I got out of the car and walked up the drive. It looked exactly the same as when I'd last seen it. I stood still for a moment, looking at the house, reliving the memories - the good and the bad. Darran squeezed my shoulder, obviously knowing what I was thinking.
I sighed quietly and walked to the door. I slipped the key in and paused before turning it.
Maybe coming back wasn't such a good idea, I thought to myself.
I pushed the door open and stepped over the threshold. I looked around at the entrance hall. It was still excessively fancy like I remembered. Nothing had changed. I walked through to the living room. The long couch was still there, and there was a new telly.
"Wow," said Zoe.
Riley dumped our bags on the couch - which I didn't even realise he had.
"You alright, Ace?" asked Darran.
I snapped out of my little trance. I nodded vaguely.
"I'll be right back," I said.
I turned around and went up the spiral staircase. I stood at the top of the landing and looked at the door at the end of the corridor. My old room. I walked towards it. I paused, my hand wavering over the handle. I breathed out heavily and opened the door.
It was in the exact state I'd left it: everything was all over the floor. The bookcase, the chest of drawers, the fags... I picked one of them up and looked at it. I remembered smuggling them into my room from when I was 11. They weren't 'proper' fags, if you know what I mean. And I didn't really need to do much smuggling, seeing as they were in the room down the corridor.
I looked around the mess that had once been my room. I looked at the bed, remembering the last time I'd been here. The duvet was strewn across the bed and there was a big patch of dry blood on the sheet. I remembered that night all too well. The knife was still on the floor, where I'd dropped it. I picked up the knife and held it in my hand. I put them down on the desk and picked up the lighter.
"Ace?" asked Zoe from behind.
"This is the final piece of my puzzle," I told her. "This scene should tell you enough about me."
"You used to smoke?"
"I used to do drugs. I used to self-harm whenever I could, as you've already seen by the scars on my arms. I tried to commit suicide, God knows how many times."
"Why? Why did you do any of it?" she asked.
"My dad. He used to do all of it. This was never a happy house. My dad... He'd always done drugs. When I was 10, I... I wanted to try it too. So I did. I snuck into his room and took one. I liked it. I loved it. Age 10, I was addicted." I laughed mirthlessly.
"But... why were you so..." She couldn't quite think of the right word.
"Depressed?" I finished for her. She nodded slowly. "People think that those with money are happy, and that they can have whatever they want. That's so far from the truth. While we may have our flash cars, and our fancy houses, it's only because we have nothing else. It's all fake.
"There's nothing but bleak misery, wrapped in a layer of money. My parents didn't believe that I was doing drugs when they were told by my school. I still managed to get through my GCSEs, and with the best results. They made me admit to it. So I did. My dad recognised it was his fault and tried to stop, but when you've done them for 20 years, it's hard to stop. I did it for 9 years and it took me my death and a very horrible epiphany to stop."