?” The doctor asked eyeing me with his pen.
“Uh, my name is Luna Stewart. I am here against my will.” I said playing with my lip ring. I am nervous with all of these eyes on me, looking at me like I am an alien even though I’m a drug addict just like all of them, except the doctor (to my knowledge).
“Yes, but why did your grandmother send you to this rehab?” The doctor was tapping his pen against his notebook waiting to get some juicy information out of me. Good luck, because I am a closed book, a banned book.
“I am pretty sure you have files on all of us with our stories, why are you asking me?”
“Luna. Talking is part of coping and moving on. It’s a healing method.”
“Fine. My grandmother sent me here because she feels I needed to be here”
“Why did she think it was best for you to be sent to HOPE?”
“She thinks I need help.”
“You don’t think you need help?”
“Nope. I think I am handling it pretty fucking well for a girl who found her murdered mother’s body.” I growled at him. The twenty eyes on me got large. I feel like I am being initiated for a cult, auditioning to be the newest member. I am being interrogated, picked apart by this doctor and I do not like it.
“Miss Stewart, we don’t use that language in this facility. This is a safe zone.”
“Fuck you.”
“That is enough! You are being sent to the Reevaluation Room where you will think about your despicable behavior!”
“Sure, fuck.” I said again just to piss him off. This is only my second day and I already made him crack. He seems like the most calm, hard, person ever. Yet, I made him crack with the snap of my fingers.
I shrugged on my jacket and followed behind this big, muscular nurse with arms covered in tattoos to the stupid punishment room. He called it the Reevaluation room because we are supposed to think about our behavior and change it. It’s pretty much a timeout for teenagers. I am seventeen years old, it is ridiculous to put me in a timeout.
I step inside of the room and the nurse locks the door behind me. The room is depressing, and sort of small. I wonder is this punishment even legal. I look around the room. The walls are an ugly yellow color that could probably make a person insane if they are stuck in here long enough. There’s an old, worn out, couch against the wall with a wobbly coffee table in front of it. The window has bars over it preventing escape, like every other window in the building. My eyes shifted to the only decorated wall in the room. It had a framed picture of the rehab facility from when it first opened, I assumed since the picture is black and white.
“Do you think this place is haunted?” A voice came from one of the dark corners scaring me.
“How did I not see you?” I said scared.
“I’m good at not being seen.”
“Are you a ghost, is that why you asked me if I think this place is haunted?”
“You’re funny. I’m real. I’m Flynn.” He laughed poking me to let me know he’s real. I poked him back. His arm is solid, so I guess he’s real.
“You poked me. Cute.” He laughed.
“You poked me first.” I said.
“To prove a point.”
“And, I asked if it is haunted because I spent all last night staring at that picture, trying to gather information on this place. This place is really old. It’s been remodeled, but still could have ghosts.”
“I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Could’ve fooled me how you flipped out a few minutes ago.” He laughed.
“That is completely different. Shut up.” I said crossing my arms.
“What’s your name?”
“Beautiful, intriguing name.”
“Thank you. What are you in here for?”
“One of the nurses caught me trying to escape.”
“How long have you been in this room?”
“Two days because it was such a serious defense.”
“That has got to be illegal, do they feed you?”
“What are you in here for?”
“I told Dr. Moode fuck you.”
“Good one.” The mysterious Flynn laughed. He stepped into the light and I could not help but to stare. When I poked him, he felt attractive, if it were possible to tell if someone were attractive by poking them. Flynn stepping out of the dark corner definitely proved me right, he is hot.
He’s tall, he has long brown hair to his shoulders, soft brown eyes, and perfect teeth. I guess he isn’t one of the teens into the teeth killing drugs.
“Thanks.” I shrugged trying to look cool and not let him know his beauty threw me off guard.
We sat on the couch and stared at each other. His gaze is making me feel so self-conscious. I have done such a good job having a tough exterior since I got here, why is he tearing it down, and how is he doing it without even doing anything?
“What landed you in here?” I asked to break the silent stare.
“Heroin.” He sighed ashamed.
“I’m sorry.” I said shifting to look him in the eye.
“Not your fault. It’s mine. I ruined my own future.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Quit saying sorry. I don’t like people feeling bad for me. I was the one who tried the heroin and became addicted. I was the one who got so addicted that I lost a full ride scholarship to MIT. No one made me. I did it myself!” He snapped. I must have struck a nerve. I feel bad for even asking now. He probably hates me now for making him think about this.
“You went to MIT?” I shouldn’t have asked, but it just slipped out.
“Yes. I was given a full ride academic scholarship. Graduated high school at sixteen and was accepted to my dream school. I was attending their engineering program. One party, my first party, ruined my whole future. This boy talked me into trying heroin. Being sixteen in college, I was desperate to fit in and be accepted… I was tired of being the underage nerd in college. I resent myself more than I resent him. One fucking party Luna and now my future is gone. MIT probably won’t take me back.” He growled with gritted teeth.
“I’m sorry.”
“Please stop saying that.” He sighed closing his eyes and tilting his head back. His skin is all red, I must have really ticked him off. I feel bad.
“I’m in here for prescription pills.” I said trying to change the subject and calm Flynn down a little bit. He slowly regained his color.
“How did your addiction start?”
“My…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence. I began to shake. Tears rolled down my cheek like they were racing each other, first one to my lips wins. My head began to pound. I never cried about my mother’s death, I wanted to be strong and not show emotion, but right now I broke down. Months of agony and holding in tears finally released from my body.
“Luna.” Flynn whispered grabbing me and holding me. He moved my dreadlocks to my other shoulder and let me cry into his shoulder.
“It was the only way to forget the pain, the hole in my heart.” I sniffed. I wiped my eyes, the waterfall of tears finally ceased. I took my head off of his shoulder and looked up at him. I saw a reflection of myself in his beautiful eyes. A skinny black girl with dreads, sad brown eyes, and a lip ring. I hugged myself.
“Luna. It’s okay.” He whispered trying to soothe me.
“It started about six months ago, my mother, she was murdered.”
“Luna. I am deeply, and genuinely, sorry.” He whispered inches away from my face, rubbing his thumb along my chin.
“I came home from the annual school camping trip and found her on her bedroom floor, stiff, cold, covered in blood, lifeless.” Talking about it brought that horrid day back into my head. I began to bite my lip.
“Luna. You’re bleeding.” Flynn said. I didn’t realize I was biting my lip so hard. I bit it so hard that I made it bleed. He removed the bandana from around his hair and pressed it to my lip. The bandana smells so good. Like apples. He must wash his hair with apple shampoo.
“I’m sorry. I just started thinking of that day.
“Who did it?” He asked rubbing the bandana back and forth across my lip.
“Sorry for ruining your bandana with my lip blood.” I laughed shyly.
“It’s fine. I have more.”
“Okay. Anyways, it was her boyfriend. I guess they got into a big argument and he shot her.”
“That is terrible Luna.”
“He shot her, packed his things, and fled the state. Luckily the police tracked him down. I never cared for police, but they did everything they could and gave my family, my mother justice. My mom was a wonderful, beautiful, lady. She didn’t deserve to die that way. ”
“I bet she was.”
“Her boyfriend always seemed strange to me, but she was blinded by what she called love, and it cost her, her life. My grandma always warned her about that guy, that he seemed no good and aggressive. She went against her family’s beliefs about this man she fell in love with, and now she is gone. I am glad he is in prison. He can’t try to hurt me. Hopefully it’s a living hell for him in there.”
“No one deserves to lose their parents, especially not being the ones to find their body.”
“Yeah. After that, my grandmother took me in. I began to rebel and hang out with a bad crowd. We would just hang out and take prescription drugs, all that we got from our medicine cabinets at home. It was the only thing to keep my mind off of the tragedy, off of the aching inside of me.”
“I should appreciate my parents more.”
“What do you mean?”
“When they found out the reason of my dropped GPA, they removed me from the school and sent me here. I despised them because of it. Haven’t talked to them. I ignore their calls. They got the hint and haven’t called me in two months.”
“Re-connect with them. Life is too short to hold grudges.”
“You’re right Luna.”
“I am glad the last conversation with my mother was a good one. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and say goodbye and said she loves me as I left for my camping trip. But, my grandmother, I haven’t treated her the best and I feel terrible for putting her through this.”
