"I'm gonna miss you."
"I know, I'm gonna miss you too Phee," Lexi had always felt safe with Phee and now she was going to be gone. Noticing the tears in the rearview mirror, Phee couldn't help but cry too. "Now stop that this is going to be good for you and you know how hard I had to work to get you in here instead of that awful place your mother wanted. No crying," her tone had gone from playful to slightly somber as she noticed the sign that read "Mount. Horizon 1 mile ahead."
"Come on sweetie were almost there and you'd hate for them to know you were crying," Phee had always known how to make Lexi feel better and she noticed that as soon as she had finished speaking Lexi had dried her eyes.
As they emerged from the car they spotted two people walking towards them. One was tall and had beautiful broad shoulders with hair the color of dirt. The other was a shorter blonde woman with muscles that somehow made her look rugged but in no way butch. As they approached a sense of safety radiated off of them, putting Phee who was always a little tense when it came to Lexi at ease.
"Hello I'm Peter Scarborough and this is Sophie Becker," Peter had the oddest look about him, like he actually wanted to be there, it baffled Lexi completely. "Hello like Peter said I'm Sophie and I'll be your counselor here at Horizon," Sophie seemed to want to be there as well, Lexi just didn't understand it but kept her mouth shut. Peter broke the awkward silence that was quickly forming around the introductions, "You must be Alexis and you are Mrs. Harper?" Phee wasn't even fazed by being addressed as such after years of ballet recitals and school functions. With a smile on her face Phee corrected him, "Well this is Lexi yes but I'm not her mother even if I act like it," Phee said with a big smile on her face," my name is Phee McMillan and Mrs. Harper would like me to apologize for both Mrs. and Mr. Harper's absence, they both seemed to have had affairs pop up at the last minute." Peter seemed slightly taken back by this, in all his time at Horizon this wass the first time an assistant had brought a student instead of the police, their parents, or Rodger. "Well we have all of Lexi's paper work so if you want to say goodbye we can get Lexi searched and settled in," Peter said still amazed that neither parent had come to see their daughter off.
As Lexi turned to say goodbye to her surrogate mother, she saw Phee's eyes swell with tears. "It's ok Phee I'll write you at least once a week and I'll see you again on parents day," at that both began to laugh and after a long hug Phee got in the car and drove back towards the real world.
"So Lexi, Sophie here is going to take you to the infirmary to get your physical and then you and I are going to meet and after that I'll introduce you to your group, alright?" Peter expected the typical sigh or snide remark he got from all newbies but all he got was an unexpected, "That would be really great thank you very much." Both Sophie and Peter found it odd to have such a polite newbie, there was something strange about her they could both feel it but couldn't put their fingers on it.
Before she knew it Lexi was standing in front of the nurse who hadn't even noticed she was in the room yet. This gave Lexi enough time to think of an excuse for the marks the nurse was going to find, the last thing Lexi wanted to do was lie but the last thing she could afford to do was tell the truth. The nurse looked disheveled and slightly sleep deprived as she finally looked up and saw Lexi and Sophie standing in the door way. "Hey Sophie is this the new admit?" the nurse had a curious look on her face as though she didn't think Lexi belonged there. "Yep, Lexi I would like to introduce you to Nurse Margret," to Lexi Sophie's voice was almost as comfortable as having Phee with her. "It's very nice to meet you I'm Lexi Newman," Lexi said with a sort of sweet yet edgy voice she had grown into over the years. "It's very nice to meet you as well. Now don't be afraid I'm just going to ask you some questions, get your height, weight, and do a body search," noticing the twinge of fear in Lexi's face nurse Margret continued with, "Lexi is there anything I'm going to find during the body search you'd like to tell me about, I read your record and it says you have a history of self harm." Lexi was in shock, she knew that the nurse would find them but she didn't know how straight forward they were here. Luckily her school records gave her a nice cover story and so she followed their lead, "yes m'am, a few scars and open wounds," Nurse Margret found her confession a little too easy and proceeded with caution, "Now sweetie you can call me Nurse Margret, and if you don't mind I'd like to start with the body search first. Now if you'd like to we can have Sophie leave the room or stay either one is fine." "Is it alright if Sophie stays?" Lexi liked having Sophie there she felt oddly comfortable around her. "yeah sugar that's fine just step behind that curtain for a second and remove everything but your undergarments," as Lexi stepped behind the curtain the nurse had the strangest feeling usually they put up more of a fight than this, with the night she'd had however she didn't put too much thought in it, "you ready Lexi?" As