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Awaiting Hope

Chapter Text

The past few days had been a giant blur of questions and examinations. In all honesty, I could barely remember half of it.
In a way, I was grateful for that.

I kept quiet and was being compliant, in desperate hopes of getting out of here as fast as possible.
Everything inside of me screamed that they shouldn’t bother and just send me home because I didn’t belong in here - but in the end… I did belong, didn’t I?
I should stop lying to myself.

On the day I received my schedule for the week, I felt more aware. Less like there was a wad of cotton stuck inside my skull that made my head hazy and everything around me distant.
It was the first time I felt grounded since coming to the mental hospital.

It was late afternoon and the setting sun painted the room I had been staying in a warm orange.
I tried hard not to feel patronized as a young nurse handed me a time table. “Now that you have settled in a bit, here is your schedule. If you have any questions regarding it, please let me know”, she said, flashing a smile. I appreciated that she was trying to be friendly, so I forced myself to smile back.

I felt embarrassingly powerless. Here I was, 22 years old, yet someone else was dictating when I got up, ate, went back to sleep and what I did in the time in between.

Once the nurse left the room, I looked over the schedule.
Breakfast at 8:30 am , lunch at 11:30 am and dinner at 5:30 pm. On the upper right corner it said “Assigned Therapist: Doctor Simmons, Room 210“.

Tomorrow was Tuesday. According to the schedule that meant I would have group therapy at 9:30, art therapy (whatever that meant) after lunch at 12:30 and my first one-on-one therapy session at 3 pm.

I eyed the first appointment over and over. Group therapy? On my first day?

Suddenly my mouth felt dry.

I didn't feel ready to talk to anyone, much less about why I was here. Hell, I could barely choke out a greeting to the nurses.
Was I expected to immediately open up and spill my guts to a bunch of strangers?
My stomach churned from my nerves and I could feel my heart beating hard and fast against my chest. I put the schedule on the bedside table next to me and wiped my clammy hands on my sweatpants.

I didn't know if I could do this.

What if I opened my mouth but couldn't speak? What if I started stuttering and made a fool of myself? What if they laughed at me? What if the others thought I was being dramatic and that I should stop being whiny? What if--

I tried to take a deep breath in – and let it out slowly.

Shakily, I sat down on my bed. Still taking deep breaths, I hunched over, supported my elbows on my legs and soothingly ran my hands through my hair to try and calm down.
I could feel myself trembling and my chest hurt from how hard my heart was pounding.

For a moment I was afraid I was going to pass out or have a heart-attack, but thinking about that only made it worse, so I just tried to concentrate on my breathing.

I needed to calm down.

 “It's gonna be fine“, I whispered hoarsely, trying to make myself believe the words.
I ran my hands over my face and covered my eyes, taking quivering breaths for what felt like hours.

Once I felt a little more calm, I uncovered my eyes, surprised to find that the sun was no longer setting and it was already dark outside.
The alarm on my bedside table read 6:43 pm. The red numbers illuminated the schedule that laid crumbled in front of the clock, seemingly mocking me.

 Exhaustion hit me with a sudden force. I heaved a defeated sigh as I laid back on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
Might as well go to bed early, I reasoned. Then I could get up early, which would give me more time to get ready and make sure that I found the right rooms.

I sat up, and adjusted the settings so it would wake me up at 6:45 in the morning. Double checking to make sure it was all set, I laid back down.

Yawning, I turned so I was laying on my side, blindly grabbing for the blanket that had halfway slid off the bed during my episode. Once I had it, I scrunched it up into a ball and wrapped my arms around it like a make-shift stuffed animal, seeking some kind of comfort.

I could feel my mind trying to wander and aggressively shook my head.
Wistfully, I thought of my mp3 player, wishing I could have it here with me, so I could drown out my thoughts with music.
Snuggling into the blanket in my arms, I concentrated hard and sunk deeply into a think about a book I recently read...

And somewhere along the way I fell asleep.



I woke up with a jerk.

Going from a deep sleep to being fully awake in a few seconds was jarring. My eyes flew wide open and my heart was racing. I was used to waking up to my alarm so it felt weird to wake up on my own.

A sudden feeling of panic gripped me - did I oversleep? Was that why I was awake?

Quickly I sat up and turned to look at the clock. It was 6:30.

I groaned- half relieved, half annoyed - and stood up. There was too much nervous energy in my system to lay back down. I grabbed the soap and towel the nurse left for me the day before which she must have put on my bedside table while I was distracted by reading the schedule.

Already dreading the upcoming day, I made my way to the bathroom that was attached to my room and took a quick shower, feeling my stomach already tying itself into a knot.

I tried to enjoy the warm water but instead caught my thoughts drifting off to a place of worry and panic again and again. Frustrated, I started humming a catchy tune and tried to push it out of my mind.
After getting out of the shower, I dried off and got dressed. That, at least, I didn't have to needlessly worry about. I only had a few shirts and sweatpants to choose from, since the clinic's dress-code only allowed pants that didn't need belts.

 Still humming, I brushed my chin-length hair and teeth, avoiding looking into the mirror that hung above the sink.

Once I finished getting ready, I went back into my room and sat on my bed. I nervously bounced my leg as I stole a glance at the clock. It was 7:18, I still had plenty of time to spare.
I half regretted getting up so early. Sure, I liked being prepared, I liked being early. But it made the waiting so much worse.

Swallowing dryly, I grabbed my schedule and looked it over again.
It didn't say what room the group therapy was in. Would they tell us during breakfast? What if they didn't? What if I got lost and-

Don't think about it.

 In a familiar soothing motion, I ran my hands through my hair.
I hated this. I hated being worried and nervous all the damn time.

It was exhausting.

Again, I looked at the clock. 7:23.

 “Fuck this“, I sighed and bent down, pulling the bag that my parents had packed for me from underneath the bed. Rummaging around, my fingers slid over the old, well-loved copy of my favourite book ,that was nestled between my clothes. I paused, then pulled it out.

