Chapter 1

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Left turn, thump.

Right turn, thump.

With my eyes closed, I continued to let my limp head knock against the cold hard glass of the car window. I didn't have the energy or the desire to stop it, not this morning.

Dip in the road, thump.

I momentarily let myself wonder how hard I'd have to accidentally let my head hit the window to knock myself out.

Right turn, thump.

Right turn, thump.

We were nearly there now and the thought was starting to make me feel nauseous. I'd travelled this road a thousand times before, but I had never dreaded it like this.

"I really don't feel good." I groaned for the tenth time since breakfast, as I slowly opened my eyes.

"Emilia, you're not missing the first day of school."

"But mom, I..."

"No buts." I was instantly cut off. "You're going."

With another low groan, I let my eyelids drift shut again, as I willed myself to disappear into the darkness hidden behind them.

"I think it will be good for you to get out of the house. Maybe that's just what you need. A little bit of normality and routine, see your friends." My mom continued but she sounded distant now, almost as though I was just floating away.

Within seconds, I was out of my head, out of our old rusty car and soaring freely over the mass of green forests that surrounded the only town I'd ever called home. 'The Kynwood bubble' I used to call it, but back then it made me feel safe, rather than trapped. Now days, 'the Kynwood cage' felt like a more accurate description.

Up, up, I continued to let my mind float away. Where to? Anywhere but here I guess. Up.

I didn't even realise the car had come to a stop until I felt the warmth of a hand on my leg. It instantly pulled me right back to reality, the one where I couldn't fly, there was no escape from the bubble and the first day of my senior year was beckoning.

"Emilia... come on."

I opened my eyes once again. It took them a second to adjust to the light but the moment they did, I was immediately greeted with the sight of a familiar orange brick building, home to Kynwood's one and only high school.

I'd never been the type to hate school. I'd thrived here actually, one of those annoying overachievers that everything seemed to come to just a little too easy. Popular with the students as well as the teachers, captain of the girls' soccer team, grades that rarely fell below an A, even though I went to every party. It really seemed like I had high school completely made, or at least it had before summer break.

"I've already spoken to the school Emi. They know that you're not feeling your usual self, if things start to get too much, they have your pills in the nurse's office."

Remaining silent, as I did more than often these days, I stared back into a face very similar to my own, with the addition of some added wrinkles. I couldn't help but wonder how many of those lines I'd been the cause of lately. I guess there's only so many times a person can frown before the creases decide to claim that bit of skin for good.

'Take a pill' seemed to be my mom's answer to all of my problems recently. Can't sleep? Take a pill. Too tired? Take a pill. Overwhelmed? Take a pill. Underwhelmed? Take a pill.

So that's what I did. I took pills until it left me feeling as empty and hollow as the bottles that the little blue and green capsules came from. Apparently that was 'what was necessary' right now, or so my mom said.

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