Lexi stepped out from behind the thick curtain she noticed a definite look of shock on the faces of both Sophie and Nurse Margret a feeling of shame came over her and she'd wish she could jump out of her skin. Without even taking her weight Sophie could tell that she had an eating problem if not a full blown disorder. It seemed as though every rib on her was exposed not to mention her spine and hip bones. Lexi's thin frame had almost distracted Nurse Margret from the marks all over her skin. "Sweet heart can we have your clothes for a second? We just need to do a routine pocket turn out," As Lexi handed her a pile of clothes Sophie began to notice that there were only a few marks on Lexi's arms in comparison to at least a hundred every when else. "Can you tell me how these got here?" said the nurse motioning to different open wounds all over her body. "I cut myself and burned myself," Lexi said lying through her teeth, fortunately for Lexi she was a phenomenal liar, she could tell they ate up her story. "Can you tell me why?" Lexi looked to Sophie for help but Sophie looked as if she wanted to know as badly as Nurse Margret so Lexi lied again with, "nope sorry." After her pockets turned up nothing and she had gone through a series of health questions and an official weighing at which Lexi looked as though she might cry, mainly because the nurse weighed her backwards, Sophie took her to meet Peter. Lexi noticed how beautiful the campus was and felt as long as they didn't ask nosy questions she was going to like it out in nature.
As they opened the door to what looked like a large closet with only one window, Lexi noticed Peter reading what appeared to be her file, and she wondered what it said in there. She bet it said she was a runner, so not true, she knew it said she was a cutter, total lie, it probably said she did coke, truth, and that she was a coke dealer, also the truth but what else did it say? She couldn't stand not knowing. "Peter I need to get back the Cliffhangers have group in five minutes," Sophie said getting Peter's attention, "thanks Soph, come sit down Lexi I promise I won't bite." Before leaving Sophie handed off the nurse's report, Lexi could only guess what the nurse put. Peter grabbed her first bag and started going through every pocket, every item of clothing, everything that was private, "now Lexi Horizon is a sanctuary, free from the distractions of the out side world so you can work on the things in your life that brought you here. Horizon is also a school and you are expected to go to every class and participate in quests and group therapy along with individual counseling sessions. Any questions so far?" shaking her head no Peter continued on moving from her clothes to toiletries bag. "Ok, we do have some other rules here there are no drugs or alcohol, no inappropriate touching or language, no threats of any kind, we expect you to help with the cooking and cleaning and to keep your personal stuff along with yourself clean. We wouldn't ask you to do anything we wouldn't do ourselves Lexi, do you understand?" shaking her head mildly Lexi muttered a soft, "Yes sir," making Peter slightly uncomfortable, "another thing no more sir and m'am all the staff go by their first name here so call me Peter," as he smiled she felt a safety net fall over her and she knew that no matter what kind of questions they asked she was going to like it there. "You're the first person in awhile to bring musical instruments with them. Can you de-string your guitar for me and maybe tell me why you think you were sent here?" As much as she hated unstringing her guitar she obliged as he checked the case. "I think I'm here because I got busted selling coke at school and since my mother is friends with the judge they assigned it didn't go on my record as long as I got help to 'turn my life around'. I'm also here because Phee thought this place would work better than some juvenile hall." Passing the guitar to him Peter picked up the other half of the conversation,
"Do you regret selling coke?"
"No, I did what I had to do to survive."
"Do you regret getting caught?"
"No, not even a little bit."
Her last answer struck Peter as odd. Even if he didn't show it Peter was riddle with confusion over Lexi's attitude, her appearance, her respect for adults, and her record for some reason, it just didn't all add up. What was she hiding? From what he could tell she came from a stable family, she did seem to have absent parents but what did she have to survive?
"Your school record says you miss a lot of school, it also says that you turn in all your assignments either onetime or early, and that you have a 3.9 grade point average, can you tell me about that?" that was one of the things that just didn't add up for Peter, why would a drug addict who ran so often bother to turn in assignments or try for such a high G.P.A.?
"I get sick sometimes and can't go to school I usually ask for all my work at the beginning of the month and then take three days per subject and get it all in," she could tell Peter knew she was lying about getting sick but he would never believe her if she told him the truth, lying was way easier. He continued searching her shoe box of letters and pictures then moved on to her violin case.