“Luna, just talk to her. Everything will be fine.”
“I resented my grandmother for bringing me here. She didn’t deserve dealing with me. I became a troubled teen. I was stealing from her. Stealing her medicine and her money to get more medicine. I don’t blame her for bringing me here. I deserve it.” I sighed putting my head in my hands.
“Luna. Everyone makes mistakes. That is why you are here to get help so you won’t make those mistakes again. Your grandmother loves you, that’s why she put you in here.” He whispered softly rubbing my back.
“I know. I need to call her. You should call your parents.”
“Will you be with me when I do?”
“Thank you, I may need the support.”
“So, why did you try to escape?” I asked curious.
“You don’t understand Luna. I have been in here for six months. To go from a top college doing something with your life to sitting in a rehab trying to fix your life and knowing your life won’t be as fulfilling as before, it was driving me mad.”
“Where were you going to go?”
“I was going to get a hotel. Try to get back into MIT, or something.” He shrugged.
“I hope they take you back.”
“I’m a heroin addict. I lost my chance Luna.”
“Never lose hope.”
“You know, I was losing hope. But, now that I have you, I think you will keep me sane in this hellhole.”
“Likewise.” I said…
“You two are free to go. Head to group.” A deep, masculine, voice said startling me. My eyes flew open and I saw the muscular tattooed nurse standing at the door, arms crossed across his chest.
“Ugh, group.” I sighed getting up and stretching.
Flynn was still sleep. How did he sleep through that loud yell from the nurse? He must be a deep sleeper. I shook him to wake him up.
“Hi Luna.” He groaned. His morning voice is hot. He must not be a morning person.
“Group, now.” The nurse said even louder than the first time.
I scrambled to my feet while Flynn slowly got up. The nurse escorted us to the group room.
Dr. Moode is sitting in the circle, his chair distinct from the teens’ chairs, coffee in one hand and his clipboard in the other.
“Hope you had a lot of time to think last night Miss Stewart.” He smiled.
“Sure.” I said walking over to the snack table. They always have yummy pastries and juice sitting out for us during group. Doughnuts and bagels and muffins and cookies and fruit. I grabbed a twisted glazed doughnut then took a seat as far away from Dr. Moode as I could. Flynn sat next to me.
“I’d rather be in solitary confinement than in this group meeting.” He laughed taking a large bite of his bagel. It left cream cheese all over his lip making me laugh.
“You have a little something on your lip.”
“Oh, sorry.” He said licking the cream off with his tongue.
“Why don’t you like group?”
“I do not like talking about my feelings, especially my feelings about my addiction and my past. Reminds me of all the damage I have done to myself and to my life, which just makes me angry.”
“Good point.”
“I was only so open with you because I trust you.”
“You trusted me without knowing me?”
“I got this vibe from you. One I haven’t gotten from anyone else here in my time I have been here. Well, I have one friend, but I don’t talk to him like I talked to you yesterday.”
“Oh, I’m special.” I laughed. I haven’t laughed in so long. I forgot how I sound laughing.
“You have a beautiful laugh, you should laugh more often.” Flynn smiled looking at me.
“It’s hard to laugh when you’ve been through so much.”
“Maybe laughing will help you cope and be able to live with what you’ve been through. Who knows?”
“I’ll try.”
Dr. Moode let everyone finish up their snacks, then he began the group. I looked around the room at all the bored faces, seeing if I could figure out their stories if I stared deep or long enough at them.
“We had an issue yesterday, we hope that won’t happen again Miss Stewart.” Dr. Moode smiled looking at me. I did not expect him to put me on the spot like this.
“Sure.” I shrugged indifferent. I just wanted to get through with this group so I could go sleep in my bed.
“We also had an even larger incident, but now you are back Flynn.” The doctor smiled.
“Yes, I was unsuccessful. Still stuck here.” Flynn shrugged.
“Okay. We will start with you first Flynn.” Dr. Moode smiled.
“Here we go.” Flynn sighed.
“How have you been?” Dr. Moode asked.
“I’ve been going mad in this place, but my new friend here has helped me see the light.” Flynn smiled putting his arm around my shoulder.
“Note to self, single sex Reevaluation rooms.” Dr. Moode mumbled.
“You have a dirty mind dude. I meant, she helped me realized I should make amends with my parents and get serious about getting better.”
“Wow.” Dr. Moode seems amazed. I guess he doesn’t think I am capable of any good I guess we did get off on the wrong foot with each other.
“Yes. Now are you done interrogating me?” Flynn sighed.
“One more question…”
“Lay it on me.”
“Are you going to try to escape again?”
“Probably not.”
“Good. Okay, on to Luna.” Dr. Moode smiled at me. I get tired of seeing him smile. He is always so happy. No one is that happy. I know he thinks the smile is comforting and welcoming and will make us open up, but it just makes me want to punch him. He shouldn’t be this happy when everyone around him is so miserable.
“Yes?” I asked wondering what he could possibly ask me.
“How are you?”
“I’m living.”
“What mood are you experiencing?”
“A neutral mood.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m not being a smart ass. I really am not feeling any emotion, I am just neutral at the moment.” Okay, I’ll admit it. Inside I am a mess. I met this hot, wonderful, brilliant, guy last night who seems to be interested in me. I’m not going to tell the doctor that though, especially not in front of the group or Flynn.
“I am glad you aren’t feeling spiteful or angry.” He was smiling again.
“Yeah.” I said.
“You know, I thought you were going to be a handful, a difficult patient. But now I see it was just the symptoms of being new. I hope this is pleasant for both of us here on out.” Doctor smiled.
“Sure.” I shrugged.
We went through the group, him asking us how we are feeling and if we wanted to discuss anything, then we were free to go.
I was anxious about getting back to my room. It was uncomfortable sleeping on that couch, but I enjoyed the part where Flynn and I fell asleep on each other.
“Luna.” I heard a voice behind me say. After just one night, I could identify Flynn by his voice.
“Yes?” I asked turning around hugging myself. It’s cold in this rehab.
“I need you.”
“I am going to do what you said and call my parents.”
“Okay. Let me grab my hoodie first.”
Flynn followed behind me to my room. It is such a small rehab that we all have our own room.
“Nice taste.” Flynn nodded looking around my room. They let us decorate and I go overboard with decorating. My walls are covered in old band posters. I have a large whiteboard on one wall, all the rooms come with it. I think this used to be a school, but I like the whiteboard. My other wall is covered in my drawings. I am a really good artist. My favorite art is writing. I love poetry and writing short stories and poems.
I would go insane if I lived in a room with bare walls. Some people think decorations makes things permanent, but I will not be in here forever. However, I do want to feel comfortable while I am here, and cluttered walls is my way of feeling comfortable and close to a home.
“Thanks.” I smiled. I grabbed my black hoodie from beside my bed. It was lying on the floor next to my house shoes.

“Ready to go?” He asked as I slipped on my hoodie. My body immediately began to defrost.
“Yes.” I followed behind Flynn to his room. The boys and girls live on opposite sides of the building. Girls live in the East Wing and boys live in the West wing. Between our rooms to separate us is our group meeting room.
We got to his room and it was really neat. He has no decorations on the walls though. Maybe because he planned on leaving, or because of the temporariness. He had one decoration in his room, a picture on his nightstand. I looked closely and it was of him at MIT. He was smiling wide, making a silly pose with the school mascot. His shirt was off showing his beautifully sculpted body, his body was painted grey and red… It must have been at a football game. He looked so happy. You can see the sadness and surrender in his eyes now. I really hope he can get back in MIT. He deserves a second chance.
“You should re-apply.” I said.
“They’ll never take me back.” He sighed.
I looked over at his whiteboard, it says goodbye.
“Sorry, that was a note I left for the nurses when I tried to escape.” He laughed erasing the sloppy written word off of the whiteboard with his hand.
“It’s fine.” I smiled.
“See. Smile more. It’s beautiful.” He smiled rubbing his thumb across my dimple.
“Thank you.” I choked out.
He pulled the phone out of his night stand. Each room is equipped with a phone like a hotel phone.
“Crap. I don’t know their number.” He sighed gripping onto the phone tight making his knuckles turn white.
“It’s probably somewhere.” I said trying to sound hopeful.
“Help me look please?”
I rummaged through his drawers. Nothing is inside but a journal, an iPod, and an empty Cheetos bag.
