Survive : chap 1

Chapter 1It is ten minutes before ten, and normally I’d be staking out a chair for Group. That’s the kind of thing you worry about in an institution like Life House. I guess that’s good, in a way. The challenge of Group is to find a chair as far away from Old Doctor as possible without sitting too close to Big Stink, otherwise secretly known as BS. BS is Ben, and he’s the only boy on Life House D, which is specifically for cutters and suicides, and he smells like urine baked at three-fifty for forty minutes. You don’t want to sit next to BS for an hour. I mean he is extra sweet and all and we’ve had some nice conversations, but an hour of inhaling his fumes can cause brain damage. Sometimes the logistics are tough, so I get there early and wait. I’m a planner.But today I’m not participating in Group. Instead, I’m flying home to New Jersey for the first time since arriving in Idaho three hundred and forty-five days ago. My plane leaves in exactly six hours, nine minutes, and thirty seconds according to the pocket watch my father left me. It is old, but I trust it. He’s dead, but I still trust him more than anyone else I know, and I certainly trust his pocket watch a lot more than I trust the airlines and the schedules they almost never keep. But I can’t worry about that now. The fact remains: I’m leaving Life House, my home away from home for the past year, in six hours and nine minutes flat. Ticktock ticktock.I’m here at Life House because a year ago I had an “incident.” The professionals, otherwise known as my doctors, have labeled it an attempted suicide. Me and Old Doctor (he’s the chief of chiefs around here and my doctor too) haven’t agreed that that is what actually happened. I might have just been cutting or maybe I just wanted attention from my mother. These are two theories we’ve considered during the last year.“And until we agree on what happened,” he has said many times, “you may call it what you wish.”In two hours, 12 p.m. to be exact, I will board a bus and leave here forever. Over the past six months, I’ve been accumulating Progress Points—speaking in Group, two points; mentoring other girls, three points; sharing and communicating during non-required social activities, five points—all acts of good faith in pursuit of one goal: freedom. The points added up, enough to earn me this week-long trip to celebrate Christmas with my family.What the doctors don’t know is that it’s all been a lie: everything I’ve done, every “hello” to Drs. Crimshaw and Gallus, every perceived act of kindness to my suite mates, Beth and Sam and BS, every faux revelation delivered with a tear or two to Old Doctor has been in service of a secret plan.Here’s what you need to know: When I get on that airplane tonight, I will never arrive home. My body will land in New Jersey, but me, the airy part that lives inside my body, my soul if you must, will not. When the lights go down and all the people nod off for a short nap, I will unfasten my seat belt and quietly walk back to the restroom and take a handful of kryptonite and go to sleep. Forever. And when the plane lands, and everyone is scurrying to find their luggage and looking for signs for ground transportation, I’ll be on my own flight to oblivion.

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