Getting It Out

January 2, 2009
I walked into the room nervously; afraid that the school counselor would try and ask me about what happened, making the memories come back. Then the nightmares would never stop. I was sure I didn’t need to “talk” to her, as Principal Carlton kept insisting, but after about two weeks of him nagging me between classes I agreed. The green plastic name plate on her desk read Ms. Marino and had a tiny chip on the bottom right side, making it slightly uneven. I lingered near the entrance, glancing around the tiny room. With its pale green walls and pastel blue carpet, it was more welcoming than I expected.

Ms. Marino sat at a large mahogany desk that took up half the room, her head bent over a book. The desk and a large blue chair in front of it were the only furniture in the room. I advanced toward the chair and she looked up at me just before I sat down, causing my throat to catch. She had large gray eyes framed my long eyelashes and dirty blond shoulder length hair that was half up in a clip, just like Amy wore hers. She twitched her small lips into a smile and gestured for me to continue sitting down. For a moment I just stayed there, in front of the chair, staring at her. When her expression changed to a look of concern I carefully sat down in the chair and willed myself to swallow. It was too hard to think of Amy.

She smiled again, and I looked down at my hands, which suddenly seemed very interesting. I felt her gaze on me as I repeatedly knotted and unknotted my fingers, my head still down. “Well,” she broke the silence in a low friendly voice. “Thank you for coming to see me Vera.”

I looked up at her, this time not as shocked, and gave my own weak smile. She continued when I said nothing. “I’m pretty sure Mr. Carlton forced you into coming here, right?” She was grinning now. I slowly nodded. Her face spread into that look of worry again. “Yes, I’m not going to lie. He’s worried about you. I am too since I learned of what happened.” There it was; she had brought it up already.

“Infact,” she continued. “All of your teachers are too.” This struck me as a surprise. None of them had said anything. The only one nagging me had been Mr. Carlton, and I was sure that was only to keep up his caring reputation. I had been careful to not look affected too much, it embarrassed me when people took pity on me, so I had been sure to complete all my assignments and stay prepared for all my tests. Still, I just sat there, thinking this through, as she looked me over.

I wondered what she thought about me. Another troubled kid with not much going for them, probably. It bothered me that people could percept me as that just because they weren’t sure about what happened. It made me want to justify myself, to explain everything to her. But I still just sat there.

“Have you talked to Dane Rusting since…you know?” she suddenly asked me. I was momentarily stunned. I hadn’t thought of Dane being brought up in the conversation. It suddenly occurred to me that if everyone was wondering about me they probably were about Dane too. We were the only two people who had been with Amy that night.
“No, I haven’t” I answered, suddenly worried about him. If there was anything I had been avoiding lately it was talking about the accident and talking to Dane. I wasn’t sure what he would say to me, or what I would say to him. I had taken up the empty seat in the last row for Spanish, the only class we had together, and I had been eating lunch alone in empty classroom near the bathrooms.

Ms. Marino seemed pleased that I had finally spoken to her. She smiled at me again. “I can understand that, actually. I know you don’t want to be talking about this. I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable.” She was still smiling. I wondered if she ever got tired of being nice to people all day. “It’s okay.” I mumbled. Then I sighed and said “It is hard.” She nodded and opened her mouth to speak, but I cut her off.

“My teachers,” I asked. “They’ve talked to you?”
“Well, no.” she replied. “But they have talked to Mr. Carlton and he’s talked to me. Honestly Vera in this situation everyone wants to help, but I’m not sure they know how. You’re teachers have no complaints against you, but from what I’ve heard they’re worried about you’re sudden change from talkative to silent.”

I leaned back in the chair. This was understandable, but it still bothered me that they were noticing. I’d kept to myself for the past two weeks, but I didn’t think anyone would care much besides about my leg. I thought everyone would be too consumed with what had happened to Amy. “I…I didn’t think about that. I haven’t thought about talking to Dane either. All I’ve been able to think about was Amy. It all keeps replaying in my head. She was mad at us you know, before it happened.”

It was her turn to seem shocked. I didn’t think I would end up telling her that, but I was trusting Ms. Marino more and more every second. She wasn’t stroking my hair sympathetically like my mother or constantly begging for details like my classmates. She was having a conversation with me about the hardest thin I’d ever had to face.

“I didn’t know.” She whispered to me. “It probably makes it worse for you.”
“It does”

She didn’t ask any more questions. I figured she was re-analyzing what she’d heard with what I just told her.

“Ms. Marino?” I asked, as if hoping she would tell me not to continue. Instead she nodded encouragingly. “We” I continued slowly “We didn’t hit the tree by mistake.” She looked even more shocked but still nodded anyways. “A-Amy crashed into it…intentionally.”

“Oh my….”
I looked down at the floor again. “I’m sorry” I mumbled. “Maybe I shouldn’t have…I’m…”

“No, no. You can trust me. I just don’t know what to say about that. Are you sure?”

“No” I replied promptly. “I think anyone here who knew her would try and deny it too, but she had reasons. Dane and I, we would know why.”

She just stared at me for a second and then nodded. “I don’t know the truth Vera, but I don’t doubt you. I’m listening whenever you want to talk.”

I thought about that for a second. “How about tomorrow?” I asked. If she was expecting me to talk now, it didn’t show. “Of course.” She replied. “I’ll be here. I’m sure Mr. Carlton won’t mind you missing a class or two.” A slow grin spread across her face.

I grabbed the sides of the chair, pulled myself up, and smiled back at her. I was at the door when she called out to me. I looked back and saw her concerned face. “How’s your leg doing?” she asked, looking at the brace that covered my entire left leg.

“Better everyday.” I replied and slowly walked out.

When the bell rang three minutes later I stayed out in the hall outside the lab. When the class came shuffling out I spotted a familiar brown-haired head and caught his arm. He looked at me in the most confused way. “Dane,” I said. Seeing him made me feel happy and hurt at the same time. “We need to talk.” He wrapped hi arms around me and pulled me in for a hug.
“Yeah,” He whispered. “We do.”

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