“I found it!” He sighed in relief crawling from under the bed. He unfolded a piece of paper. His parents’ number is written on the piece of paper.
“Now dial it.” I said sitting next to him on the bed. I am nervous for him.
Flynn looked down at the paper, examining it as if the numbers might change.
“They probably don’t want to hear from me.” He sighed.
“Yes they do. You’re their son and they love you.”
“How could they love me? I’m fucked up Luna.”
“Everyone is fucked up in their own way.”
“You have a way with words.” He smiled. He grabbed the phone, his hand shaky, and he dialed the number. Pounding the numbers one by one, very slowly.
“Breathe.” I said calming him as he waited for them to pick up.
“Hello?” A soft, female, voice said after three rings.
“Hi.” Flynn said nervously.
“Oh my god, Flynn?”
“Yes.” He swallowed hard. I rubbed his shoulders to try to keep him calm.
“Is this really you?” The lady on the phone cried.
“Yes mom.” He said.
“We miss you.”
“Where’s dad?”
“He had to go down to the court for a case today. It’s just Porkchop and me.”
“Oh, I miss Porkchop so much. How has he been?”
“He misses you.”
“I miss him… You guys too.”
“You’ll be out soon. Just keep behaving and progressing and they will sign for you to leave.”
“Have any letters came for me?”
“No sweetie, sorry.”
“So, it’s probably over with MIT?”
“We don’t know that yet. Don’t stress about it. Focus on getting better sweetie.”
“Okay mom.”
“How have you been?”
“I was losing my mind.”
“Was, so you’re feeling better?”
“Yes. I made a new friend. Her name is Luna. She’s even the one who encouraged me to finally call you guys.”
“She sounds like an amazing girl.”
“She is mom.”
“I am going to take Porkchop for a walk. When your father gets home, we will call you back.”
“Okay mom. And, thanks for taking care of Porkchop for me. I appreciate it, I appreciate everything you do. I love you guys. Thank you for not giving up on me.”
“Oh Flynn. I haven’t heard you say that in so long. I love you too!” His mother cried into the phone.
“I’ll let you go now. Tell Porkchop I love him too.”
“Okay sweetie. Thank you for calling.”
Flynn hung the phone up and let out a huge sigh of relief.
“Wasn’t so bad was it?” I smiled.
“No, Thank you for convincing me to do that. She was nicer than I thought.” Flynn sighed laying back on his bed.
“She was probably just ecstatic to hear from you.”
“Yeah. Want to meet up in the cafeteria for lunch?”
“Okay. Cool. I will meet you in there after I shower.” He said pulling his shirt over his head and throwing it in his hamper, then slipping down his jeans, standing there in just boxer briefs.
“You do realize I haven’t exited the room yet right?” I said trying not to stare at his body.
“I’m not ashamed of my body.” He shrugged.
“Okay. Let me go before your underwear come off.” I laughed.
As I walked to the door I heard something land in the hamper, must’ve been his underwear because I heard him laugh. My body almost turned around but I controlled my body and moved forward out the door, shutting it behind me. I think he did that on purpose. He must know I have a little thing for him.
I decided to take a shower myself. I loved that we all had a personal bathroom in our rooms, it gave me time to just turn on my iPod and blast music as I shower and think.
I got out the shower and searched through my drawers for an outfit to wear. I am always indecisive about what to wear. I love fashion and have a lot of clothes, but when it comes to choosing what to wear, it’s like I have nothing to put on. I finally decided on my jean dress, a pair of black stockings, and my black Dr. Martens.
After I put my dreadlocks up into a bun, I heard a soft knock on the door.
“Come in!”
Flynn walked in through the door, his hair still wet from his shower smelling of apples. He had on a fresh, clean bandana. This bandana is black. With the bandana he is wearing a red flannel, a Nirvana t-shirt, jeans rolled to his ankle, and black beat up converse.
“Hi.” He smiled looking me up and down. It’s like we are going on a date, but all we are doing is going to the cafeteria to eat lunch.
“Hey.” I smiled.
“You look beautiful.” He smiled.
“Thank you. I am glad you have another bandana.” I said pointing to the bandana on his forehead keeping his hair out of his face.
“I told you I had more.” He laughed.
“I’ll reimburse you for the bloody one.”
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s head to the cafeteria so we can find a good table.” He held out his arm for me to put my arm in. We walked arm in arm to the cafeteria, everyone staring. I’m obviously not the only girl crushing on him. Girls whispered and stared as we walked to the line.
“You are trying to get me killed.” I whispered taking my arm out of his.
“Fuck them. I don’t care for any of these people.” He shrugged putting his arm around my shoulder.
“Good, Sammy got a table already.” He said looking around the cafeteria.
The cafeteria is pretty intimate, which I expect since it’s such a small rehab. There’s five blue circular tables with matching benches attached to them. Against one wall is the food bar and the room leading to the kitchen. The walls are a light blue that reminds you of the sky. On the other wall is a big painting of the rehab’s motto: HOPE: Helping Our Patients Excel.
“Did you say Sammy?” I whispered shocked, and a little frightened.
“Yes. Sammy.” He nodded waving at Sammy. Sammy insecurely waved back.
“Is it safe?”
“Do you think I’d put your life in danger? Trust me. He’s a cool dude.” Flynn chuckled at me.
“Don’t believe the rumors. He’s not a villain. He’s just misunderstood. We are all misunderstood and mistaken as villains.”
“But, he looks like what they say.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover Luna. Don’t be that person please.” I looked over at the bald insecure kid sitting alone and began to soften up to him.
Everyone is scared of him. They say he never talks and that he’s dangerous. They say he never talks because he’s plotting something devious to hurt the rehabilitation center. He used to be addicted to meth. Ever since he had a meltdown a few months ago, no one wants to even go near him. But, Flynn is right. I shouldn’t be so judgmental. We are all in here for the same reason. We are all helpless, fucked up, teenagers.
“I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.” I shrugged.
“Thank you Luna. You will love him!” Flynn said kissing my forehead. It caused this weird feeling in my stomach. It was completely out of the blue. I looked around nervous and we were next in line, holding up the line. The cafeteria lady was impatiently holding out her ladle full of rice to put on our tray.
“Sorry.” I whispered.
She plopped the rice and enchiladas onto our trays and motioned for us to move along. I grabbed a bottle of water and followed behind Flynn to the table in the corner.
“Sammy, Luna. Luna, Sammy.” Flynn smiled introducing us to each other.
Sammy didn’t say a word. He just nodded his head. I sat and Flynn sat next to me, his leg touching mine.
I never been this up close to Sammy before. No one but Flynn probably has. I got to examine his face closer. He has pretty blue eyes. If you look into his eyes, he looks like an innocent, harmless, human being. But, once you move from his eyes to the rest of his body, he looks scary, harmful, and intimidating. He has a bald head full of scabs where he picked at his scalp. His arms are also covered in cuts and scabs. He’s pale, bald, bony, and full of scabs.
He quickly pulled something out of his pocket giving me a heart attack. To my relief, it is only a small journal and pen. He quickly wrote a note in chicken scratch in the notebook, then ripped the paper from the spirals and slid it across the table to me.
I tried to make out what the illegible penmanship said as best as I can. The note reads:
Sorry for my silence, the meth damaged my teeth really bad so I don’t like showing them. I use notes to communicate. Please don’t believe any of the rumors you hear about me. I’m not a bad guy. Thank you for trying to get to know me.
“Nice to meet you Sammy.” I smiled. The corners of his mouth twitched like he wanted to smile, but he covered his mouth.
“Has your mom had any luck with your dental plan?” Flynn asked.
Sammy wrote another note and slid it to Flynn…
No luck yet. My mother has been calling our dentist, wanting a quote of how much it would cost to get me a new set of pearly whites.
“Well, good luck.” I said taking my first bite of enchilada. It is so delicious, so mouthwatering. The perfect proportion of each ingredient.
“The Mexican food here is my favorite. I didn’t think any Mexican food could compare to my mom’s, but the cafeteria ladies do a pretty good job.” Flynn smiled when he noticed me enjoying my lunch.
“It’s so good.” I sighed. Flynn laughed at me amused. Sammy took his first bite of food, he plopped it into his mouth, still making sure not to show his teeth, then chewed and swallowed. He held his thumb up, giving his approval of the enchiladas.