That would keep me occupied for a while.

While I read, I periodically checked the clock, making sure I wouldn't be late for breakfast.

At 8:15, just when I decided to close the book and start making my way to the cafeteria, I heard a knock on my door.
Surprised, I choked out a hoarse “Come in?“ It sounded more like a question than a demand.

The door opened and a bunny monster with white fur entered my room. “Good morning.“, she said in a surprisingly deep, soothing voice, “How are you today?“

For a second I was surprised - then I noticed the scrubs a nurse would wear and remembered that this was a mixed clinic, for both monsters and humans.

Nowadays, it wasn't a big deal.

Nine years ego, Monsters emerged from underneath Mt. Ebott, being led by a small child calling themselves the Ambassador.

The world was shocked.

They were trapped there for hundreds of years - trapped by us humans.
And instead of being angry or seeking revenge, all they wanted was for us to coexist in peace.

In all honesty, I couldn't remember much about the first few years after monsters came to the surface. To be fair, I was a kid back then and politics didn't seem all that interesting to me. All that mattered that magic was real and SOULS were real and that monsters were real – and it all seemed like a tale out of one of the fantasy books that I loved so much.

As far as I knew monsters quickly gained the same rights as humans. There were surprisingly little problems. No huge rise of monster racism, no protests, no attempts at segregation.

I guess humanity learned from their past mistakes for once.

It could also have something to do with that it was hard to hate beings that were literally made out of magic, compassion and love.

Realizing that I was being rude, saying nothing and just staring at the bunny monster, I hastily answered with a robotic “Morning, I'm fine thanks.“

“My name is Carla. I'm the nurse responsible for your medication.“, she said and I just now noticed that she was holding a cup of water in one hand and in the other a see-through cup the size of a shot glass with a small white pill inside.


I wasn't sure if I was comfortable with that, but knew that being defiant would accomplish nothing and just made things harder, so I nodded along and accepted the two cups as she handed them to me.
Sensing my nervousness, she smiled at me and explained: “This is an antidepressant, specialized in helping with anxiety. It's just a small dosage, because we have to check if it is the right kind for you. It will take a few days to take effect.“ She paused and I hummed, letting her know that I understood. “If you feel any head pain, dizziness or nausea, please let me or any of the other staff members know, so we can switch the medication.“

That didn't sound pleasant at all.

Apprehensive, I bit my lip, staring at the pill as if it was a weapon of mass destruction.

“No need to be worried, hon. Like I said, it is just a small dosage, so in case your body reacts poorly to it, it won't make you feel horrible or anything.“, Carla said, “At most it will be a bit uncomfortable.“

I nodded again, took a deep breath and before I could start to overthink it, swallowed the pill with a big gulp of water. I handed Carla the cups and after she asked me to do so, opened my mouth to show her that I had really swallowed it.

And with that, Carla accompanied me to the cafeteria.

 On the way she told me that the nurse who handed me the schedule yesterday, Jennifer, would get me from breakfast and take me to group therapy.
Relieved that I had one less worry, I bid Carla goodbye when we arrived and I sat down to eat breakfast.



One bowl of cereal later, I was on my way to group therapy.

Jennifer was walking next to me. I was grateful that she didn't try to make small talk. That always made me feel awkward.
The closer we got to the therapy room, the more my heart began to race. The cereal I ate felt like it had hardened into cement. I tried hard not to let my nervousness show, but I knew I was doing a poor job.

“Here we are.“, Jennifer said as we came to a stop in front of a door with a sign that read “Therapy Room 4“.
I licked my dry lips and mumbled out a quiet, “Thank you.“ I could feel my hands trembling.

Jennifer must have noticed, because she smiled gently at me and asked: “Do you want me to take you inside or do you feel comfortable entering by yourself?“

The offer was tempting.

On one hand it would help my anxiety, not being the only one to enter. On the other hand I was scared what kind of impression that would make on the people inside.

In the end, I decided to enter by myself.
So I shook my head with a twitch of my lips that could barely be considered a smile.

Jennifer gave another friendly smile and with a “I'll see you after lunch, when I bring you to Doctor Simmons.“, she turned around and left.

I allowed myself to let out a shaky sigh.
For a moment I just stared at the door, my mind blank. It was as if I suddenly forgot how to open a door.
I clenched my hands, frustrated at my inability to do something as simple as enter a room.

I decided that the best course of action would be to just quickly get it over and done with. So, before my thoughts could catch up to me, I quickly twisted the door knob and hastily shoved the door open.
That was a mistake.
I accidentally used too much force. Panicking, I took a step forward and tried to catch the door knob, but I was too slow. The door swung wide open and crashed against the wall, creating a loud bang.

I stood in the doorway, frozen with my hand still half-way stretched out.

I couldn't believe that just happened.

The five people inside the room stared at me, startled. And I stared back at them, startled too.

I could feel my face burning and physically cringed in embarrassment.
“Sorry!“ I said a bit too loudly, stepping inside the room and closing the door behind me, making it a point to be gentle.

Not wanting to awkwardly stay standing near the entrance, I quickly scanned the room.

It wasn't as big as I expected, though the warm yellow colour of the walls made it seem more open. On the wall facing the door were two big windows that flooded the room with light. In one corner of the room was a couch. On it sat a middle-aged woman with curly black hair, who I assumed was our therapist. She seemed to be wearing a name tag, but she was too far away for me able to make out what it said. She was writing something on a black clip board and ignored the other occupants of the room completely.

In the middle of the room, three monsters and two humans sat on chairs that were arranged into a circle.

Avoiding eye contact, I made a beeline to one of the chairs that was still empty and sat down.

I was grateful that no one had laughed at me. I didn't know if I would have been able to stay if anyone did.

A few seconds passed.
Once I deemed it safe enough, I looked up and studied the people I would spend the next few hours with.

The chair to my right was empty.

