Chloe shook violently. She threw the dull knife she held to the ground. Sure, freshman year had been harder than she had expected, but how did it come to this? She thought back, sure she had scratched with her fingernails a couple of times since her grandpa had died. After all, it wasn't hurting anyone. How many times though? Chloe thought as hard as she could, but she couldn't remember.

She did when her grandma died on February 11; only five short months after her grandpa had passed. She thought guiltily of later that night, when her mom wouldn't let her go back to MLA till the next morning, so she scratched again and made the previous marks deeper. They had moved into her grandparents' broken down farmhouse in November, and things were just as hard as they were in the basement. The room Angel and Chloe had to share wasn't insulated very well, so they couldn't heat it, they had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on the cot. The couch was constantly fought over because the camping cot was ridiculously uncomfortable. To Chloe, much to the hurt of her mother, MLA felt like more of a home than the farm house did. At MLA she had her awesome room mate, Dani and Aiden, a perfect guy, to share all of her drama with. That's what MLA seemed to be made of, drama. But MLA drama was created and disappeared within seconds. The stuff going on at Chloe's house was too much for her to handle. MLA was her easy escape, and Chloe's mom wouldn't let her go back till the next day, the day of the Valentine's Banquet. She went with Aiden...oh Aiden.

Aiden had asked her to the second banquet on January 18, exactly three months after he had asked her to first. Then exactly four months after that, on May 18, he had asked her to be his girlfriend, Chloe happily agreed. But now? After the biggest blessing she had ever received, Aiden, she had done this? What would Aiden think? What would Dani and Angel think? What would her parents think? No. She wouldn't tell them, she couldn't. They couldn't know. She forced herself to think of something else, how many times had she scratched before this? She tried to count, at least nine times during the school year, after all of the bigger squabbles between her and Dani, after she had learned that Aiden's grandma had died on her 15th birthday, after her sister found out about Aiden and Chloe holding hands and flipped out.

"Whoa..." Chloe was so surprised she spoke out loud. She had done it more times than she thought. Not one of those times had left a scar, she made sure of it. But now, she was going to have to wear board shorts when she went swimming, and be extra careful when changing in front of her room mate. Because now her left leg held something that she would haunt her forever. Four Red Stripes.

"No!" Chloe had yelled that afternoon, startling her boss and co-workers around her. It was her lunch break and she was checking her email before clocking back in. She blushed, "Sorry guys, I...I just got some news from Dani, that's all." Everyone started asking questions at once,

"What's wrong with her?"

"Is she OK?"

"What is it?"

"Is anything wrong?"

Chloe just shook her head, "She's fine, I'm the one that's not. She decided to go to AA instead of Many Lakes next year."

"What's AA?" one of the girls asked.

"Ady's Academy. It's an academy down in southern Michigan. I don't understand...we had it all worked out, we were going to room together again this year, room 225...what happened?"

Chloe felt like a zombie as she signed off her email without replying to Dani's announcement, checked back in and got to work. How could Dani do this to her? How? Chloe didn't understand it.

The rest of the day when surprisingly quickly and next thing she knew her mom was there to pick her up. On the way home, she told her about Dani's email. Her mom apparently didn't know what to say, because she didn't say anything. This was frustrating to Chloe, here she's talking to her mom, and opening up to her, and her mom said nothing. When Chloe got home she immediately rushed to the phone and punched in the numbers she had so many times before. Busy. Chloe hurried to the computer and prayed Dani was online. She was. Chloe brought up an instant messenger and typed furiously.

Angelfromheaven18: Dani! Please tell me that email was a joke!

DaringDani8: gulp um...not quite

Angelfromheaven18: Dani...

DaringDani8: sigh It was no joke, I decided to live at home and go to Ady's this year.

Angelfromheaven18: But what about 225? What about the sophomore hall troublemakers? What...I'm so confused...whimper

DaringDani8: Come on now Chloe. Your making it more than it is...I'll be back for senior year defiantly...

Angelfromheaven18: What about junior year??

DaringDani8: Probably Ady's...

Angelfromheaven18: What about us?

