The clock that hung from the wall ticked loudly through the silence as the pendulum swung from side to side. I had probably been sitting there for 3 minutes without saying a word. What could I say though? There was nothing on my mind and she seemed stubborn enough to not be the first one to break the silence between us.
“So, why don’t you tell me why you’re here Aaron?”
Guess I was wrong.
“I’m not exactly sure,” I said.
But I was...the school forced me to come here.
“Well, you must have some reason for wanting to see me today?”
I wanted to get this requirement over with as soon as possible.
“I don’t know. I guess things just haven’t been going so well lately,” I said.
“Would you like to elaborate?”
“Well, it’s really nothing huge. It’s just a bunch of little things. Homework, tests, social ties…stuff like that,” I said.
The woman gently uncrossed and re-crossed her legs as she took a sip of her coffee. She stared at me beneath rectangular, black-rimmed glasses as if to signal me to continue. I really didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t even here by my own choice. Stupid school requirements were forcing me to come here. Apparently, when one student kills themselves, every other student must
be suicidal as well.
“I don’t know. I try to remind myself that I’m actually doing pretty well in life. I think about that girl Rachel, the one who shot herself, and I just think about how messed up things must have been for her,” I said.
“Do you think about her a lot?” she asked.
Why would I?
“Only as much as I need to so I can keep my sanity,” I said.
“Do you feel bad about her death?” she asked.
As bad as I feel when a goldfish dies.
“Not really, no. I mean, I didn’t actually know her so her death doesn’t make me sad. But I feel compassion for the people that cared about her. I’ve seen them around and they look pretty fucked up,” I said.
She looked sharply at me as I realized what I had said.
“Sorry,” I said.
“No, no. I encourage you to be as open as you need to be,” she said.
“Ok. I’ll try to cool it on the swearing a bit. I can be pretty foul mouthed,” I said.
“It’s fine. No one is going to get mad at you here. I can have a fucking dirty mouth too sometimes,” she said with a smile.
I smiled back at her, but it was just a courtesy smile. I really didn’t think I belonged here. On the outside, I was just a normal college student trying his best to do well in life. On the inside, I didn’t really care about much. All over, I was just your typical everyday teenager who just wanted to fit in and be accepted.
“So what are your friends like?” she asked.
They don’t ask 50 million questions
“Well, I only have a couple close friends. Everyone else is just an acquaintance,” I said.
“That’s perfectly acceptable. I find it better to have a few people that you can trust with your life than a bunch of strangers,” she said.
“Well, my best friend would have to be Carly,” I said.
“Tell me about her,” she said.
She’ll punch your lights out if I asked her to.
“She’s great. We’ve been friends since Junior High. She brings out the best kind of person in me. When I’m around her, I just feel so free it’s as if I could be anyone I wanted to be,” I said.
“And your other friends?” she asked.
“Well, a close second would have to be Henry. I met him my freshman year and we’ve been tight like brothers ever since,” I said.
“Anyone else?” she asked.
“There’s Carly’s boyfriend, Mike. He’s an ok guy. I wouldn’t consider him one of my best friends, but it’s important to Carly that I like him, so I do,” I said.
“Well Aaron, from what I’ve gathered there is no need for you to be in therapy. You are perfectly normal in every visual way. I’ll write up a dismissal form for you to turn in at the administrator’s office on campus…unless you want to tell me something else?” she asked.
I want to punch someone in the face right now, and you’re standing a bit too close.
“Nope, I’m good. Nothing bothering me but my Psych project coming up,” I said.
“Alright then, here’s your form,” she said.
I stood up and turned towards the door.
“Although,” she said.
What do you want now?
“If there is anything you want to talk about, or if you just need a pair of ears or a shoulder to cry on, please give me a call. My number’s on the cards on my assistant’s desk,” she said.
“Thank you,” I said.
“So have you gone to see any of those counselors that the school hired yet?” I asked.
“No, I was gonna do that Friday after my History midterm,” Carly said, “You?”
“Yeah, I did it this morning,” I said.
We sat down at one of the picnic tables that were scattered around the campus. Carly dug right into her food but I just sat there playing with mine with my fork. The fork got stuck and I ended up flicking an olive into the air.
