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Damaged Goods: Chapter 42


Bailey

“Great work, Bailey. You’re making excellent progress.” My counselor stops by my table during dinner.

I smile up from my granola-and-yogurt combo. There’s a plate of fresh garden vegetables and a soy pudding next to it for dessert.

I can’t remember the last time I ate so well. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I ate period. Appetite was not my friend these past few months.

“Thank you.” I reach to take Ms. Hall’s extended hand, smiling and actually feeling the smile on my face for a change. “My energy levels are up,” I admit.

Not everything is dandy about my life. I can now see exactly why my parents and Lev insisted I commit to an inpatient rehab program. My schedule is grueling.

The detox is no joke, and we are forced to undergo intense therapy and really dig into those issues that brought us to where we are.

I’ve cried here more than I did my entire adolescent years combined.

I’m overwhelmed, lonely, and hungry for something no pudding or drug can satisfy.

But I am feeling a full range of emotions right now, so I’ll take that as a win.

“Are you coming to play pickleball in the evening?” Ms. Hall inquires.

I shake my head. “I really ought to take care of this leg of mine.”

Ever since I became sober, I’ve been taking better care of my body, and it shows.

Ms. Hall grins, obviously satisfied as she slips her hand from mine. “That’s what I wanted to hear. Enjoy your book tonight.”

Ms. Hall thinks it’s books I’m reading in my room every evening, based on the impressive stack of paperbacks by my nightstand.

But the truth is, my reading material is different.

That diary Mom bought for me for Juilliard and I gutted and made my drug stash? She took it home with her sometime during my hospitalization in New York.

She must’ve because I found it in one of my suitcases when I moved into rehab.

Only now it’s not full of drugs. The box is full of notes she wrote for me.

Ninety-one notes, to be exact. One for every day, and an extra one, just because I love you.

When I found it in my bag, I just about fell all over myself sobbing.

I finish my meal, tidy up, check on a few friends I made here, and walk over to my room.

It is a really nice room, which makes me feel guilty for making Mom and Dad spend all this money. I fling myself over my queen-sized bed and sigh, staring at the diary Mom gave me that seems to be chasing me everywhere.

I pull another note and open it. Mom’s tidy handwriting, cursive and long, like a wedding invitation font, appears.

Day 28

Bailey,

I read somewhere that flamingos lose their pink when they raise their babies because raising your offspring is such an intense experience.

They get their pink back when they’re done with their parenting duties.

I remember thinking I wish it were true for humans too. I don’t think we parents ever get our pink back. I think we will forever worry sick about you.

And the bigger the babies, the bigger the problems.

But I want you to know that being your mother is the greatest honor.

You’re smart, creative, good-hearted, and innovative. You are a rare gift. A celebration of the best that could come out of your father and me.

I wish you would cherish yourself half as much as we do you.

Love, Mom

I smile and wipe away my tears.

I look up, at my window. The last rays of light slither through the glass, painted yellow and pink.

A dove lands from seemingly out of nowhere on my windowsill. It taps its feet impatiently, as if looking for a nest. It is holding something inside its beak.

A twig…no, not a twig. A branch. An olive branch? Impossible. This is Pennsylvania. An olive tree would have to grow in a greenhouse in order to survive.

But it’s here. Just like me. A sign sent to Noah’s Ark when all hope seemed to be gone.

A symbol of dry land.

Of hope.

A ground to land on.

A safe haven.

There’s one valuable lesson I learned at Juilliard, and it wasn’t taught to me by the professors: Your self-worth is a price too high to pay for success.

It is, in fact, your most treasured possession.

There’s no currency for knowing your worth.

It is time to rebuild my life and start from scratch.


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