In the left chair closest to me sat a woman in her thirties with the longest blonde hair I have ever seen – it must have been waist-long if not even longer. She was energetically conversing with a Moldsmall, a small green gelatinous monster. They wriggled back a bit less energetically, seemingly nervous.

Across from me, a thin teenage boy with messy red hair slouched in his chair, looking bored.
He seemed to sense my eyes on him, because he suddenly looked at me, his blue eyes flashing and quirked a questioning eyebrow. Embarrassed I looked away.

Next to the boy sat a male bunny monster with brown fur, talking quietly to a Migosp, a small monster that resembled a bug. The Migosp's antennas, one of which was adorned with a light blue bow, twitched every now and again, as they listened attentively.

I let my eyes sink to the floor again and tried not to make my trembling too obvious.
Nervously I fidgeted with the hem of my t-shirt, twisting and untwisting it.

Sudden movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention, as the presumed therapist stood up from the couch.
“Well”, she said, glancing at the clock on the wall just like I had moments earlier. The conversations around me stopped. “Welcome to our first session. My name is Marianne Akopian, I am the group therapy supervisor. Please call me Mary.”
She looked at the clipboard she was holding. “Normally, I’d start now, but it seems like we are missing someone.”

A sudden voice coming from my right made me jump.

“huh, weird. looks like everyone is here to me.”

Suppressing a yelp, I twisted around, surprised to see that the chair that had previously empty now held a small, grinning skeleton.
I pressed a hand to my chest and blew out a startled breath.

“Oh!”, Mary exclaimed, seeming flustered, “How did you-?” She interrupted herself, shaking her head slightly. “I seem to have overlooked you, sorry.”

Overlooked? It was more like he had just appeared out of thin air.
But then again, I was lost in thought so it was possible that he did come in through the door and I just didn’t notice.

“it’s fine”, the skeleton shrugged, “s’no skin off my nose.”

Was that-? Was that a pun?

No matter if it was intentional or not, I couldn’t help the small smile that came to my lips.
A weird feeling of gratitude filled me. Not only had he made my embarrassing entrance less spectacular, but this was also the first time in a long while that I had genuinely smiled.

Still unsure if his comment was meant to be a joke, I lowered my head and covered my mouth, not wanting to offend.

Mary hummed, trying to collect herself. “Okay, now that we're all here, how about we get to know each other a little bit better? Don’t worry, you don’t need to share anything that you are uncomfortable with.”
She paused, brushing a lock of black hair behind her ear, made it a point to look each of us in the eye and said: “Like I told you, my name is Mary. I am 43 years old and have been working at this clinic for almost fifteen years. My hobbies include reading, playing the guitar and…”, she flashed a mischievous smile, theatrically fluttering her eyelashes, “…romantic walks on the beach”.

The others snickered and my lips twitched.
Her ice-breaker worked and I could feel myself relax a little bit, even if the room still felt a little tense.

She expectantly looked at the teenage boy, who upon noticing that it apparently was his turn now, straightened up a bit and gave a tired looking smile.

“Hi, my name is Miles. I'm 19 years old and I'm a professional dancer. Umm...“, he trailed of, looking for words. He continued, his voice more quiet: “I am here because I have... trouble... eating sometimes. I collapsed a few days ago while practicing a new dance routine.“
He rubbed his hands on his thighs, looking back to Mary, making it obvious that he was done with his part.

She nodded, thanking him quietly and gestured to the Moldsmal.

Miles slumped in his seat again, crossing his arms over his chest. Suddenly he looked much older than nineteen.
My heart immediately went out to him and when our eyes met again, I quirked my lips up into what I hoped looked like a friendly smile. He hesitantly mirrored me and I shifted my attention to the Moldsmal monster, who was wriggling out their introduction.

I wasn't sure how exactly, but they managed to communicate that their name was Zion and their favourite food was lime jello.

The woman with the beautiful long hair sitting next to them was basically vibrating in her seat and spontaneously started talking as soon as Zion was done wriggling. “Heya, my name is Rebecca!“, she introduced herself, looking at each of us. She was talking very quickly. “I'm 33 years old and I love to go jogging and walking my dog and just working out in general. You see...“

It was hard to keep up with her fast pace and I couldn't keep my thoughts from drifting. I shifted in my seat, feeling myself getting anxious again.
Soon enough it would be my turn to talk.

After my stunt with the door I really didn't want to make an even worse first impression.

So, while half-listening to Rebecca talking about her hobbies, I thought of the best way to introduce myself.

Hello my name is Jane.

I sighed. That sounded horrible.
I hate my name. Always have and always will. Although, thinking about it, it suits me perfectly.
Jane Doe. A nobody.

But being here meant that nobody knew me. Nobody knew my name. So maybe I could...

Hello, my name is Jay.


I am twenty-two years old and my hobbies are...

I was unsure what to say next.
I couldn't exactly tell the truth, unless I wanted to make myself sound really pathetic.

I am 22 years old and don't really have any hobbies anymore because half the time I don't leave my house and the other half is spent crying.

I winced.
No, that was not an option.

Hello, my name is Jay. I am 22 years old and I like to read.

There, that was acceptable. Maybe a bit short, but it would do.

I mentally repeated the two sentences over and over until I had them completely memorized and was sure I wouldn't mess it up too badly.
In passing I heard that the brown-furred bunny monster's name was Frank, but I wasn't too sure.

I was shaken from my thoughts when the others laughed. Someone must have made a joke.
With a start, I realized how disrespectful I was being, not listening to the others' introductions.
Feeling guilty, I stiffened up and started paying attention again.

I had missed pretty much the entirety of Frank's introduction, but was just in time to listen to little bug monster talk. Her voice was high and soft. She introduced herself as Jessy and mentioned that she liked writing poems and playing the piano.
She was the first one to explain what her exact diagnosis was. “ have A-agarophobia.“, she whispered, so quietly that I had to strain to hear it. She looked just as nervous as I felt, playing with her small, claw-like hands. „It di-didn't use to be so bad, b-but now I can't luh-leave my house at all. So I decid-decided to get help.“

I looked at her in awe. That must have taken a lot of courage.

