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1.  higher; always upward used as a motto (as on the New York State seal)


Nicole has a pep in her step as she walks through the hallways. The blinding white walls and shiny tiles don’t bother her this morning as she makes her way back to her room. She’s already been to her mandatory group, been given her pills(that she hid under her tongue and spit out) and now she’s ready to start her rigorous fitness routine.

She’s 200 crunches and fifty pull ups in when there’s a knock on her door. When it opens, her adopted father, Randy, pokes his head in with a smile.

Nicole let’s go of the bar and goes over to him giving him a tight hug. Randy pats her back and cradles the back of her head, happy that she gets to leave with him this time.

“Todays the day, kiddo. The doctors said you’re good to go.” Randy explains.

“Did they really?” Nicole questions.”Doctor Timbers didn’t really seem to like the idea when I brought it up last week.”

Randy shrugs his shoulders.

“Pack your stuff.”

Not long after Randy signs the paperwork the two are getting in the car. Nicole sits back comfortably while her dad whistles along to the radio.

“Dad, can we give Xavier a ride?”

Nicole points to the man on the sidewalk walking towards the door.

“Hey, Mr Nedley. Nicole told me all about you how you’re the guy that holds Purgatory together.”

Randy nods awkwardly and continues to drive until his phone rings.

“Yes he is. He what? Alright we’ll turn around.”

Randy pulls over and looks at Nicole.

“Xavier isn’t supposed to leave today.”

Nicole sighs as she looks back at her friend.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Nedley it’s my fault. Nicole’s my friend, she’s rooting for me.”

Xavier goes back to the hospital, and Nicole rests her head against the window seeing all the familiar spots of Purgatory.

Shortys, Main Street, the Earp homestead. She takes in the sight and is happy to be home.


When Nicole walks back into her fathers home she takes in a deep breath as she looks around. Photos from her childhood are spread around the walls, photos from first days of school, her little sister Rachel, and the first time she stood by the squad car with her adoptive father.

The living room is the same as it’s always been, the warm sofa, the tv in front of the window, Randy’s recliner, and the Toronto Maple Leafs blanket that’s draped over the back of it.

Nicole runs her hand over the blanket and smiles. when she hears the door open she whips around.


Sixteen year old Rachel runs into the living room barreling into her big sister for a hug.

Nicole laughs.

“Hi Rach. God you’re tall now.”

“And you’re ripped. I didn’t know dad was bringing you home today.”

“I didn’t either. How are you? How’s school?”

Rachel rolls her eyes.

“School is school. Which means I have homework to do.” Rachel groans.

“Go get it done.” Nicole laughs. She pats her sisters shoulder and goes to find her dad.

“Nicole, come down here.” He calls from the basement.

She hops down the steps to find the basement completely finished with all of her stuff.

“Dad, why’s my-“

Randy cuts her off by putting his hand up.

“Shea sold the house. Moved to Toronto. So, I brought all your stuff here. Even those heavy weight machines.”

Nicole looks around at all her things full of confusion. Shea wouldn’t do that. No, there had to be a mistake. She hadn’t been in the hospital long.


Nicole blinks the confusion away.


“Are you alright?”

“Yeah dad. I’m solid.”

“Good.” Randy nods. “Get yourself ready, you have therapy.”

“Therapy? Dad, I don’t need it.”

“That’s part of the agreement, kid. You come home you have to go to therapy.”

Fifteen minutes later Nicole is standing at the receptionists desk of her psychiatrists office. She’s filling out paper work when she hears it. She blinks once and looks up at the woman behind the desk.

Honey, load up your questions
And pick up your sticks and your stones

“Is that really playing? Can you turn it off please?”

And pretend I'm a shelter
For heartaches that don't have a home
Choose the words that cut like a razor

“I’m sorry, Miss Haught I don’t have the controls.”

Nicole’s hand tightens on the pen she’s holding.

“Did Doctor Timbers put you up to this?” Her voice is getting louder as the song intensifies in her ears.

“Turn it off!”

When Nicole looks down the pen in her hand is broken in half and there’s ink all over. People are looking at her and doctors are opening their doors.

“I’m sorry, I’ll clean this up I’m sorry.” She says using Kleenex to clean up the mess.

When she looks up, a doctor is motioning her forward. She looks at the name on the wall and reads R. Del Ray.

When she’s seated in a recliner and the door is shut, she sighs.

“That was a messed up thing you did there, doc.”

The man takes his glasses off to clean them.

“I had to see if that particular song was still a trigger for you, Nicole.”

“Well congratulations it is.”

“Why do you think that is?”

Nicole looks at the doctor.

“Why do I think that is? Well let me tell ya, maybe because the night I came home early from work to surprise my wife I found her in bed with someone else with OUR wedding song playing from the speaker. Maybe that’s why.”

Del Ray nods and folds his hands in his lap.

“And you haven’t thought of a way to not let that particular song bother you?”

Nicole sits back for a moment and shrugs.

“It always gets me.”

“Well we can put you on some medication that-“

“Nope.” Nicole shakes her head. “I’m not taking any meds. They make me feel foggy and sick.”

“You have to, we have to get these outbursts in order. You don’t wampum to end up back at the hospital do you?”

“No I don’t.”


Nicole leaves the doctors office with new prescriptions and new things on her mind. When she gets home she changes into sweats, puts her short hair into a ponytail, and goes for a run. As her feet hit the pavement she looks around at her old neighborhood. The autumn leaves are covering the damp sidewalks, Shorty’s Saloon is open, and the police station. The police station looks exactly how it always has. Not busy at all.

Nicole continues her run, sweat dripping down her back and her heart rate elevated. She slows down when she spots a familiar face putting groceries in a car.


The man turns around and grins when he sees the red head.

“Hey! My my look at you!”

Nicole beams as she’s pulled into a hug.

“I’m sorry I didn’t come see you at the hospital, darlin. You know Waverly had the baby, he’s beautiful you need to see him.”

“Yeah I do. How’s the restaurant?”

“I can’t complain, We’re doing very well. Hey listen why don’t you come to the restaurant on Saturday? My treat we’ll all get together again like old times and you can see the baby.”

Nicole smiles at her friend.

“Alright, I’ll be there.”