"By the time the bus reached the big rainbow gate I was both tired and fuming. I had switched busses atleast three times to get here. One was just to get off the island. I was still determined to run at the first chance I got"
As Nicole watched the gate open she started plotting her first attempt to run. She wasn't sure how yet. but she knew a chance would come soon. The bus drove through the gate and down a steep stone ramp. It parked at what looked like the beginning of a line of the blue busses. A woman with bunned up hair and big black framed glasses walked onto the bus. She told them to walk off the bus and stand against the wall. As Nicole leaned against the hard stone wall she examined where people were. The bus driver was relaxed leaning against the steps of the bus. A group of people wearing purple shirts were standing in the far left corner talking. She noticed the rainbow gate was still open. She figured if she ran fast enough she could run through it. She made sure no one was watching at all and took off toward the gate. She dashed up the ramp as fast as she could. She heard someone yell at her to stop and then loud alarms went off and she saw the gate starting to close. She pushed herself to run faster. Just as she made it to the gate it clinked closed. "NO!" Nicole screamed at the top of her lungs as two of the people in the purple shirts grabbed her. "Let me go!' she screamed, "I don't need to be here!" they grabbed her kicking and screaming into a nicely painted big mansion. They took her to a room and made her sit down in a old fashioned victorian leather chair. They told her to stay right there and walked out. She even heard them lock the door. She looked around the room she was in. Across from her was a L shaped Appleton desk. Hidden under the desk was a pale red rolling chair. It was round like the ones you see in a doctor's office. Behind the desk were three mahogany bookcases. Each one was filled with all volumes of the encyclopedia and other old day novels. A Medusa lamp stood in the corner with blue and red shades over the bulbs. In the middle of the room was a little wooden table. On it was a half finished puzzle. All that needed to be done was just a square of the puzzle in the left hand corner. She walked over to the puzzle and smiled a little. She recognized the puzzle right away. It was of two unicorns nuzzling. One was a big unicorn and the other a baby unicorn. She immediately flashed back. Her dad and her use to do this puzzle all the time when she was little. He use to tell her that the big unicorn was him and the baby unicorn was her. She loved that. She sat on her knees and started putting the rest of the puzzle together. When she finished she heard the door open up. A woman walked in wearing a long black skirt and a matching button up blouse. Her hair was dark and in a bun. She sat down at her desk and Nicole stood up and dusted off her knees. "Hello, Mrs. Green. I'm Mrs. Culler" the woman greeted, "I see you just got here and already trying to leave"
"I don't belong here" Nicole said coldly.
"You're file says you might be forming a eating disorder" Mrs. Culler said.
"So I don't eat alot big deal" Nicole said.
"This says you've made yourself through up" Mrs. Culler said highlighting that part of Nicole's file.
"So, I'm sure all teen girls have done that once in their lives" Nicole said. She thought this was just a waste of her time. Nothing they told her was gonna make her change her mind about leaving.
"Well, there are ways to keep a figure without hurting yourself" Mrs. Culler said writing something down, "so you'll be having private counseling while your here"
"Whatever" Nicole said as there was a knock on the door. In walked a thin girl with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Nicole could tell by her bubbly movements she was the peppy type. "This is Josie, she is your personal friend while here" Mrs. Culler said.
"Hi" Josie said as she gave Nicole a huge hug.
'Take her to see Anna-Lee first, she should still be at the auditorium" Culler said as the girls left her office.
"So who is Anna-Lee?" Nicole asked.
"She is the oldest daughter of the family who started the center" Josie said as they made their way down the ramp the bus had driven down earlier, "she is the only one who can really explain why the center was started" They reached the double doors and Josie opened the right one as they walked in. Nicole noticed the only other girl in the room was sitting on the stage. She was was wearing a pink shirt with a blue cat smiley face on it and a knee length black skirt and heels. "Hey Josie" she greeted.
"Hey Ann-Lee, this is Nicole" she introduced as they reached her.
