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Addicted 2 U
Author's note: This was the most challenging problem that I'd ever battled in high school. It really shed some light on who to trust and how important friends and family really are, as well as how hard it is to know who to trust and who not to trust.
The black and gray diamond background of Noah’s Instant Message laced around my heart like barbed wire. He was the boy I had met at camp that summer. I had developed an impenetrable bond with him via instant message and email ever since I had returned home. But he had flaws. He drank every weekend, smoked just as often, and fought his family and friends. But he seemed so sweet. He said things I wanted to hear and caught my heart in a cradle of perfect obsession. Several weeks of non-stop communication went by. It was short-lived, however, because he sent me an email that cut our connection and crushed my heart. He told me that he did not want me anymore and I was not worth his time. My heart sank, and I grew bitter towards the boy, though it did not seem to matter to him what my emotions were.
Several days later, I got an Instant Message from an unknown screen name, “addicted2u9870.” I asked who it was, but the person would not say. The screen name did not attempt to contact me for about another week, which was long enough for me to forget about it. I had not blocked the screen name because I was naïve and trusting, as well as blindly curious. How could I have ever known what a terrible mistake it was?
After about a month of intermittent messaging from this unknown person messaging me, he finally revealed that he was Connor Meah, a friend of Noah’s, and had gotten my screen name when he was looking over Noah’s shoulder in the school library while Noah checked his email. Had I given it a second thought, I probably would have realized that Noah hadn’t even started school when the sender had begun messaging. But I accepted his excuse and began talking to him regularly. Because he lived far away and had no mutual friends with me, he became my confidante. Connor sent me pictures of himself: an attractive, blonde, tall, athletic, strong, and irresistible high school senior. He became my habit, my drug. My days began to consist of food, water, and Noah. I talked to him every day after school, neglecting my friends and schoolwork for his virtual love. We became close. I loved talking to him and hearing his advice and his charming words and his soothing aura. It struck me one day, several months after I’d begun conversing with him, that I did not have his cell phone number. I asked him why this was.
“Mary, I’m a father. I accidentally got my ex-girlfriend pregnant, and her parents don’t want me to talk to or see other girls, so I can’t give you my number.” My heart dropped.
“But I live forever away. What difference does it make? We are friends! They don’t have to know. They can’t have that kind of control over you!” This sort of banter went on, but his protests were strong all the while, so I finally gave up. It didn’t make sense to me, but maybe there was a more logical reason behind it. If only I knew.
Meanwhile, he introduced me to his friend Ian T. Ian was apparently a man of the streets; a good looking drug dealer who lived on the dark side. I had a slight crush on this boy as well; his dangerous appeal was attractive. He was a wildfire, and it excited me. In January, about six months after I had first met Connor, I saw I had a friend request on Facebook from celebrity Rick Ross. I casually mentioned this to Ian, whose interest flared up with a roar. He asked if he could talk to him on my Facebook, and I stupidly agreed, my trust overpowering me. I gave him my password, and watched from my computer as him and Rick Ross conversed, and then I watched as a message from Perrin, my friend and old love, popped up. I sprang to reply to it, and watched with horror as Ian did the same. I quickly explained to Perrin that Ian was also on my account, and that it was he talking. They began to chat as well, and it seemed to be a positive conversation, and then it turned ugly. Before I could step in, my mom ordered me off the computer, because it was getting late. She then took my computer; all I could do was to wait until the next day to see what had happened. I asked Connor first thing what had happened. “It didn’t go so well…” was all Connor would say about it. I finally reached Ian that day, and found him livid. The two boys had apparently gotten in a huge fight, and Ian was furious with him. Ian claimed to know a gang of Bloods in Virginia; seven Blacks and a Mexican, of who he had called upon to travel to my city to beat up, and possibly kill Perrin. I was terrified. I begged Ian not to do it, but he was defiant, and said the only way he would stop these people from coming was if Perrin apologize. I hastily called Perrin, who was annoyingly skeptical about it all. “Perrin, you have to apologize. I don’t care if you were right or wrong, just do it. It’s the only way he will stop the Bloods from attacking you.” Tears streaked down my face and I somehow failed to see how utterly stupid the whole situation was and how disgustingly gullible I was. Nevertheless, I begged Perrin to apologize, and much to my surprise, he agreed, and told Ian he was sorry; clearing the air. I was relieved once again. “They won’t stop” Ian notified me the next afternoon. My heart nearly stopped as I heard these words. I instantly began reviewing my options when Ian said, “We have to fight them if we want to save Perrin” He immediately launched a series of commands and demands, ranging from materials for a bomb, fake identifications for guns, and asking a friend of mine for backup, as her sister was truly a Blood, and might know others. Days seemed to melt together, and thought it was only three days, it felt like a year. It felt like years of planning, of drama and suspense. I was instructed to tell no one of the incident and help fight the gang. It was possibly the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. It was planned that they would arrive on February 14 at Perrin’s house and attack him, and I would hide somewhere and shoot at them. As he explained the plan over again, my body went totally numb; the blood drained from my head and everything seemed to fade away. My heart pounded in my ringing ears and time seemed to slow down considerably. That night, I cried so hard my body convulsed and writhed in internal pain and agony. I watched as the sky turned red-orange against the black shadow of the treetops. I cried for my family, and how I would miss them so terribly. I was sorry for all the things I’d ever done to them, and thought how I was too young to die, and wanted to live some more. I cried so hard that my chest ached, my stomach twisted, and my throat closed up. My head was throbbing against the pressure and I almost threw up several times. I lay awake until early morning, sweating and struggling to breathe. So many things flew through my mind that night. It was the most horrifying and terrible feeling I have ever felt in my entire life, deaths included. I was scared that I would die. The cold depression that gripped me so tightly made me wonder if it was possible to internally die from a depression that forceful and raw. I got to the point where I could no longer cry; it was just a deep, dry, dragging sob, which turned into guttural moaning.
