Swallow, Smile

By: Lala The Panda

Chapter Fourteen: Masterpiece

I stood in front of the tall double doors. I took a deep breath, to calm my nerves, before inserting the small key and unlocking the doors. I entered the house and cold silence greeted me. This is the first time I felt like an intruder in Damien's home.

I was released yesterday afternoon, after a three-day stint in the hospital. In another three days, I will be on a plane to Austria, where the clinic I signed up for is located. I am to stay there until my "vacation" time was up.

Walking through the house, I felt this over bearing sensation that he hasn't been home in a while. I briefly wondered where he was, but then I stopped myself. I quickly packed my things, I didn't think about the past as I did the bleak task.

There was a message on my cell phone. I listened to it once and it was all that I need to hear in order to make up my mind. He said something about being confused, how he couldn't be with some as damaged as me. He said he finally realized that it had to stop; it was an illegal and unhealthy. There was a goodbye, a definite heart-wrenching goodbye.

That bastard, I thought bitterly and lovingly. He didn't know how much his love kept me alive. How it relinquished my suffering and hunger. How his touch warmed my body when it shivered in the summer heat. I never had the chance to tell him and I never will.

I dragged my things, one by one, to my car. David offered to help, but when I didn't reply, he knew it was something I had to do by myself. When my car was packed, I took the spare key out of my jean pocket. I then pulled out a Lisa Frank envelope out of my coat's breast pocket; it was the only envelope I found in my room. I slipped the key inside the envelope; there was already a letter. It simply read:

Goodbye my lover.

Why did I choose the title of a James Blunt song? He was humming it the morning before I left for school on that day. He said he hated the song but it was stuck in his head. I remember my laugh. It was real and true, like I was when I was around him.

I got into my car and drove out of the driveway, for the last time. I parked at the curb and got out. I took the colorful envelope in my hand and with love and pain; I placed it in his mailbox.

Back in the car, I sat there, gathering my thoughts and setting my mind in peace, trying to get ready to drive. My hands gripped the steering wheel; my knuckles explained it all. I gained enough strength to turn on the engine and drive off. I glanced at the rearview mirror, seeing the mailbox fade out.

With the final drug out of my life, how will I survive the rest of my days? Withdrawal is going to be long and painful.


I stared out the window, but nature didn't give me the comfort that I longed for. It was picturesque, but I couldn't feel it. I lay on my side, and stared at the white wall. I looked up, and saw the white ceiling. Blank. Within these walls, my life is blank. Fuck these walls.

I'm in prison. I am in Hell. I'm paying for my action and for my sins.

I crave for my sins.

My eyes fell on the stack of envelopes that were neatly piled up on the dark wood desk that was tucked in a corner of the room. They were letters. I never received phone calls. The councilors here believe that letters are better than a phone conversation, because they are solid form of hope and encouragement.

They were all opened, but never read. I didn't want to read them. I told my therapist that I was reading them. I know that one day she will find out. I'll burn the bridge when I cross it.

The clock glared at me. It was a familiar sight. The clock in my bedroom did the same thing. It was comforting to see that some things never changed.

Thirty minutes before a group session. It's a small group of five, including the therapist and myself. The other three are the other VIP patients. Other celebs and high profile clients seeking help away from the media and it's world.

In groups, I never told the whole thing, parts of it and I elaborate on them, making it seem like the whole story. These people are easy to fool. In a one to one session, I say what I think but not what I really feel. They don't know that. Faking feelings are the same as faking smiles.

Smiles. I crave for the camera. I haven't seen a mirror. There are no mirrors here. I'm afraid to see my reflection in the water. Have I grown ugly? How have I changed? Will it hurt my career? I'm screwed.

My weight was checked yesterday. I slowly, and reluctantly gained three pounds. Oh God, its been a long time since I've allowed my self to gain that. I shuddered at the thought.

I'm alone right now. For the next twenty-one minutes. I am alone and bare. I hate this place. It stripped me of everything and it hurts to think what is going on outside these walls. This is the Marie, alone and broken, starving for something more, alone and bare. Despite my situation… despite David's worry… I can't think for my well being, for my health. I lost one addiction; I don't want to loose another one when I get out.

