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The Right Prescription
“Life sucks,” I mutter, attempting to sink lower into the uncomfortable leather chair I’ve been forced to sit in. It’s a typical Tuesday—the most pointless day of the week—and I am stuck here at this stupid parent-child “meeting.”
“What do you think the problem with your daughter might be, Ms. Drath?”
That’s the screwy thing with this place. Everything is or has a “problem.” Nothing is just normal. Nobody just needs someone to talk to. Anything and everything must be fixed. Sometimes I just wish my mom could accept me for who I am, but apparently I’m her little “problem.”
“She just doesn’t socialize much,” Mom replies with ease, glancing at me.
“Oh, please,” I say, openly rolling my eyes. “I have friends. I ‘socialize.’ I’m just not like you.”
“When I was that age, I was very sociable,” she says.
“Well, not everyone is a perfect cheerleader who seems to have the whole school wrapped around her finger,” I cross my arms.
“You know very well that cheerleaders are stereotyped! Not all cheerleaders are mean to everyone or turn out to be snotty people.”
I look directly at her and say, “Why don’t you look in the mirror and rephrase that sentence?"
Mom looks shocked, her thin blond eyebrows pulling together as her full lips pout. However, Laura, our therapist, directs her attention to me. “You shouldn’t speak to your mother like that,” she says, making me out to be the bad guy (as usual).
Finally, she turns back to mom and hands her a small slip of paper with tiny scrawl on it.
“I suggest she joins at least three extracurricular clubs or organizations, and spends time with you at least once a week.”
There it is. My “prescription,” as if it is a doctor’s office…as if this could cure everything.
“Come back in about a month or two and let me know how everything works out,” she says, standing up.
Mom follows her to the door. “Oh, I will. I’ll tell you, I just don’t know what to do with her anymore,” she sighs as the door closes behind her.
I finally stretch and bend down to grab my backpack. These meetings are getting old. It’s the same thing every time: we fight, we ignore each other, Laura talks, I say how I really feel, and Laura prescribes me some stupid ‘panacea’ that is supposed to work, but simply doesn’t.
As I open the door, someone walks in.
“Oomph!” I say, stumbling backwards.
A strong arm reaches out and catches me. “Sorry.”
I look at the person standing in front of me and am surprised to see that I recognize him. For a split second, I’m slightly embarrassed being here, but then I realize that he’s here, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
“Hey, I know you,” he says, brushing a piece of his brown hair out of his eyes. “You’re in my—”
“History class,” I nod, then straighten my shirt. “Look, tell anyone you saw me here, and you’re dead. I hate these sessions.”
“Right?” he smiles. “I work here, and let me tell you, Laura really gets on my nerves, but you get to meet a bunch of cool people.”
I’m horrified. He works here? Great. Now he knows that I come here for sessions. I brace myself for the worst. Monday will be terrible. The whole school will be talking.
“You don’t work here do you?” he asks.
“No,” I roll my eyes. “Look, I have to go.” I move to walk past him, but he stops me.
“Wait, what’s your name?”
I hesitate, then give up. “Zelda.”
“Whoa, cool,” he grins. “Like the video game.”
I look at him, seeing the amusement on his face, and can’t help a small smile. “Yeah, like the video game.” I adjust my bag and begin to move. “I really gotta go now.”
“I’m Ramone, by the way,” he says quickly, “named after the Ramones.”
When I step through the door, he says, “I’ll see you around.”
“Bye, Ramone,” I say, and just like that, he’s gone.
School is boring today. I don’t want to be here, and the worst part is that I have to sign up for at least one activity. Otherwise my mom will be on my case all night, and I really don’t want that.
At lunch, I walk with my head down and plop into my usual seat. My table is home to one art freak, one adrenaline junkie, one nearly suicidal girl, and a boy who’s life looks as if it’s been influenced by Billy Joe Armstrong—well, at least his attire does. As for his personality…he just doesn’t talk much.
“Zelda,” someone says from behind me.
I turn around, and there he is. What’s his name? Ron? Raven?
“It’s me, Ramone,” he says, “from the—” he stops short, as if catching his near-mistake. “Uh, from the place, remember?”
“You’re welcome to sit with us if you want,” he says, motioning towards a table that has quite a few normal people seated at it.
“Oh, I don’t know…”
“Come on,” he says, smiling. “We have cookies.”
I roll my eyes. “Okay, I guess, but only for today…”
I’m suddenly sitting at a table with a bunch of perfectly normal people, who I’ve never met before.
“This is Penny, Margot, Dave, Lyn, and Chris. We all work together at the parent-child therapy center.”
“Really?” I ask, nervously rubbing my arm. Some of these people look pretty familiar. I had to have seen them on my occasional visits to the therapist.
“Yep,” Margot speaks up. “Come to think of it, I think I’ve seen you there before.”
I shake my head. “Not possible.”
“Yeah, now that you mention it,” Dave says, “I think I saw you there a few weeks ago—yeah! Remember, I said, ‘Do you have an appointment?’ and you said, ‘When do I not?’”
