One

They say that darkness is a girl's best friend. Well, at least it's mine. I've been standing at the gates of the cemetery for the last two hours trying to figure out a way to go around it. I've never been terrified of climbing fences. I've never been terrified of grave yards, in fact I spent most of my childhood playing in one, even ghosts never bothered me and yet there was something off about this entire setting preventing me from taking any other step farther. If I knew it was going to take this much effort in planning an escape route I wouldn't have bothered in the first place, it was harder than I thought and what made it even worse was I didn't have a destination of where I wanted to go I just knew I had to get out of town but me standing here, my feet delaying the process was not helping what so ever. The thing was even trying to calm myself down it just made me panic even more. The graveyard however was the one thing preventing me from doing so, it didn't help that there was fog, which was the only thing throwing off my sight but it also had the effect of making it the perfect spot for a serial killer to kill it's victim of the night. I shivered and tried to focus my attention on anything else but death, just something else besides how unsettling this place was.

Immediately my eyes were drawn to a light that kept moving toward me at a synchronized pattern, I was just narrowing it down to either aliens or some sort of celestial neo-suburban phenomenon when suddenly I heard the whistling. It was that same upbeat cheery-tune that I recognized but couldn't quiet pinpoint. I didn't have to stop and wonder what kind of company I had in the middle of a graveyard at one in the morning but I sure as hell didn't want to find them. Giving the circumstances, I prayed he couldn't see me because I wasn't ready for giving someone an explanation in why I was out myself. It wasn't normal for a seventeen year old girl to be wandering the streets during the middle of the night then again I was far from normal. I learned pretty quickly that I could navigate better in pure darkness than I could during the day; it wasn't until I had stepped on what seemed to be every single leaf in Blackthorn when the whistling had stopped and I had been spotted. Lovely.

"Halle Jameson?" I tilted my head back out of frustration to the voice none other than Grayson Locke himself. It wasn't the first time that Grayson had caught me here, over the last few months it was starting to become a nightly ritual, one that he didn't find quiet amusing that I did but believe me when I say it was not my intention to get caught but since the universe decided it was time to mess up my life even more, here I was in sitting in the back of his cruiser while Grayson muttered something under his breath clearly it was nothing but frustration and I knew I wasn't the easiest person to deal with.

Especially, at one thirty in the morning then again I hardly spoke to anyone unless I was asked a direct question the only exception to this was Alastair. He was the one and only person on the planet that I communicated with otherwise I would respond with something witty or sarcastic and just nodded my head. It was often better for everyone if I didn't say anything at all.

"I'm not accusing you of anything. I want that to be clear. I just want you to tell me what happened." Grayson said making our way down to the station. I never planned on spending my Saturday morning with a bunch of police officer's watching me like a hawk but it's not like I had much of a choice either, Grayson dragged me here, placing me immediately at his desk and telling me not to move. It didn't matter that I was a minor and didn't even have a lawyer or guardian present, not that Jace would've shown, I mean it's also like my answers couldn't helped him much either way. He wanted me to write it down, all of it, Grayson told me it was my statement. Right. My statement which consists of three words following under the category of I don't know. Even sitting across the table and trying to communicate with him was hard enough then writing down everything that happened.

"How's it coming along, Halle?" Grayson asked placing his cup of coffee right in front of him, I concentrated on the steam coming from it, there was no way in hell he got it from the break room because that pot looked like it had been sitting there for the last month waiting for someone to finally use it. I paid attention to detail; it was something that I had always been good at even as a kid. I was always cautious of my surroundings, remembering distinct things about someone just in case something had happened to them but this was different. This was something that I couldn't talk about and it didn't look good in anybody's eyes. "Hal—"

"Fine." I muttered placing my arm on the desk breaking eye contact between us and instantly lowering them back at the blank page sitting in front of me.