"That's very responsible of you Lexi. Can you tell me what else has been going on when I talked to your mother she'd said you'd been quiet and distant lately she blamed it all on the coke, and when I talked to your step-father he said you were just being a teen and that you'd grow out of it."
She could tell he was trying to get her to confide in him, too bad she wasn't allowed, he seemed nice enough.
"Well I guess the drugs have had something to do with it but to be honest I wouldn't ask my mother about my behavior she's always at work and when she's not at work she's passed out from all the sleep aids she mixes in with her wine," it was the first note of resentment Peter had noticed in her voice all day, "As for my step father I guess he just wants to give me a scapegoat being a teen and all but I can't take one." Peter took this small opening as her invitation for deep conversation.
"Why can't you take the scapegoat Lexi? I mean a lot of people would."
"I don't know, most likely because I know what I did was wrong and I should be held accountable for it. That's why I'm mad my mother had that little conversation with the judge I deserve to be punished."
Something about Lexi was troubling Peter he just couldn't figure out if she was just oddly mature and responsible or if she wanted and felt she deserved to be condemned. He didn't want to push the subject anymore, afraid that she might close up, so he moved on.
"So I take it you and your mother aren't close?"
"What about you and your step-father?"
She knew he was flirting with disaster without even realizing, "I guess so."
Peter noticed something odd about the way her voice sounded when she mentioned her step-father almost as If she were afraid. Finishing the search of her violin and case Peter headed for the nurse's report.
"Can you tell me how tall you are Lexi?"
She knew exactly where he was going with this. "I'm about 5' 6 1/2 ''."
"And how much do you think you weigh right now?"
"I believe I weigh 112lbs, why?"
"Well when Nurse Margret weighted you, you weighted in at about 100 lbs even, do you realize that that's very low for your height and age, Lexi?"
"Maybe a little low," she said in her best innocent voice even though inside she was pleased at her weight.
"Now I see in your school report that the school therapist diagnosed you with Anorexia nervosa, and because of that diagnosis and your current weight we need you to keep a food journal and we except you to be honest about your calorie intake, also until you get your weight up your exercise outside of group will be monitored closely. We are here to help you but we can't help you if you lie to us does that make sense?"
"Yep," she felt as though she dodge a bullet. Yeah it sucked having her exercise monitored but she would live at least he hadn't asked anything about the cuts or burns. Just as she finished that thought Peter continued, "You also have a history or self-injury I see and the nurse's report confirms over a hundred wounds on your body including what appears to be stab wounds would you like to tell me anything about that?" she definitely did not want to talk about that not even a little bit, not even at all,
"Are you sure? Because if someone is hurting you in anyway back home we can help you."
"No one is hurting me, and I don't want to talk about it," Lexi said quickly shifting her eyes from Peter to the table.
"Well, maybe someday you will and I'll be here for you when you want to talk about any of this. Which reminds me of another one of our rules, anything you tell me or any other counselor stays between us unless we feel you might harm yourself or others alright?"
"Ok let's get you settled in then."
As they walked to the cabin she noticed how calm everything seemed to be. The students sat at tables outside doing home work, some chopped wood, while some played sports. Lexi had never felt more comfortable in her entire life.
"Now the group you've been assigned to is the Cliffhangers. You do everything with your group including meals, study periods, quests, and group therapy," Peter could tell she was distracted by something but continued anyway, "I've got some things I need to do so I'm going to introduce you to the Cliffhanger girls, let you get unpacked and then be back later, ok Lexi?" She was so quiet and Peter could tell she was hiding something he just hoped she would break out of her shell soon, he had seen lots of kids try to hide their pain, he wondered what pain she hid underneath her smile. "Thank you Peter, for being so understanding and not trying to push me," she was definitely good at hiding things he could tell things ran deeper than just an absent mother. "It's not a problem, I want you to understand that we aren't here to judge or hurt you we're here to help you and we can't help you if we've pushed you away," he knew it would take time to get inside her head.
"I'm kind of nervous what if they don't like me?" Lexi said as they stood outside the Cliffhangers dorm, "Just be yourself, these girls are very understanding, just don't play games and you should be fine," he wondered if it was wrong not to warn her about Shelby.
"Is everyone descent?"
"Ok, everyone this is our newest Cliffhanger, Lexi and I except you guys to show her what's what," the four girls shook their heads in unison as Peter showed Lexi to her bed.