“Something wrong?” she asked with a mouth full of her sandwich.
“Eh, I’m not sure,” I said, “She kept asking me about my friends and how I felt about that girl that died.”
“Well…how do you feel?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I mean I didn’t really know her so why should I care that she offed herself?” I asked.
“Hey have some respect for the dead,” she said, “I mean even though she was bat shit crazy, she was still a person you know?”
“Yeah, sorry. I just don’t really know how to feel about it,” I said.
“Well, maybe you should see her again,” Carly suggested.
I eyed her expression up and down. I was trying to tell if she was pulling my leg or if she was honestly suggesting this. She noticed me studying her face and stared back at me with a raised eyebrow.
“What?” she asked.
“You weren’t joking?” I asked.
“No,” she said, “I think it would do you some good to have someone unbiased to talk to.”
“Carly, I love you but you’re insane,” I said.
“Quite possibly, but more importantly I’m actually serious. You’re so bitter and sarcastic all the time. You never actually talk about what’s bothering you,” she said.
Well right now that would be you.
“Whatever, I’m not doing it,” I said.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because she even said that I didn’t need to be there,” I said.
“That’s because you didn’t let her see past your mask,” she said.
“Let me guess, you made several sarcastic comments in your head whenever she asked you a question right?” she asked.
“Then you didn’t show her the real you. Look I’m not saying this to put you down or anything, but I think you could discover a few things about yourself if you just went in, let your guard down, and talked to her for a while,” she said.
“Fine, if it’ll get you off of my back then I’ll go again,” I said.
She looked relieved and smiled at me.
“Just once though,” I said.
“Once will be enough I promise,” she said.
After Carly took off to her Philosophy class, I decided to walk around campus. My thought train was on several different tracks as it always was. The first track stayed focused on what I would talk about with the counselor. Would she ask me questions again, or would I have to come up with stuff on my own? What if I couldn’t think of anything to say? Did it really matter?
I shook my head at the thought. It didn’t matter at all because it wasn’t necessary. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with me. What’s a psychiatrist going to tell me that I don’t already know? Whatever, it was for Carly anyway. As long as she was content with me then I was happy. She has no need to worry about me, and this was the only way to prove it to her.
My second track was thinking about Rachel. Not about her death, but who she really was. I tried to come up with a picture of what her life was like before she killed herself. The news report said her brother and three of her friends were there when she did it. They said she tried to kill one of them, but her brother stopped her. It made me think that her brother was really close to her and meant a lot to her. But why would she kill herself instead of get help? Did she really not want to live anymore or did she feel so ashamed about what she did that her brother wouldn’t love her anymore?
It was a sad thought, but I figured anyone who is desperate enough to kill themselves if it meant the pain would stop then she was beyond help. It was a sad thought sure, but it didn’t make me sad. Her brother must have had it rough though. If I had a brother or a sister, then I would probably be able to imagine what he felt. But I didn’t, so I didn’t care very much.
My third track was about all the new people moving into the dorms after what happened. There were so few people living in the dorms before that I was able to live alone, but now I was being assigned a roommate. Joy. Another person that I have to socialize with every day, just what I wanted.
I finally jumped off my thought train and looked at my watch realizing that it was 1:30 already. I decided to head back to the dorm and wait for my new roommate. When I walked past the main Administrator’s Office, I turned the corner sharply and accidentally bumped into someone. I hit my head against theirs and fell down on my ass.
“Ow fuck!” I yelled.
“Oh my God I’m so sorry!” he said, “Are you ok?”
You nearly cracked my freakin skull asshole!
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” I said.
He lowered his hand towards me to lift me up. I rubbed my head with my left hand as I took his extended arm with my right. He pulled me up and steadied me. As my vision refocused I was able to see his face. He had a pair of bright green eyes fixated on me while I regained my balance.
“Man I hit you pretty hard huh?” he asked.
“Yeah, you’ve got a hard head,” I said.
“You sure you’re alright?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Where were you heading in such a hurry?” he asked.
“Back to my dorm,” I said, “I’m getting a new roommate today.”
Wait what? Why did I just say that?
“Oh that’s cool,” he said, “I was heading in that direction too.”
