My counselor’s name is John Quinn, he goes by Quinn. He’s a big burly Dwayne Johnson looking motherfucker that clearly takes no shit. He explained the rules and regulations, all fucking bullshit if you ask me. He seems cool enough though, he talked to me like I’m a fucking adult and not a child, which was unexpected, if I’m being honest. He warned that there’s no fraternizing with other patients, just like Mom warned, so I guess I have to cool my shit when it comes to flirting with Blondie. She’s a bit of a twat anyway. She has the potential to be cool, but I think missing her pills is fucking with her attitude.
I didn’t have anything in my system when I came in, plus I have access to all the fucking cigarettes I want so I’ll be just fine. I’ll be able to pick up right where I left off, providing Mom and Dad unfreeze my accounts.
Once I have all of my clothes put away I take a quick shower. I pull on some basketball shorts and go back out to the smoking area. I have my pack and the new lighter Quinn gave me. When I get there Blondie is sitting on a bench with her smokes and a book.
“Hey,” I greet her as I approach.
“You again,” she replies without looking up.
“Yeah, I’m stuck here too so you’re gonna have to get used to me,” I sigh as I sit down on the other end of the bench.
She doesn’t respond to me.
I light up my cigarette and drop my head back. I had fuckin’ plans tonight. Instead of sitting next to the ice queen I should be snorting a line off of Ginger’s stomach right now. This is bullshit.
“Whatcha reading?” I ask after a minute or two of silence.
“The Idiot,” she answers.
“What’s that about?” Fuck, I’m used to having someone to talk to. Maybe I should take her up on her offer to trade rooms.
“An idiot,” she mumbles.
“Ooookay,” I sigh. “Look, I’m not going to try to attack you. Fuck, I’m just trying to make conversation.”
“And I’m trying to read Russian literature,” she says.
I close my eyes, leaving my head back. Other than the smell of the smoke the air is crisp and fresh. I can feel my nipples harden in the cool air after my shower. I think my skin is still a little damp.
The sound of the pages being turned and the slow inhale of the cigarette are starting to relax me.
“I should be out with my friends right now,” I sigh. Apparently I don’t know how to stay quiet.
“Mmhmm,” she hums. She crosses her legs and I can see a gnarly scar on her right knee.
“Where’d you get the scar?” I ask quietly. I figure we’re going to be here without visitation and so far it seems like we’re the only two smokers. We might as well get to know each other.
She sighs and marks her page. “I took an ice skate to the knee during the Anchorage Olympics four years ago,” she says. “It ended my career.”
“That blows,” I say, “I wouldn’t have pegged you as a hockey player. You’re a little too… feminine.”
“I was a figure skater.” She looks at me like I just fell off the short bus. “I won a gold medal at fifteen.”
“Huh, congratulations,” I nod.
“Thanks.” She snubs out her cigarette and stands up.
“Leaving so soon?” I smirk. “I haven’t even harassed you.”
“I’m saving you the trouble. You’re really barking up the wrong tree,” she says.
“Too bad. You’re cute when your face gets all red with anger,” I wink.
“That’s what my boyfriend says too.”
“He has good taste,” I say, scanning her curvy little body.
“Yes he does and I’m not looking for a side dish, so I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else to harass.”
“Hmm, but we have so much in common. We started rehab the same hour, we both smoke, I’m blonde, you’re blonde. We both have blue eyes… Match made in heaven,” I joke. I bet her boyfriend has a side dish, especially if she’s going to be here the next couple months.
“I wouldn’t call this heaven,” she snorts and heads for the door.
“Neither would I, but we need to make the best of it. You’re going to make yourself miserable if you keep treating people like they’re beneath you, Ice Queen.” I finish my cigarette and get up to go back to my room.
“Thanks for your analysis, Dr. Jung,” she says as she goes inside.
I finish the trek to my room and flop down on my bed. It’s tiny and uncomfortable as fuck. I spend a good four hours tossing and turning before I finally pass out.
