Author's note: I hope people understand that depression and suicide are really important issues and more and... Show full author's note »
Chapter 5So far the day’s been good. Well, good for a day in a hospital where everyone suffocates you, while they watch your every move. But, hey, I haven’t gotten a visit from Mrs. Zimmer, I’ve gotten to watch TV all day, and I got a second Jell-O cup for lunch—score! Usually all they have is the nasty Snack Pack pudding. I mean, who likes Tapioca? No offense to you weirdos who do, but it’s like mushy rice covered in wet slime. So yeah, I was pretty excited about the Jell-O. It’s the first thing that’s gotten my heart to pound all day in this bleak hospital.
After I eat my lime Jell-O while watching a Project Runway marathon, I decide this day couldn’t get any better. Now all I need is to have the best nap of my life. So I lean back in my tiny hospital bed and close my eyes. It’s been around ten minutes when I hear someone clear their throat. Great. It’s probably Ben, and I can’t talk to him. You know, about the suicide thing. He’ll go crazy and do something to hurt himself. So I pretend to be asleep.
It’s been a minute or two and I still haven’t heard any footsteps. I wonder if he’s waiting for me to wake up. Well, I can’t pretend to snore. He knows I don’t do that. Thankfully, I’m saved. I hear him walk away and the feeling of relief washes over me. I know I’ll have to talk to him sometime. I want to, I’m just afraid of what he’ll say. I miss my big brother who yells at me when I go into his room, and tells me shut up when I won’t stop talking to him. I hear the low sound of footsteps against the squeaky hospital floor again. The same sound travels to the right. It moves to the left and back to the right again. I realize he’s pacing and sigh. In my head of course, or else he’d know that I’m awake.
I hear him whisper, “You can do this, you can do this, you can do this. She’s your friend—or I don’t know what she is—but you like her. So you have to do this. C’mon, you got this.” He ends his silent chant of “You can do this” with a sigh. From what he whisper-chanted, I know that he’s not my brother. I hear the stranger’s pacing, once again creating the only sound in the room. I slowly open my eyes, hoping he won’t notice, and take a peek at him. I recognize him immediately; he’s no stranger. I sit up as fast as I can, but not as fast as I wanted to since I’m completely enfolded by blankets.
“Hunter?” I ask anxiously. He looks up at me, hearing my raspy voice.
“Leia,” he says, with a look of surprise on his face. He walks closer to my bed. “Hey,” he says, clearly feeling awkward. I look at his piercing sea blue eyes and familiar tousled brown hair, and a bolt of electricity shoots through me.
“Hi,” I say lamely. God, could I be any lamer? Why’d he have to come? He could’ve just ignored me when I got to school, or even made fun of me behind my back. But instead, he’s being nice and came to visit me in the hospital after reading my suicide note. The one that says that I wish I could have told him I started to like him as more than a friend. And to add on to this humiliation, he doesn’t know what to say. He stands by my bed, uneasily shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“I—um… How’ve you been doing?” he asks.
“I’m, uh, okay. I guess.” Wow, just got lamer. I wish I could slap my hand to my forehead.
“That’s good,” he says with a faint smile. He looks away, and I know what’s coming next. “I got your, uh, note.” He looks at me briefly, sees the blush creeping up on my cheeks, and looks away. His face starts to resemble a tomato as well.
“I—look, I didn’t mean…” I don’t know how to tell him that it’s okay. It’s okay that he doesn’t think of me like that. It’s okay that he’s completely embarrassed that the whole school probably knows. It’s okay if he’s come to tell me that he can’t talk to me anymore because I’m such a loser. I stare at the floor, waiting to hear his next words. My hand starts picking at the string that’s coming loose on my blanket.
“No, it’s okay,” he says. I’m hoping what he’ll say next is, “It’s okay because I like you back. Hey, here’s an idea! Will you be my girlfriend?” Okay, so I guess that’s pretty unrealistic, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
“I just—I don’t really know how I feel about that,” he says, running a hand through his hair. “But I like you Leia, and I’m so glad you’re still alive,” he says, his voice breaking on the last word.
This makes me look up at him, even though I don’t want to. I can’t help it. He’s the first person to actually tell me that, and it takes me by surprise. His face is completely serious and his mouth is in a thin line.
“What?” I ask, my voice shaking even though I try so hard not to.
“I mean it,” he says looking in my eyes. I look away as a lump forms in my throat. I go back to picking at the loose string on my blanket. “I just wanted you to know that.” I still haven’t said anything, and he finally gets the clue that I’m not going to. I feel something being placed on the foot of my bed, and I hear him slowly walk out of the room.
I sit there for maybe twenty minutes, just staring at the end of my bed. A big envelope with a bright orange Post-It note on it sits there, taunting me. “Open me. You know you want to. Come on, just one quick peek,” it says. I give in and take it in my hands. I read the sticky note on the front. “To Leia. From someone who cares about you. Don’t ever forget that.”
I run my thumb along the opening of the envelope. I wonder what’s inside, but another part of me doesn’t want to find out what’s waiting for me. I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. I carefully open the envelope, making sure I don’t rip it. I slowly take out what’s inside. I stare at it for a while, confused. It’s a light blue journal with pink flowers all over it. I flip it open to the first page, where I see Hunter’s familiar handwriting:
For when you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to.
Something that resembles a smile sneaks up on my face. I close the journal and place it under my pillow. The envelope flutters to the ground, as I fall into my bed. I guess it sort of turned out to be the best day in the hospital after all.