I took a step forward and wobbled a little. He grabbed my shoulder and laughed a little. Once I got my balance back I laughed a little as well and shook my head.
“You want me to walk with you and make sure you don’t pass out?” he asked flashing me his bright smile.
“Sure I guess,” I said.
We walked across the campus together, every now and then I would stumble a little and he caught me before I tripped over myself. Each time I did it he let out a chuckle. I probably looked like a complete idiot. We were about halfway across the campus when he started talking to me randomly.
“So where you from?” he asked.
“Up north,” I said, “You?”
“Me too. What city?”
“Gilroy. What about you?”
“Not too far from there. I moved down about 5 years ago from Portland in Oregon.”
“That’s pretty cool. I used to vacation up there with my family.”
Why did I say that? Not like he cares.
“Really? Maybe we’ve met before,” he said with a grin.
No, I would probably remember you…wait what?
“Maybe,” I said.
“So what are you studying here?” he asked.
Why do you care?
“Well, I haven’t really selected my major yet, but I’ve been thinking about Psychology or something,” I said.
“Wow that’s cool. I’m an art major,” he said.
I looked up at him and admired him a little. I wasn’t a very creative person, and I respected those that were. I couldn’t draw anything to save my life, but I like looking at the work of those that could.
“So, do you have a car?” he asked.
That’s it, I have to ask…
“Why are you asking me all these questions?” I asked.
“Well, I took a Health class last semester and one of the textbooks said when someone receives a head injury, it’s best to keep them talking; make sure they’re focused on something in case they pass out or something,” he said.
“Oh…” I said.
“Sorry if I seemed invasive, I was just trying to make sure you were ok,” he said.
But…we just met…
“Thanks…that’s really nice of you,” I said.
He looked at me as we stopped outside of the north dorm building. His bright hazel eyes glimmered in the light from the sun. I studied them as discretely as I could and noticed that there was a hint of gold around the edges. He smiled and revealed a set of bright white teeth that would make a dentist jealous. I didn’t know what he was smiling at, so I raised an eyebrow at him.
“What’s that about?” he asked.
“Wondering what the hell you’re smiling at,” I said.
Shit, did I say that one out loud?
“Sorry, I just thought…”
“No, sorry I didn’t mean it like that,” I said.
Didn’t I though?
“Well then how did you mean it?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Guess I was just trying to be funny,” I said.
“Well don’t quit your day job…uhm…” he said looking at me blankly.
“Aaron,” I said.
“Aaron. Hmm, very strong name if you ask me,” he said.
“Yeah tell that to the fucker that beat me up in high school,” I said.
Fuck I did it again!
He smiled again and said, “I’m Lucas. You can call me Luke.”
“Alright Luke, I guess I’ll see you around?” I asked.
As if it really mattered…
“Count on it,” he said with a smile.
As he walked away, I tried to study what made him tick, and what made those thoughts slip out of my mind. Even with Carly, I kept all of my sarcasm in my head so I didn’t offend her at all. There was something different about Luke that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He was like a book full of analogies and metaphors that made my brain itch. He was confusing and yet, I felt like I understood him at the same time. The only thing I didn’t understand was that bizarre question and answer session while we were walking. Did he honestly care if I was ok even though he just met me?
That’s stupid. He probably just wanted to make sure I didn’t sue his ass.
That had to be it; and that officially made him tomorrow’s problem. Today’s problem was probably already upstairs unpacking it’s shit, and I had to go meet it and make nice with it for the rest of the semester. He was probably some weak little brainiac that was so afraid of the world that he had to move in with the big boys. It’s just what I needed this semester; to be some pathetic genius’ bodyguard.
I walked upstairs to my room and opened it to see the room empty of human life and felt even more disappointed than if my new roommate had turned out to be a dickwad. I was kinda hoping that I didn’t have to be there for that awkward moment when he walks in the door, but God couldn’t be that kind to me.
I flopped down on my bed and closed my eyes for a moment. My thoughts instantly drifted to Lucas…I mean Luke. What was his deal? No one could be that nice to someone they just
met. Fuck, now I was obsessing. I opened my eyes and rubbed the spot on my forehead where his head hit mine. Just then the door popped open and my new roommate stepped inside, followed closely by that awkward moment.
Fuck my life…