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Hand-in-Hand

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I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy.
I repeated this to myself several times, over and over again in my head as I threw open the door to the clinic. I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to see a shrink like some psycho. I was just here to shut everyone up. Mom and Dad were convinced I was crazy, my friends were probably afraid I’d go home and put a bullet through my head, my teachers were “concerned.” But was this the answer? Locking me in a room with some person who was supposedly trained to analyze my every thought and make me feel like an alien? It didn’t seem like a great solution to me.
I sent my mom the dirtiest look I could manage without breaking a blood vessel as she signed me in, filling out insurance papers and the whole nine yards. I took a seat in one of the ugly, plastic blue chairs in the waiting room. I hated this already. The walls were so white they almost hurt to look at, there was a flat screen on the wall that was tuned to the weather channel with annoying elevator music playing in the background, a simple black table with some pretentious tell-your-teenager-how-to-run-their-life magazines scattered accordingly. It was an insult to rooms everywhere. Already seated was a woman of about forty, with graying hair and laugh lines so deep I could see them even though she was frowning. She was trying to tame who I assumed was a granddaughter, or maybe a daughter, that looked about six or seven and had delicate blonde curls and a tiny body frame, she was almost unnaturally thin. Despite where she was, if the little girl even understood what this place was, she was giggling and smiling and bouncing around. I almost resented her. How lucky she was to be at that age of bliss, before you had to worry about what people thought of you, without a problem in the world. I wondered why she was here, being so young and probably oblivious to the demons of today’s society.
I took my seat, getting more agitated as the minutes passed. I shouldn’t be here; I didn’t belong in this psyche ward. I was just human. So what if once and a while I cut my skin to feel something, to remind myself that I still had emotions buried under all this resentment I felt for the world. If I had it my way, no one would’ve even known. It wasn’t my fault Krista had seen the tiny cut on the top of my thigh while I was changing for gym. She freaked out, overreacted, demanded I tell someone before she did. I was still mad at her for that.
“Hello, I’m Mia. I’m seven years old and I’m a psycho.” The little girl stood in front of me now. She flashed her white teeth, her collarbone sticking out disturbingly as she craned her neck to smile up at me. “Are you a nice stranger?” I couldn’t help but chuckle. Apparently, she wasn’t very shy.
“Hi, Mia. I’m Annabelle.” She looked at me commandingly, instructing me to go on, and answer her question. Was I a nice stranger? No, but for the sake of talking to this oddly friendly child, what could lying hurt? “I’m nice.” I assured her.
“Why are you here?” She didn’t beat around the bush, but I didn’t blame her for being curious. I wanted to ask her the same question. “I’m here because I don’t like to eat.” She stated it so simply; I had to repeat her sentence in my head a few times to make sure I heard her correctly. I was conjuring up an appropriate response when the old, graying lady came over and grabbed her hand.
“Miranda! You know not to talk to strangers, and to announce that to someone you don’t know? What’s wrong with you?!” The lady was clearly embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” She looked at me. “I don’t know what’s gotten into her. She shouldn’t…I mean... she doesn’t… well…”
“No worries.” I cut her off, because obviously she was at a loss for words. “Kids say things they don’t mean.” Although I was pretty sure Mia had meant what she said, judging by her tiny waist, arms, and legs.
“I just wanted to make a friend!” The little girl was clearly upset at being chastised for- what had seemed to her- an innocent and friendly conversation.
“Annabelle?” My attention was drawn away from the child now as my worst fears came true. A young woman stood at the door, dressed in scrubs and carrying a medical folder. “Dr. Goldman is ready to see you.”
All of a sudden, every emotion I’d felt in the past few days came swirling back to hit me in the gut. All the sadness, the depression, the resentment, the guilt, and most predominantly the anger, filled me and left my face burning as I got up and followed her off for my hour of torture. My heart raced and my palms started to sweat. No. I was supposed to refuse counseling. I wasn’t crazy; I wouldn’t allow someone to treat me like a nutcase.
