Millie was just 15 years old when she first set eyes on Zac Freeman. Zac was the drummer in the band that came to play at the Youth Club Millie and her friends went to every Friday night. Although there were 5 players in the band - Zac was the one all the girls loved. He was by far the best looking and didn't he know it! He was 6ft tall, with very dark, slightly spiked, hair - he had gorgeous grey eyes with lashes any girl would have died for and he always worked out at the gym and his body showed that it was well worth all his efforts.
Millie always liked to get to the Club early so that she could claim the table that was in front of the stage that the band played on. That way she could sit and gaze at Zac all evening. Her friend Chloe told her she was wasting her time and that Zac wouldn't give girls like them a second glance. She should dance and enjoy herself, Chloe had told her, and although Millie knew she was right, she could still dream and so the Friday night ritual continued.
Despite the fact that Millie always sat in full view of the band, Zac had never even glanced at her, so tonight Millie decided she would try something new - she would dance. Together, Chloe and Millie were great dancers and although Millie was usually shy, when she started dancing she always felt all her inhibitions fall away and the sound of the music took over. Tonight was no different and as the two of them began to move to the rhythm of the music and Millie's long blonde hair flowed down hair back, moving first one way and then the other, she felt a pair of eyes watching her. At first she thought she was imagining it. Just wishful thinking, she thought to herself, but no, she was right, Zac was staring at her. As their eyes met, she smiled and looked away and continued to dance, swaying and twirling to the music. When the music stopped, a member of band annouced there was to be a 15 minute interval, so instead of going back to her seat she decided to go to the counter and buy herself a soft drink, all that dancing had made her thirsty. As she was about to pay for the drink, a voice behind her said "that one's on me" and as she looked around to see who it was, Zac stood there smiling. "Why thanks" said Millie trying to sound confident and nonchalent, when inside she was shaking like jelly. "That was some dance" said Zac "and there was me thinking you were a shy little wallflower, who always sat at the front table and never moved". Millie blushed and told him she just liked to sit and listen to the music but she felt quite sure that Zac knew that wasn't really true. The 15 minutes soon past and Zac said he would have to go back on stage, but asked if he could give her a lift home when the Club closed. Millie was almost struck dumb, but managed to mumble a quick "yes" and "thank you".
Millie couldn't wait to find Chloe to tell her what had happened. She would never believe that Zac was taking Millie home, but she knew her friend would be really excited for her. She eventually saw Chloe, who was still dancing with another group of their friends. Chloe hurried over when she saw Millie and the smile that was on her face. "What's made you so happy"? she asked and Millie excitedly told her. Instead of be excited for Millie, she seemed worried. "Be careful Mill" she told her. "He is 18 and has certainly been around a bit, don't forget you are only 15 and haven't even had a proper boyfriend". "Don't be silly" Millie told Chloe "he is only taking me home and anyway he probably won't even ask me out again".
Zac did ask her out again and their relationship progressed. At first Zac seemed caring and generous, he told Millie he understood that she was young and didn't expect anything from her, just a good friendship. Millie fell more and more in love but Zac became more and more controlling. He never once said he loved her but began to tell her that he needed more from their relationship and if she wasn't ready to give more that there were plenty of girls out there who would. Millie thought her heart would break and eventually she gave in to Zac. She felt sure that now they had this closeness Zac would love her the same way she loved him, with his whole body and soul, how wrong she was. No matter how he treated her, and sometimes he verbally abused her so much, she still loved him and told herself that she was lucky that he stayed with her and that one day he would change. Shortly after her 16th birthday, she moved into Zac's one bedroom apartment. She was sure that everything would be good from now on. They would share a home, she would look after him and he would realise how much he really loved her. Millie was wrong yetagain.
The first time Zac hit Millie, was after one of his gigs. He didn't get home until after 3.00 am although Millie knew that the gig was due to end at midnight. When he did arrive she could smell alcohol and perfume. Millie began to ask where he has been and with whom, but before she could finish the sentence she felt a blow to her face. Her head began to spin and the second blow knocked her to the ground. "Don't ever question me again" he told Millie "EVER!!". Millie was so shocked she didn't say anything, she didn't even cry. Then she heard the bedroom door slam, he had gone to bed without even helping her up from the ground. Millie managed to crawl to the sofa and she lay down. She couldn't sleep as her head and face were too painful, but Millie felt sure that it was her heart that hurt the most.
