347. - Lucien
"Come back safe." She whispers against my chest.
I kiss the top of her head, holding her tightly against me. "I promise. I'm sorry."
She looks up at me with a sad smile. "You were the only Du Castellon sibling without a tragic story. It's time you got one."
"I could have done without one." I say with a soft chuckle. "You stay in school, okay? I want to see nothing but high marks when I get back."
She rolls her eyes, shoving me away playfully. "I dunno man. My brother nearly killed himself, that might cause some mental issues. Oh, stop looking at me like that." She laughs. "I'm fine. I've been through far worse, remember?"
I take her face in my hands, brushing blonde locks away, and kiss her forehead. "I left a list of numbers on the counter. Brie's, Matthew's. Emma's, if things are real bad and the boys can't help you."
"I have those."
"Valerie's is on there too, Brie's mother. I... I also added Charles's. Just in case of emergency."
"Lucien." She puts her hands over mine and gives me a stern look, but one that is full of love. "I'm eighteen years old. I managed fine before, and I'm going to be just fine now. You worry about yourself for a while."
Matthew sits next to me on the plane, but he doesn't engage in conversation. After yelling at me in that cabin in Germany, three days ago, he hasn't really talked to me at all. I can't really blame him. When I agreed to his help, I saw his shoulders slump ever so slightly but the tension never really left him. Like he expected me to run at any given moment.
It was tempting. I haven't had a drop of alcohol since that night and the first day was... rough. Besides the physical symptoms of nearly drowning, I now was also dealing with withdrawal. I don't remember much of it, luckily, but Eschieve told me I was almost delirious. Screaming about ocean monsters and Emma or Callum stabbing me. Apparently she went out to stay with a friend that night, so she wouldn't have to listen to it. The second day was easier, but still rough. I was in a constant state between sleeping and waking, sweating with a high fever. I didn't mind the fever dreams as much, because they were about all my happy memories with Emma. That just made the waking up harder. On the third day I was able to get up again and it felt like I saw myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time. I hadn't realised before how much weight I'd lost, how out of control my hair had become, how sunken my face was. All of it together made me more determined to actually get the help from Matthew, because for the also for the first time I realised how badly I needed it.
"Are you taking me to a rehab centre?" I ask, maybe twenty minutes before landing. It's the first we've spoken since first getting on the plane thirteen hours ago. Matthew looks at me like I'm mad for talking to him, but then he sighs and shakes his head.
"No, I don't think that's the right place for you. Your problem isn't with the alcohol, it's with what's going on in your head."
"So then where are you taking me?"
I hadn't expected it, but my heart flutters a little when he smiles, because it tells me he's regaining some trust in me. "A mindfulness retreat. No one is going to tell you what to think or how to feel. They're just going to help you navigate the thoughts, so they become easier to deal with."
"Huh." I lean back in my chair. "That... doesn't sound too bad."
"Right? I... I wanted to make it approachable. You know, as not to scare you away. I know that... accepting help has never been easy for you. So I appreciate you doing this."
"Don't." I shake my head. "You were right. Brie was right. Weeks ago, both of you were right. I'm.. not doing well. And I need help with that."
"Yes, you do." He truly smiles at me now. "And to support you, I'm staying with you for the first two weeks."
"Welcome to the Habari Retreat." The young woman behind the desk gives us a charming smile. "My name is Chloe. Your names, please?"
Matthew takes care of the reservation, during which I pick up my room is booked for an indefinite amount of time. His is for two weeks, like he said, but after that I'll be on my own. Chloe gives us a tour and the whole retreat strikes me as very modern and open-minded. Lots of natural wood and even more glass, and so many plants that I'm unable to name.
"We have a weekly schedule, but no one is obliged to follow it. It is highly recommended, though, because the stability will often help regaining control in your mind." Chloe says as she shows us outside. It's absolutely stunning and I can barely comprehend what I'm looking at. Matthew looks equally mesmerised. Chloe smiles. "We are located within a wildlife preservation, especially within the rehabilitation part. Animals within this part are still getting used to getting back into the wild and are closely monitored. Some of them are unable to ever go back into the wild, because they are too used to humans. That works in our favour, however, because they often come to visit."
I glance at Matthew. "Who's creditcard did you put this on?" I whisper when the tour continues. He smirks.
"Yours, so your father's paying."
"Here's your rooms." Chloe announces, pointing at two doors across from each other. "Inside you'll find a schedule for the meals. If there's any questions, please use the intercom and one of our staff members will do the best they can. Now, one last thing - phones are not permitted here - we advertise with a digital detox, after all."
Matthew prepared me for this, which is why I used my time on the plane to draft up a message and posts it across all of my social pages. Handing my phone to Chloe feels like giving a part of myself, but the part that I keep for myself knows that this is for the best.
There are things that need addressing, and I need to do it without the constant pressure
of the online world.
Don't worry - I am safe and exactly where I need to be.
I ask you to respect my privacy, as well as the privacy of my friends and loved ones.
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