Flynn quickly devoured his enchiladas and rice. I got full off one enchilada and a little rice, because I drank my whole water, so I let him finish my food for me.
Sammy finished his food then wrote another note:
Excuse me. I am going to go call my mom. If they make any announcements, let me know. It was nice meeting your girlfriend, and thanks again for not being like everyone else Luna. 🙂
I cannot believe he put a smiley face at the end of the note. He does not seem like the smiling, let alone smiley face type. He isn’t bad after all. I, and everyone else in the rehab is horrible because we judged him without even trying to get to know him. We all have done stupid things in our life. We shouldn’t be so judgmental of each other, we are all in here for the same dumb reason. We should be trying to help each other, understand each other, get to know each other, empower each other. But, the people here treat this like high school. But, I guess we are teenagers.
“I’m not his girlfriend.” I laughed, but was excited about the thought of it.
Sammy laughed then threw his tray away. I watched him leave and head to his room. I wonder what his voice sounds like. I especially want to know what his laugh sounds like. How can a person go all of those days, those hours without letting out a vocal sound?
“Not bad right?” Flynn smiled clearing our table.
“Not at all.” I smiled. He rubbed his thumb across my dimple like he did before.
“He thought you were my girlfriend.” He laughed.
“Yeah, dumb right?” I laughed. But, deep down inside, I kind of wish I was his girlfriend. I just met him yesterday but I feel like I know everything I could possibly know about him. I would love to be Flynn’s girlfriend. And I am secretly hoping he wants the same thing.
“It wasn’t dumb.” Flynn said offended.
“I’m sorry. You don’t think so?” I asked looking down at my shoes, my insides jumping around in joy.
“Not at all. If I were to date anyone, it would be you. You’re beautiful, unique, strong, smart, and caring.” He said.
“You said I’m beautiful.” I said quietly.
“You are very beautiful Luna. I hope you know that.”
“I guess.” I shrugged.
“The most beautiful girl I have ever met. Inside and out.” He said rubbing my chin.
“Thank you.” I whispered.
“But, to be honest. I have never had a girlfriend.”
“No way. You are too hot.” I accidentally said.
“You think I’m hot?” He winked at me.
“That was something that was supposed to stay in my head.” I said embarrassed.
“I’m glad it came out of your head.” He winked.
“So embarrassing.” I sighed.
“Anyways, yes my sexy self has never had a girlfriend.” Flynn joked making me laugh.
“Why has your sexy self not had a girlfriend?” I laughed.
“I was too absorbed in school to pay attention to any girls or to go on any dates.”
“Wow. No girls ever pursued you?”
“Most girls were intimidated. Others I had no interest in. I guess I am picky. I was not going to share my academics with a girl not worthy. For me to take some time away from my schooling, the girl had to be special. No one had been that special.”
“Wow. Academics are very important to you.”
“The most important thing. It is the key to my future and my life. Also, my father came from Mexico and it was not easy for him to get an education. Being an illegal immigrant, he went through a lot, yet he still managed to get into Harvard Law School and graduate in the top of his class. He is my inspiration. I never take my education for granted. I guess, until the heroin.” He sighed.
“Don’t bring yourself down. You have accomplished a lot. Don’t let one mistake bring you down.” I said rubbing his arm.
“Thanks Luna.”
“Sorry for teasing you about a girlfriend. It just was a shock.”
“Yes because I am such a hunk.” He laughed.
“Stop teasing me.” I laughed.
“What about you, have you ever dated?”
“I was dating someone for two years. But, after the death of my mother I ended it. “
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. He didn’t fight for me. I think he was happy I called it quits. I changed. I was not the same Luna I was before my mom died. And, he could not handle it. He could not even understand I was trying to cope. I heard he moved on.”
“What a dick.”
“Yeah. I was wrong too.”
“But your mother was murdered. He could’ve did a better job at being there for you.”
“I guess.”
“Luna, if I was your boyfriend, I would be by your side, fulfilling your every request, helping you cope your mother’s loss, trying to make you laugh, listening to you, wiping away your tears, trying to restore you to normal Luna. That dick couldn’t handle a challenge.”
“Thank you Flynn.”
“Very personal question, but since you have never had a girlfriend, does that mean you have never had sex?”
“Wow. Very personal. No I have not. You?” He laughed.
“I have not either. I actually threw myself at my ex after my mom died, he pushed me away.”
“I am glad you didn’t lose it to him. He doesn’t deserve it, or you. Also, you were heartbroken, you would have regretted it later. The sex would have just been a temporary disappearance of the pain you felt from your mom.”
“You’re right.”
“Do you guys still talk?”
“No. He has a new girlfriend. I’m happy for him. He’s not the one for me.”
“Am I the one for you?” He whispered leaning in, his nose touching mine.
“Maybe.” I whispered. My heart pounding.
“I think you’re the one for me. Maybe rehab was the best choice for me. It allowed me to get to know myself outside of my academics side, to get over my problem, and I met you.” He mumbled.
“Oh. I’m glad I met you too.” I said wondering if he is going to kiss me. I decided not to close my eyes and pucker my lips, to avoid embarrassment, in case he isn’t.
“Want to go outside?” He asked stabbing through the romantic moment, throwing me back in the friend zone. I don’t get how he can be so flirty, and confess his awe for me, then just go back to being just friends. I wonder if he is bi-polar…
“Sure. I love soaking up nature as much as I can here.” I sighed.
“Okay. We have one more hour before the outside nurse comes in and locks the doors to the yard.” He grabbed our trays and threw them away, then we walked to our outside area.
The good thing about HOPE is that they don’t confine us to being inside 24 hours a day. During our free time, we are allowed to go outside. Outside there’s a sitting area with six outside couches, a garden in one corner, a large oak tree in another corner with a hammock hanging from it, and there’s a small pond with fish in it. It’s relaxing sitting out here. But, it’s also painful being outside, the world around you living and going on while you are stuck in this hell. The fences are tall, but you’re still aware of the life outside of the fences.
“Are you okay?” Flynn asked as we sat on the bench and looked up at the sky.
“Just thinking.”
“What’s on your mind?”
“Too much. Always too much.”
“I’m curious to know what’s on your mind.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“I want to know everything about you Luna.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
“I’ll start.”
“I feel bad for my parents. I am their only child and I screwed my life up. They can’t brag at holidays or family gatherings. They are questioned, embarrassed, and afraid.”
“I am an only child too.”
“They used to be proud of me. Used to brag about me to all of their colleagues and family members. Now, they just feel bad for me.” Flynn sighed.
“You still have a chance to re-gain their approval.”
“If MIT won’t take me back when I get out of here, I honestly don’t know what I will do.”
“You’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
“Let’s make a pact. You and I.” Flynn said putting his arm around me. The nurse on outside duty is watching us like a hawk. Flynn has tried to escape before, but I am not a good climber, I stand no chance against a fence.
“What idea do you have?”
“Let’s progress and get out of here, together, in two months. At the start of summer.”
“Okay, sounds like a plan.”
“So you’ll do it with me?”
“Yes, I want to get out of here.”
“But, the hard part is getting our families to see we have changed and won’t revert.”
“I don’t think it will be hard.”
“Why summer?”
“So I can try to go back to MIT. Hopefully they will see I had straight A’s my first year and not focus on my straight C’s my third semester and absence fourth semester too much. If I am re-admitted, I’d only have missed a semester, the C’s count towards graduation.”
“What do you have to do to go back?”
“Re-apply. I’ve been working on my personal statement in here, every day, perfecting it.”
“I am a writer, I could also help.”
“That’s great. I’m more of a math and science person than a writer.” Flynn smiled.
“Here, come to my room. I’ll show you my essay.” He stood and held out his hand for me to grab. We walked hand in hand to his room. The nurse on outside duty looked a little relieved and relaxed once Flynn went back inside.
He pulled his bottom nightstand drawer out. Inside is textbooks, a notebook, and pencils. It’s admirable how dedicated he is to getting his life, his slot at MIT, back.
These are the textbook for the classes I was taking before I left. I’ve been studying.
“Do they know about your drug problem?” I asked flipping through his calculus textbook. It’s thick and looks like a foreign language. I hate math with letters and symbols. I miss elementary math.