“So, what do we do in this counseling session?” I ask Quinn. I don’t have a goddamn thing to say to him.
“We talk about why you’re here and what caused you to end up an addict,” he says.
“First off, I’m not an addict. Secondly, I’m here because my parents are cutting me off and I got to choose this shithole or jail,” I explain.
“Why do you think they thought you needed rehab if you’re not an addict?”
“I don’t know,” I shrug, “Mom is tired of the parties in the guesthouse.”
“Do you use narcotics?”
“What do you consider a narcotic?”
“Heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, oxycontin, fentanyl, codeine, vicodin, xanax, klonopin, valium, crack, methamphetamines, ecstasy, marijuana…” he trails off.
Pot is not a narcotic, but I’m not going to argue that.
“I’ve done a few of those,” I admit.
“So your intake form says. Look, Eric, I don’t like wasting my time. If you’re not really going to do the program, you might as well leave now,” Quinn says. “Let me focus my time and energy on someone that actually gives a shit about themselves.”
I sigh and lean back in my chair. “I just don’t know how to do this. I didn’t think I had a problem, but everyone in my life seems to think I do.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“Hmm, probably because this is the first day I woke up sober in… years,” I admit.
“How long have you been using?” Quinn asks.
“Regularly, maybe five or six years,” I shrug. “I’ve been doing shit every now and then since I was fifteen.”
“Have your habits interfered with your life?”
“How so? I don’t work, my parents are both famous and I have a bank account set up. My life is pretty much party and sleep.”
“What sort of long-term goals do you have?”
“I’ve never set any…” I’ve never had to. My parents spoil the fuck out of me.
Quinn nods and makes some notes on a legal pad.
“So your plan for the rest of your life is to get high and sleep?” he asks.
“Looks like it,” I shrug. “I can play drums. My dad taught me when I was a kid, that’s really all I have going for me. After high school my parents moved me into the guesthouse and handed me a credit card.”
“Do you think they’re responsible for your addictions?”
“Honestly?” He nods, “Yeah, my dad gave me my first joint and neither one of them really discouraged me when they found out I was doing harder stuff, they turned the other cheek.”
“Why do you think they’ve had a change of heart?”
“Mom isn’t working and it probably dawned on her just how much coke I can put away in a day,” I tell him. “Mom has been away on shoots for the most part and Dad just didn’t give a fuck.”
“Do you feel resentment toward them for not being stronger parental figures for you?”
“I never really thought about it. I guess… I wish Mom was around more,” I sigh.
“Is it possible that using drugs was a way of trying to get their attention?” Quinn turns in his seat to grab a giant coffee mug.
“No, I used the drugs because I have fun when I’m high…”
“That’s the superficial reason you use,” he tells me.
“I didn’t think there was a deeper reason,” I reply.
“There are some people that can use recreationally, but your life is centered around your next high,” he says. “You don’t meet the criteria for a recreational user, Eric. By your own admission, your life is all about partying and sleeping.”
“Which makes me an addict,” I sigh.
“Bingo,” he nods. “The question I need you to answer is whether or not you want to continue to let the drugs call the shots in your life.”
I look at Quinn for a moment. I recall the look on my mother’s face when she hugged me goodbye. Every one of my friends’ faces filter through my mind. They’re all strung out junkies and then I see myself in the mirror yesterday morning. The bags under my eyes, the fact that I’m starting to see my ribs and my collarbone looks like it’s about to poke through my skin. I look sick.
“No, I don’t want to,” I say quietly.
“Then it sounds to me like you just set your first goal,” Quinn says. “It won’t be easy and the temptation to go back to the way you were will be overwhelming, but I believe you’re stronger than the drugs. I just need you to believe that.”
“It might take me some time to get there,” I tell him. “I’m tired of feeling like shit.”
“It’ll get better. I’m not going to make you any bullshit promises, Eric. Lots of days it’s going to suck, even years from now after you leave here. Those commercials for centers that promise you’ll leave cured are misleading. You can absolutely beat your addiction, but you will always be an addict,” he tells me.
