Would You Like to Talk Today?

May 1, 2008
By Hannah Henkel, Dixon, IL

“Would you like to talk today, Sarah?” Mrs. Raines asked, a sweet smile showing on her face.

Sarah just pulled her feet up, resting her chin on her knees. She looked at Mrs. Raines, the woman she had been looking at for the past two weeks. Sarah didn’t need help because she was fine. The world was wrong.

“You don’t have to, I will be here when you are ready.” Sarah hated that smile Mrs. Raines had, as if she knew something that Sarah didn’t. Sarah wanted to prove her wrong. She wanted to show Mrs. Raines she didn’t have to talk to her. This was how every session had started and ended. Mrs. Raines just smiled through it all. Sarah wondered if that smile ever hurt, and how many students she had to smile at like that.

Sarah just sat, and finally Mrs. Raines cleared her throat. Sarah didn’t mind the silence, but she knew it was only a matter of time before Mrs. Raines couldn’t stand it. Adults always had to talk.

“You know Sarah, I know what you are going through.” Sarah didn’t answer, “When I was about your age, my mother died. It was very hard for me to understand, and I wanted to curl up into my own little shell. I used to tell myself she was coming home.” Sarah bit her lip. She knew did feel like that sometimes. She told herself that. She wasn’t going to admit it. She didn’t have any problems because she was fine.

“We don’t have to talk about what you don’t want to talk about. What class are you missing?” English. Sarah didn’t want to tell her this because then she would have to tell her she hated missing English. It was her favorite subject. Sarah could put a pen to paper and just let words flow out. Talking was different. When you talked, you didn’t have an eraser to take what you said away.

“What sports are you in?” She was in track and volleyball. She wasn’t going to tell her this because then Mrs. Raines would ask her why she had stopped going to track. Sarah knew Mrs. Raines knew all this, which was why she was questioning the fact that Mrs. Raines was trying to make small talk.

“I heard you were in the school play, that must have been exciting.” Mrs. Rains scribbled something down. Sarah wanted to ask her why she didn’t look down. How could she possibly read her own handwriting if she wasn’t watching to make sure she wasn’t writing over something. Had she taken a special course just to write with her eyes staring at Sarah?

Before she could get out another question, the bell rang. Sarah jumped from her seat, grabbing her books as she headed for the door. “See you tomorrow Sarah!” Mrs. Raines called out.


Sarah walked into the office…again. She wanted to just say she didn’t have to tell her anything and she could go back to class. She didn’t need help because she was fine. Why did nobody understand? She walked in and looked at Mrs. Raines, who was sitting in the same chair and had the same smile on her face. Sarah sat in the chair and pulled her knees up, resting her chin on her knees.

“How are you today, Sarah?” Mrs. Raines said with a smile. Sarah replied with a silent stare.

“You know, Sarah, you don’t have to be here. If you want to go back you can. Your father and mother wanted you to come in and talk. They wanted to know you were all right. Your mother says you used to talk a lot. She says you guys haven’t talked for a while.” What was the point? Her mother only got sentimental and started crying whenever they talked. Everything was a reminder.

Sarah wanted to leave. Mrs. Raines had given her the option. Yet she couldn’t bring her knees to move. She wanted to get up and go. She didn’t need help because she was fine. She kept a blank stare at Mrs. Raines. Then she did the hardest thing she had ever done in her life.

“Why do you smile like that?” Her voice was barely audible. It was as soft as a whisper. She felt like she had just made some horrible mistake. Her stomach was jumping up and down and she felt like she was going to cry.

Mrs. Raines only let out a little laugh. “I guess because I was always a believer that one smile can change your entire day.”

Sarah nodded. “It reminds me of Randy.”

“Randy?” Mrs. Raines asked.

“That’s what I called her, Miranda I mean.”

“Oh, Randy. That was very sisterly of you.”

“I lied, you know.”

“You didn’t call her Randy?”

Sarah shook her head. “I lied that night. I told my parents she was up in bed. She was sick, that’s what I said. They believed me. Then we got the phone call.”

“About…” Mrs. Raines knew, but Sarah had already opened up her mouth. She still didn’t need help, she just wanted to find a reason to leave. She was still fine.

“About the accident. She hadn’t even made it to the party she was going to.”

“It wasn’t the lie that caused the accident.”

Sarah blinked at her. No one had said that to her yet. Yes, they had said she didn’t mean to, they had said it was all right. Yet no one had said it hadn’t caused the accident.

“The lie was only a tiny part of the night. The accident had nothing to do with it. Your parents wouldn’t have reached her; she had turned her phone off. It wasn’t the lie that caused the accident.”

Sarah suddenly felt something hit her knee. She looked down. Sitting on her knee was a single tear. She stared at it in awe. She hadn’t cried in weeks. Not since she found out. She had cried herself sick. She looked at the tear, than looked at Mrs. Raines. Mrs. Rains took out a tissue and tried to hand it to her, but Sarah sprung from her seat, rushing from the office.


Sarah walked through the halls, the aesthetic smell permeating the air. She looked around. She hated this place. She was alone. No one was around. That never happened. She entered room 315. She looked at the empty room. It was never empty. She walked over, sitting in the straight chair that her mother usually sat in. Sarah took her knees and placed them under her chin and looked at the bed. Randy sat there, her face bruised and burns running down her neck. Her once beautiful sister looked horrible. She didn’t look like her older sister. A tear streamed down Sarah’s face as she looked at her, a hole in her heart swelled with hurt and pain.

She reached out and grabbed her sister’s hand, whispering to her and only her, “I need help. I am not okay, Randy.”

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