“No. My parents told them I had to leave for medical treatment.”
“You’ll probably easily get back in then!” I said hopeful.
“I hope so Luna. You have no idea how badly I want this.”
“I know. And, I think you deserve it.”
“Thank you Luna.”
“Where’s your essay?”
He handed me his notebook, his hand shaky, he desperately wants my approval on his essay and he desperately wants MIT back.
I read through the four pages, my eyes going back and forth across the pages, trying to understand his handwriting the best I could. His essay is remarkable. I could feel his intelligence in his diction. I could feel the passion and the yearning. They have to take him back with this essay.
“What do you think?” He said nervous.
“It’s very good. They have to re-admit you with this essay.” I smile.
“Thank god.” He sighed relieved.
“Are you submitting it in the summer?”
“Yes. Once I get home. I turn eighteen in May, so I will be able to legally release myself from rehab. I have been clean though. But, since I am currently a minor, I have to stay here because my parents want me in here. Besides, the rehab is for teenagers.”
“My birthday is in October.” I smiled.
“But, you will be out in May with me.” He smiled rubbing my dimple.
“Yes. We can do this.” I giggled giving him a high five.
“Evening group boys and girls.” I heard Mr. Moode say calmly over the intercom.
“Ready for this?” Flynn laughed.
“Probably more than you.” I smiled. He rubbed my dimple again then we walked together to the group room.
Every single day, we have two group meetings. We have one in the morning, and one in the evening. Dr. Moode believes our feelings and how much we want to talk differ when it’s morning and when it’s night, so we meet twice a day.
I poured myself a cup of lemonade then sat next to Flynn. Flynn grabbed my cup and drunk from it. “This is really good lemonade.”
“It is my lemonade.” I laughed.
“We’re friends. Don’t be stingy.” He said handing me back my cup half empty.
“You drank a lot. This is half empty.” I whined.
“Or half full.” He smiled raising an eyebrow.
“The beverage station is literally three steps away. Go knock yourself out.” I laughed.
“It tastes better from your cup.” He whispered.
“Yes. My cup. My lemonade.”
“Sassy pants.” Flynn said. He got up and in three steps was at the beverage station. He poured a cup of lemonade, downed it, then poured himself another cup then headed back to his seat.
“Looks like everyone is here, we can get started.” Dr. Moode smiled sitting his coffee cup on the floor by his chair. He opened up his notes. “Oh yeah, we also have a surprise for you guys. We have another member joining our family.”
“Family.” Flynn laughed.
“Come on in sir.” Dr. Moode motioned for someone to walk in.
A tall guy walked in. He looks intimidating. He’s probably 6’4, and he’s in motorcycle boots and a leather jacket. He looks like a total douche. His red hair and freckles gave him a bit of a soft touch, but you can’t see them unless you’re up close. Flynn tensed up at the sight of him.
“Hey Flynn. Everyone has been wondering where you’ve been!” The boy smiled shocked at the sight of Flynn, a sparkly smile. Charming, but dangerous. He looks like he comes from a rich family.
“Do you two know each other?” Dr. Moode asked excitedly writing in his notebook.
“We went to MIT together. He was a nerd I met at a party.” The boy said.
“Wow. You know Zeke?” Dr. Moode said looking at Flynn.
“Yep.” Flynn said quietly.
“It’s a small world.” Zeke smiled sitting next to Flynn squeezing his shoulder.
“Since you are new, we will begin with you.” Dr. Moode said pointing to Zeke.
I am so curious to know how Zeke and Flynn know each other. Flynn doesn’t seem to appreciate him being here. I want to ask him after group, but I don’t want to upset him. Hopefully he brings it up on his own.
“Honestly, before you shame me and tell me I need help, let me tell you something. I am nineteen years old, this group is for teens up to nineteen. I will be done here soon. The only reason I came in the first place is because my parents threatened to deactivate my credit cards if I didn’t go to rehab. I see nothing wrong with heroin. All the stars do it. It’s just a fun drug.” Zeke shrugged. Flynn was shaking with anger in his seat as he talked. This has to be the guy who pressured Flynn into trying heroin.
“You do know heroin has killed a lot of stars too don’t you?” Dr. Moode said.
“The ones who don’t do it right.” Zeke shrugged.
“Uh huh.” Dr. Moode said not knowing what to think of this character. I hate him. Hearing him speak, so arrogantly, so fearless, and knowing he is the reason Flynn was taken out of MIT, I can’t help but to hate him. He better stay away from Flynn. I’m only 5’4 and 110 pounds, but I am not afraid of this boy.
“I’m assuming you and Flynn did drugs together.” Dr. Moode was using Zeke to find out more about Flynn since Flynn never says much. Sneaky and rude.
“Yeah, I met him at a party. It was a celebration they had celebrating the end of freshmen year. He was at the party just being a spaz. He was a total nerd. I wanted him to loosen up a little and enjoy the party, so I got him to try heroin.” Zeke said his arm on Flynn like it’s his buddy.
I could imagine poor little Flynn at the party, sitting alone on a couch with a soda in his hand. The party does not even notice him, but he watches the crowd as they dance, drink, make out, and get high. I also imagined him having his math book with him. Poor Flynn. Too smart for his own good…
“Oh. That’s how it started.” Dr. Moode said tapping his pen against his mouth.
“He’s fucking insane. He has mental issues.” Flynn growled, his fist balled up, knuckles white. His head down, his forehead resting on his fists.
“Excuse me Mr. Martinez, respect your peers’ time to talk in group. No interrupting or judging.” Dr. Moode said calmly.
“I can’t believe you’d stoop so low to get my story.” Flynn growled.
“Stop it Mr. Martinez.” Dr. Moode said.
“This is fucking stupid.” Flynn mumbled under his breath.
“Anyways,” Zeke laughed. “After the party, he wanted more, I became his supplier. He was a nerd, he had a full ride scholarship to MIT, and so he was paying me for heroin with his money that would have been for his education if he didn’t get scholarships. I guess his parents had money saved up for him for college.”
I imagined poor Flynn again. Now, yearning to fit in and trying this drug, then slowly becoming addicted to it and allowing the addiction to interfere with his health and his education. It is a sad vision. Thinking about it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
“What happened after that?”
“His parents had brought him an apartment near the school after he moved out the dorms freshmen year. Over summer break we stayed there just getting high every day of summer. School started back, I left his apartment but would stay there on weekends. Fall of sophomore year, we were still getting high, just not as much. He was slacking in school, but the nerd still pulled off passing grades first semester of sophomore year. Winter break, we got high everyday like we did in the summer. Spring of sophomore year, he was gone. His parents had pulled him out of school. No one knew why, now we know.” Zeke laughed.
“My mail still went home. My parents opened a letter from MIT. It was a warning letter that my GPA dropped and how I could lose my scholarship even though I passed. I missed a lot of classes. I was horribly addicted man.” Flynn sighed.
“Flynn.” Dr. Moode said sympathetically.
“Then, my parents randomly dropped by my apartment one weekend to check on me and talk about the letter and how 15,000 of my money from my savings was gone, and when they entered my apartment, they found me unconscious on the floor.” Flynn said sadly. I rubbed his shoulder to try to calm him.”
“I’m so sorry.” Doctor Moode said.
“They said I was laying on my back. I began choking as soon as they walked in. What luck I had… My mom turned me over and stuck her finger down my throat to bring the vomit up. If they wouldn’t have come to check on me, I would’ve been dead.” Flynn said, his leg shaking incredibly fast.
“Is that why you don’t like Zeke?” Dr. Moode asked.
“It’s not his fault I became addicted. I resent myself for it. I could’ve been the bigger man and walked away. I still would’ve been at MIT. But, when you’re sixteen in college, your biggest goal is to fit in. I succumbed to coolness.” Flynn sighed.
“But you’re getting help now. It’s okay.” Dr. Moode said silently.
“It is hard to forget about my past when it fucked up my future so terribly. I can’t forget it when it’s what got me where I am at right now. I just can’t. I dwell on it. I’ve wasted a semester in here, I could’ve been finishing my sophomore year. I obsess over it and just wish there was a way to go back in time and never try heroin, never even attend that party.” Flynn sighed, running his fingers through his hair. Without his bandana on, his hair fell into his face and covered his forehead and eyes a little bit.
“Thank you for finally sharing Mr. Martinez.” Dr. Moode nodded.