"Halle?" He asked trying to take on the role of being the good cop. It was weird having a one on one session with him, not that I wasn't used to it but usually there was always someone interrupting or lurking around. "What happened?" He asked, his voice showing the deepest concern and full of sympathy but I wasn't about to have a conversation with a detective about an adolescent teenager who was finally getting her life together.

"Why do I have to make a statement?" I snapped at him while trying to re-adjust myself. I've learned by watching episodes of Law and Order that it was never a good idea to argue with a cop but quite frankly I just didn't care because I hadn't done anything wrong yet here I was enjoying the local river outside of the window from the police station, at least Grayson had a good view. They wanted my statement though usually on television when someone had to give a statement there's someone sitting there who writes it down for them while they talk and then all they have to do is just sign it after it's read back to them. Plus they get coffee and doughnuts and stuff, all I've got is a bunch of paper and this leaky pen. Not even so much as a Diet Coke. Grayson wanted my statement. Okay. Here's my statement: it's all Alastair Langdon's fault. Really it is. If he hadn't sat down next to me during lunch and left me alone thinking I was so fat that when I eventually died they were going to have to bury me in a piano case just like Elvis, none of this would've happened.

This yes, is totally stupid since—to the best of my knowledge—Elvis was not buried in a piano case. I don't care how fat he was when he died, I'm pretty sure Priscilla Presley could have afforded a better casket for the King than a piano case. And secondly who the hell does Alastair think he is? So, I did what any normal teenage girl would do at a home for the impaired under the circumstances that a cute boy wanted to talk to her, I clamed up, acted cold and tried to spend a majority of the time hating him. I mean it's not like Alastair Langdon doesn't deserve the cold shoulder, to be fair, he was kind of an asshole or so I had observed during my stay at Havenside. Almost any place had a resident asshole, the type of person that had a walk with the devil but no one dared asked him about it because he usually wouldn't give them the time of day; Alastair Langdon was ours. Maybe I shouldn't have hit him within the first five minutes that we had exchanged words but he had it coming and it's not like I even really hurt him, yes, he staggered back and fell to the ground. Big fucking deal. There wasn't any blood. I didn't even hit im in the face, he saw my fist coming, and at the last minute he ducked so instead of punching him in the nose like I intended, I ended up punching him in the neck. I highly doubt it even left a bruise. Again though, he had it coming and I'll gladly explain why.

I was placed at Havenside six months ago. Jace found the place online, packed my things and hoped for a change. Change was something I didn't really expect and I wasn't going to change for the better if that was what he was hoping anyways. I was being shipped off to hell; it was like every force in the world was conspiring against me. I felt like Dorothy thrown into Oz except in my case there wasn't even a good witch in sight to save me. Approximately it took two hours and thirty minutes to get from Scarrow to Blackthorn while Jace was singing along to old Broadway show tunes; I couldn't help but contemplate back and forth trying to decide if throwing my body out of the vehicle was in fact the best choice of trying to get out of this. I hated long car rides, not that those two hours were long but giving the circumstances and who I was with it was long enough to make me think about things that I definitely didn't want to think about. The problem is that there is no easy off switch for the brain, even though it would be really nice if there were.

So, for the remainder of the drive I crushed my fingers into my eye lids trying to make myself top remembering everything. I try to focus on the present but I couldn't help but stare at the white thread wrapped around my index finger, I kept it there to remind me that I once felt something, that I once had a life. I can't really describe how I feel; I mean describing death is like trying to describe something that can't be seen. It's physically impossible because people deal with it in different ways which makes it hard to just pinpoint that exact sadness that accompanies it. I knew I was here for a reason but I was just starting to become invisible, an outcast, people were finally starting to leave me alone and I was slipping away, they stopped noticing me altogether and then Jace found out and I got sent to this fucking hellhole.

