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My 30 Day Challenge

Chapter 14

Day 4: Do you consider yourself to be ‘addicted’? Why or why not?

I spent a sleepless night wondering where Mike had gone, and I never noticed him come back, but when I went downstairs in the morning, there he was, having a conversation with Mr Fuentes about his latest tattoo. The best action, I decided, was not to confront him about it, and maybe talk to Vic. God, I was so scared of this guy, and he had no idea! I hoped.

‘Morning, Kellin,’ Vivian said, smiling. I nodded in response. I looked around, but Vic was absent. I would have asked, but didn’t know how.

Mike and I caught the bus together, and as soon as we got to school he left me on my own. I managed to hide for the whole morning, sitting on my own in English class, but once it got to break Jack finally found me and attacked me.

‘Where the hell were you, man?’ he demanded as he grabbed my arm and dragged me off to the oval, supposedly to talk to me on my own.

‘I…’ Shit. Would I finally have to explain to him? ‘I was sick.’

‘Sick, my ass! You were fine when you were at mine the other day. Seriously, where were you?’

‘Look, I’d rather not talk about it, if I can,’ I said miserably. I was getting nervous.

He sighed. ‘Look, Kellin, I get that you’re a secretive person. And that’s fine! People need to keep some things to themselves. But we’re friends, man, and it can’t be that big. Friends tell each other things, and I swear to God whatever you have to tell me I’m not gonna be pissed off with you. So, if you can, just please, tell me, okay?’

I was stumped. On one hand, I did want to tell him. It would make life easier, and he’d been pretty nice to me so far. Vic and Mike had reacted to it well. But there was this nagging voice in the back of my head that was telling me he wouldn’t care, he’d just drop me, that I’d lose the one friend I’d made, that things would go back to the way they were in Oregon.

I thought of Dr Jardine.

If there is anyone at all in your life who is on your side, don’t push them away. Grasp on to them, and hold them as tightly as you can.

‘I… I need to… to tell you something, Jack,’ I began slowly. I didn’t know how much to tell him; I didn’t want to go into really personal details, but he had to know some of it. ‘I got sent here because – I – I t-tried to… um… k-kill myself.’

His mouth fell open. ‘Kellin, are you –‘

‘No. don’t ask me that. I hate that question. I just… They decided I have to go to a mental hospital, and there isn’t one where I lived. So my mom sent me here to live with her high school friend, and I was at a session yesterday.’ I turned away, not able to look at him.

‘Kellin, look at me.’ I didn’t move. ‘Okay, fine. I just… you didn’t have to be so worried about telling me that, you know. It’s not that big a deal.’

That got me a little pissed off. ‘Not a big deal?’ I asked, my voice shaking.

‘That wasn’t what I meant, Kellin, and you know that. What I meant was that it doesn’t bother me that you’re depressed. Yeah, it’s got to suck for you, and I get that you probably don’t want to talk about it after this, but I really like you, Kellin, you’re fun to be around and I don’t think that this has to affect our friendship,’ he said in a rush, his face going slightly red.

I let the words sink in, thinking. He seemed to genuinely not care. And I was damned if I was going to lose Jack. He was one of the best things that had happened to me in years.

‘Okay,’ I said softly. He smiled widely, and went in for a hug, but I dodged it. ‘Just… I don’t do hugs. Or touching.’

‘Shut up, man, I wasn’t trying to hug you,’ he said, getting defensive and pretending to be overly-manly. ‘Anyway, we should get back to the others. By the way, who else knows? About your… depression?’

‘Just the Fuentes’,’ I responded quietly. ‘And I’m not really ready to tell the others yet, so-‘

‘Yeah, sure, I won’t tell them! I wouldn’t do that. But at some point, I think you should let them know,’ he said carefully.

I agreed to, and we walked back to the main building, where our absence had not been noticed. The day passed uneventfully, until the end of school, where Vic was parked outside waiting for me.

‘Hey Kellin,’ he greeted me. ‘How are you?’

‘Fine,’ I shrugged, getting into the car. ‘Where’s Mike? I haven’t seen him all day.’

Vic tensed. ‘What do you mean? He was at school with you.’

‘We got off the bus this morning and he just disappeared. I assumed he ditched and came to find you or something.’

Vic remained silent. Seemingly, he decided that Mike wasn’t at school and we shouldn’t wait for him, so as he started backing the car out, he said, ‘You ready for today’s question?’

‘Yeah, I guess,’ I answered.

‘Do you consider yourself to be addicted? Why or why not?’

Holy crap, these questions were getting hard.

Was I addicted to self-harming? My initital thought was no, of course I wasn’t. but the more I thought about it, the more it became possible.

‘Define addicted,’ I said.

He looked amused. ‘Search it on my phone.’

I did, and read out the answer. ‘Physically and mentally dependent on a substance.’

‘I think we know that substance can be replaced. But what I was thinking was more along the lines of could you stop if you wanted to, or if I asked you to, would you throw away your blades. What would happen if you felt you needed to and you couldn’t.’

This got me thinking. Could I stop if I wanted to? Well, I didn’t know; at the moment I wasn’t sure that I did want to, and I couldn’t imagine wanting to stop. I supposed that kind of answered the question, in a way. Would I throw away my blades if Vic asked me to? To be honest, I’d probably pretend to or just throw them out and get more. As for what would happen if I needed to cut but couldn’t, I knew the answer.

I was with my mom, visiting my grandparents. I was about 12 or 13. It had been two years since my parents had split. My mom and grandma were sitting in the kitchen with me having coffee; my grandpa was asleep.

‘You know, darling, I’ve never understood why you got with that man in the first place. He was just a waste of your time; he never gave you anything you wanted or needed.’

‘I know; to be honest, I can’t believe it lasted that long. It was all just one big mistake.’

I was a waste of her time. She didn’t need me or want me. I was just one big mistake.

I murmured ‘excuse me’ and left them there, going upstairs. Heading for the bathroom, I looked long and hard for a razor, but found nothing. In the spare room with my and my mom’s suitcases, the pocket in my backpack that usually held it was empty. I went back to the bathroom, sure that I’d missed it. Of course there would be one.

Upon finding nothing, I sat down on the floor, tears leaking out of my eyes gently. I felt my nails dig into the palms of my hands. Suddenly, my arms were itchy – it was like there were bugs crawling underneath my skin. I scratched and scratched until blood came to the surface, and then I could still feel them there.

I heard my mom calling me, and went back downstairs, covering my arms with a jacket, determined she would not find out.

‘Yes.’ The single word broke the silence in the stuffy car. Vic was driving slower than usual, and taking a longer route.

‘Yes, you think you’re addicted, or yes, you understand what I said about five minutes ago?’

‘Yes, I think I’m addicted,’ came my response with an eye roll.

‘And why is that?’ he prompted.

‘What were the things you said when I asked you what addicted was? I need to remember them.’

‘Could you stop if you wanted to – ‘

‘I don’t want to,’ I broke in. ‘At least for the moment. So my answer to that is no, I guess.’

‘Would you throw out the blades if I asked you to?’

It hurt to tell him no. we’d just pulled up at the Fuentes’, but we stayed in the car, and he looked at me for a long time. ‘What would happen if you needed to cut and you couldn’t?’

‘I’d rather not tell you why, but I guess… I’d find a way.’

He sighed. ‘Kellin, I don’t even know how to tell you how I feel. But for now, I have to find Mike. I have no idea where he is, and to be honest, he could be in some really serious shit right now. Can we continue this later?’

‘I’m coming with you.’
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