"Ah, the center's first attempted escapee" Anna teased. That surprised Nicole. She couldn't imagine no one had tried to escape this teen prison before. "Well I'm gonna go and tell someone to take her bags to her house and I'll meet you outside" Josie said and almost skipped out.
"I sat there and listened to Anna tell me about her sister Claira. She said Claira killed herself by overdosing on pills. She told me how she was so confused because Claira and she were so close yet Claira never told her what made her so scared that suicide was the only way out. My heart went out to her, but I was still determined to leave. I knew I didn't have a problem"
"Well I'll let Josie take to you're new house now" Anna-Lee said with a sweet smile and that made Nicole smile without even fighting it. Nicole walked out of the big wooden double doors and saw Josie sitting on the ground waiting. "Hey done?" Josie asked.
"Yeah what now?" Nicole asked.
"Follow me" Josie said getting up and something out her little white capris. Nicole followed her down the lobby to a door she unlocked. When they walked in Nicole saw electric scooters galore. "Why the scooter store?" Nicole asked in a jokingly sarcastic way.
"Well the center is to big to walk the entire ground so we give each kid a scooter to ride" Josie explained, "pick which one you want" Nicole looked around and for a while didn't find any she liked. Then at the very back of the room was a black scooter with little pink butterflies designed on the body of it. Nicole knew she had to have this scooter. "I want this one" she said grabbing it's handles. "Okie dokie lets push it up the ramp" Josie said and they walked out of the room and she locked it. When they got up the ramp on the left side was a white scooter with yellow smiley faces on it. "This is my scooter" Josie said hopping on it. As they drove Nicole noticed all the kids driving or walking around. It was wierd. She pictured everyone locked up in tiny little rooms being feed grey nasty food. "So do all workers get a scooter too?" Nicole asked.
"I don't know, I've had mine since I was sent here" Josie said.
"You were a kid here once?" Nicole asked. She was a little shocked because Josie didn't look like she had any problems at all. Just like her. "Yeah, I was sent here six years ago, after my last spell of starving myself into hospitalization" Josie said.
"Can I ask why you weren't eating?" Nicole asked.
"Back home there's this group called the princess society and to be in this group a girl has to be perfect" Josie started, "and in my family it was a tradition for generations and my mom told me only the girls with the perfect bodies and features get in, so I spent several years of my life either eating tiny portions or never eating. I was in and out of the hospital and almost died several times"
"Who sent you here?" Nicole asked.
"My stepdad did, he couldn't get through to my mom that I was basically killing myself so he called the center and thanks to this place I now see what I did was dangerous and that there was nothing wrong with me, but a long line of vanity in my family" Josie finished telling her story as they reached a pink painted house with the numbers three, six, and nine in black letters on the door. Josie unlocked the door and they walked in. The first thing Nicole saw was a sectional sofa that had atleast six seats to it. There was a foot rest in front of the seat at the end of the sofa. In front of the sofa was a cherry wood framed glass cocktail table that had a stack of pale wood coasters standing in the center of the table. Hanging on the wall across from the sofa area was a big screen TV. Nicole guessed it was about a fifty inch wide. On each side of the TV stood two tall glass lamps. Josie walked up to the two huge dark wood doors at the end of the room. She grabbed the black handle of the left door and slid it opened. Inside was a small but, very spacy stainless steel kitchen. The stove and fridge were shiny grey and there was a light above the stove. Several different steel cabinets and counters lined the walls of the kitchen area. The cabinet on the right had two stainless steel framed glass doors and Nicole saw that the cabinet held things like salt and other seasonings. "Ok now lets go sit in the living room and I'll show you your welcome bag" Josie said. As they walked back into the living room the front door opened and in walked two girls. One had long golden blond hair that went a few inches passed her shoulders and grayish blue eyes. Her shirt said STARLETTE: Janie. The other had black hair down to her shoulders that seem to curl at the bottom in waves and were low lighted in blond streaks. Her shirt read STARLETTE: Tori. Nicole noticed they had backpacks hanging from their shoulders and books in their arms. "Nicole this is Janie and Tori, your roommates" Josie introduced.