“Thank you for sharing this with us, Jessy.“, Mary said, “That was very brave of you.“
The bunny monster patted her on the shoulder and whispered something that I couldn't make out. It must have been something nice though, because she perked up and gave a shaky smile.

Suddenly all eyes were trained on me.

It took a second for me to realize that it was my turn now.
A cold flash rushed through my body and I stiffened, looking at the wall across from me, avoiding all eye contact.

My skin felt tight and tingly and I could feel my face burning.
I mentally repeated the sentences I had prepared one last time and rushed out: “Hello, my name is Jay.“ My voice was trembling with nerves and in my panic, I didn't take in enough air to finish what I wanted to say. I ran out of air, noisily breathed in and choked out the rest. “I'm-twenty-two-years-old-and-I-like-to-read.“

My heart was pounding against my ribs and for one irrational second I was scared that the others could hear it.
I could still feel their eyes on me. Burning. Judging.
Jeez, I didn't even want to know what they thought of me. I bet they thought I was weird.

I wished they would just look away.

“whelp, guess it's my turn now“

For the second time in a row, the skeleton next to me saved me, without even knowing it.

I glanced at him from the corner of my eye. He looked incredibly relaxed – I felt a stab of envy – his hands buried in the pockets of the blue hoodie he was wearing.

“the name's sans, sans the skeleton. or well, more like sans the flesh, heh heh.“, he gave a small chuckle and I suddenly was hit by how pleasant his voice sounded - deep and husky and just so damn calm.
Despite myself, I could feel my lips twitching into a small smile.

“i got a lil' bro named papyrus. man, he is the coolest – and a pretty good cook too. though i don't have the stomach for it.“
Frank let out a playful groan and Sans winked at him, shooting finger guns.
“my hobbies include napping, dozing off and sleeping.“ He gave a small shrug. “nothin' much to say other than that.“

It was amazing how different the room felt after he had spoken.
The tension that had silently been lingering - not only around me but around everyone else - had almost completely disappeared.

With introductions out of the way, Mary took charge again.

“Good, now that we all got to know a little bit about each other, let's move on. This might seem a little strange, but please keep an open mind.“, she walked to the couch and lifted a plastic bag that had been laying on it. “I brought a few games for you to play.“ Mary looked inside the bag, starting to list the games inside: “Checkers, Monopoly, Uno-“

“Oh!“, Rebecca interrupted her excitedly, “Can we please play Uno? It's been ages since I last played.“ She looked imploringly at Mary, who smiled, not seeming to be bothered by the interruption. “Sure, if everyone is okay with that?“
Rebecca expectantly looked around, seeking our approval.

No one had anything against it, so we spent the next hour playing Uno.

Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun.
The game had me feeling nostalgic and the atmosphere was relaxed. It was almost like we were friends and not just a group of people who had only met today
I still didn't talk much, but I was content just listening. And though I didn't really feel calm yet, I wasn't nearly as stressed as I was in the beginning.

As time went by, I noticed that the others seemed to gravitate towards Sans – and I couldn't blame them.
There was something so charming about him that made everyone feel at ease.

Maybe it was weird to say, but he just seemed so... okay.
So normal.

I couldn't possibly imagine why he was in a mental hospital.


Chapter Text

After a few rounds of Uno, we decided to sit together for lunch, which turned out to be weirdly entertaining.

Today's menu presented us with a choice between hot dogs or mac 'n cheese.
I loved noodles, so I didn't hesitate to order myself a big serving.

Zion skipped the main course, went right for dessert and got themselves 10 cups of cherry flavored jello.
Watching them eat was interesting to say the least.
I didn't think you could even call it eating. They touched part of their gelatinous body to the jello and it just... merged... with them and dissolved inside their body.

Sans had a mountain of hot dog sausages on his plate, slathered with ketchup.
I didn't see him actually eat once. Every time I looked away, some of his food seemed to have just vanished from his plate - and it was simultaneously amusing and unnerving.
I must have been staring, because Sans caught my gaze and winked.

Suppressing an embarrassed chuckle, I looked away and my attention fell on Miles.
Worriedly I watched on as he got himself an apple, a water and nothing else. That was... a very small lunch.
I wasn't sure if I could (or should) voice my concerns, so I stayed quiet.

Jessy, Frank and Rebecca got themselves some Mac n' Cheese too.

Frank distrustfully eyed his plate. He took a careful bite, seemed to deem it edible and started wolfing it down like he hadn't eaten in days.

Conversation and jokes filled the air again and I felt myself relax a little more.
It was nice to see people who were so different get a long so well.
Once more, I was just quietly listening to them talk.

They didn't try and engage me in conversation.

I wasn't sure if it was because they could tell I was still getting used to them, or because they just didn't notice I didn't try to join in.
I felt a small sting at the thought that I, once again, was the person everyone forgot about, even in a place like this... but tried not to let it get me down.
Well, it wasn't like I had anything interesting to say anyways, I reasoned.
It didn't help.

After lunch we split up and went our separate ways to our next appointments.

It turned out art therapy was pretty much exactly as the name implied.
It was just people sitting down and using different materials to express feelings and thoughts.

We were a small group of four people (me included).
Our instructor was an eccentric man with graying, short hair, who insisted on being called “Professor Max”. Instead of greeting us or asking our names, he ushered us to our seats, said that we shouldn't waste time with introductions and should just start drawing, sculpturing or doing handicrafts.

I wasn't a big artist, so I decided to just doodle little cartoon animals on a piece of paper.

It only felt like a few minutes had passed, when Professor Max announced that it was time to finish our – as he called it - “pieces of fine art”. He didn't even sound sarcastic when he said it.
Well, I guess he would just have to wait until he saw my doodles.

“Please leave everything you worked on with me”, he said, gesturing to a long table that was situated against the wall.
I placed my artistic masterpiece on it and quickly walked out of the room.

