“And you’re sure this is what you want to do?” DJ, my brother and the lead guitarist of my band, has asked me this question at least thirty times in the last ten minutes. My response remains the same – a grunt that may or may not be a yes.
The truth is I don’t know what I want, but I do know what I need. And, for the first time in my life, I’m man enough to admit it – but only to myself because, you know, you gotta keep up those appearances, right?
I continue throwing clothes into a suitcase, knowing he’s not done with this conversation. He doesn’t understand my reasoning. Hell, I don’t understand it, I just know I need to get out of here. Away from city life and take some time away, somewhere quiet, somewhere temptation won’t be waiting for me every time I leave the four walls I call home.
“Shaun?” I lift my head, realising DJ has been talking the entire time I’ve been having a weird internal monologue.
“It’s the right thing to do,” I tell him, and silently count to five. I get to three before he’s off and running.
“It’s in the middle of nowhere. No internet, no landline….”
Honestly? Between you and me, it sounds like heaven – especially after the past year. But no one, my brother included, seems to understand that. Not much of a surprise since a year ago I was voted the most likely to die from a drug overdose… and I almost fulfilled that prophecy. So yeah, taking time out in a place where people are few and drugs are fewer is a good idea. One of my best, in fact. But the way my brother is acting? You’d think I was taking a one-way trip to Mars.
“Dude, it’s not a post-apocalyptic setting,” I chuckle. “There’s internet and how many places bother with a landline these days, anyway?” I flip the top of the suitcase closed and kneel on it to zip it up.
“Yeah, but –“
“Seriously, stop worrying,” I cut him off, mid-sentence. “I get it. You’re concerned. But I’ve got this under control.”
DJ tries to mask his uncertainty behind a smile, but it’s clear he doesn’t think I can do this. But that’s my fault because it doesn’t matter how the spin doctors want to paint it, everyone knows I fucked up. When you collapse on stage, in front of seventy thousand people, it’s gonna get out. You can’t keep that many people quiet, no matter how much money you throw at it. And those closest to you, the ones who know the truth behind the damage control and rumours, are going to worry.
I drag the suitcase off the bed and head out of the bedroom, knowing DJ is on my heels.
“Are you driving yourself there?”
I resist the urge to roll my eyes. This constant questioning of every move I make is one of the reasons I’m heading out of dodge.
“Well,” I drawl. “I was thinking maybe I’d strap on some wings and fly there but then I figured it’d be easier to drive since I have luggage.”
“You know what I mean.”
I do, sadly. He means if I’m alone it’d be easy for me to succumb to temptation and take a detour and meet up with a dealer or two before leaving town. It’s not in my game plan, but no matter how many times I claim to be clean it’s going to take time for everyone to believe it.