"Now Juliette, I'm assigning you as Lexi's first day buddy, you up for it?" Peter said to the thin brunette in the corner, Lexi wondered if she was an anorexic as well.
"Yep, I can totally do it," said Juliette in a tone so chipper it made Lexi's head hurt.
"Oh and Juliette I'm gonna need you to show Lexi how to write in her food journal." Lexi automatically went red as the blond gave a large unfriendly smirk at the mention of the food journal.
"Good, then Lexi I'll check in on you later, bye ladies."
What was she going to do they were all staring at her. As Peter left, Lexi felt as If she were going to faint. Luckily the brunette spoke again before she had a chance to pass out. "Hi I'm Juliette, welcome to Horizon," Lexi was taken back by how friendly she was.
"I'm Lexi," she was hoping to be left alone after that but the blonde jumped right in with the questions.
"So what are you doing here you don't look like a screw up?" Lexi could tell that this girl was going to have a problem with her no matter what, so she took Peters advice and just tried to be herself, "Well I guess I'm here because I got caught selling coke to one of the math teachers at my school," that apparently impressed the blonde because when she continued she seemed to be more excited than snappy or rude.
"So did Peter get your stash?" Lexi wasn't quite sure what she meant what stash?
"You know the coke you tried to sneak in; I mean you said you were a drug dealer right?"
Lexi definitely didn't know if she liked this girl or not, "I guess you'd call me a drug dealer," Lexi said filling with pride, dealing drugs was one of the only things she thought she was good at, "I mean I was the best at my school, I was only a sophomore and I had the largest client-tell there. But no I didn't try to bring any with me; I dumped it all at de-tox three days ago."
The blonde couldn't understand her, a drug dealer who dumped her drugs, "that's weird."
"I guess," Lexi was still curious to learn the rest of her group members' names, luckily the black girl in the corner was the next to speak up and took care of the rest of the introductions. "Shelby how about you lay off her alright she's brand new, sorry Lexi Shelby has a tendency to forget her manners." Lexi was so thankful she had stopped Shelby from asking anymore questions.
"By the way I'm Kat, and the one next to Shelby is Daisy," Kat said pointing to what appeared to be a Goth girl in the corner.
"It's really nice to meet all of you."
"It's really nice to meet all of you? Give me a break, I know underneath all that 'sugar and spice and everything nice' is an angry freak just like the rest of us, so cut the crap," Shelby didn't know what it was but there was something about Lexi that hit close to home, something in her emerald eyes that just made Shelby feel connected, which was something she hated to do.
"Shelby seriously lay off it's her first day," Lexi was thankful to Daisy even though the stuff around her bed was a little creepy, she was glad she was there, something about Shelby made Lexi totally uncomfortable.
"Yeah why do you have to be so mean to everyone all the time?"Juliette spoke up knowing how to push Shelby's buttons.
"I don't know Queenie it's just when I meet others of your kind it makes me a little sick," Shelby knew how to hurt Juliette even if she wouldn't admit she was hurt.
"What do you mean others of 'her' kind?' Lexi didn't take kindly to being made fun of for no reason and Shelby was obviously making fun of her.
Not used to being called out like that Shelby had to think about her sarcastic response for a second before answering, "Well both of you come from money, don't think I didn't see that sports car drop you off, and from what I can tell you both need your daily barf."
"I see well first off you don't know crap about me. I might be an anorexic but you don't know why, and I may come from money but that doesn't mean I have any or if I even like it so how about you save the judgments for when you actually get to know me," Lexi was shocked by her own anger she had never gone off on anyone like that before she usually just kept it inside.
"Both of you cut it out this is a rest period so how about we let Lexi unpack her things, in peace Shelby," Lexi knew Kat had to have been the mom of the group.
Half way through unpacking her shoe box she noticed someone standing over her shoulder, when she turned around she found Daisy looking at the bulletin board above her bed.
"Who's that in the picture with you?" Daisy seemed generally interested so Lexi pulled the picture on her desk close to her heart "This is my dad," Lexi tried so hard not to cry as she caressed his face, "and the guy with the bitter woman in red over there is my step-dad, and the guy in the picture with the lake is my best friend Trent, he actually goes to one of these wilderness schools now, got sent up about a month ago."
