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Return to Phillipson High

Florence sat on the pink seat of the salon as an extremely cheerful woman named Meredith wound her hair around curlers.

“You going to the Prom today dear?” she asked.

Florence nodded.

“My daughter Donna goes to Phillipson High, she’s so excited, do you know her?”

Florence did know her, but she didn’t want to ruin this woman’s image of her daughter by telling her her daughter had hurled insults at her for no reason, she didn’t feel any sense of vengeance to everyone who had hurt her, they were just following the crowd, praying that they wouldn’t be the ones to be bullied next.

“I don’t think so” she replied instead.

She was nervous, Dr Levi and her parents had individually called up the headteacher at Phillipson High to tell her that she would be attending and to buy her ticket, it would just be so strange to walk in there after missing an entire year there, she had always envisioned walking in to Prom arm in arm with Cooper, Lauren and Madison.

Meredith was blow-drying her hair now, she spun the chair so Florence faced the mirror, her hair now fell in loose waves, she grinned, it looked nice, really nice, she had never imagined she would look nice.

“Thanks Meredith!” she said sincerely

“Aw, no problem honey!” replied Meredith “On to makeup now I think”

Florence left the salon with her hair perfectly curled, her nails perfectly manicured and painted pale blue and her face immaculately made up with silver lidded eyes and dramatic dark red lipstick.

She was returning to her house to put on her dress where Chase would pick her up, another thing making her feel strange, she spent the entire taxi ride home wondering how she would feel to be back there again, back in her bedroom, would her feelings of insecurity come tumbling back? Would she be able to cross the threshold into her house?

Too quickly her ride across the city was over, she handed the driver two notes feeling her hands shake and left the car.

There it was, there was nothing different about it, it was the same house she had lived in for eleven years right down to the brass knocker on the door, but inexplicably she felt like a stranger, like this was a place that she no longer belonged, she felt more at ease at Oakwood than here.

She straightened her back and shoulders, determination suddenly seizing her, she wouldn’t be afraid, not anymore, this was her home, Dr Levi had told her that morning there was a high chance she’d be returning very soon, she needed to get used to living here again.

She knocked twice on the door and then stood back slightly, to her surprise both of her parents answered the door, her mother’s face broke into a teary smile when she saw her and her father enveloped her in a bear hug.

“Welcome home Florence darling” he said, patting her gently on the back.

“Sweetie you looks stunning” her mother hugged her once her father had released her.

“Thanks” Florence replied, embarrassed at all the attention she was receiving.

“Come in!” her mother gestured.

Florence walked into the living room her eyes wandering to the scratch she had created on the wall when she had crashed her bike into it, the stairs that Lauren had tumbled down and broke her arm, the scrawl on the skirting board ‘Flo was here’ that she had written when they had first arrived and the door leading to the kitchen, the room holding her worst memories.

Her mother still had her arm around her “You okay?” she asked concern in her eyes.

“I’m fine” she replied, and to her surprise she was, she didn’t feel on the brink of a panic attack or like sprinting away in another direction.

The drugged girl who had departed here from the clinic was a million miles away from the person she was now.

“Chase will be here in an hour” she said smiling at her parents “I better go get dressed”

A look passed between them, fear?

“Mum, Dad” she addressed them both “I promise I won’t do anything up there, I’m better now I have no urge to hurt myself”

“We know dear” her mother replied “We’ve just missed you so much”

They both embraced her and she wrapped her arms round both of them, she had missed them so much, she knew things would be different now.

Macie had dropped off her dress and it hung on a hanger in her now almost empty wardrobe, her room was exactly as she had left it, burgundy walls, a calendar on the wall and her rickety table and chair, on the wall where posters that Clarice had given her, with various moody and gothic bands, she half-laughed, she hadn’t even liked any of those bands.

She carefully eased herself into the dress with no voices in her mind telling her she wouldn’t fit.

She turned and faced herself in the mirror.

A million Florence’s looked back at her, from a million fragments of memories, sad girls, crying girls, girls who wanted to harm themselves, girls crumpled up into balls, girls screaming, girls sobbing their hearts out, girls checking their phones and chucking them across the room but there was only one girl she noticed and that was the beautiful girl in the blue dress who smiled back at her.

She reached out a hand as if consoling those many other girls.

“Everything is going to be okay, I promise” she said and they all lifted their faces as if acknowledging her and slowly their lips began to curve into their own smiles.

“It will all be okay” the other Florence’s chanted like it was a mantra.

She took her hand off the cold glass and saw only one reflection now, this girl was going to have the night of her life, and it would be a bonus that she would share it with Chase.

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