“I hate this.” He sighed slumping in his chair.
“One final question, for Mr. Martinez.” Dr. Moode said to Flynn.
“Whatever.” He sighed.
“What sparked your hate for Zeke?” He asked.
“He’s mad his parents sent him here and mine didn’t.” Zeke laughed.
“You’re here now dumbass. And, I fucking despise this guy because he left me to die! He and I were together that weekend I almost died. He fucking left me! Fucking cunt!” Zeke yelled. It is scary seeing him angry. His vein was popping out of his neck, spit flew from his mouth, and his skin is tomato red.
“Whoa, calm down man.” Zeke said holding his hands up in defense. “I had to go. I was meeting someone for a sell.”
“You are nothing but a lowlife piece of shit! A rich kid who doesn’t appreciate the money from his parents! You have to have more money so you sell drugs to people and ruin their lives! I thought you were my friend for those months, but all you were was a fucking douche taking my money and slowly killing me!” Zeke said stabbing his finger into Zeke’s hard chest.
“Don’t fucking touch me bitch.” Zeke said pushing Flynn.
“You could’ve at least tried to wake me up or put me on my stomach. You got thousands from me and a free place to crash on the weekends,” Flynn growled pushing Zeke knocking him back a few feet.
“Should’ve did it yourself. I owe you nothing.” Zeke pushed back.
“Both of you sit down!” Dr. Moode yelled in his monotone voice. They ignored him and stood in each other’s face. Looking into each other’s eyes with rage, the world around them invisible. Their noses touching they are so close.
Dr. Moode called for security and they began going at it. Fists swinging around. They were on the ground rolling around, cursing and yelling at each other. I wanted badly to get into the middle of the mess on the ground, but I would get hurt. Security is taking too long.
“Stop!” Dr. Moode yelled dashing water on them like they’re dogs. They are acting like animals though. They continued fighting, shirts soaked with water. If it was two girls fighting with soaked shirts, boys would’ve cheered and hollered. But, even now I could look at the girls’ mesmerized faces as the boys fought in their wet t-shirts.
Two security finally dashed around the corner pulling them off of each other. Someone could have been dead, or seriously hurt as long as they took. Zeke kicked with his hard boot a blow hitting Flynn in the stomach making him groan. They kicked around in the air as security held them back. The security did not have an easy time keeping the two boys under control. Flynn swung his arm and punched Zeke in the nose making it bleed. Then security finally were able to restrain them and took them to separate corners of the room. They both are breathing ragged and are red.
“You fucking piece of shit!” He screamed across the room to Zeke.
“Fuck you nerd!” Zeke yelled back.
All of the patients, including me, looked back and forth to Flynn and Zeke as security tried to calm them down.
“Take them both to their rooms, send a nurse to babysit each of them since they both behaved childishly. Don’t let them near each other.” Dr. Moode ordered the security. Two nurses came. The muscular tattooed one escorted Zeke to his room and an older, blonde, short woman took Flynn to his room.
“Ladies and gentlemen, sorry about that altercation. I am going to have to cancel the rest of group to deal with this matter. Sorry. You guys are excused.” Dr. Moode said calmly, his mind probably a blur like mine.
I wish I could go comfort Flynn, or calm him down, but we were all sent to our rooms. Dinner is being brought to us. Every time there is a large problem like a fight or something, everyone suffers.
I flop down in my bed and plop my earphones into my ear. I wish they had televisions in the room. We have one in the common area, it has no good channels though. It has nothing but kid shows, cooking shows, the history channel, and the news. I like MTV, but they edited the channels because they think all of those shows rot our brain and lead us to problems like drug addiction. I think my brain is fine and I’ve been watching MTV for years.
I roll over on my side and worry about Flynn. I hope he is okay. I hope he doesn’t get in trouble. I know he is getting sent to the Reevaluation Room. I wonder how long. Attempted escape is a two-day defense, how many days is a fistfight and foul language?
I grabbed the phone off of the nightstand and decided to call my Grandma.
“Hi Grandma.” I say softly as she answers the phone.
“Hi baby. I’m glad to hear from you. How are you?” She asks with a hint of concern in her voice.
“I am actually good.”
“That is wonderful news.”
“Yes. I made a friend.”
“That’s really good. Who is this friend?”
“His name is Flynn. He went to MIT.”
“Oh, it’s a boy. MIT, impressive.” My grandma teases.
“We’re just friends.” I laugh.
“Yeah.” My grandma says sarcastically.
“Sounds like he’s a good influence on you, so I like him.”
“Yeah, we made a pact to get out of here together in May.”
“Hopefully that happens. I miss you so much. The house is empty without you.”
“I miss you too Grandma, and I never said this before but I am so sorry for everything.”
“I forgive you sweetheart. You just coped wrong, that’s all. You’re getting help now, that’s all that matters.”
“Thank you for everything Grandma, for taking me in, for loving me, for not giving up on me.”
“You’re my granddaughter, I would never let you go to Foster Care.”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“Love you too honey.”
“Someone is knocking on the door, so I will call you later.”
“Okay, goodnight baby.”
“Goodnight grandma.”
I climb out of bed and go over to answer the door. Standing at the door is the cafeteria lady from earlier.
“Hi.” I say shyly remembering her seeing Flynn kiss my forehead. I know it was just my forehead, but that’s still something.
“Dinner is in the rooms tonight since lover boy and new boy got into a fight.” She smirked handing me a tray.
I examined her closer since I was afraid to look at her earlier. Her brown skin is wrinkle free, her brown hair is covered by a hair net, and she has brown eyes. She kind of reminds me of my teacher Mrs. Rogers from fifth grade, but a few years older.
Mrs. Rogers was my favorite teacher out of all of my school years. She taught me to love myself, to be proud of my ethnicity, every Friday she brought the class goodies and she made all of our lessons interesting. She was the one who inspired me to grow out dreads.
“Sorry.” I say. I don’t know what I’m sorry for, I just didn’t know what else to say.
“Be careful. Don’t fall in love with someone in here. You guys are here to better yourselves, love is a distraction. Especially falling in love with someone messed up just like you.” The nurse said pointing her spoon at me.
Messed up like me, ouch. It hurt to hear her say that. I always say it about myself, but for someone else to tell me I am, a stranger, it hurt.
“We’re just friends.” I say nervously.
“Sure.” She laughs. “Just, focus on getting better.” She rolled her food cart out of my room and went and knocked on the next door.
I sat in the center of my bed and looked down at the tray. I don’t have much of an appetite, but my stomach is growling, so I am going to force myself to eat it. For dinner today, we’re having a piece of chicken breast covered in brown gravy with mashed potatoes and peas. I hate peas. They are hard to stick your fork into and they taste gross.
I stuck my fork into the tender chicken. It is so good. For someone who doesn’t have an appetite, I ended up devouring every bite on my plate. Everything but the peas of course.
Every time my mind isn’t occupied with something, my mind goes straight to Flynn. I hope he is okay. I hope this douche Zeke doesn’t mess up the pact Flynn and I made together. I left the tray of food on the dresser by the door to be picked up by the janitor, then I changed into a pair of pajamas and decided to go to sleep.
I’m woke in the morning by Dr. Moode on the intercom. I must have slept really late. Our first meeting isn’t until eleven in the morning. I scrambled out of bed and threw on the first thing my hands touched in my closet. I ended up wearing a pair of black leggings and a long jean shirt. I slipped on my leopard shoes and headed out the door. I decided to just let my dreads hang down today.
“Good morning everyone.” Dr. Moode said softly.
I looked around the room hoping to see Flynn, but he is nowhere to be found.
“Punishing us for those idiots was no fair last night!” A petite, pale, blond with blue eyes whined crossing her arms.
“That is how this facility works Miss Arnolds. We are one. We are all held accountable for each other.” Dr. Moode said. He is always so monotone, showing no emotion. The same tone of voice, even when he is yelling or trying to show sympathy. It’s weird. Like he’s a robot or something.
“What happened to them?” I asked since we are on the subject and I am desperate to know.
“With any physical altercation, we call the parents and have a meeting with them.” Dr. Moode said.
“Is Flynn going home?” I asked, my heart dropping to my stomach.
“If his parents sees fit. We will give our opinion, if we feel they are ready, but it is ultimately the parents’ decision.” Dr. Moode said.