A large smile grew on several of the girls faces but Lexi didn't notice she was too busy flipping through photos deciding which ones to hang up.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Juliette chimed in sounding like a gossiping school girl. "Nope, but we've been best friends since second grade, to be honest it's kind of my fault he's there," this last statement intrigued Kat who had been sitting silently near by. "How is it your fault?" Lexi didn't mind answering her question as long as Shelby didn't start in again. "Well, he bought a lot of coke from me one night and accidentally over dosed. When he got out of the hospital his parents sent him to some wilderness school I can't remember the name of it," at that all the girls started to giggle, Lexi couldn't see what was so funny and started working on putting her clothes away. As Lexi began folding her clothes Shelby eyed her she didn't look like any newbie she had ever seen before. For starters she wore clean clothes, and her hair was a beautiful dark purple that came bone straight to the middle of her back. There was just something about the new girls eyes that looked so familiar Shelby just couldn't tell where from. She could tell it had been a mistake to attack her in the first five minutes she had been there but Shelby had never been very good with apologizing. She could tell the girl had a problem with food maybe like Juliette, but she didn't want her to think that was the reason she had been so rude to her. Shelby sat watching Lexi wondering what she should do.
"Is he mad at you?" Juliette was the kind of girl who loved to be in everyone's business Lexi could just tell.
"Nope, he writes me every week, I hope Phee will forward his letter here," Lexi knew that if she couldn't talk to Trent she would crack and she couldn't have any of that.
"Who's Phee?" Lexi wasn't really in the mood for anymore questions but since there was nothing else to do but answer Juliette's questions.
"Phee is my mother's personal assistant; she's kind of like my mom. I mean I see her more than my mom and she's been to all my school functions since I was ten years old. She's the one that dropped me off today." Lexi felt embarrassed, she had never talked about Phee to anyone her age before.
"Oh, well what does Trent write you about?" at Juliette's questions all the girls stopped what they were doing and started to stare.
"Well we mostly talk about how he's doing up there. He asks how I'm doing if I've stopped selling yet, if I'm clean yet. He talks about his roommates and his group they all sound really nice." Lexi hadn't realized how much she missed Trent until that very moment.
"He sound like a great guy is he cute, what are his roommates like?" Juliette started to sound super nosy but at least she was friendly.
"Trent is such a sweet heart and I guess he's cute, he has the most beautiful hazel eyes," Lexi stopped she didn't want the girls to get the wrong idea of her and Trent.
"One of his roommates is a nerd I think his name is Ezra, Trent says he's cool just a little awkward. Hold on a sec I have the letter right here… one is a jock but not a jerk like we had in school he's really mellow, his name is Scott. The last one is Auggie he apparently looks like a total 'Bario boy' but is like super fair and level headed. I don't know he said his group is really cool that there are four girls but he doesn't really talk about them." Lexi noticed everyone giggling but didn't really care; she had been laughed at for worse.
After Lexi had finished packing all she wanted to do was lay down and sleep of course Juliette couldn't have that.
"Hey Lexi it's almost lunchtime do you want me to help you with your food journal?"
"Sure," Lexi said going a little red, "can I ask you a question though?"
"Yeah what is it?"
"Are you really like me an anorexic I mean?"
"Nope not exactly, I'm a bulimic you know binge and purge queen. I got landed here after messing myself up on laxatives, twice." Even if she wasn't exactly the same Lexi was glad to have someone like her around.
On the way to lunch Lexi could tell the girls were acting strange but she couldn't tell what was so funny. "Did I miss the punch-line?" Lexi was determined why they were laughing, she felt like it was something she had done. "No, we just need to meet the rest of the group for lunch." Juliette had thrown her off with that statement, "Wait there are more in our group?" "Yeah we have four boys in our group as well," oh great now only did she have to impress these girls but now Lexi had four guys to impress as well. The thought of having to meet more people made Lexi's spirits sink a little. As the others walked ahead of her giggling about what she still didn't know Lexi trailed behind a little with her head down. "Lexi?" what was that? Lexi thought, her head shot up but she couldn't see who was calling her the voice sounded so familiar but she couldn't see anyone. "Lexi!!!" that time she pushed passed her group to see four boys standing directly opposite of her. The boy in the middle started to run towards her when she finally recognized who the shouter was, "Trent! Oh my God what are you doing here?"
"I should be the one asking you what you're doing here." After a long hug she finally regained her composure and the whole group headed in for lunch. The introductions hadn't taken long seeing as Lexi already knew the other boys names. They looked exactly as Trent had described them, "So you're the famous Lexi? You know this dude hasn't shut up about you since he got here," Trent started to blush as Scott told Lexi how much Trent had missed her.