I nod. Even I find those commercials ridiculous.
“Thanks, man,” I say with my first genuine smile in probably years.
“Thank me when you’re done detoxing,” he snickers.
“I’d be on a murderous rampage if I didn’t have my cigarettes,” I snort.
“You’ll be fine,” he says. “One day at a time. It’s cliche, but it’s the best way to deal.”
I get up from my chair and for the first time since I was a kid I want to call my mom to tell her something that would make her proud of me. I’ve been greeted with sighs and a shaking head for so long I don’t feel like she even cares most of the time. Leaving me here is proof that she does.
My first night was only bearable because I had the foresight to pack earplugs. Amelia even talks in her fucking sleep. It’s really fucking annoying. If I had my Valium, I would have been in Lala Land and I wouldn’t have cared. I still blame that bitch Talbot for taking it from me. It’s not like I can’t sleep without the pills, but they make the landing much softer.
Now I’m sitting my counselor’s office trying not to judge the shitty artwork on her walls. The room stinks of old coffee, cheap perfume and pencil shavings. I’d much rather be out under a tree somewhere reading.
“I’m not like the other people here. I’m in college and I have a 3.9 GPA. I don’t take pills to get high. I have a legitimate medical reason for taking them,” I say to Sophie-Anne, pointing to my knee.
“Which legitimately caused you to drive the wrong way onto the freeway, endangering hundreds of lives,” she points out. “Can I ask you something, Sookie?”
“You’re going to anyway,” I shrug.
“True. How does your knee feel right now?”
“It hurts. It always hurts.” My knees have been stiff for years.
She makes a couple notes and says, “I’ll ask you that same question toward the end of your stay. Why do you think you’re here?”
“Because I made a wrong turn and I just happened to have my medication in my system at the time. I’m not an addict,” I insist.
“When was the last time you went a day without any medication in your system?”
“The day before that cow slammed into me,” I answer.
“Why do you think the judge sent you to rehab if you’re not an addict?” Sophie-Anne asks.
“To save me from myself,” I snicker. This is a joke.
She nods and jots down a few more notes.
“So, if you don’t think you should be here, why didn’t you take the jail option?” she asks me. “We’re not an escape to avoid doing your time. I can easily recommend the judge send you to finish out your sentence behind bars.”
“I’d get better drugs in jail,” I shrug.
“Fine. I’ll make the call and I can have you picked up by three.” She closes her notebook and stares at me.
“Do you give up on all of your patients this easily?” I ask. I do not like this bitch at all.
“No, but you clearly don’t want help. I have people here that want the help, Sookie. I don’t want to waste my time, or yours. By the way, I was able to get you moved out of the room with Amelia.”
“Good. I slept like shit last night. She yells in her sleep,” I tell Sophie-Anne.
“Are you going to stick around and take this seriously?”
I take a deep breath and say, “I’ll stay but I really don’t think I have a problem.”
“Have you ever manipulated or lied to a doctor to obtain a refill on your prescription?”
“No,” I reply. “I have pain in my legs from the accident.”
“Have you been on the same drug since the accident, or have you graduated to stronger narcotics?”
“I’ve graduated. At first I was on Vicodin, but after a year it was about as effective as an expired aspirin so he put me on codeine and then that wasn’t working so he put me on oxycontin,” I reply.
“Interesting,” she comments. “Do your pills have any affect on your day to day life?”
“No. I have friends, a boyfriend, I’m studying literature.”
“Do any of your friends or your boyfriend take pills, or do you hide your drug use from them?”
“They all know. They know what happened to me so they don’t question it. I spent the year after my accident having various surgeries and learning to walk again,” I tell her. “And to my knowledge, none of them take pills. I don’t supply them, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Does the thought of running out of your pills scare you, Sookie?”
“No. I don’t give them to other people because I’m not a drug dealer,” I answer.
“That wasn’t the question,” she says.
“I answered your question. I said no.”
Is she listening to me? I don’t like her attitude, like she’s already made up her mind about me.
