Sanctuary

Azaria, or "Zar" as she's now commonly known as, hasn't always been the mean, cold-hearted pothead she is now. She used to be the good popular girl that everyone envied. But one day, she's forced to stand and watch as her best friend is taken before her eyes. Since then, nothing's been the same.
But when Azaria starts seeing her friend everywhere, she can't take it anymore. She needs the drugs to take the pain away. How far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And can she find a way to save herself once she's gone there?

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1. Cutting Class

I rounded the corner on the second story of the science building slowly, just until I was out of sight. I looked out the window and saw my friends Blaze and Paul waiting for me. My leisurely walk quickly turned to a sprint as I went down the stairs. Once I reached the guys we snuck past Coach Chuck and off school property for the third time this week. I'm really not a bad kid, I swear. But science is just so boring, can you really blame me for not wanting to be there?

We crossed the street and walked down to the drug store on the corner. Now when I said drug, I mean drug. The parking lot outside this place is the central hub for addicts and low-lifes. And it's not like the store owner doesn't know what's going on- just the opposite. Sometimes he even sells stuff, just whatever he has on hand, to those desperate enough to buy something with such low quality. And you know he just loves those kids that walk in with a pocket full of cash and the munchies.

Anyway, we sit down behind the owner's car and Blaze pulls out a nice fresh bud. He doesn't even bother saying anything before he lights it. I grab the thing and take a whiff. God it smells good, and, like the faint scent of your dad's cologne when he walks in after a long night at work, it welcomes you home.

"You won't smoke it though, you won't smoke it though!" They chant, like school boys egging me on.

"Well..." I say, with a roll of my eyes, "It's a one time thing!" We all laugh at that, considering I've said it every time we've done this for the last three months. Slowly, softly, I inhale. I held the smoke in until we all took a hit, then gradually let it pour over my lips and out my nose. I don't cough anymore, but it tickles my throat every time I do it.

We take hit after hit and sit there for what feels like hours but in reality is only minutes. I lay back, head on the cold cement, and feel my worries drift away.

"Heh, heheh, hahaha!" I hear from next to me.

"What's so funny, I'm trying to relax over here!" I yell at them. I'm usually pretty fun when I'm high, but sometimes it just helps me to relax, and I need that.

"Zar, you gotta come look at this bug!" Paul chuckles. I lean up to see a millipede crawling down his face. "Heheh, I think it likes me. Ouch! Damn thing stepped on  my eye!" He grabbed it and threw it to the ground, but by this point I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy looking at the girl a few feet away from us, crouching over another millipede. She was wearing plain jean shorts and a Giants t-shirt, but she was beautiful. You could tell even without seeing her straight on. She must have felt my stare though, because she pulled her golden curls from her face and looked up at me.

At first, I just smiled at her. Then I felt my heart shatter.

The dimple on her right cheek was gone because she was no longer smiling. Confused, I followed her gaze down to the hands to her abdomen. They were covered in blood.

"NO!" I screamed out. Quickly, I jumped up and out to grab the girl, but caught only air.

"Woah, woah, woah, Zar, you need to calm down," the guys said as big black Blaze wrapped his arms around me, restricting my motion.   I kicked and screamed. "What are you guys doing? We have to help her!"

"Baby," Paul cooed, "Camille wasn't there."

"No..." I whimpered. "She was, and we have to-"

"She's gone, Azaria."

Blaze set me down on the pavement as I gathered my thoughts. She was there, I know she was... "Maybe I'm going crazy," I muttered to myself.

"You're not going crazy," Paul says.

"And if you are..." They look at each other.

"It's nothing a little weed can't help!" They laugh, and we begin the trudge back up to the school.

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