DaringDani8: you make it sound like we're a fricken couple.

Angelfromheaven18: Dani! would you listen to me?? you can't just up and change your mind!!! I'm begging you here!! Come on! i live 3 hours away from you! do i mean that little to you?? that you don't care that you won't see me for a full year???

DaringDani8: No, I'll see you before then. your coming to my house for fair week in august still, remember.

Angelfromheaven18: no. i'm not. thanks for nothing danielle cooke.

Angelfromheaven signed off at 5:32pm

Chloe needed some fresh air. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed her backpack, and ran out the door. She threw her backpack around her shoulders and hopped on her bike. The wind rushed past her as she flew down the hill that acted as her back driveway. In minutes she was at her favorite quiet place, the cemetery down the road from her house. In the back corner, huddled in with some trees and a fence, there was a small park bench that served as Chloe's safe haven when life at her house got her to her lowest. She pulled her backpack off and opened it. With a sigh of relief, she saw that she still had some things in it from work that day. Some water in a water bottle, a chocolate chip cookie she wasn't hungry for during lunch, and the knife that she had used to cut her apple for lunch. Chloe popped the small cookie in her mouth and inhaled half her water bottle. Then her eyes fixed on the knife. She picked it up and pushed it into her leg right above her short line. It felt so good. Until she looked down, saw the blood, and realized what she had done.

It took two and a half weeks for her leg to heal completely and even then her awful scars took their toll as she turned down offer after offer from her friends and family alike to go swimming. Each time she was tempted beyond belief to agree, as the mid-June heat blistered down, but each time she was filled with what would happen if anyone found out, and in the end she politely declined, making up some excuse for why she couldn't.

"There are some people who cut who do need help," she reassured herself one afternoon while her whole family was at the beach, "but those are people who are addicted to it. Who cannot stop, I am in complete control of it. Therefore I have nothing to worry about. I can stop whenever I want." She nodded to herself, feeling mostly confident. She didn't even cut that often, so it couldn't be that bad. But down in the deepest depths of her soul she knew she was lying to herself, and way deep down there she knew, without a doubt that she was going to get found out.

Maybe she should pray about it, after all, it couldn't hurt. Maybe God would listen to her even if she didn't talk to Him very often.

God, though it probably doesn't feel like it that often, I do love you and am trying to obey you. Please help to stay in control of my cutting. Bless me. Amen.

There. Her job as a "Christian" was done. She had asked God to be with her. She glanced at her watch and saw that it was only three o'clock. She still had a good two or so hours before her family would come home. A good time for a nap, she decided. She was very tired, and as soon as her head hit the pillow she was asleep.

Chloe felt like she was waking up from a deep sleep. Whatever had been chasing her before was gone. Where it went, Chloe didn't really want to know as long as it would leave her alone. Her fear and exhaustion had left her, so she got up and started to walk around. She came to a pool of water and took a small drink. After the ripples faded away and her reflection became clear she gasped. Quickly, she looked around to make sure no one else was around. She was alone. She squeezed her eyes shut and then opened them again to see her reflection staring back at her. But it didn't look like her…it looked like an older Chloe. This "reflection Chloe" looked like Chloe as an 18 year old. She looked like she had been through lots of hard-ship. More hardship than Chloe could ever imagine. And no matter how hard Chloe tried, she couldn't bring herself to pull away from staring at this futuristic image. Then, much to Chloe's surprise, the image started to speak. The voice sounded like her own, but a little older. "Don't be afraid, little one," the image said, "Just know one thing, you may think that your prayer just now would solve everything, but let me warn you. Your struggle isn't over yet. You have a lot more to endure. Guard your heart, guard your body, guard your personality, all those things are about to be stolen from you if you don't protect them. Be careful, and stay close to God, He is the only Refuge you'll have in the future. Oh and one more thing, that monster that was chasing you, it isn't gone, it is now living in you." Then the image disappeared and Chloe's real reflection appeared in its place. Chloe shouted out, "No! Come back! What did you mean? How, where, when…" but the image was gone, leaving Chloe on her knees staring at the ground, trembling from confusion.