Some girl is taking my place. Some girl is warming my side of the bed. Some girl is wearing my dress. Some girl is stealing my snap shots.

That girl… that girl…. Pushes me to get out. Pushes me to lie. But I can't. I have to stay until that day I stop lying to myself. That day I accept myself.

Or else I would never feel nature's comfort again.


I relaxed into the make up chair. Oh lord; I almost forgot how comforting that was. I glanced up and saw my image in the mirror. There was a glow, a natural glow, radiating from my eyes. I looked rested and relax. The once permanent icy look has melted away. I looked approachable now. Elliot was gushing about my new aurora and all the deals I will make in the future.

Speaking of jobs. I'm on the set of my first Vogue cover shoot since rehab. I looked at the rack of outfits, all-waiting to be draped over my body for the spread. I couldn't wait to have them brush against my skin. It sent jolts to the tips of my fingers.

After this, I am meeting up with an interviewer from Dateline. They're planning a special that deals with young girls in the entertainment industry. Lindsey, the twins, and others are doing short interviews as well. There is an ElleGirl group shoot tomorrow.

Next week I'm off to Europe for this coming season's shows. I'm bringing RJ and Charlie, just like I promised. David is staying in California, but Claire is coming along. She wants to look for a wedding dress in England. Yes, the date is set for the end of the summer. It's going to be spectacular.

I see the make up artist from behind. I gave him a smile and closed me eyes. I am a plain and open canvas. No matter what, I will look good.

I've accepted myself.


"Now, lets address some rumors," the interviewer stated. He looked down at his note pad.

"Fire away," I said as I sank into my seat.

"Are you or have you ever been more than just friends with Damien Snook?"

"I knew you were going to ask that," I laughed. He repeated the question with a chuckle. "Yes," I answered truthfully. Yea… that is going to hurt in the morning.

"Really?" he asked, sounding shocked.

"It was a short fling," I said with a shrug, trying to hide my broken heart. "We just wanted to see how it was like. We're still friends though," I told him with a sly grin. Yea… I can't stop lying. I haven't seen him since the hospital.

He laughed. "Well, I must say, you look healthy. Very healthy. That vacation really did something for you. In some of those tabloid pictures before, you looked tired and worn out."

"Stress from school and all the traveling," I replied. I looked above his shoulder and saw Elliot. I twirled my finger in my hair. She nodded and gave me a reassuring smile.

"You look like you want to say something," he said as he shifted in his seat.

"Well, yea, I do." I sounded nervous. I took a deep breath. "It wasn't a vacation."

He raised his eyebrow. Man, this guy is getting a promotion at work.

"I was being treated for anorexia and bulimia," I confessed. He opened his mouth but I cut him off. I'm a big girl now. "I decided to tell this now because I've come to grips with my problem. I need to take responsibility for my actions. I want to tell the truth because I know there are girls out there that feel the same way I felt about myself. They need to know that they are not alone."

After he got over the shock, the interview continued with some minor changes to his questions.

"You're a very strong and beautiful girl," he admitted at the end. He obviously was caught off guard and said the stereotypical comment.

"Thanks," I said meekly. "I've been hearing that a lot."


Two weeks later, that interviewed aired in the states. European news shows have shown my clip of the interview before the morning ended. The agency is backing me up. Mrs. Logan is proud that I'm being mature and not covering it up. Not many models in the industry would admit to such a disease. Many of my clients are renewing their contracts. Teen fashion magazines want me on their covers and in their pages, depicting me as a strong girl who overcame her personal problems.

I've created a stronger image.

I'm glad that one of my passions is on track and moving full speed ahead. I'm trying to not even think about the other.

I walked through the back door of the venue. It was my first show of the season. There were already girls in the back room. I greeted them with a smile. They returned the favor. I saw some of my model friends and I got a strong hug from each of them. They've obviously watched the news.

Two blocks away, RJ and Charlie are seated in a café, spending their time there until the show started.

Before I knew it, time flew by. Hair was teased, tugged and combed. Make up was painted on and shoes were being strapped on. Clothes were tossed on bodies. I looked at the line up. I was third in line.

