Chapter 1: Old Habits Die Hard and new ones could kill you

Ellie shivered slightly as she felt a breeze blow across her bare legs. She crossed her legs and shifted her position on the hard picnic table trying to warm her a little.

"Are your legs cold?" he asked her as he put an arm around her shoulders.

"Yeah" Ellie answered pulling out of his grasp almost falling off the table in the process.

"Why don't you pull your hoodie off and wrap it around your legs?" He asked.

"No" she snapped and she quickly pulled the sleeves of her blue and white hoodie down tighter around her wrist, feeling self-conscious. The last thing she needed right now was for anyone to see the tiny cuts on her arm because by Monday everyone at school would be talking about it. They would all know why she did it, because he didn't want her, because he choose Manny and she couldn't stand to be the center of that gossip again.

"Ok, Nash" he slurred. "Sorry, just trying to be gentlemen"

"I'd have a coronary if you could even spell Gentlemen" Ellie mumbled.

Jay ignored the comment and stood up, swaying from side to side.

"I need more beer," he said to no one in particular and stumbled towards the cooler by his car.

Ellie looked around trying to remember how she got her. How did she go from being relatively self-assured and comfortable with herself to getting into Jay's car?

But the reasons were clear and she knew it actually came to weakness. She was at the ravine with jay Hoggart because she, Ellie Nash was just not strong enough. It was the same reason she placed that knife to her arm a few hours ago and the reason she cried herself to sleep last night.

FLASBACK

Ellie opens the door. to her apartment. She wiped the tears off of her cheeks and plastered a small smile on her face.

"Mom" she calls as she walks through the house. The house seemed to empty.

"Mom?"

The kitchen was the only room with a light on. There was a posted note stuck to the refrigerator. Ellie snatched it off and read it out loud.

Eleanor,

I am so sorry. I got a call from your dad tonight and we had a fight. I told him about my problems and I told him I got help but he still wants a divorce.

I can't take. I am going to Sheila's house and I don't know when I will be back. I hate doing this to you but I know you are a string girl who can take care of herself.

I love you

Love

Mom

Ellie crumbled the note in her hand and threw in on the ground. She went into the bathroom wordlessly and took a shower. She stood under the hot water usually that would soothe not only her body but also her soul. However tonight was different, she felt broken.

When she was too tired to stand there any longer she turned off the water and climbed out of the shower. Ellie wrapped a large towel around her self and walked in her bedroom. She was reaching for her pajamas and a black cd case hit the floor. She knelt down to pick it up. Ellie hesitated and then unzipped it.

In this cd case were reminders of her horrible past. The tools she used to use to cut herself. Sean used to wonder why she kept them and the truth was she didn't know. Ellie took out a slim silver knife and held it loosely in her hand.

Her hand trembled as she lowered the blade to her upper arm. Ellie inhaled deeply and closed her eyes as it she slipped it across her skin. Then it happened, she felt that surge of adrenaline. All of the pain she felt at that moment was channeled into one place. Ellie took all of the emotional pain and turned it into physical pain. For one short moment time truly stood still and Ellie once again felt in control of herself.

Once she opened her eyes though reality set in. Ellie chocked back a sob as she watched the blood drip from her arm. Her whole body began to shake and she felt ill.

But all she did was stand up and go back to the bathroom. She put a band aide over the small flesh wound so it wouldn't drip everywhere. Once back in her room she thought about reaching once again for her pajamas but decided against it. All Ellie wanted at that moment was sleep.

She turned off the ringer on the phone and crawled into her bed. Her body felt weak and she was totally exhausted but for some reason she couldn't sleep.

Craig chose Manny. Craig loved Manny. Craig didn't want to be with her, he wanted to be with Manny.

Her mom was probably off getting drunk somewhere. Her parents were divorcing.

Sean left her. He went home to be with the people he loved. She didn't matter as much as she should.

The tears flowed down her cheeks and she let out the sob she had been choking back all night. Her whole body shuddered and she cried into her pillow. How did her life get so messed up so quickly?

After a few hours she fell asleep. She slept fitfully in spurts of a few hours at time. When she was finally awake the next morning at about 8:00 the next night she stood and changed clothes.

Ellie knew she couldn't stay in her house any longer. She didn't know here she was going as she walked down the road. She just kept walking.

"Hey, Nash!" someone called from a car parked by the side of the road. She squinted, trying to make out a face through the darkness. "Need a ride?"

She turned around and continued to walk; she didn't need to see the face the voice was enough.

"No, Jay" Ellie called over her shoulder. "Just leave me alone.

She could tell he was following her. Jay followed her for 6 blocks. Ellie stopped abruptly and walked around to the driver's side window. She could hear some urban type music blasting through the quiet night around her.

"Hey Nash" he greeted her. "What are you doing out here all alone?"

"Just walking" she told him. Ellie shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably. "Why are following me?"

"No reason" Jay answered. "I saw you and you looked kind of down. I heard about Manning. That must suck."

"What?" Ellie asked trying to make her face void of all emotion, pulling the sleeves of her grey hoodie down.

"I heard you had a thing for him" Jay explained. "Now, word is he went back to little Miss Santos. I can't say I blame him, not only is she hot but she's easy."

Jay laughed at his crude locker room joke and Ellie blinked away the tears. The idea of Craig and Manny together absolutely broke her heart.

"Hey, it's ok" Jay said noticing her pained expression. "I heard from Cameron"

"Sean?" Ellie asked and Jay nodded.

"He's doing real good," Jay told her. "He is getting good grades, his family and him are good. He even has a girlfriend now"

Ellie looked down at her feet and let a tear slip.

"Sean's moved on" Ellie affirmed quietly to herself and wiped away the tears.

Jay looked really uncomfortable.

"You want a ride?" He asked finally to break the awkward silence he caused with his thoughtless remarks.

Ellie stood there for a moment staring at her shoes. Pretty patened leather Mary Janes with a chunky heel she loved those shoes, Sean bought them for her and Craig loved them. He always complimented them; Craig loved Ellie's style.

Ellie threw her shoulders back and looked at Jay. She wasn't going to worry about Craig, or her mom or even Sean, not anymore.

"Yeah" Ellie told him. She walked around and Jay leaned over and opened the door. She climbed in and buckled her seat; he sped off into the night.

END FLASHBACK

"Nash!" Jay whispered. She jumped a little not realizing he was back.

"What?" she asked.

"Wanna a drink?" he slurred. He thrusted a clear bottle at her.

Ellie was the child of an alcoholic. She watched the hell her mother went through because of the disease. Doctors and therapist always said it was hereditary. Ellie swore she would never drink and she never regretted that decision. She was looking for something when she decided to come here and she wasn't going to find it in her own head. Something had to give, something had to change.

"Ok" Ellie answered and slowly brought the bottle to her lips.