Jennifer was waiting outside so she could walk me to my first session with Doctor Simmons.

I began to feel anxious again. I've never been to therapy before, so I didn't know what to expect.
I was sure Doctor Simmons wouldn't take me seriously.
Sure, I had known for a few years now that something wasn't right and I probably needed help, but not like this. Not in a mental hospital.
As bad as that sounded, I didn't think I was sick enough for it.
It made me feel guilty, taking up a spot in this facility that someone else deserved more than me.
One Lapse of Judgment... didn't make me any more deserving.

Jennifer interrupted my thoughts by asking: “So, how has your day been so far?”
It took a moment for me to answer. “It was good.”, I replied. I was surprised that it wasn't a lie.
“I'm glad to hear that!” Jennifer's face seemed to light up in that special way that told me she really meant it.

My heart beat faster and faster the closer we got to our destination.
It made me feel hot and sweaty.

When we arrived, Jennifer repeated her question from group therapy, asking me again if I wanted her to accompany me inside.
Once again, I gratefully declined and watched her walk away.
I wiped my cold, clammy hands on my sweatpants and grabbed the door knob.

Having learned my lesson, I carefully opened the door to room 210 and stepped inside.

Doctor Simmons sat in a black leather armchair, looking over and making notes on files inside a brown folder that I assumed were mine.
He looked surprisingly young – and attractive, in an All-American-Boy kind of way. Blonde hair, strong jaw, high cheekbones.

It was intimidating.

He looked at me as I entered and smiled.
“Ah, you must be Jane”, he said, “Please take a seat.” He motioned to the armchair across from him.
I sat down and stared at my lap.
I could tell he was trying to be welcoming – and while I appreciated that, it didn't make me feel less uneasy.

“As you already know, I am Doctor Simmons. It's nice to meet you, Jane.” I just nodded.
He shifted in his chair and I heard his clothes rustling – and it suddenly made me aware of how uncomfortable I felt.
I clasped my trembling hands together and tried to take deep breaths.

“I heard you had your first group therapy session today.”, he stated. Hesitantly I looked up into his eyes. They were a pretty brown colour, but their analytical intensity put me off. I wavered, unable to hold his gaze and focused on his chin instead. “Yeah”, I said hoarsely and cleared my throat.

He started tapping his pen on the folder. My eyes followed the movement. “How was it?”, he inquired.
I winced and looked back at my lap. This reminded me of past conversations with my Dad, asking me how my day at school was. “It was... fine.”
There was a lull in the conversation. I felt compelled to fill it.
(That's why I was here, right? I needed to talk to “get better”. And I needed to get better before I could leave.)
So I awkwardly added: “We um... we played Uno. It was fun, I guess.”
He stopped his tapping and said: “I am glad to hear that.” I just gave a noncommittal hum.

It was quiet for a few moments.

I nervously shifted in my seat. Fidgeting with the hem of my shirt, I could feel my heart speeding up again.
I wasn't good at talking about myself. Hell, half the time I wasn't good at talking in general. It was just so hard to find the right words sometimes – and always being so scared of making a fool of myself, I preferred to stay silent.
I didn't know what he expected me to say, but I hoped that he wouldn't get frustrated with me.

Hopefully he would notice that I was trying.

“I know how you feel.”
I abruptly looked up at him. The smile on his face seemed condescending to me and a strong feeling of dislike hit me.
“I know you feel scared, hopeless and lonely. But don't worry, I'll help you work through these emotions.”

I could feel my defenses rising.
If there was one thing that I absolutely hated it was when people told me how I was supposed to feel.

You're not scared, you are just excited!

You should be happy about that, you know.

Don't pretend to be angry, I know you are not.

It made me feel small.
Like I wasn't even capable of discerning my own feelings.
Like my feelings weren't worth being taken seriously.
Which fed right into my fears from before.

“In a way”, Doctor Simmons said, “I know you better than you know yourself.”

With those words I could feel myself completely shutting down.
My face became hard and cold like glass. A resentful part of me hoped he would cut himself on it.

Maybe it was petty of me, but at that moment I decided that I wouldn't open up. Not to him.

We spent the rest of the session with him talking to me. Well, more like talking at me.
Asking me about my family, my home life, my friends. About why I dropped out of collage. About why I was here.
I refused to speak and ignored him.

But Doctor Simmons just kept monologuing, seemingly ignoring that I made it clear I didn't want to have this conversation with him.

Maybe it was his therapy method.
Maybe he thought I just needed time and would come around eventually.
Or maybe he just didn't care.

After one hour of this, Doctor Simmons finally bade me goodbye and I practically ran out of the room.

I felt drained and defeated.
Like the small bit of contentment that I gained during the day was just a distant memory, now too far away to grasp.
I was already dreading tomorrow's session.

When I saw Jennifer once again waiting for me outside the room, I paused.
Right, dinner. I had almost forgotten.

Frustrated, I almost started crying right then and there.
I didn't want to go to the cafeteria. Right now I couldn't deal with the noise, with all those people around me.
I felt emotionally sore, every part of me ached - and I didn't want to pretend to be fine.

Jennifer's welcoming smile dimmed as I came to a stop in front of her.
Swallowing the lump in my throat, I just mumbled a “I'm not hungry. Can I go to my room?”
She seemed concerned, but agreed under the condition that she would accompany me.

The walk to my room passed in a blur.
Jennifer kept quiet, but I could see her looking at me from the corner of my eye.
I knew my sudden change in attitude was worrying to her, but I didn't have it in me to reassure her.

When we finally arrived, Jennifer wished me a good night and told me to call in case I needed anything.
I thanked her for her help today and opened the door.

Once inside my room, I leaned against the closed door and braced myself for an incoming storm of emotion. I expected to burst into tears immediately. I almost wanted to, knowing that crying would make me feel at least feel a little better.
But I couldn't. The burning tears from earlier evaded me. I just felt drained.

