“Look, if you don’t want me here then I could just leave.”
I don’t say anything.
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
I can’t say it. I shouldn’t say it.
He stares at me, tapping his thumb against his thigh.
Impatiently. I knew I shouldn’t have called him. This was a stupid idea.
A single tear slips through the cracks, and I look down at my feet. My shame is overbearing and everything inside me is screaming to tell him to leave. Whatever you do, you can’t be left alone. Not even for a second.
You’ve got to tell him.
I look up at him, mouth beginning to make a sound… but lose all language from his eyes. Frustration.
I exhale and slide onto the floor, crossing my legs.
“What is it?”
Fuck this. This is stupid. “I’m just a bit stressed, that’s all. It’ll pass,” it won’t, “I just need some time to myself.”
“Okay. Listen, I’ll tell them that you just needed to take a walk. I’ll be back to check on you in a bit, alright?”
“Alright,” the word comes out without sound.
He picks up his bag from the floor – Don’t! – and turns for the door – Let him leave you alone!
“Minus 15!” I blurt out.
He stops in his tracks, hand on the door handle. His brows furrow in confusion.
“On a scale,” I slowly begin, “from positive 10 to negative 10.” My heart starts clenching in my chest, but I focus on his shoes as they turn in my direction and push through. “Positive numbers for healthy mental state and negative numbers for unhealthy mental state.” I stop.
If I continue, I will no longer be playing by the rules of society or reality… all or dead?
Maybe, all then dead.
“Negative 1 is good, for me. Negative 4 being anxious but managing. Negative 7 being bad and I need a break. Negative 9 means extreme distress…”
I hesitate now because he moved away from the door and dropped his bag back on the floor.
“Ne-negative 10, feeling… suicidal.” I look at my backpack I’ve set on the opposite side of this classroom. I take a shaky breath, “Negative 15.”
He follows my line of sight to my backpack and then back at me.
“What’s in the bag?” he asks.
I look up at him and slowly shake my head as tears fall silently.
“Oh. Ah. Okay,” he moves and settles down on the floor in front of me. “Ha-How can I help?”
How do you say it? I close my eyes and place my interlocked hands over my head and confess quickly, “I don’t know! I- I just- I- its- uh- “I exhale. And start again, “You get to a point where your mind is fighting against you and all things rational are gone. And then my heart-” my throat tightens.
He waits attentively for me to finish. But then images flood my mind, and I can’t say what they show. I shouldn’t.
“But then your heart…” he gently nudges. “Your heart… knows what’s right? Is saying this isn’t the answer?” He suggests.
“Is the reason why I dragged you into this room.”
I open my eyes and look at him. Really look at him. I watch as the words settle in, and suddenly I can’t sit still.
I get up and start heading for my backpack. He jumps to his feet right behind me. “Hold on, hold on hold on!”
I stop and turn around.
“Wait! Just wait.” He forces out a breath, “I’m not sure what you mean by that.”
I start pacing back and forth, words are just words, and they mean nothing at this point.
“I see you,” I start, “and based on the way you are, you seem like you could be a great friend if we were to be friends. I’ve had this idea for a long time. But also, I feel more, and I’m scared of what that is. And then, beyond my control, you are there in my dreams, exactly like how I’d picture us being friends but we’re also more.
It’s crazy, I know. We barely know each other and out of nowhere I start being- “mental, “this. Dragging you into a classroom, telling you that I’m not okay and that I dream about you. Textbook crazy. But with everything going on… I go through the day living like I shouldn’t even be here, and then when I’m asleep, you make me feel like I do belong here.
It’s frustrating! Because I feel crazy. For what? Having feelings? Is it crazy that I hate feeling alone? Is it crazy that I just want to be honest? Is it crazy that I’m afraid? Is it crazy that I just want to tell you to kiss me?” I stop and look at him with probably crazy wide eyes. At this point, I’m shaking.
He doesn’t say anything. His eyes wandering everywhere except on me. Yet I wait and wait. And he doesn’t say anything.
Wrap it up, Crazy. It’s over.
I take a deep shaky breath and try to pull myself together. I head over to my backpack and place it on the nearest table.
With as much sanity as I can muster, I backtrack slowly, “Never mind, okay? I’m just at a place that I shouldn’t have dragged you in. I apologize for making you emotionally hostage to this situation. Everything that I have said is all random thoughts that do not matter, and you can leave now if you want to. This feeling will pass, and I’ll calm down eventually. We can both pretend afterward that this never happened. Fair?”
I wait for him to agree and leave. But he has his eyes focused on me, unconvinced, calculating.
“If I leave… you’ll kill yourself.” He doesn’t state it as a question, but it’s implied.
“That’s not going to happen, and you don’t have to worry about- “
“Don’t lie to me,” he cuts in.
I press my lips together, straight as an arrow, “Yes.”
I freeze as he locks the classroom door and can only watch as he heads over to me. He reaches for my backpack and chucks it into the cupboard before locking the door and slipping the key into his pocket.
I’m confused, but I nod.
“Let me help you then get it down to negative 7.”
My stomach starts twisting as he gently takes my hands in his and pulls me away from the cupboard. He leads me into the supplies closet and closes the door behind him. It’s dark in here but neither of us makes the move to switch on the lights.
“This is stupid,” I say.
“You asked for help.”
“This is stupid,” I repeat, “you don’t even want to be here.”
“And I am helping you.” He carefully cups my face in his hands.
“This is stupid,” I whisper.
I start to feel his warm breath on my face.
“You don’t have to-“ I start but can’t finish because his lips are on my lips. Soft.
Have I mentioned I’ve never kissed anyone before?
It’s strange. Awkward. Stupid. Soft. Wrong. I pull away.
“I- I- I’ve never…”
“Just let it happen,” and then he kisses me again.
Just let it happen. And I kiss him back.
Think I’ve slipped into my dream because I slowly wrap my arms over his shoulders, as he slips his around my waist. We pull back and kiss again but with less hesitancy.
Muscles that I didn’t realize were tense are starting to loosen up as he strokes my back, and I’m beginning to fall comfortable in his presence. I think he starts sensing it because he starts kissing me more passionately, and I too. The world losing existence and here we are.
It’s his skin on my lips, his breath on my neck, his shoulder blades beneath my fingers. Blood racing through my system, nerves blazing under his touch. This is forever and ever without the pain.
Before I know it, we’re on the ground. His back against the wall and legs straight out, while my knees are cradling his hips as I’m sitting on his lap. We don’t know how long we’ve been making out.
“Wait, wait,” he pants breathlessly.
“What?” I pull back.
“I can’t feel my legs.”
I don’t know what it is, but I start giggling uncontrollably. He starts chuckling in response and gently pushes me off him as he readjusts his legs. I don’t get back up from the floor as I can’t stop laughing. He shuffles over and wraps his arms around me from behind, little spooning me.
“Glad to hear you laughing now. How do you feel?”
“If you’re asking if I’m feeling less suicidal? The answer is definitely.”
I laugh a little longer and then find my breath. We don’t move from this position, just lying down on the ground for a while.
“What are you thinking about?” He asks.
“Nothing. Just radio silence in my head. I like that.”
We don’t say anything more for a while.
Then he breaks the silence again “I’ve thought about us being friends before too. A long time ago.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Yeah. But I didn’t say anything because you gave off this ‘do not disturb’ vibe and thought against it.”
“I didn’t know.”
“Didn’t know what?”
“Didn’t know… that it was because of your…”
“…mental illness,” I complete.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“You don’t deserve this.”
“I know,” I whisper.