"Hi" Nicole said as she shook their hands.
"We'll just go upstairs until you're done" Tori said as she and Janie headed up a wooden staircase next to the kitchen doors. "Ok so lets see" Josie said getting in the bag. She pulled out a white t-shirt. She showed it to Nicole. Just like Janie and Tori's it said STARLETTE: Nicole. "You'll have to were this when you start classes here" Josie said.
"The center has a school?" Nicole asked.
"Yep" Josie said getting back in the bag. She pulled out a silver box and opened it up. Inside Nicole saw tiny little coins that had little stars carved on them. "These are star tokens. They're the center's version of money for the kids" Josie explained getting back in the bag. She took out a white Lanier. "This is for your picture ID" Josie said.
"I have to take a picture?" Nicole asked.
"Yeah" Josie cheered, "so pick a place to stand and I'll snap the picture" Nicole then noticed the camera around Josie's neck. Nicole started to panic. Did her clothes look good, was her hair ok? Did she look fat?
"I realize now that panicking over a simple school type ID picture was a bit over the top, but in the modeling world you tend to make it a habit"
"Can I take the picture outside?" Nicole asked.
"Sure" Josie said as they headed outside. Nicole stood in front of the door. She figured the brightness outside would make the picture turn out better. Josie snapped the picture. "This should be done by tomorrow" Josie said. They walked back inside and Nicole watched as Josie pulled a little purple bracelet out of the bag. In white print on the bracelet it said I Know I Can Touch My Star. "This is just a little inspirational gift we give to each kid that comes here' Josie said tossing Nicole the bracelet, "and these are little gifts too" she held up a shiny purple notebook and white pen.
"Do we have to keep a journal or something?" Nicole asked.
"Some do, but you can use it for anything" Josie said as Nicole took the book and pen.
"Well I'll go and let you get settled in" Josie said, "Oh and your room is right there" she pointed to a closed white door in the corner by the front door. Josie hugged Nicole and took off. Nicole put the items back in the little white bag and went into the bedroom that was now her's. She opened the door and the first thing she saw was a big bed. It looked to be about a full size. On the bed was a big purple comforter with a bright orange and pink flower design on it. At the top of the bed were pillows that matched. Across from the bed was a hawthorne style dark wood dresser and bedside it was a tall light purple colored floor lamp. She noticed her bags on the floor and started to unzip them and put her clothes away. After she finished with that she noticed a little chest on the left side of her bed and decided to store all her personal items in there. She even put her welcome items in it.
"After I got settled in I just laid on the bed for a while. The center seemed nice, but I didn't wanna be there so, I was still set on leaving. I was gonna show my parents they weren't gonna control me. Not by sending me some place they thought could help me"
Nicole was about asleep when there was a knock on her door. She opened it and there stood Janie and Tori. There looked perkier then before. They had changed out of their Starlette shirts. Janie was wearing the same jeans she had on when Nicole first saw her, but her shirt was different it was blue with a black sheer jacket type thing sewed onto it. Tori was changed into a pretty pink sundress with a swirly flower design on the top of it. "Hi, we just wanted to check on you and maybe hang out since we're in the same house" Tori said.
"Ok" Nicole said as she closed her bedroom door and followed the other two girls into the living room. "So what are you here for?" Janie asked.
"My parents think I have a problem with my body" Nicole answered.
"What problem?" Tori asked as she stretched her legs out on the foot stool of the sectional sofa.
"I guess an eating disorder, but I don't have one I just wanna be a model" Nicole said siting at the other end of the sofa, "you guys?"
"Well I'm here cause my mom thought I was addicted to boys, well more sex then boys so she sent me here and I gotta say I think she was right" Tori said. relaxing on a big cushion in the floor.
"I have a drinking issue and texting addiction" Janie said, "all though texting seems like a weird thing to be addicted too"
"So, are you guys cured?" Nicole asked.
"No one's ever cured, but I think this place has started to help me alot" Tori said.
"Me too even though I miss texting" Janie said as all the girls laughed.