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I push open the door to the clinic, which seems like a prison as the door swings close. I walk up to the receptionist. She’s an old lady, about in her 50’s or 60’s her graying hair is pulled into a bun and her glasses are perched on the bridge of her nose. I’m waiting for them to fall off her face any day now. She peers down at me and I smile, she doesn’t. She hands me my visitor’s badge.
“There’s a new one in room 207, suicide, 16, gun to the head.” She says without any feelings for the poor kid.
“Thank you.” I say with another smile.
I walk to room 207. Some kids say hi as I pass. Kelly waves from her room, beaming from ear to ear. Justin says hi and tells me he’s been reading the Bible I got him for Christmas, and he’s really enjoying it. Sandra looks at me sullenly, I smile a wave. Lindy asks me to help her with her make up, her family is visiting today and she wants to look her best. I curl a piece of hair she missed and help with her mascara.
Eventually I make it to room 207. I look at the chart that hangs on the door. It’s a boy, 16, his birthday is December 31, and he is in the clinic because he shot himself in the head. He missed; the bullet only grazed his skull. His parents put him in here. His name is Josh. Nurse Kaden exits his room; the door hits me in the nose.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Day! I didn’t see you!” He says reaching for my face.
I laugh. “I’m okay. It’s okay, you didn’t mean to.” I reach up and feel my nose. It’s not broken, I don’t think. He touches it.
“Good, few! I thought you were really hurt.” He touches my nose again. Kaden is duel enrolled in medical school and works part time here at the clinic. “It’s not broken. Well, Josh is in there. He doesn’t seem too happy about being here, that’s for sure.”
“Do you know if his counselor has seen him yet?” I ask, touching my nose again; it’s starting to hurt.
He looks at me touching my nose and frowns. “I’m really sorry, and yeah, like 3 times, I guess, he got here around last Friday. They brought him straight from the hospital, and he’s already on meds, poor guy.” Kaden looks sadly at the door.
“Well, if that’s what his parents think would be best for him. But it sucks he had to come straight from the hospital.”
“Hey, I got to go. See you at lunch?” He asked, another sad look at my nose.
I laugh. “Okay.”
“Great! See you!” He runs off.
I look at the door and sigh. I can picture what’s in there: a sad looking guy, probably a sophomore, my age, with a bandaged head and a scowl. He doesn’t think he should be here. He hates his parents for saving him. Behind this door I’ll see someone who is exactly like who I used to be. He’ll see my smiling face and want nothing more than to punch me, just because I’m healthy, and rational, and happy. His first response will be to hate me and judge me because I smile. He’ll think my family is perfect and I’m super rich and have lots of friends, everything he doesn’t have. Then he’ll feel bad because he was so mean, and then he’ll feel sad because he wants a perfect family, and lots of money, and friends. It’s how it goes with every new addition.
I open the door. There’s a guy with pale skin and glasses and a big bandage on the right side of his head. I smile. He doesn’t scowl like most of them do, like I would have done. He just looks at me with sad eyes. I can see it written all over his face: help me. I walk over to his bed; he still just stares at me.
“I’m Saturday, but you can call me Day.” I hold out my hand. He shakes it.
“I’m not your counselor, by the way.” I say that to everybody, because counselors are scary, but visitors are nice. “He or she will be by later to talk to you and give you meds and all that junk. I’m a volunteer here. Let’s just say I’m here to listen, or to talk, either or.” Josh just looks at me. I sit down in the visitor’s chair, one leg under me.
“So why did you shoot yourself, Josh?” I ask, pouring myself a glass of water.
He shrugs and takes the glass I offer him. “Okay, so why did you use a gun and not, say, a knife to the gut, or slit your wrists, or choke yourself. Any particular reason?”
“No. My dad had a gun and it was there, so I just did it.”
“Did you plan it? Or did it just happen?” I ask, taking another sip of water.
“If I had planned it, I wouldn’t have missed.” He grumbled, mostly to himself. I nod.
“Did you cry? I cried when I first tried.” He looks at me, stunned.
“Yeah, I cried.” He says, much less reluctantly.
“It’s big stuff: suicide is. Crying is natural.” I say, looking him straight in the eye. A tear glistens, but he closes his eyes and wipes it away.
“What did you try?” I know what he’s asking. Most people who come in here want to know how I tried to kill myself. They can identify with that. They want to understand how I can be healthy.
“I’m an insulin dependant diabetic, so I took off my insulin and was going to go to sleep, but I didn’t and I put my insulin back on. Then I was going to slit my wrists. Was this the first time you’ve tried?” I ask.
“Of course, I would have been in here if I had tried before.” I shook my head.
“Both times I thought about it, my parent’s had no idea. I’ve never been in here except on this side of things. It seems like your parents care about you, since they put you in here to get help.”
“Have you met them?” I shake my head. “Then you have no idea.”
“Try me.” I take a big gulp of water.
Josh pauses for a minute, judging my reaction. “They care, but nobody else does.”
I nod. “It was the same with me. But, Josh, do you even care about yourself?” I ask, leaning forward. He looks at me and then lies back down and stares at the ceiling, thinking. I get up and pat his hand. He doesn’t look at me. His face looks confused. I leave.