"Mr. Montgomery, could I see you for a moment?" A doctor without her words covered steps inside the independent study classroom. I hunch my shoulders and pretend like I didn't hear her. Bobby Pins and I are the only ones in here right now and he's just drawing loopy circles on cheap construction paper. He has the attention span of a five-year-old. "Mr. Montgomery. It's urgent."

The supervisor looks up from her pulp novel and glares at me, as if I will personally ruin her career of babysitting insane children if I don't get up and obey. My chair protests like it's a corpse I'm rousing unwillingly from the grave. Scratch marks create shallow ridges in the flecked tile floors. A cheaply glued motivational poster that says "Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars !" comes unattached and slowly floats to the ground.

"This arrived for you today, Mr. Montgomery." She acts like I'll forget who I am if she doesn't constantly remind me. "I would suggest you go to your room alone before reading it." With slight caution, she stretches out her hand--with a powdery glove stretched over it, always trying to cover words--to hand me a haphazardly folded piece of inexpensive paper. I have no idea what could be so important as to require a doctor to deliver it to me.

I avert my eyes away from her and to the floor, scattering quickly to my room before they'll make me do anything else. My feet dodge The Stain before I reach my destination. My roommate, is curled up on his cot making occasional moaning noises. He made his split personality disorder painfully aware, but I'm not quite sure why else he's here. He definitely couldn't function on his own.

My headphones are jammed in before I allow my shaking fingers to unfold the stained paper. The handwriting is so light and spidery that I immediately recognize it. It sends a huge lump right into the middle of my throat.

Dear Johnny,

How are you doing, love? I sure hope that this gets to you. You know how we had that idiotic dog that just wouldn't leave? And how it finally just died one day? But before that it kept digging annoying graves to die in. That dog knew that he was going to die. I thought it was dumb until I was put in that position myself.

They tell you that ice literally destroys your brain cells. Oh, it sure does. I could feel it. I'm telling you, Johnny, there's nothing worse than looking in the mirror and seeing your own dull hair, wide eyes, and destroyed teeth and knowing that you'll never be free from that slave driver of a monster. One thing about it is that while you're high, you can't sleep or eat. I'm probably dying from that deprivation as much as anything.

But you're not reading this for Drugs 101 taught by mommy, are you? I wanted to get all of this down for you before I die--it won't be that long now, Johnny. You deserve to know where you came from, so here I am.

I met your dad as a sophomore in college. March sixteenth--the best and worst day of my life. Oh, my word, was he perfect. Gorgeous eyes, perfect hair, good at everything. I was that way too, actually. I had an academic scholarship, was a cheerleader, in the drama program... We started dating and after about a year... I found out I was pregnant with you. We were young and we were idiots and we screwed up--I'll regret it until the day I die. If I had stayed on the right path, we would've married, had you later, and our lives would be perfect. You would be with your family, I wouldn't be in my current occupation, and your father wouldn't have left me.

He was scared, Johnny. And rightfully so. But of course, all of our bad decisions turned around to bite us in the butt. You know my line of work. I'm sure you pieced it together from what you saw as a toddler. My appearance was so ruined from abusing drugs--do I regret it--so that was the only thing I could do to pay those high, high, high prices.

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