With slow movements, I stepped away from the door and sat down on my bed.

I didn't want to think. I didn't want to relive every uncomfortable or embarrassing moment of today.
I wanted my mind to be quiet for once.
Deciding the best way to go would be to drown out my thoughts by reading, so I went for my book on the night stand, turned on the lamp and continued where I left off.

It didn't take long before I completely lost myself in its fictional world.

It felt like only minutes had passed when I finished the book.
Disoriented, I blinked, then looked at the alarm clock. 1:03 am. The room was pitch black, save for the bedside lamp I had turned on earlier.

I wistfully closed the book and put it on the bed next to me, suddenly exhausted.
Groaning, I rubbed my burning eyes and decided to go to sleep.

I changed into my pajamas in record time and before I knew it, I was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling.

Closing my eyes, I tried my usual method of daydreaming until I fell asleep, but my thoughts kept drifting.
My mind kept repeating the way I had embarrassed myself while trying to enter group therapy.

It's no wonder they didn't include me in their conversations, I thought. They tolerate me, but they probably think I'm weird. Even in a place like this, I am the odd one out. Maybe-

I cringed and turned in bed, closing my eyes more tightly, desperately wishing for sleep.

I have to talk to Doctor Simmons again tomorrow. I'd rather eat nails. But... what if it isn't him, but it's me? I mean, he's the therapist. He's helped people before. What if therapy just doesn't work on me? Or maybe he just doesn't think I deserve the help... maybe he thinks I am just an attention whore?
And... maybe I am? My life wasn't traumatic or anything... There is no reason for me to be like this. I am just being ungrateful, aren't I? I'm just the fucking worst, I-

My thoughts swirled faster and faster and faster - until I couldn't take it anymore.

I abruptly opened my eyes and sat up. My lids were heavy and my body felt like lead, but my mind was buzzing with energy – and I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep any time soon.

I got up from my bed and paced the room, unsure of what to do.
It was always the same. The second I wasn't busy or concentrating on something, my mind started to torture me with worries and fears and bad memories – especially at night.
If I was at home right now, I'd listen to music or watch a movie so I had something else to concentrate on.

But here I was – in a goddamn mental hospital – without my mp3 player or laptop.
Sure, I could re-read my book, but I knew that it wouldn't hold my attention enough to mute my thoughts.

Irritated, I stopped pacing and curled up in a corner of my room.
I made myself as small as possible, once again wishing I could just cry out my frustration.
Angry at myself and the situation, I slammed my head against the wall. Not hard enough to cause any real damage, just enough to feel my teeth clicking together and the vibrations travel down my spine.

I obviously knew it wouldn't help in the long run, but I didn't care.
It felt good to get my frustration out.

I did it again. And again. And again.

Once my head throbbed and I was feeling dizzy, I stopped and took a few calming breaths.
I gingerly groped the back of my head, already feeling a goose egg forming. My mind was blissfully blank though.

Just as I was contemplating attempting to go to sleep again, I heard it.

Knock Knock

It came from the wall behind me.
Surprised, I turned a bit and pressed my ear against it.
I waited with bated breath, not sure if I had imagined it – but there it was again.

Knock Knock

For a second I was worried that I had woken the person on the other side of the wall and that they were angry.
But thinking about it, my slamming couldn't have been that loud. And it didn't sound like angry knocking, the type that meant “Shut up I'm trying to sleep”.

No, this sounded more like a greeting.

Hesitantly, I knocked back.
They answered with the familiar rhythm of “Shave and a Hair Cut – Two Bits”. I couldn't help the tiny smile that broke out.
With the side of my head still pressed to the wall, I shifted so I sat cross-legged on the floor and responded with a few short raps of my knuckles.

And so we went back and forth.

It was weirdly comforting, knowing I wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep.
The knocking made me feel less alone.
And it calmed me to the point that I fell asleep right there with my head still leaning on the wall.


I woke up to the ringing of my alarm lock, laying on the hard floor.
For a second I thought I had fallen out of bed.
Confused, I lifted my head and hissed when I felt a sharp throb at the back of it, reminding me what transpired yesterday.

With a pained groan, I sat up and felt the joints in my neck cracking.

I could barely keep my eyes open. I couldn't have gotten more than three hours of sleep last night.
Sighing, I contemplated going back to sleep and skipping breakfast , but ultimately decided it wasn't worth the trouble I'd probably get into for not turning up.

I heaved myself up, took a hot shower and got dressed in a daze.

When I was done, I made the mistake of laying down again, wanting to rest my burning eyes for a bit.
I feel asleep immediately and was startled awake by a knock on my door.
I looked at the clock. It was 8:15, time for medication.
My brain was still sluggish and I struggled to sit up.

I must have taken too long to answer, because there was a second, more urgent knock.
“Is everything alright? I'm coming in now, okay?”, I heard Carla's muffled voice from behind the door. She sounded a little alarmed.

“Yeah, y'can come in”, I said – and even to my own ears, I sounded exhausted.

Carla opened the door, looking worried. “Are you alright, hon?” She paused, looking me over. “You look like death warmed up.”
I gave a half-hearted smile at her bluntness. Shrugging, I said: “I jus' didn' sleep very well las' night.”
My tongue felt heavy, I knew I was slurring my words but I was too tired to care.

“Hmm...”, she thoughtfully hummed, then said: “Let me know if that happens again okay? We might be able to help you with that.”

I nodded, reluctant to tell her that me having trouble falling asleep was a common occurrence. It felt embarrassing to admit that I had so much trouble sleeping because of my own brain.
But, looking at Carla's open and honest expression (my heart twinged at the realization that she genuinely cared), I decided that I would try to be more honest with her.

She handed me my medication and I swallowed the pill without complaint.

“I trust you can find your way to the cafeteria?”, she asked and I nodded. “Good.”
She made to leave, but hesitated. “If you need anything or you want to talk, you can always come to me or any of the other nurses.”
And with that, she left my room.