“Do you feel that it’s impossible to live without the drugs?” she asks.
“No, but I’d be in pain all the time.”
She sets her pen aside and looks at me. “How many pills are you supposed to take in a twenty-four hour period?”
“I don’t know,” I shrug. I stopped paying attention to the directions a long time ago.
“How much was in your system when you were caught?”
“I have no idea. I was on a Valium, Oxycontin and Percocet cocktail at the time.”
She sighs and says, “Sookie, you have a lot of work to do here. Do you truly intend to take this serious?”
“I intend to do whatever I have to to stay out of jail. If that means saying I’m an addict so it makes you feel like you’re doing your job, then I’m an addict,” I reply.
“With that attitude you might as well go to jail,” she sighs. “I’m not going to waste my time on you if you’re going to be so flippant.”
“All of my medications are prescribed. If I was an addict, why would my doctor keep giving me more drugs?” I ask. “Isn’t it against the Hippocratic oath to enable your patients?”
“It is and sadly some doctors don’t follow it,” she says.
“Then he should have been arrested and not me,” I grumble.
“Maybe, but this isn’t about him, this is about you. You have a problem with drugs, Sookie, I intend to help you see that and stand by you as you heal.”
I laugh at that.
“I don’t have a problem with drugs, other than I could use an Oxy right now because my knees hurt.”
“Wait until you detox,” she says.
“I’m glad you think this is funny.” I stand up. “You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe this isn’t for me. One more minute in this room with you… I’m done.”
I’m really glad to know she thinks this chronic pain I’m living with is a joke. She has no idea what this feels like. The most pain she has to deal with is that godawful wardrobe of hers.
I turn and jerk the office door open. Fuck this shit.
“Don’t forget group tomorrow at nine, Miss Stackhouse,” Sophie-Anne calls after me.
I don’t acknowledge her. There has to be a way to switch counselors. She’s a fuckin’ idiot.
As soon as I step outside I light a cigarette. I don’t care if it’s not a designated smoking area. I groan when I do get to the smoking area and find Pretty Boy already lit up. Thankfully, there are three other people out there too. Good. I don’t want to deal with him right now.
There’s an older guy in a sweater vest with thick glasses, a girl with mocha skin and bad highlights and another girl with track marks on her arms and deep burgundy hair. Pretty Boy’s eyes keep moving back and forth between me and Skunk Stripe. He’s obviously undressing us both mentally. Ugh. Gross.
I flick my cigarette and for some reason, Pretty Boy takes it as an invitation to come talk to me.
“First meeting with your counselor?” he asks, lighting up another cigarette.
“Yup. I fuckin’ hate her.”
“That blows,” he says.
“Apparently it’s funny to her that I had to learn to walk all over again.” I take a long drag and blow the smoke away from his face.
“I’m sorry. I lucked out with a dude that looks like The Rock and he’s just as cool,” Pretty Boy tells me. “I’m Eric by the way.” He holds out his hand to shake mine.
“Sookie.” I shake his hand quickly. Of course he watches my tits the whole time.
“Good to meet you properly,” he says. “How’s the roommate situation going?”
“Supposedly my counselor is moving me to a different room. My roommate yells in her sleep.”
“They stuck you with Moaning Myrtle?” The girl with track marks snickers and migrates our way. “She’s been here nine weeks and has had five roommates already. They should put her in a single.”
“I offered to share my room,” Eric smirks.
“I doubt there’s room for two on that bed, Stretch, and I’m doubly sure you don’t want to sleep on the floor,” I snort.
“Mmm, I can make room for you,” he says, eyeing my nipples.
“If Betty Jo catches you, you’re both out on your ass,” the other girl warns.
“Eric is in denial about how infinitesimal his chances are of getting in my pants,” I explain.
“It makes my stay in hell tolerable,” he winks.
“Meanwhile I’m stuck explaining over and over that no means no,” I sigh.
Eric rolls his eyes and takes another drag off his cigarette. I finish mine and tuck my pack in my pocket before turning and heading for my room. I need a fuckin’ nap.