For a couple of months, Vicky seemed to have improved. No longer was she self harming (apart from the one argument with her parents, but no real damage was done.)
No longer was I helping her so much. Of course I was still supporting her, with the occasional concerned comment, but as she seemed to be reovering, I payed less and less attention to her.
In the summer holidays, I got an unexpected phone call from her.
"Hey Kate!" she said.
"What?" I asked, trying to be as polite as possible but failing.
"Are you free to come out today?"
"Huh?" Why was she asking me?
"It's just Milly and Harriet can't, so you know. Can you come out?"
I weighed my choices. She seemed happy enough - surely one outing wouldn't hurt? I needed to walk my dog anyway.
"Fine," I said reluctantly.
"Woo! Meet you on Cannonfield in half an hour."
"Kay. Bye." I hung up.
Cannonfield was only a ten minute walk away from my house but I wanted to get there with plenty of time, for some fresh air. Putting the lead on my dog, I stepped into the cool air. English weather. Pah.
Vicky turned up 15 minutes late (needless to say really. Of course she wouldn't care about turning up on time to meet her 3rd choice for a friend.)
"Hi." I spoke quietly, in shock from her appearance.
In a ridiculously short black netted skirt, purple fishnet tights,thigh-high black boots and a purple top with a plunging neckline, she looked awful. Not only was her attire completely unsuited to her figure and age, but she held a cigarette in one hand which, when she neared me, she finished, flung to the ground, and stomped on. She reached into her tiny black shoulder-bag and pulled out a fresh cigarette and lighter and started on that one as well.
In answer to my questioing glance, Vicky said: "Twenty a day."
"Why?" I was too stunned to say anything else.
"I'm stressed. Home life's a mess, Asher broke up with me again, I need a release."
Now she was closer to me, I could see new, glistening cuts on her arms and a broken heart carved onto her leg just above the knee. But there were more cuts on her arms and legs that were in only the early stages of healing. She'd spiralled downwards once more. Well, what was to be expected?
"Vicky. Your home life isn't a mess. You are a mess. A complete wreck. And you won't listen to me when I try to help you. You prefer the 'help' of your other friends. And so be it."
And I walked off. I just couldn't stand there and watch the empty shell of this new person take over the Vicky I knew and was friends with.
"Well I won't help you back," she called after me. "Going into Year Nine in a week's time and never had a boyfriend? You need all the help you can get."
It was a horribly low blow, and I knew that she just wanted a reaction. But she knew that my single status was something I was terribly insecure about. I couldn't take her constant whinging anymore. She would come to complain to me, ignore my advice without thanking me, and still insist her best friend was Harriet. I'd had enough. I couldn't deal with having a 'friend' like her. I didn't have the patience or the time. So I said the worst thing I possibly could have:
"Help from you? Not only am I not a slag like yourself, but guys don't like emos like you. I mean, you're the Exhibit A aren't you?"
And I walked off to leave her with her troubles and Harriet.