A short look on my time table told me that today's plan was similar to yesterday.

The key difference was that instead of art therapy, a SOUL scan was scheduled.

A small wave of fear hit me, but it was muted by my exhaustion
In all honesty, I was mostly curious what my SOUL colour was. I didn't know all too much about them.
As far as I knew, there are seven colours that each represented a certain SOUL trait: red, orange, cyan, blue, purple, green and yellow.
I couldn't remember which colour stood for what trait, I always confused them. I just knew that the colour of your SOUL showed what made you you. The very culmination of your being.

In modern medicine – especially if it had to do with psychology – the SOUL had become a very essential part of therapy.
It wasn't like people could just magically (heh, pun intended) see what was wrong and immediately knew how to fix it.
But it did help with treatment, knowing the patient's colour and stats.

Realizing, I had been staring at my time table for the past few minutes, lost in thought, I shook my head.

Pushing down the mounting excitement and fear, I placed my schedule on my bedside table again and made my way to the cafeteria.


Chapter Text

Breakfast was tedious.

I wasn’t very hungry, so I snagged myself a strong cup of coffee and a piece of buttered toast. Listlessly I stared at it, then took a tiny bite.
It tasted like ash.

I munched on the small piece for what seemed like hours, repressing a gag.
Shuddering, I took a big gulp of coffee to wash it down, swallowing with difficulty – and then decided to speed up the process by just shoving the rest of it into my mouth.

“mornin'. this seat taken?”

Surprised, I looked up and saw Sans standing at my table, pointing at the chair across from me. He looked amused.

I closed my eyes in agony, a hot flash of embarrassment shooting through me. Of course someone had to see me stuff so much toast into my mouth that it made me look like a gluttonous chipmunk.
Blowing a frustrated gust of air though my nose, I opened my eyes again and nodded at him.

Sans' constant skeleton smile widened and he took a seat across from me. As he settled down, I noticed his tray had nothing on it but a huge pile of ketchup packets.
Slightly weirded out, I furrowed my brows.

Having noticed my glance, Sans shrugged. "what can i say, ketchup is what's up."

I tensed up, realizing that I was being rude (all the while still looking like a deranged critter) and looked away. Uncomfortably aware of the mush in my mouth, I chewed and swallowed as quickly as I could.
I was being too hasty though, a small piece of toast went down wrong and I immediately started coughing and spluttering.

Tears streaming down my burning face, I took another sip of my coffee and avoided San’s gaze.

Of course this had to happen.
Of course.
As if imitating a hamster wasn’t already mortifying enough.

Apparently the world hated me.

Once I wasn’t hacking anymore, I chanced a look up at Sans, who was grinning so hard his eye sockets(?) crinkled at the edges and formed a half-moon shape.
“you, uh”, he sounded like he was repressing a chuckle, “you alright?”

Too flustered to say anything, I bent over, laid my forehead onto the table and groaned.

This time he did chuckle.
It was infectious and I couldn’t help but smile too. He really did have a nice voice.
It was strange. Normally, I would have been upset -but it didn’t sound like he was making fun of me, so I didn't mind.

“sorry for loafing, hope you don’t crumb to think that I am a bread person”

That came so unexpectedly, that I let out an ugly snort of laughter. I slapped a hand over my mouth and sheepishly peeked up at Sans.
He looked almost giddy, his smile even bigger than before, clearly enjoying that he had gotten a reaction out of me.
Tilting his head a little to the side, he made eye contact and winked.

I could feel my face heating up again and unable to hold his gaze, I looked down at the table.
A tender feeling of gratitude blossomed in my chest.
As embarrassing as this all was, in a weird way it cheered me up a little and made this bad morning a bit more bearable.

It seemed like every time I was in a pinch, Sans was right there.

A wave of exhaustion suddenly hit me, reminding me how sleep deprived I was and I let out a huge yawn.
Rubbing my burning eyes, I took another big sip of my coffee.

Sans shifted in his seat, drawing my attention back to him. His smile had faded a little and he looked slightly worried.
It was amazing how expressive his face was - his brow bones furrowed a bit, as his white eye lights scanned over my face, no doubt seeing how tired I was.
"seriously tho, are you okay?"

"I... uhm..." I struggled to find an answer.
I didn't want to lie to him, but I also didn't want to talk about my stupid worries.


The answer shot out of my mouth before I could think about it. Surprised at myself, I closed my mouth and pursed my lips.
It looked like Sans was surprised too, going by how wide his eye lights were.
Cringing at how rude that must have sounded, I looked down at the table again. Nervously, I fiddled with the hem of my T-Shirt, twisting and untwisting it.

It was silent.

I expected Sans to ask me to elaborate, but he just stayed quiet. And when I gazed at him again, he calmly looked back at me.
It was a pleasant surprise. No questions, no expectations. Just an unspoken offer to listen.

“I am not okay.”, I said slowly, my voice almost a whisper. It was weird to admit it out loud. “But I am not ready to talk about it.”
Sans smiled, shrugged (how he managed to not make it look dismissive is a mystery) and just said: “okay.”

And just like that, the topic was closed.

Before the silence grew uncomfortable, Sans started telling me about that one time he put a rubber duck inside his brother's convertible to mess with him.

Sans hid it in the trunk and every time Papyrus drove over a pothole or made a turn, quacking sounds could be heard. In the end, Papyrus ended up thinking his car was haunted and called a psychic, who proceeded to tell him that the car was haunted by a duck that the car's previous owner ran over.

By the end of that story, my face hurt from smiling so much.

Without skipping a beat, Sans went from telling me the Ghost Duck story to telling another one and before I knew it, the impending SOUL scan and therapy session was forgotten.
It was as if his calmness was contagious and with every pun I felt myself relax a little bit more.
I noticed that it was almost scary how easy it was to be with Sans. Just like breathing.
I wasn't used to that. No matter what, I always felt high-strung, even if I was with my friends and family. It was nice not to feel anxious or scared or nervous for once.