It was now seconds before the show started. I could feel the excitement bubbling around. Everyone was on pins and needles. Charlie, RJ and Elliot should be at their seats by now. As the make up artist checked the girls' faces for the last time, the show's coordinator appeared beside me.

"Miss McCarthey," he began, as he laid his hand on my shoulder. I jumped at the contact.


"There has been a change in line up. You're closing the show and opening the walk-out."

I stared at him with a bit of shock. "Seriously?"

"Seriously," he nodded before walking away.

My first show of the season, which the media is all over, and I am doing the most profiled spots of it? Holy fuck. Who arranged this?

The good news sent sensational vibes to my toes. The coordinator was now calling the girls. We took our spots, and waited for the cue. The lights dimmed. The crowd went silent. The bass vibrated through the speakers. My heart was beating with adrenaline, as if I just snorted crack.

This is my crack.


I weaved my way through the crowd, my arms snaking pass bodies while my feet twist and turned to fit in the tight spots. Despite the loud music and the even louder crowd, my ears were able to pick up RJ's laugh.

I kept my eyes on the prize, and continued to slither through the sea of people. I could sense his eyes on me. The disco ball above flicked specks of light on our faces. I caught his eye. My heart clenched at the sight. I lowed my gazed as I reached my final destination. They snapped at the face once it was looming over me.

Despite the chaos of the after party, we were able to separate from it and enter our own world. I haven't felt this comforting feeling in a long time. I was experiencing it in a different arena, a place outside the bedroom.

"I know you rearranged the line up."

"I have connections."

I stared at him with a 'no-shit' look.

"You have a natural glow now."

"I've been told."

The crowd pushed a bit, throwing us closer than we've ever been in the last few months, yet it felt so far. My mind couldn't remember the reason why he was here. Magazines have mentioned that he was in Montreal filming. Why is he in Milan?


"Please," he stopped me. "Please, take the key back."

I crossed my arms and lowered my head. I sighed and looked back at him. The specks of light landed on our faces. He almost looked defeated.

"Move on."

"I can't."

"I have."


"So what?" I almost snapped, trying not to loose my cool. Old memories popped in my head. This has happened before. I'm doomed to repeated mistakes, aren't I?

"So what?" he repeated. "I haven't been the same. I've done thinking-"

"It doesn't matter."

"Marie!" he growled. "Are you trying to settle this here? In a middle of a party?"

"Of course," I answered. "If there is one thing I learned from my retreat, it is to face my problems."

"I'm a problem?"

"You're my passion," I admitted. "But some passions are unhealthy."

"Marie! Hear me out!" he pleaded. His fingers suddenly wrapped around my wrist. They still overlapped, like before. Some things still stay the same. "I've thought my life out. I've changed!"

" And so have I," I whispered above the music.

"So much that we're no longer a match?"


"Let's find out then."

"I don't want to."

"Why?" he pulled me closer.

"You're my drug. Back then; I was only strong when I was with you. I was dependant only on you. I need to get back on my own two feet. I'm standing on my own but I'm still unstable… I can't risk another fall."

I could feel his breath on my skin. It sent unreadable shivers down my spine. Where they good? Bad?

"You won't overdose."

"I can't take your key back," I stated firmly.

He looked into my eyes. "Take it. Give us a chance."

"What if things go wrong?"

"So what?" he pressed. "Lets find out."

"I'm tired, Damien. I'm too weak to fight off another heartbreak. Do you know how long it took for me to get over the last one?" I was on the verge of tears. He saw them glisten under the disco lights.

"Marie, there won't be another one."

He brought his hand to my face, and his fingers traced my cheekbone. He wiped the tears and smiled. He felt me relax and before I knew it, he had slipped a piece of metal into my feeble fingers. I swallowed my fear and took the key from his fingers. I didn't smile, but the feeling in my eyes said everything to him. He nodded knowingly.

Beneath the disco ball, like many months ago, a battered heart began to beat with passion again.

The End.


Author's Note: oh shit, I'm such a horrible person. I finished this chapter months ago, but I don't know why I never posted it! Ugh, such a horrible person! (Enter angst).

The title of the chapter is from a song by Meg & Dia.

Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this story! I am working a few short stories and another chapter story!



And happy readings!

-lala the panda