Seventeen

I spent four months in the rehab centre. At the end of it, I knew that the drugs were completely out of my system, and that it was very unlikely that I would ever touch them again. I carried no permanent scars from my ordeal, except for the ones inside. I knew that they would take the longest to heal.

                By the time I was out of rehab, it was summer and school was over. I was delighted, because although I was desperate to see all my old friends again- my real friends- I was glad that I wouldn't have to face Steve or Gary. Both of them had been in their final year of sixth form, and that meant that school had now ended for them on a permanent basis. I would never have to see them again, except by chance. And I was silently hoping and praying that this chance would never arise. Gary hadn't even bothered to contact me, either before or after I went into rehab, and I was glad of this. I didn't contact him either, not even to let him know we were definitely over. I assumed that he already knew that.

                Chloe told me about six days after my return, that she had seen Gary in the shopping centre with a girl. I tried to act as though it didn't bother me when it still did, but only slightly. And it wasn't just because I wasn't with him anymore. It was because I was so scared of what had happened to me, happening to some other innocent girl who trusted Gary and his friends. Deep down though, I did still feel a slight pang of love for Gary, and there was no denying that.

                Things slowly improved, although I didn't get on with Mum and Dad as well as I had before. I found it harder to trust them with my feelings after they hadn't wanted to listen to me when I tried to confide in them about what was really going on in my life. Chloe and I, on the other hand, were soon brilliant friends. As soon as we had taken the time to be honest with one another, it got so much easier to live together. Some days it was hard, and I was still jealous that Mum and Dad still seemed to like her so much more than they liked me, and on those days, I would go and spend some time with Sally and Lee-Anne to get the negative thoughts and emotions out of my system. I didn't want them building up and then coming out in the way they had before. Never again was I going to let myself get trapped, slipping down that spiral.

                "We should have a party," Chloe said to me one day when she came outside to sit beside me on the porch.

                "What sort of party?" I asked suspiciously, dragging deeply on my cigarette. Smoking was something I still hadn't given up, but I never planned to smoke anything apart from normal tobacco again.

                "A girls party," Chloe suggested. "You, me, Sally, some other girls from school. It would be fun."

                "Yeah," I said absently, and my mind drifted back to the days when parties weren't so much fun as a way to escape- the loud music making it easy not to have to socialise. I had spent many nights dancing alone, a bottle of vodka in one hand, and imagining I was a million miles away.

                I knew that things could never be exactly as they were, but I was satisfied enough with my life to try and forget the past- however painful- and look toward the future.