Let me tell you a few things about Havenside. The first was that it was set up like an institution but you wouldn't be able to tell from the outside of it. It looked too perfect, almost like an old country inn with a million daisies leading up the brick walkway. It made me want to throw up. I didn't expect much especially when there was a little wooden sign which read: welcome to Havenside; bigger than a cave but still small enough to make someone feel claustrophobic. As soon as Jace and I arrived we were greeted by this woman, who looked very similar to a nome, she had short curly brown hair, her hair tied back in perfect place, she was wearing too much blush which resulted in her cheeks be extra rosy. Her outfit was a train wreck from top to bottom mixing plaid with flower printed pants, it made me want to throw up all over her.

"Welcome to Havenside; it's never too late." She was holding a clipboard as she walked down the steps of the half-crooked porch and extended her hand to Jace and giving me a warm smile. "I'm Miss Ray; we're looking forward to having you Halle." Ray shrugged her shoulders out of excitement while still clutching the clipboard.

"Ray – like a ray of sunshine." My brother beamed at his stupid joke and I wanted to kill myself right then and there. The first thing you need to know about my brother Jace is he's not much of a people person. In certain situations—say if someone were buying for instance, he could be very friendly and if you put him within five hundred feet of a women who wanted to be with someone for just one night, he'd find her and be making nice before you could stop him. However, interacting with the majority of the population as in cashiers, bosses or ex-girlfriends was not something he engaged in unless absolutely necessary, Miss Ray was just an example of that situation.

"Exactly like it." Ray gave off this smile and I wonder how many people have said that to her and then I wondered how long it took for it to get really old, really fast. "Everyone's in group, I'll show you around the meantime and then we can join everyone for lunch." I cringed at the thought that I had to be around people my own age not to mention I had to eat in front of them. Why did Jace have to send me here? I wasn't that bad. I mean I had what they called a near death experience only believe me, there wasn't anything "near" about it.

"And finally," Ray said as she pushed the door open, "we come to the main event. Your room. You'll get a buzz when lunch is ready, get settled in, and make yourself comfortable while I finish the last few details with Jace." I was so out of my comfort zone. I was ready to jump out the window, make some sort of grand escape but here I couldn't do that. Not with so many people around watching me like a hawk that watches its prey. I took a step forward into what would be called my room for the next six months. I was braced for pink. Ruffles or quilting or maybe even applique which was kind of unfair but then again I didn't know Ray much less her decorating style. With total strangers, it had always been my policy to expect the worst. Usually they—and those that knew best did not disappoint. Instead the first thing I saw was green. A large, high window, on the other side which was tall trees, fenced in separating the yard. Then I noticed that there weren't just one but two beds, which meant I had a roommate. May I just take this opportunity to point out that the one thing I have never wanted was to share a living space with someone? Especially someone who may or may not have worse problems than I do, I don't understand why I couldn't go into isolation or why Jace couldn't spend a few extra dollars – not that this place needed it because of how run down it was – so I could live in a single. But of course, I had to share a space with someone. Something I didn't even want. I was awful at communicating, awful at confrontation, and horrible with people in general. It was almost like I was having a panic attack, dreading the moment of meeting someone and having to deal with them twenty-four seven. Did Jace even tell them the situation? Did he even explain? I doubt it. I should've known he'd just send me off here. The thing was though he didn't understand and why would he? It was so easy walking into this building then I doubt it was walking out.

At least it doesn't have that hospital smell. Yeah, it's all very clean and set up to look like a home but that didn't change the fact that it was a home for the destroyed. I wonder what Jace thought about me trying to kill myself and that I had failed. I should have put the knife to my veins worried less about the world and more about getting dead. Instead, I decided a cut through the veins thinking it would make the heart stop beating, rip it apart and bleed me out. But, I couldn't even do that right. The knife hit bone and left my heart in one piece. In hindsight, luck wasn't with me the day, Jace found me too soon or my pitiful life might have ebbed to the ground in arterial flow. He almost died himself at the sight of the blood and the thought of it staining the white rug. "Halle, Tell me this is an accident." He never heard my reply and never shed a tear. I don't remember much after that except for speed. Red lights kept spinning faster and faster as I began to regain consciousness. Floating through ER doors and needle stings but, I do remember just before the black hole swallow me, seeing Jace's face. His furious eyes followed me into a deep sleep. It's a curious place the land of the blood loss and anesthesia, floating through it like swimming in sand. After a while you think you should reach for the shimmering surface but you can't hold your breath and even if you could its dark and deep and bitter cold where nightmares and truth collide and you wonder if death could unfold fear so real. Everything hits you like a train at full speed, voices, strange faces smells, and pain. This place definitely got me thinking, which was something that I wasn't ready to do quiet yet, I lost train of thought when I was interrupted by this loud, unpleasant and unwelcoming buzzing sound followed by my bedroom door opening making a loud thud against the wall, nearly giving me a heart attack.

