A/N:  Written after a particularly bad argument with my parents (and by bad I mean screaming, cursing, throwing of objects… right back to the old routine). Dedicated to the best person in the entire world, Pammie, because without her I wouldn't be here right now filling your day with angst as you read my stories. Pam, you keep my suicide level at "not wanting to die, just not wanting to live", instead of the "wanting to die at all costs" that it used to be.  *Hugs*  The story's also dedicated to anyone in this position. To anyone who has ever felt or experienced the pain described below. Pain doesn't last forever (yet another thing Pam has taught me), so please please don't do any of the stupid things that I did when I was going through this.

As the weeks went by the marks on her skin began to fade. The lingering scars and scratches, bruises and burns disappeared, as did her sanity. How she wished she could make the pain disappear as easily as the wounds.

Although the physical pain had ceased nearly nine months ago, the emotional had yet to relent. She did everything she had been taught over that hellish nine-month withdrawal period. She talked to her friends, wrote in a journal, filled out the damn logs that never seemed to work, but the pain was still there.

Every time she looked in a mirror, every time she fought with her parents, got a low grade, saw a missed friend, every time she awoke each morning – her prayers to never see another day unheard – she has struck by a stab of pain…much worse and so much harder to endure than that of which she inflicted upon herself.

And she wondered to herself day after day, "When will it end? Will the pain ever stop?"

It didn't. Well, never completely. There were, however, brief moments when she was not fully crushed by the suffocating depression, not burdened down by the full weight of the grief and heartache. It was like an anesthetic.

No, no it was different… Because unlike anesthetics, this did not numb. Instead in brought out the joy and laughter lodged so far in the back of her brain that there were moments where she wondered if it even existed at all.

But it must. Because when she was with Maureen, that was what she felt. A relief far better than the cutting, purging, and starving put together. And although her every waking moment was filled with longing for the physical pain, and hatred of the emotional, although she spent day after day crying and searching for the end, although she was separated from the one thing she longed for the most – the pain – she considered herself blessed.

Because when she was with Maureen she could forget about the world. Forget about her parents and the unfair demands they bestowed upon her, forget about the deep hole left inside after the abandonment of a good friend, forget about grades and the pressure of getting into a good college. She could leave it behind as long as they were together. And although the pain would inevitably come back, time after time, she knew that as long as she had Maureen she would have joy and laughter too.

And that, she told herself in those dark moments where she wanted nothing more than to end it once and for all, was worth living for. For as long as there was happiness – no matter how brief it may be – the pain was not all that bad.

She was convinced that Maureen must not be real, must be some guardian angel sent down to her from the Heavens. For Maureen had done the impossible. She gave her new hope, gave her a taste of happiness and laughter, of the joy and pleasure that she had been lacking for so long now.

And with that new hope came another one, weaker maybe, but there nonetheless. Maureen gave her the hope that maybe…just maybe…there was life beyond the pain.

A/N:  Do I even need to mention that the "she" in the story is me? …Someday I will write something happy and shock all of you.