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  1. "Alexandra Richies! My name, is right there on her birth certificate." I scream, stabbing my finger at the yellow piece of paper I have in my hand. "Yours, Miss I'm-Too-Good-For-Everyone, is not. You are not her mother, you are a nobody. And you have absolutely no right to take her away from me! I swear to God, you stupid and inconsiderate b***h, if you take my daughter one step outside of that door, I will hunt you down and I will kill you!" The stupid and inconsiderate b***h in question is from Social Services, who have deemed me an unfit mother to my two month old daughter, Cara. As she quite takes Cara away, away from me and my problems, I don't cry, or chase after them down the stairs. I am numb. Numb from the shock of losing my daughter, and from the combination of vodka and crack cocaine in my blood system. The clock on the wall reading ten past eleven doesn't feel my pain, and doesn't respond when I pray silently to be able to turn back time. It stubbornly keeps ticking, determined that life carries on, with or without my daughter.

    "Lexie?" My thoughts are interrupted as my name is mumbled by Cara's father.

    Once my knight in shining armour, Lee is now just my dealer and somebody to s**g if we're sober enough. Somebody to go out and get the sugar for my tea (five sugars, no milk), somebody to answer the door if we owe money. Lee Coates may be all of that to me, but to other people, well - let's just say he's not somebody they would want to mess with. He himself is not physically intimidating, he's actually really scrawny; but if you know who he is aquantained with, you'd leave well alone. He's got a funny way with people, Lee. Just the way in which he can make people do what he wants, it can be scary. If anybody knows that, it's me.

    Lee first came into my life two years ago, when I had just turned sixteen. It was my summer holidays after leaving school, and I hadn't done as well as my parents had expected of me. Sandra and James Richies, or Mr & Mrs Richies to anybody other than family, were far too preoccupied with what their golf-club society friends think of them to actually have feelings and opinions of their own. My slightly below average grades had upset them. Quite obviously I was not the exceptionally talented child prodigy they thought they deserved; to them I was distinctly un-exceptional.

    It was their lack of encouragement and outward affection that summer which pushed me over the edge. I stopped seeing my perfectly average friends, Kay and Marie, and no longer listened to the cheesy pop music chosen by perfectly average sixteen year olds. Instead, I preferred to go for walks on my own, my headphones filled with the frantic bass rythms and continuous shouting of trance music. I found a certain solitude in the anti-social attitude of the music, being able to relate to the feelings of hate and anger being rapped into my eardrums.

    It was one particularly bright August evening when I first met Lee. I'd had an argument with my parents, and had walked out, slamming the door behind me. I'd barely got to the end of my street, mumbling "I would never, ever treat my own children like this. It's so unfair. It's disgusting. Its-" when I was brought to a stop by the skinny young lad I had bumped into.
    "Its a f***ing atrocity if you ask me, babes." S**t. I hadn't even noticed anybody around me, never mind listening to my insane ramblings.

    If I could go back and change anything about that night, it would be to have walked the other way, to have stayed in the house, to have left just a minute later - anything other than meet Lee. I blame him completely for everything which is wrong with me; for my addiction to anything and everything, my complete lack of self -respect, and my overwhelming need to feel loved. But that night, two years ago, I thought he was my hero. I underestimated Lee. I over-estimated myself.

    "Lexie?!" He shouts my name this time, bringing me back to the present day. That's one of the downfalls of crack, for me at least. I end up daydreaming - mostly reliving old memories; my mind spinning with days and people I didn't appreciate then, but would now give anything to go back to.

    *******

    "Alexandra?" I hear an unfamiliar voice say. Figuring they must be talking to somebody else, I drift back off. It hurts too much to think.

    What could be days later, I hear the name called again. "Alexandra?













    "Mrs Alexandra Anderson, but please guys, just call me Alexandra. I like my classes to be relaxed, and for you to feel like you can approach me. That said, I expect hard work and lots of dedication from you all." This is my 'New Class Speech', I say it to all of my new students every September. I'm pretty proud to say, I think it works. Hopefully, this classroom full of seventeen year olds won't be any different.