Chapter One

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

The bedroom was deathly silent as Carey sat, cross-legged, on his bed. He stared numbly at the clock on the wall across from him, watching the second hand steadily tick. He rested his chin on his head, giving a slight sigh. He glanced out the window and looked at the silvery moonlight, trying not to think.

It was May 23rd. Carey Goddard should have graduated high school today. All his friends (well, the two he had) would be out celebrating together. They were finally done high school, something they'd all looked forward to practically since the moment they'd entered. But Carey didn't get to experience it with them, because he was trapped in rehabilitation.

Okay, maybe trapped was the wrong word to use, as this whole facility was supposed to be helping him. But Carey still couldn't fight the feelings of loneliness and downright disappointment. For some crazy reason, he had thought he'd be home by now, back to living his life. After two months at Monte Nido, a eating disorder rehabilitation center in New York, Carey had assumed he'd be making some sort of progress. But he'd barely made any head way at all. That very morning, he'd broken down over trying to eat half of a bagel. A bagel. He just couldn't handle it that day.

It didn't help matters that he was hungry now. It was almost midnight, and his stomach was growling loudly for food. Carey laid back in bed and looked at the ceiling, trying to ignore it. He knew that his therapist at Monte Nido, Xander Smith, would tell him to just go get whatever he wanted and eat it right then. Xander thought that it was wonderful that Carey was starting to experience real feelings of hunger again, and would want to encourage that desire to eat.

But the whole place was probably fast asleep, and Carey didn't want to be disruptive. No doubt he'd have a million people asking him why he was wandering the halls of Monte Nido the next morning. News, plus rumors, seemed to travel fast in places like this.

But he was just so hungry...

Carey's stomach rumbled once again.

"That's it." he muttered to himself. Carey slid out of bed, the wooden floorboards cold against his bare feet. He was getting food right now. He spotted his phone on the nightstand and grabbed it, slipping it into his pajama pocket. He hadn't even thought to check it all day, being worn out by the events of the day and knowing what he was missing.

Carey walked quickly out of the room before he lost his nerve. He pulled out his phone again and looked at it. Four texts from Elliot, two texts and three calls from Amelia, six of each from his mother...and a single call from Rebecca.

Carey blinked a few times, wondering what to do. They hadn't contacted each other for the entirety of the two months Carey had been gone. This was a promise they'd both made, and Carey had expected it to continue. Sure, he'd come pretty close to breaking it multiple times; every time he had a bad day, which was more often then he cared to admit, there was nothing more Carey wanted to hear then her voice. But he'd forced himself to keep the silence, as he was the one who'd pushed for it in the first place. He never imagined he'd miss her this much. Missing her was liking breathing.

Carey's thumb hovered over the voicemail Rebecca had left, his resolve wavering. Simply hearing her voice couldn't hurt, could it? He hurriedly pushed down on it and held the phone tight to his ear, the keys digging into his skin.

"Umm, hi Carey." Rebecca's familiar voice said through the phone's crappy speaker. "I know we said we wouldn't talk while you were gone and stuff, but like...I saw Amelia and Elliot today, because of the graduation, you know? And I dunno, I guess being with them without you felt wrong and I uh...I just missed you, I guess."

Here she paused, as if contemplating what to say next, and Carey smiled. He could almost see her, biting her lip as she thought.

"I miss you a lot, you know. Practically every street corner here has some memory with you on it, now. So I can't really walk anywhere anymore. See what you do, Goddard? See what you do to me?"

Here, Rebecca's voice broke and she sniffed, obviously trying to keep tears at bay. Carey almost wanted to stop the voicemail; he didn't want to hear her sad. But he couldn't shut her out, anymore then he could when they were actually together. She was the only one he listened to.

"Look, I know I probably shouldn't have called, and I've definitely made a fool of myself rambling on like this. But I just wanted you to know that I miss you, and I'm still thinking of you, and I know that you're doing well, because you're Carey and I'd expect no less. And that's it really. So, you don't have to reply to this call or anything, because you're probably busy. Umm, I guess I'll just hang up now. Bye Care Bear."

With a final beep, the voicemail ended. Carey leaned against the wall and clasped the phone against his chest, his entire body feeling numb.

He'd been so, so wrong. Hearing her voice had hurt unimaginably.

Carey slipped the phone back into his pocket and continued on his nighttime stroll. The halls of Monte Nido were eerily quiet in the late hours, the only sound being that of the air conditioner and Carey's soft footsteps. He walked to the huge kitchen and over one of the to the fridges. Grabbing the handle, he swung it open and looked inside at the contents, squinting against the light coming from the fridge.
"Let's see." he said softly, peering inside. "There's yogurt, and apple slices, and crackers-"
With a shrug, Carey grabbed a yogurt and sauntered over to the plastic utensils in the container off to the left. He ripped the lid off the yogurt and ate some, his mouth watering. He inhaled, smelling strawberries and he smiled to himself. He'd recently determined that strawberry was his favorite kind of yogurt. It felt nice to have favorites of things again.

Carey went back to his room with his food and settle back down on his bed. He still wasn't feeling tired yet though, so he switched on the bedside lamp and pulled out his photo albums. He flipped through the pages slowly, looking at the faces he held most dear. He saw one of Elliot and Amelia wearing gigantic onesies and felt another pang of homesickness hit him. He saw another of Rebeca, stretched out on his couch, fast asleep. Most of these Carey didn't even remember taking, but God, he was glad he did.

That reminded him. He hadn't taken his daily photograph yet. It was a personal project of Carey's, to take a photograph of himself every day he was in rehab. Xander was so into the idea that he'd taken to getting extra copies of the photographs developed and pinning them on the cork board in his office. It was meant to inspire Carey whenever he came in or something.

Carey set his yogurt down and reached for one of the disposable cameras on his nightstand. He quickly snapped a picture and looked at it. His hair was a mess, he had huge bags beneath his eyes, and some yogurt had even wound up on his chin. But Carey decided to keep it and not take another. That was what he looked like in that moment. That was his current reality, and that would have to do.

The clocked chimed midnight and Carey toasted the air with his yogurt.

"Happy graduation day."