"I'm so sorry. Miss Ray sent me up here to make sure you got down to lunch." A high-pitched overly excited quirky voice squealed and I just looked at her. She had light blonde curly hair, huge green eyes, a fairly sizable body and huge breasts – pretty big ones too, way bigger than I'll ever have, unless I get implants which of course will never ever happen. She informed me that she had an IQ of 167, a fact she informed me of five minutes within our first interaction. She was wearing black leggings, a great big sweatshirt and bright green converse. Not so bad, right? Wait. She'd coupled this ensemble with sweatbands—I am not kidding - around her head on her wrists. She also had this big bottle of water hanging in a net sling from one shoulder. I mean you could tell she thought she looked like an Olympic athlete, but what she actually looked like was a lunatic housewife who'd just gotten done with "Get Fit with Oprah" from the book-of-the-month club or something like that. While I was standing there staring at this girl, wondering how I was going to break it to her about the sweatbands, she broke the awkward silence by saying something instead.

"I'm Rhea." It was all she said. Even though I never asked her name or cared who she was or even introduced myself for that matter. Rhea didn't care. It wasn't until I had followed her down the stairs throughout the house when I saw this dogwood tree just off the edge of the yard, I'm assuming it had once been in full, glorious bloom but now it was completely bare, as if it were the middle of winter. It was almost like every single leaf and every single blossom had been knocked off. People talk all the time about symbolism like how the withered old oak tree in Jane Eyre portends doom and all of that. So I guess you could say that this statement of mine is a work of fiction and that dogwood tree would symbolize the fact that everything was not going to turn out perfect for me.

Rhea entered the dining room before I did and I watched as she sat down and plate of food was placed in front of her, it didn't look appealing or appetizing at all but then again it's not like I would have eaten it to begin with. The dining room of Havenside could hold about twenty people even though there were about seven of us from which I counted. I looked in the dining hall, trying to figure out my option of the best place to sit without having to speak to anyone, I glanced over to where Rhea was and next to her was another girl. She was cute, with charcoal hair that covered her face completely. She had her nose stuck in a book and even as she was sitting there rocking back and forth, I have never seen such concentration from someone before. Not once did she look up when Rhea was talking to her the only time she ever broke her concentration was when she took a bite of her food but she even did that without looking up. The dining room of Havenside could hold about twenty people even though there were about ten of us—from which I counted - eating. There was an empty table by the window looking out on to this giant field but in order to get there I had to magically walk past the table of guys sitting near it in hopes that I wouldn't get noticed by them. Of course this was nearly impossible because I was the new girl – the one everyone wanted to know her story, like I'd give any of them the time of day.

"The thing is," one of them who was stocky and sporting shorts with a chain. They were allowed chains here? Now that was something I wasn't expecting or maybe they just allowed him because he was making an incredibly bad fashion statement one that was never going to catch on no matter how hard he tried. "It's all about energy, you know?"

"No, what's more important is you have to be clever," another, who was taller, dark-skinned and had dark hair. He did this weird crooked smile and of course he had perfect teeth, what could he have possibly done? He looked perfect, maybe a little too perfect but still. He was too pretty to be here. "This is why you always have to follow the train."

"It sounds like a project, not a date." The short guy told him.

"It's pretty much the same thing." The kid pointed out. "You have to look deep into the context."