“Hello there, Annabelle!” Doctor whatever-his-name was greeted me as soon as I was through the door. “Have a seat.” I glared. Really, he’d done nothing wrong yet. I was just mad that I was here, so I was more than eager to take it out on him. I sat on a hard, uncomfortable blue couch, as far away from where he sat at his desk as possible.
“How are you doing today, Annabelle?” I folded my legs, raising an eyebrow.
“Irritated, thanks for asking, doc. I don’t like being condescended by ugly, probably perverted old men who have nothing better to do with their lives than judge other people.”
“What makes you think all that about me, Annabelle? I’ve barely started a conversation with you and already, you’re down my throat. Why are you so aggravated?”
“I’m not crazy. I don’t belong here, talking to you. You’re wasting my time and yours too, so thank you very much; your services aren’t needed here. I’ll just sit here silently for the remaining fifty eight minutes and ten seconds I’m required to be here, you can collect your check, and we’ll be fine.”
“I never called you crazy, but obviously, you’re here for a reason. Talk to me. How is school going?”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you.” I snapped.
“I don’t see why not.” He shrugged to himself. “Talking is the point of you being here.” I stood up.
“How about this? Go screw yourself. I’m not crazy, I don’t need your help, and now I am going.” I kicked his desk, and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind me with so much force, I thought I heard something fall off the wall.
I didn’t really know where to go, so I paraded down the hall, opened a door and hoped for the best. Luckily for me, it was a bathroom.
I closed the door behind me and switched on the light, reality hitting me hard. Maybe I did need to be here. No, that was ridiculous. I was sane, just a little misunderstood. I stared at the girl in the dirty mirror above the sink. I didn’t recognize the girl I looked at now. Her eyes that were coated with the perfect amount of eyeliner were now full of fresh, glossy tears that threatened to fall. Her cheeks were flushed with anger and sadness. She looked so desperate.
I sunk down to the floor, sitting with my knees pulled protectively to my chest, my face buried in my hands. I stayed that way for a while, eyes closed, and breathing in and out, contemplating how things had got so bad so fast.
I’d just about got myself back together when I heard a tiny, delicate little voice, screaming words I couldn’t make out through high-pitched, heartbreaking sobs. I immediately stood up and made my way, back to outside Dr. Goldman’s office where I saw Mia curled up on the floor, her face was bright red and streaked with tears. He was bent down next to her, trying to talk to her, but clearly upsetting her more.
“Hey!” I immediately became defensive of the poor child. “What’s going on?! What did you do to her?”
“I didn’t do anything to her. We were just talking. I don’t see how this is any of your business, Annabelle.” I was infuriated.
“I’m making it my business.” I kneeled next to her. “Shh, Mia.” I sat down next to her and stroked her hair gently, trying to calm her. “Let me talk to her.” I said to the now agitated doctor idiot. It wasn’t a question. It was a command. He rolled his eyes and obeyed hesitantly, going back into his office and leaving the door open. I closed it.
She looked at me with an expression of uncertainty on her sweet face. “Are you gonna try to make me eat?” She asked, looking down at her hands.
“No, I’m not going to make you do anything, Mia.” I looked in her eyes, feeling tears come to my own eyes. “I know how you feel, love. It sure is rough feeling like people are being mean to you, isn’t it?”
She nodded. “Annabelle?” She asked after a few seconds, as if she was afraid to say what she wanted.
“Yeah?”
“I’m not crazy, right?” She bit her little quivering lip. I wiped a tear off my own face.
“No, of course not.” Her tense posture relaxed. “You’re scared… and that’s okay. ‘Cause so am I. But you know what?” I stood up. “We have to face our fear. We aren’t crazy, but we do need help. Talking to this doctor is gonna help us.” I offered my hand for her to take it. She looked at it doubtfully.
“Are you trying to trick me?” She was suspicious.
“Not at all. I need help, too. C’mon, we can do this together!” And with that, she bobbed her head up and down, stood and took my hand.
And we sat together in Dr. Goldman’s office, hand-in-hand and ready to get better.




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