Despite my expectations, the sun rose the next morning and I went to school as usual. I told my best friend, whose sister was the Blood, the whole story. Though I didn’t see it at the time, she saved my life. She told me that if I did not tell someone, that she would, and then I would be arrested for withholding information. So I went to the guidance counselor against my will, yet it was the smartest move I could have ever made. I was in over my head. By the end of the day, every single one of the schools’ guidance counselors, my parents, the dean of students, the principal and I were all crammed in a small guidance counselor’s office, listening to the story. I repeated the story many times. They were all eager to hear my story. I was embarrassed and scared. It was hard to admit to so many people my guilty secret that had led me into so much trouble. I was taken home early, and told to speak to no one. Who would I talk to? I barely had any friends anymore. The police were called, and Perrin’s school was called and notified. My father also called a high-ranking criminal investigator. The investigator evaluated the situation, and assumed the whole case phony and dismissed us. I was outraged, and demanded action. I pleaded for them to do something. All contact was cut from anyone involved. I sat in my room in hysterics, laughing in depression despite the gravity of the situation.
While I waited, my parents went through all of my emails, in case the police wanted to read them. I waited while they assessed the emails and their senders. Mom called my name from the next room in a quiet yet alarming tone. I went to her, and she looked at me with sad eyes.
“I think Connor and Ian are the same person,” she said gently. Words cannot fitfully describe the sickening feeling that overtook me. My face flushed, and it felt as if all the air in my lungs was sucked out. My throat tightened and my stomach felt knotted and sick. I stood in shock for a moment, and then began rejecting the idea; denying it in every way.
“No they aren’t. That’s impossible. They have messaged me at the same time before! If it were the same person, I wouldn’t get them at the same time. And I know Noah! I know he is real because I went to camp with him, and he knows both Connor and Ian. Well he knows Connor at least…” After a half hour of convincing proof, thanks to identical PCU ID numbers from the emails received, my mom made me realize the truth.
“Think about it, Mary.” Mom added, “Even the names. ‘Connor Meah’ sounds a lot like ‘con me.’ And ‘Ian Troff?’ ‘Troff’ stands for ‘trace off’ or ‘without a trace.’” It suddenly became glaringly obvious, and then it dawned on me that all Connor’s “friends” I had met online were the same person. They were Noah’s creations. Noah had created “Connor Meah,” “Ian Troff,” and other false screen names, false lives, false stories. I was a foolish victim to dramatic lies and psychopathy.
I couldn’t have known, or so my friends and family said. Not a thing anyone told me brought me out of my entangling depression. Without “Connor” and “Ian,” I had few friends to call. It was painful and foreign to not talk to Connor every night. I didn’t know what to do: I was lost. I had always been independent and proud of it, so I rarely reached out to others for help. But after four hours in tears on the bathroom floor, I swallowed my pride and reached out to my family and friends.
My phone number was changed and his number was blocked so he couldn’t reach me. But it didn’t stop him. The house phone rang several days after we had made the tragic discovery. My dad picked up, and seconds later, called my name. I went into the office, where he was.
“It’s John Daly from school. Wants to know if you have a History book you can borrow.” My dad said and handed the phone to me. I took the phone, confused.
“Hello?” I asked, walking back to my room.
“Hey Mary, its me, Connor.” Noah’s voice came through the phone all too familiarly. I froze. The blood drained from my face and I felt dizzy. How stupid I was to not have recognized before that Connor’s voice was the exact same as Noah’s. My breath shortened and I almost whispered,
“Hold on.” I turned right around and went back into the office. My parents looked up at me questionably. I pressed the speaker against my palm.
“It’s Noah,” I said softly to them. My dad snatched the phone from my hands and calmly, yet angrily, began talking to Noah. He told him that he knew everything, that we had found out, and never to call me again. The conversation ended and I smiled weakly at him and returned to my room, quietly.
Weeks later, I still longed to hear his voice over the phone. I yearned for his enchanting conversation. But I resisted. I slowly inched back into reality. I bravely pushed through into the social world and surrounded myself with friends. Spring brought a bounty of blossoming friendships, pulling me out of my winter hibernation. But it didn’t deter Noah. He found out my new cell phone number somehow and began calling me, leaving voicemails and texting me. I finally replied: the temptation was too strong. I didn’t want to forgive him, but I couldn’t help it. My brain and my heart battled extensively. He explained himself. He told me it was my fault because I had fallen for Connor and he didn’t want to admit that he was just joking. In his eyes, I was in the wrong, and he was the hero by trying to save me from getting hurt. We talked for about a month before I told him I didn’t want to talk to him any longer. I realized that he was not good for my mental health. So I told him.
“Noah, I don’t think it is a good idea that we keep talking.” I closed my eyes as I pressed Send, but I was no longer afraid of being without him, I was just afraid of his reaction. He grew angry and began insulting me, like he always did when he was angry. I left him with his final words still hanging in the air:
“You have no one now.”
But I did. I had my friends and family. They had always been there; I just never saw them because of Noah. But they were there, and I wanted them. From that moment forward, I was through with him. He was no longer a part of my life. I broke free from my foul, online addiction and embraced the warm arms of reality.