I feel my cheeks flaming up.
“Stop it guys,” Ramone says. “She doesn’t like it there.”
Since when is he the expert on my life? I just met him a few days ago.
“Maybe I should just—” I stand to leave, but Ramone takes my hand.
“Please, stay. These guys don’t know about your mom. I’m sure if you would just give them a chance and tell them a little bit about yourself—”
My face pales. “How do you know about my mom?”
He stops and considers my words. “I, umm, I just assumed…”
“Don’t assume anything,” I say, yanking my hand away. “This was a mistake. I’m sorry to have bothered you.” This is directed to the others.
Before Ramone can respond, I am out the door, in my truck, and on the road.
The park is dark and damp with rain when I arrive. Is it illegal to be here if I left during lunch? Probably. I sigh. It doesn’t matter, though.
“Zelda!” someone says. “Wait up!”
Not again, I think. Please, let it not be…
“Ramone,” I say, turning around. “Just leave me alone.”
“Come on,” he says. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t even know you, and you think you’re an expert on my life.”
“Well, I’ll admit that I’m not,” he says. “Will you please at least talk to me about what’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong? Ha! Why do you even have to ask? Why do you think I keep to myself at school? Because I’m not like my mom, I don’t live up to her standards, and because of that, everyone thinks I’m a freak. So it’s just better to keep to myself. This is why I don’t have friends,” I yell. “This is why I keep to myself! Because every time I even say one word to someone, it turns into a conversation about my ‘problems.’”
Tears spring from my eyes—something that hasn’t happened in four and a half years, since my father died and everything changed. Ramone wraps his arms around me, and I sniffle into his shirt. “I don’t have problems,” I whisper.
“I know that,” he says into my hair.
“Nobody knows me.” My voice sounds muffled, as my shoulders shudder.
“I know you.”
I draw in a ragged breath and pull back from him. “How can you know me?”
“I’ve known you since we started high school, but you never knew me. When I started working at Laura’s office, I was in charge of filing papers and things…” he trails off.
My eyes widen. “You—you read my files. You know what’s going on. Why didn’t you tell me?” Instead of running away, like I’m thinking about doing, I cry. I whimper, “God, I never cry.”
“It’s okay,” he tells me, cradling my head against his chest. “I didn’t want to tell you about the files, because I thought you’d be upset.”
I let out a weak laugh. “Because I’m not upset now,” I say sarcastically.
“Let me grab you a hot chocolate and you can talk to me about everything.”
“How do I know I can trust you?”
“Have I ever lied to you before?”
“No, but I just met you,” I say.
“And I’ve known all about you for the past few years. I could be your best friend, if you’d just open up to me.”
“You sound like a better therapist than Laura. I don’t need a therapist, you know,” I say, resting my head on his shoulder as we walk.
“I know,” he says.
I’m shocked. “Really?”
“Yes. I’ve seen the notes Laura makes. They go all against you, but really, if you read deeper, you’ll see that it’s your mom that’s the problem.”
“No kidding? Like I didn’t figure that one out a long time ago.”
“Seriously. I think it started when your father passed away. She seemed to go downhill from there.”
I go rigid beside him.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It is fine,” I tell him, but it’s not.
It’s been three months since I started seeing Ramone. He really is a nice boy, and he gives the best advice. He convinced me to start working at Laura’s office with him, and as much as I despise the woman, Ramone was right. There are so many cool people who go there. I’ve met so many distressed teens, talked to so many people just like me, and now I find myself giving them the same advice Ramone gives me.
I wish I could say things are getting better with mom. I wish I could say she’s moved on, but she hasn’t. However, someone has moved on, and that someone is me. I’ve learned to accept myself. I don’t really care what mom says. So what if I’m not the most popular girl in school? Who cares if I’m not dating the quarterback of the football team?
I’ve got great friends now, I’ve expanded my horizons, I’m dating a wonderful person, and I’ve learned to ignore the mean people and strive to be alive.
Ramone sits with mom and me at our next therapy session. I made him promise to be there, and he always keeps his promises.
As Laura drones on about how I’ve seemed to change quite a bit and how my mom has done a wonderful job (though she really didn’t do anything), Ramone leans in and whispers, “I’m so proud of you. You have no idea.” He kisses my earlobe and says, “Before, you didn’t do much. It was like you were dead. Heck, I was dying just watching you. But now you’ve come out of that. You’re living, and that’s what matters. Your mom will come around, too. You just have to find the right prescription.”
“What do you mean?” I whisper.
He chuckles and takes my hands in his. “Laura hands out slips of paper. I hand out words of advice. Talk to your mom. Maybe that’ll help. It helped you, so I can’t see why it would hurt. People are fragile on the outside, Zelda, but even more on the inside. It’s simple to heal an illness or a cut with medicine, but healing the soul isn’t that simple. To mend a broken soul, you need to search for the right prescription. It’s a stretch—a journey, but then again, isn’t everything in life? Reaching our goals never happens without struggle, which is why I believe you can do this. You got through your struggle, and now it’s time to help your mom get through hers.”