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You know that one guy at your public school that is really artistic – like most of you are – but, you’re pretty sure he’s on drugs? And he never comes to school, and then, one summer he loses about half his body weight and doesn’t come back?
That’s me. That’s why I was in the backseat of my parents’ Chevy, ascending into the mountains, headed for Horizon Hill Rehabilitation Facility, head rested on my knees, U2 playing through my twisted and taped headphones.
You say I should go for help, but I can’t go go to nobody else...
“Oh, isn’t that nice? All these wilderness and wildlife will have you feeling better in no time,” My mother chirps from the front seat, adjusting the mirror to see me. I’m sure I look like cr_p because she gets this sympathetic look on her face, like when you see a scrubbed grey alley cat with a bent tail, and it hisses at you. You poor thing, you’ve done this to yourself.
“Yeah,” I mutter.
My dad says something about how the help at the facility is top notch, and I just nod, and rest my forehead back on my knees. I felt like cr_p, too.
We roam the streets in the morning light, we held our head in our hands...
A week and a half ago, my mom found me in the back alley, smoking heroin off a piece of tin foil. I had dropped it immediately – landing it right beside my red converse – and she had run up to me and picked it up. Ignoring burnt fingers, she had realized what it was immediately. That was the first time I regretted heroin, when I saw my Mom’s face then. It was disappointment, and a sense of loss and disbelief and anger all balled up together, her face long pale, starring at the black tar on the tin foil.
“You’re going to r-rehab!” She sputtered, shaking her head.
Then, Mom and Dad had laid down that dumb innuendo: Go to rehab, or move out.
“I’m seventeen f_cking years old, where the hell am I supposed to go?!” I had screamed. I had no job, no car, and the band wasn’t making enough money for me to get an apartment or whatever.
Dad eased the car into a parking space, and he and Mom had slid out of their seats. I felt my stomach drop as Dad opened the door. I kept my head down, raven hair falling so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact.
I pulled my suitcase out of the trunk, and my guitar – the only instrument of the handful I played that I was allowed to bring with me – and faced the rehab facility doors.
It looked like a nursing home to me, with yellow and white stucco walls, and smiling faces printed on walls. The sliding doors blasted me with air conditioning and I allowed myself to fall behind Mom and Dad as they approached the front desk. The lady knew who we were, and flashed us a toothy smile, sliding a clipboard across the desk at us.
“Please fill this out while I tell your councillor you’ve arrived.”
Dad takes the clipboard, and the three of us sit down directly across from the desk in three plastic chairs. I place my luggage at my feet, and Dad reads out the questions.
“Name?” He says, and then answers his own question, “Joshua Ramsay. Age? 17.”
Dad’s pen moves across the page, checking boxes, specifying my list of issues. Believe me, it’s a long list. I rub my wrists, and quickly change the song on my iPod to distract myself.
“I think you should fill these out,” Dad places the clipboard on my lap, and I see that there are a few questions that haven’t been filled out. Like, how long have I been doing heroin? What other drugs have I been on before?
In my loopy handwriting, I spell it out: Two years on heroin, one year before experimenting with pot, ecstasy, shrooms and booze. I pass the sheet back to Dad, and avert my eyes so I don’t have to see his expression.
Soon enough, it’s time to say goodbye. I actually don’t want to let them go – my parents are cool, they’re the ones that got me into music, and they’ve never been unfair with me – and I’m hoping that even if this rehab thing doesn’t work, they’ll still want to see me again.
“Be strong,” Are my Dad’s last words to me, before him and my tearful mother take their leave, driving back down the hill in a puff of exhaust choked out of our Chevy.
I said goodbye to my straight life, ‘cause I love a freak. A freak like me needs company.