"No. Who the fuck cares about that? If a girl's willing, you go after her. No questions asked." The third whose back was turned to mine said, he sounded like a real winner, let me tell you.

"It's not that easy, besides I don't see you offering up any suggestions." I stepped around them and sat down by the window, the entire time Miss Ray was watching me, like she was ready for me to snap or make an escape or cause some sort of problem. If I wasn't crazy yet this place was going to make me. As soon as I sat down the third guy suddenly turned and our eyes met. He was pale, not as abnormally pale as I am but pretty damn close, he had dark brown eyes and from the looks of his shaved head he would have had dark hair. He also had a broad, confident smile which he now flashed at me and for a split second he could have been the perfect man and then everything I thought about him was ruined when he decided to speak.

"How about," he said slowly but still loud enough for me to hear, his gaze still completely locked with mine, "I just saw the hottest girl at Havenside." Now don't get me wrong, I've had guys hit on me plenty of times and sure, I've flirted back if I thought they were cute but this fucking dick thought a simple phrase like that would easily get my attention when really it just made him sound like a prick. Of course I didn't expect there to be guys here, well, at least not good looking ones. I couldn't help but laugh, it was my only form of response because I couldn't manage to find anything to say back to him that didn't imply how much of an ass I thought he was so I kept my head down. You would think considering the fact that I don't have any problem hitting an asshole like Alastair that I wouldn't have any problem responding however if you were terrified of associating with anyone in general the best case was to avoid anything altogether. The last thing I needed was them talking about the new freak who joined them at Havenside. A small plate of food was placed in front of me; it looked like mush and had this weird smell of mixed vegetables and some spice I couldn't exactly pinpoint and that was when the guy decided to get up from his table, carrying this stupid black notebook, his own tray of food and decided to sit right across from me continuing to stare at me. Are you fucking kidding me?

I sat perfectly still; the ball was in his court. I wrinkled my nose trying to figure out why he smelled like a mixture of things and I looked at the clock waiting for the hands to change. I blew out a sigh because at this rate I wasn't going to be able to do anything. I placed my head down again and looked up just as I heard the soft glide of his pen begin to move. Ten minutes of sitting together didn't qualify for me to make small talk with him but he was clearly being too observant.

"You know not eating lowers your metabolism." This got me to look up at him.

"What?" Out of everything I could possibly say to him I managed to form the stupidest thing.

"I'm not sure how you couldn't understand that but I'll explain it better for you, I guess. Not consuming food lowers your metabolism and you won't be able to function properly." He looks away from me and starts moving the pen in his stupid notebook again which really pisses me off because when I have a conversation with someone at least I expect them to be involved and interested but this kid just did not give a fuck. "You think starving yourself will get you skinner but in reality whatever food you do decide to eat, it doesn't even matter how healthy it is, your bodies going to store it even longer then it normally would."

"You don't know anything about me." I immediately snapped and he just chuckled this deep little laugh that I'll admit was cute but I wasn't going to let that stop me from lashing out at this kid.

"I know that you haven't eaten since they placed the meal in front of you which means you probably haven't eaten at all today and I'm not sure you actually know the last time you've had an actual meal." He went back to scribbling and I was ready to take the notebook and burn it with the nearest lighter I could find.

"What are you writing?" I asked demandingly, it wasn't more of me asking, I nearly yelled it. It was bugging me, he was just sitting there, watching me and writing down whatever his mind was coming up with and it was annoying as freaking hell. I kept tugging at my sleeve, of course it was wrong for me to be wearing a long sleeved shirt in the middle of eighty degree weather but what else was I supposed to do?

"It's not about you, if that's what you were thinking." He says while scribbling down something else, each stroke of his hand both smooth and lazy all at once.

"What did you write?" I snarled while asking him a third time, instead he just let out a long sigh and sat back in the chair, this time eyeing me completely.