“So, if I feel like I am ready to be discharged, and my grandmother agrees, I’m free?” I ask hopeful.
“Well, it is a three month program that your grandmother paid for, and you have only been here a week, but you are not forced to stay here.”
Thoughts immediately began to pop into my head. I can get out of here if I want. If my grandmother sees I have changed and won’t go back to the drugs, she will take me home. I hope I can get her to take me home. That would mean Flynn and I wouldn’t see each other much. He lives in Cambridge near MIT, I live in Springfield which is about an hour and a half away. Would he even want to talk to me outside of rehab, or am I just to keep him from being bored?
I was snapped back to reality by a hand on my shoulder. I smelled his cologne mixed with his apple shampoo. I know it is Flynn. My heart began to beat fast.
“Hi.” Flynn said, his chin on my shoulder as he stood behind my chair. He sat in the seat next to me.
“Is everything okay?” I whispered as I saw Dr. Moode get up and talk to a set of parents. They have to be Flynn’s parents, he looks just like them. The woman has bouncy brown hair to her shoulders, tan skin, and light brown eyes. She’s wearing a loose dark purple dress to her knees and black heels. The man next to her is taller than her, even with her heels on. He is wearing a brown suit that suits his brown eyes well. His hair is black and slicked back into a ponytail, and he has a goatee.
“Those are my parents.” He said when he noticed me looking at them.
“You look just like them.” I said examining the two people who created and raised Flynn.
“Well, I am a combination of both of their genes.” He chuckled.
“Are they taking you home?” I asked nervous.
“Not yet. They had a meeting with Dr. Moode. They’re staying until lunch to observe me though.” He said as he and his parents locked eyes. His mother waved at me with a sincere, sweet, smile on her face. I waved back shyly.
“She is excited to be able to see you. She asked about you.” Flynn smiled.
“Oh.” I said looking down.
“She likes you. My dad too. Don’t be nervous.” Flynn said.
“Oh, okay.” I sighed.
“My grandma likes you too. She thinks you have been a good influence on me.”
“My parents feel the same about you.”
“That’s good.”
“I have to behave today, my parents will be watching group.” He laughed as Dr. Moode returned to his seat.
“Okay boys and girls, it is time to begin group.”
Flynn sat with such a different posture, such a different mood in group.
“So no one is distracted, the two we have joining us today are Flynn’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Martinez.” Dr. Moode smiled as everyone’s eyes flickered toward Flynn’s parents. They sat in the circle with us, looking sophisticated with good posture and etiquette.
Flynn wears beat up converse, flannels, listens to grunge and rock music, loves Nirvana, and has messy long hair. He does not seem clean-cut like his parents. He is intelligent, but his style and personality seems so opposite to theirs. He puts you in the mind of a guy from the Grunge Era. He was a child in the nineties, but I guess it’s his favorite era. I cannot even imagine Flynn in a suit like his dad, or with slicked back hair.
I can imagine him wearing a suit once in his life, at his MIT interview. He probably wore a white button up shirt, a polka dotted bow tie, khakis, and black vans. He seems like a bow tie guy. He also seems like he will wear black shoes instead of dress shoes. Maybe his mom made him wear dress shoes though. Now I am curious…
“Hello everyone.” Flynn’s father nodded at all of the eyes on him. Flynn resembles him so much. His dad’s voice is deeper though, and he has a hint of a Spanish accent.
Sammy joined the group late. He sat in the empty seat next to Flynn.
“Hey man.” Flynn whispered. Sammy nodded at him.
“We will start with Flynn today.” Dr. Moode smiled raising his eyebrows at Flynn.
“Sure.” Flynn said actually calm and polite. His parents’ presence definitely made a difference on his behavior and participation.
“I got to know you yesterday.” Dr. Moode said.
“That’s not me that was a mistake I made. Me on drugs, not me.” Flynn said defensive. Old Flynn hasn’t left the building.
“Yes, that is a very true statement.” Dr. Moode nodded.
“I don’t want to be associated with my mistakes.” Flynn said.
“Okay. Have you been working on admittance to MIT?”
“Yes. I have my personal letter written when I re-apply. I only missed a semester, it shouldn’t be too bad.”
“What if you do not get in?”
“Thanks. Thanks for the hope.”
“I have faith in you Flynn, but I want you to be prepared for whatever happens.”
“If I do not get in, I don’t know what I will do honestly. It’s all I want in my life and if I don’t get it, I will probably be miserable for the rest of my life.”
“Don’t talk like that. There are other life paths, other options. Life does not always work out how we planned but that doesn’t mean it’s the end. You just accept the dead-end, make a U-turn and drive down a different road.” His dad chimed in. He sounds so wise and intelligent.
“You went to Harvard, and you didn’t just go to Harvard, you went when there weren’t even many Hispanics or any minorities, and you’re a successful lawyer. I am an embarrassment to you.” Flynn sighed.
“Son. You are not an embarrassment. You are young, you made a mistake. You are not even eighteen yet and have successfully finished a semester and a half of college at one of the top schools in the country. Stop pitying yourself and stop selling yourself short.”
“I’m sorry dad.”
“Very wise advice Eduardo. Thank you.” Dr. Moode nodded at Flynn’s father.
“No problem sir.” His father nodded back.
“Flynn, I want you to come up with a back-up plan. I want you to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you, so next group we will discuss a back-up plan you thought of.” Dr, Moode said.
“Okay.” Flynn nodded.
“Now, to Sammy.” Dr. Moode said. This means I will go last, this sucks.
Sammy pulled out his notebook and his pen. I understand his teeth are messed up, but I don’t see why he can’t just cover his mouth and talk. Writing notes all the time seems like it would be a hassle. But, he is probably used to it. He has probably learned to write fast. It would be easy for the readers if he wrote more legibly though.
“How are you Sammy?” Dr. Moode asked.
Sammy held up a note that said impatient.
“Could you elaborate on that feeling?”
He scribbled another note and everyone looked closely trying to read it and see what he said.
“Oh, waiting on new teeth still?”
Sammy nodded.
He scribbled another note, a really long one this time. Everyone leaned in staring at him for probably two minutes as he wrote this note…
Also just do not like this place. I am judged and treated like a monster when we are all in here for the same reason, just different types of that same reason. I want my mother to take me out of this place. I only have one person who trusts me, my friend Flynn. Well, now two. His girlfriend also was nice and got to know me yesterday. But, I just hate this place. My meltdown was two months ago and I am still labeled as a lunatic because of it. Shouldn’t we all be given second chances? I mean, the whole reason we are in rehab is for a second chance, a second chance to live and a second chance to make things right. Everyone in here is a bunch of fucking hypocrites, hate this place and these fucking people.
“Sammy, even though it is in writing, still no foul language. I understand your anger, but kind words please.” Doctor cringed.
“Girlfriend?” Flynn’s mother said shocked. Her face looks pale, full of shock. I can’t tell if she is happy or devastated by the thought of me as Flynn’s girlfriend.
Even though I told him yesterday that I am not Flynn’s girlfriend, he still makes it a point to tell everyone in group that I am Flynn’s girlfriend. Flynn laughed at his mom’s statement. I am embarrassed. It is not true.
“No, we are just friends. Sammy just jokes and says that.” Flynn laughed.
“Are you sure?” His mother asked concerned.
“I am positive mother. I think I know when I’m in a relationship.” He laughed.
“Okay.” She said sitting back in her chair.
“Back to Sammy. So, you feel uncomfortable here?” Dr. Moode asked.
Sammy nodded.
“Is that part of the insecurity and the notes instead of communication?”
Sammy nodded again, then shrugged.
“If people were more accepting and understanding, would you be less ashamed of your teeth and scabs and like it here more?”
Sammy nodded, sadness in his eyes.
“I am sorry you feel this way. This is a place for everyone to feel safe, and to be accepted and to feel equal to each other. I do not want any bullying or gossip going on in this place. Next fight or incident will have serious consequences.” Dr. Moode said as stern as he could looking at everyone. No one looked intimidated or frightened. He just is not a scary person.
“I had no idea you felt this way. You’ve been wearing a thick mask I guess. But, you have me bro, and Luna. If you ever need to talk, or anything. I’m here.” Flynn said patting Sammy’s shoulder.