The next morning she went into the bathroom to bathe her face with some cold water as it hurt more than ever and as she looked in the mirror she couldn't believe the sight that looked back at her. Two very bruised swollen eyes and a cut and puffy lip and the left side of her face looked so distorted you could have thought she had been in a car crash. Maybe she shouldn't have questioned Zac, she thought, he was probably tired after working such long hours. Perhaps it really was her fault, she shouldn't have made him angry. If only she had gone to bed before he came home, everything would have been fine, she told herself. She was sure that when Zac got up, he would be horrified by what he had done to her and would be so sorry. He would tell her he loved her and how this kind of thing would never ever happen again. He would ask her to forgive him, and she knew, despite everything, she would as shestill loved him so much.Once again though, Millie was very wrong. When Zacfinally got up at about 11.00am he didn't even speak to Millie. He made himself a coffee, smoked a cigarette and then proceeded to put his coat on. When Millie asked him where he was going, he just glared ather and shouted "OUT!!" He then said that she should stay in that day as her ugly face would scare the children in the street. He then went off and slammed the door behind him. Millie cried and cried until there were no more tears left. Millie knew she should leave, but she couldn't bear to think of life with Zac, despite the way he treated her. Anyway, she thought, where could she go.When she had told her parents that she was leaving home to move in with Zac they had disowned her. Her Father told her that if she left she was never to return or contact them again. They had warned her so many times that he was no good, that she could do so much better, but she had ignored their warnings and now she was suffering the consequences.
Months past and things just got worse for Millie, there were constant beatings and verbal abuse. Zac even stole money from her purse, but she was afraid to question him as she knew what would happen. Then one evening, when he was out yet again, Millie had a phone call. The girl on the other end said that she was sorry to have to tell her but that Zac had been playing around with other girls. She said her name was Grace andshe wasn't phoning to hurt her but she felt she should know.Grace saidshe had only just found out that Millie existed and shehad truly believed that she was Zac's girlfriend, until she caught him with another girl that night. He had told Grace she was just another of his "fan club" and then told her about Millie and had said that she was just "another fan". Millie was stunned, despite everything she really didn't think that Zac, with whom she had lived for over a year, could hurt her so much and not even care and to think that she was silly enough to love him so much and had dreamed that one day they would live happily ever after. It was now, at last, very clear to Millie that any dreams she had, Zac had messed up, he would never change. She realised that all the time he was controlling and punching he felt he was a "big macho man". All these months that he had controlled her, she couldn't even think for herself. It was as though her spirit and soul had died, even her head felt dead, she couldn't even think straight. She would normally be blaming herself, but no more. Zac didn't come home that night and to Millie's surprise she was relieved and just went to bed.
When Millie got up that morningshe felt different, shewas angry, not with Zac, but with herself. Why had she tolerated this treatment for so long. She had no love in her life in fact, no life at all. She realised, for the first time in months, that at 17 she had the whole of her life in front of her and unless she did something to change things, she would be treated like this forever.
Millie showered, got dressed, packed her things. Then she slowly lifted the phone and dialled her parents number. It seemed to ring forever, but then she heard her Mother's voice. "It's me Mum" she said. Millie's Mother burst into tears and asked where she was, how she was and then Millie poured out the whole story. There were no "I told you so" s - no words of anger - she just told her that she loved her, wanted her to come home and that her Father had prayed every night since she had been gone that one day she would return. Millie then spoke to her Father who asked for directions to the apartment and said he would pick her up in half an hour. Millie could tell from the sound of his voice that he was so pleased she was coming home.
Whilst she waited for her Father Millie sat down and wrote a letter to Zac as follows:-
BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS LETTER, I WILL BE LONG GONE.
THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT FOR US. YOU COULD
HAVE HAD EVERYTHING I HAD TO GIVE AND WE COULD HAVE
BEEN GREAT TOGETHER. INSTEAD YOU MADE MY LIFE HELL.
STRANGE AS THIS MAY SOUND, THE TREATMENT YOU GAVE ME
TAUGHT ME A LOT AND MADE ME A MUCH STRONGER PERSON -
SO DESPITE EVERYTHING I CONSIDER MY TIME WITH YOU A BLESSING.
ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IS THAT I WAS A FOOL AND I KNOW THAT
I WILL NEVER EVER LET ANYONE TREAT ME THAT WAY AGAIN
SO, IF FOR NOTHING ELSE, FOR THIS ONE LESSON YOU TAUGHT ME
I WANT TO SAY " T H A N K Y O U".
BE HAPPY - I KNOW I WILL - MILLIE.
As she sealed the envelope and placed it on the table Millie heard the sound of her Father's car. She picked up her things, threw the key to the apartment on the table, next to the letter , and with a sigh, but a great feeling of relief, she left Zac's life forever, a much wiser girl.