"Did your family place you here because of the fact you starve yourself or because of the wrists?" This was when I hit him. He completely deserved it and honestly, he walked right into it. To be fair I didn't exactly know what came over to me all I knew was that I did it. Which yes I may have destroyed how tough he was but to be fair he shouldn't have pissed me off. However, like any place that had teenagers there wasn't any tolerance for violence at least I encountered this when Miss Ray tapped me on the shoulder, pulled me out of the dining hall and into this weird room where everything was white. Who the hell decorated this place?

"Halle, you're going to have to apologize to Alastair." She says in the simplest tone she could say. She didn't even yell, her voice was calm, stern, and right to the point. To be fair she's probably had her fair share of dealing with catfights but she clearly wasn't prepared for a girl and a guy to throw-down. Although it wasn't much of a throw-down because immediately Ray got there before anything else could happen or even be exchanged, I don't necessarily think Alastair would hit me but I know that he wasn't exactly thrilled that I had done it. Especially, in front of everyone, it was like I had destroyed how tough he was just within my first day. Clearly, I was going to make so many friends now.

"Apologize? To him? Did you hear what he said?" I tugged on my sleeve again and Ray glanced down at it probably making a mental note and then looked right back up at me.

"Halle, I understand you're adjusting and it's been an extremely long time since you've interacted with anyone around your own age but we do not under any circumstances tolerate violence." She says while re-doing her lipstick and let me tell you something, red was clearly not her color but that didn't stop her from putting it on.

"He had it coming." I muttered under my breath and in my defense he did have it coming. Everyone in this place was crazy one way or another, even the so-called doctors and most of them looked like druggies. I mean if you're going to lose your mind, you want to get it back some day, don't you? Okay. Maybe not. I mean don't get me wrong I've had my fair share of getting high , I mostly dealt with pot though wherever I could find it and I was never worried about getting hooked. I knew plenty of heroin addicts, I had seen them or Jace had talked about them from picking them up at the station. I didn't do it enough for one thing and I figured I'd be in a graveyard not long before my eighteenth birthday anyways. Except it hasn't quiet worked out that way, I have at least several months to go and I have to find a way to get out of here. What most people didn't know about me was that I had attempted to kill myself twice, the second time sent me to this fucking place but I mean you'd think drinking a half bottle of valium would do the trick and maybe it would have but I had to toss in a fifth of Jack Daniels and passed out just as I would have expected although what I didn't expect was waking up. So then picked up cutting hoping that one day a cut would be misplaced and I'd be able to bleed to death. The first cut wasn't the deepest, not at all. It was like all the others, a subtle rend of anxious skin, a gentle pulse of crimson just enough to hush the demons shrieking inside my brain. But by this time they just wouldn't shut up, the worst thing was the more I did it, so I gave myself to the knife, asked it to bite just a little harder each time, chew a little deeper. The hot, scarlet rush felt so delicious I couldn't stop just there.

"Halle, what do you fear?" I snapped myself back into reality completely forgetting that Ray was sitting right in front of me, writing down her thoughts but I knew what she saw. I was a mess, a walking mystery, something along the lines of a riddle that couldn't quiet be solved but she wanted to crack it. Good fuckingluck.

"I don't know." I answer with a small shrug and she gives me this grin worthy of Hannibal Leeter—evil, overtly smug.

"You don't know? Don't you think it's time to find out?" The "f" elicits a saliva spray, which someone should tell this poor woman to say it and not spray it, the last thing I wanted was her spitting her DNA all over me. Really Classy, Ray. "I realize you don't want to be here but until you give me a hint about just what you fear, you can't get better." Her voice is almost gentle and part of me wants to give her what she wants. The smart part of me says no freaking way and I instruct myself to give her a little taste of what she wants to hear. After all, we don't want to waste a perfectly good shrink session. So, I settle deep into the chair, search for some vapid confession and finding none.

"It was a really big mistake. I was just playing around and the gun went off." I lie but her eyes tell me she's heard the line before.

"Halle, if you believe this is a game you may be right but if you think you can play it better than me, you are so far off."