“Yes, like Flynn said, you have me too.” I smiled making the corners of his mouth turn up. He must’ve smiled behind his hand.
“Yes, it is important to have friends here. Friends can help you grow and progress. And, you guys can help each other and be there for each other. Sometimes we learn best from our peers instead of authority or adults. All of you guys should be friends with each other.” Dr. Moode said smiling at everyone in the room.
“May I add?” I asked politely. I don’t know if Flynn’s parents were having an impact on me too, but I cannot believe I asked for permission to speak.
““I was just saying the same thing. How we should be trying to empower each other. Yes we are all teenagers, but we shouldn’t be acting like this is high school. This is rehab, we are here to better ourselves, and trying to better those around us by example and by helping each other”
“Wow Luna. Very well said.” Dr. Moode said slowly blinking like he didn’t think something so wise could come out of my mouth.
“Thank you doctor.” I nodded.
“Very wise girl.” Eduardo smiled at me making me nervous.
“Yes she is.” Flynn smiled putting his arm on my chair.
“I thought you said you guys aren’t dating?” His mom asked as he arm rested on my chair.
“Mom. Trust me, we are just friends.” Flynn sighed.
“Just making sure. Luna, it’s not you. You’re a terrific girl. I just want him in here bettering himself so he can come home and finish his degree. I don’t want him distracted by girls.”
“I totally understand.” I nodded sitting up so his arm wasn’t brushing my back anymore. First the lunch lady said it, now his mom. I guess Flynn and I should just stay friends.

“Wow. The impact Mr. and Mrs. Martinez has had on Flynn during group has given me a wonderful idea. We need to incorporate parents more. We always have our parents come once a month, but including them in group is so much more intimate. I have officially declared next weekend parent weekend!” Dr. Moode smiled like he is the cleverest guy on the planet.
“Wonderful!” Mrs. Martinez smiled clapping her manicured hands. She seems like such a happy, sweet, person. I bet Flynn is a mama’s boy even though he puts on this tough exterior.
“I will send out flyers to all parents and guardians tomorrow! If any of you kids would like to help plan the weekend, I will be having a meeting in my office after dinner.” Doctor said.
“Flynn will be there.” His mom chimed in with a bright smile.
“Mom.” Flynn pouted like a little boy.
“It’s good to get involved.” His mom said.
“This is a rehab mom. Not high school or college. I can’t put this on an application.”
“Not everything has to be put on a resume. Some things can be done just for the fun, meeting people, and the experience.” His mom said still smiling. I bet her cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
“Fun? Yeah, sitting in an office with my psychologist planning events sounds thrilling.” Flynn whined slumping in his chair.
“She did not ask if you wanted to go Flynn Romano Martinez.” His father said in a stern, loud, voice. A voice scary enough to silence the whole room. Once a parent says your full name, you know they are angry, and it is time for you to back down and surrender.
“Whatever. Always trying to control my fucking life.” Flynn surrendered. He looks embarrassed and angry at the same time. I want to comfort him, but he storms out of the room to his room without even being excused from group or saying goodbye to his parents.
“Sorry about that.” Eduardo said quietly obviously embarrassed for raising his voice.
“No problem. You guys would benefit from the PPP meetings.” Dr. Moode said.
“PPP?” His mother said confused.
“Yes. Parent, patient, psychologist.”
“Yes. It’s something new I have been wanting to experiment with. I have been running this place how it has been run since the last doctor, but now I am going to be running it differently. Now, I will have PPP meetings when parents come during parents’ weekends, I will have them present during group discussion, and have a stricter policy on little hiccups I see in the rehab.”
“Oh. We would like to hear information about it.”
“I will be sending packets home soon.”
“Great. Thanks.”
“Do you mind if we go to his room before we leave?”
“Yes. Feel free. The nurses won’t intervene, your visitor’s passes don’t expire for another twenty minutes.”
“Thank you.” His mom smiled as they shook hands.
I guess Flynn’s parents are going to comfort him, so I decided to go comfort Sammy. Group is sad when people open up. I know that’s what group is for, but to hear people’s stories whether it’s what led them to drugs, their lives during the drugs, or their lives in rehab it’s disheartening to hear it all.
“Hey Sammy.” I said softly. He is laying on the hammock alone. His eyes closed, his notebook with the pen in the spirals resting on his stomach. I examined his notebook for the first time. It is a small notebook, like one detectives would use. The cover is covered in little doodles. He is a pretty good artist.
“Mind if I join?” Hammocks have always been difficult for me. I slowly climbed on hoping not to flip us over. I got half of my body in, and then as I was moving to get my other leg in, I flipped us off.
“I’m so sorry!” I gasped embarrassed making Sammy laugh.
Sammy laughed. He actually laughed! I sat there in shock trying to grasp what I just heard. My falling must have been so funny that he could not hold in his laugh. It was a contagious laugh, it made me laugh. I heard his laugh. I am in shock. I like his laugh. It was not broken or scary or dry like I imagined it to be from months of silence. His laugh is a cheerful, happy, mouth open, harmonic laugh. I bet his voice is great too. I tried to dissect his laugh and imagine it as his voice, but it is too hard to do while laughing.
He got back on the hammock effortlessly, then held his hand out for me to climb on and try again. This time I did it. Not as effortlessly as Sammy, he must come lay on the hammock a lot, but I did it. I can mark getting on a hammock off of my bucket list now.
“You laughed.” I said shocked.
We’re laying on the hammock. I can’t believe I am this close to him. Our arms are touching. Our heads are touching. Our feet are touching. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be this close to him.
“You laughed.” I whispered once we both calmed down and caught our breaths from laughing.
He nodded.
“Why not talk and laugh?”
I was hoping he would be comfortable enough to just tell me, but he scribbled in his notebook like usual:
Insecurity. Afraid of being judged. Self-conscious. Terrified. Uncomfortable.
“But I wouldn’t judge you. Flynn wouldn’t judge either.”
Others would. I like you guys, and you guys like me. But everyone else I hate, and they hate me.
“You don’t think Dr. Moode’s threat for everyone to be nice worked?”
Hell no. He couldn’t scare a fly with that monotone voice.
Sorry for calling you Flynn’s girlfriend.
“Yes. That is so embarrassing.”
I thought it was a funny. A joke Flynn and I share. He really likes you. Like, more than a friend.
“Yes. He doesn’t want a relationship though. He has priorities. And it’s good. He should focus on getting better and getting back into MIT, I would just be a distraction.” I mirrored what the cafeteria lady told me yesterday. She was right though. A rehab is not a place for love. We are here to better ourselves not to fall in love.
It’s good you have your mind on right.
“The nurse is motioning for us to head inside.” I said lifting my head. We sat there talking for an hour, I really got to know Sammy and he got to know me, and we talked about Flynn. The time really flew by.
Thanks for talking to me.
“Anytime.” I smiled making the corners of his mouth twitch.
“It’s okay to talk and to laugh and to smile around me.” I laughed.
One day…
It was time for dinner. I looked around the cafeteria when Sammy and I got inside. I spotted Flynn, head down, at our usual table in the corner.
“I’ll get dinner in a bit. I’m going to see what’s wrong with Flynn.” I whispered as we walked towards the line.
Sammy nodded then got in line. Two girls in line in front of him smiled at him making him nervous. He always puts his head down and his hands in his pockets when he’s nervous I noticed. Dr. Moode must’ve gotten to people today with his threat to be nice after all.
“Hey.” I said as I got to where Flynn is sitting.
“What?” He said coldly.
“What’s wrong?”
“Now you care?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I thought you would come to my room and see if I was okay. You never came and comforted me. I missed you and I was having a hard time calming down. Only you calm me.”
“I’m sorry. Your parents went to the rescue, so I decided to go see if Sammy was okay instead.”
“All they did was go lecture me. They have never been good at comforting.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to intrude on your family moment. I especially didn’t want to make your parents feel like I took their place.”
“Sorry for getting mad.”
“I forgive you.”
“Hey Sammy.” Flynn said fine again, smiling even. Sammy nodded then sat across from Flynn.
“That looks so good.” I smiled eyeing Sammy’s food. Tonight we are having Chinese food. An egg roll, chow mein, and a protein choice of orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, or tofu.
“Shall we go get dinner to nourish our bellies?” Flynn smiled holding his arm out.
“We shall sir.”

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