Before long, it was time to go to group therapy.

I could feel myself becoming tense again as we walked to the therapy room, but Sans' jokes kept me distracted.
We arrived just on time, everyone was already there and we quickly sat down as Mary started talking.

Apparently, today's topic of discussions would be dreams and aspirations.

“And they don't have to be realistic!”, Mary said, looking at each of us. She was standing inside of the chair circle. “Don't worry about how achievable they are, just tell us what you'd wish for.”

In her usual excited way, Rebecca immediately started telling us about how she always wanted to have a huge family. The real deal: a husband, two kids and a dog. Living in a little house with a white picket fence.
“I know it's sounds very cliche”, she said, toying with a strand of her long hair, “But it's what I always wanted, for as long as I can remember.”

“Nah, I get it”, Frank suddenly piped up, his brown bunny ears twitching, “My dreams are simple too, nothing wrong with that.”
Rebecca gave him a beaming smile, which he returned.

“Well, what are your dreams, Frank?”, Mary asked, writing down something on the black clip board she was holding.

Frank shrugged. “I wanna open up a bakery. My wife has a small shop where she already sells my cinnabunnies, but I've always dreamed of having my own business, baking all kinds of delicious goodies...” For a moment, he looked like he was going to say more, but he shrugged again.

Mary thanked him and Rebecca for sharing, then asked who else wanted to contribute.

Miles, who sat slouched in his chair, suddenly straightened up. “I want to dance on Broadway.”, he said, “I know I am not there yet, but with more training, I know I can do it!”
He flashed us all a smile that stretched over his gaunt cheeks.
Miles looked tired and (if that was even possible) skinnier than yesterday, but his eyes sparkled brightly when he talked about dancing.
Everyone could see that it wasn't just a job, it was his passion.

Mary made a few more notes on her clipboard and without looking up she said: “Sans, what about you?”

I wasn't sure if I was imagining things, but Sans' smile suddenly looked a little tense.
“i'm a simple guy.” He paused. I wasn't sure if it was for dramatic effect or because he really had to think about it. “but i've been working towards this goal for years.” Another pause. This one was deliberate. “i wanna set the world record for the biggest whoopie cushion ever made.”

It was said in such a sincere tone, that it was simply hilarious.
The others burst out laughing - and even Mary chuckled, although she sounded slightly exasperated. “Oh, really?”, she said, shaking her head.
Sans grinned and winked.”yeah. i think whoopie cushions could be considered modern fart.

Another round of laughter, but I couldn't manage much more than a thin smile.
I felt weird. For some reason it bothered me that he made a joke instead of answering honestly.
Though I wasn't too sure why that was.

Jessy spoke up next and admitted that she would love to act in a play. “I-I know it's... not possible for me to do it now. My Pho-Phobia makes sure of that, but...”, her antennas twitched and she looked at Mary, “ said we should sha-share, no matter how a-achievable it is.”

Mary nodded, flashing her a smile, but suddenly her attention shifted to me. “And what about you, Jay?”
I froze and looked at her, my mind blank.

As sad as this sounded I wasn't sure if I had any dreams and aspirations anymore.

I used to have them, plenty of them actually. But my problems had gotten so bad over the years, that I had given them up completely.
At one point, I had resigned myself to live a life that was unfulfilling, but safe.
A long, boring life.

Well.. that was until my Lapse of Judgment.

I hadn't expected to need any dreams after that.
Or anything else for that matter.

Still drawing a blank, I felt myself panicking. My heart started racing and my face burned.
The others were looking at me, expecting an answer that I wasn't sure I could give.
Their gazes burned and my skin felt tight and itchy.

Mary was still looking at me, though she started to look concerned.

It was embarrassing, having a meltdown for no real reason – and I wished I could just disappear.
Scared of making even more of a scene, I stammered out a quiet “I dunno.”, and balled my hands into tight fists.

“That's okay”, Mary said calmly, “You don't need to force yourself.”
I just nodded.
“Do you need a minute?”, she asked. I thought about it, then shook my head.
As pathetic as it was, I was scared that saying yes would make me seem overly dramatic and would make everyone in this room judge me.

Tears of humiliation burned in my eyes, but I refused to let them fall, looking at the wall across from me, trying to calm down.

The rest of group therapy passed by in a blur.

Everything felt distant. Sounds were muffled and my head felt fuzzy.
I just wanted to go.

Once Mary announced that it was time for our next appointments, I left the room as quickly as I could.
Before anyone could get the idea of talking to me, I went into one of the guest bathrooms in the corridor and locked myself in an empty stall.

I leaned my head against the cool tiles of the wall and gave myself a few seconds just to breathe.

It was quiet.
The busy sounds of the hospital were distant and the smell of some citrus cleaning agent made me feel nostalgic for some reason.
It was familiar in a way.

When the pressure on my chest had lifted a little, I sat on the lid of the closed toilet and cradled my head in my hands: I could feel a stress headache coming on, pressure quickly building up behind my eyes.
Exhausted and frustrated, I let out a bitter scoff.
It felt like every time I felt semi-okay, my problems had to ruin it for me.
And it wasn't like the whole ordeal yesterday had helped me with my problems at all.

A sudden spike of pure horror hit me as I remembered what my next appointment was and that yesterday's ordeal was more than likely bound to be repeated.

I couldn't do it.
I couldn't go back there.
Just thinking about seeing Doctor Simmons today made me feel like I was going to vomit.

Shuddering, I wrapped my arms around my waist, trying to comfort myself.
If worse came to worst, I would just hide out in the restroom until it was time for my SOUL scan.
It's not like it was the first time I hid in a bathroom stall because I was scared.

Suddenly the door to the bathroom opened. Startled, I tensed, held my breath and listened.
Footsteps, then silence. Three sudden knocks on the door of my stall made me jump and I shakily exhaled.

“Jane, are you in here?” It was Jennifer.

I debated on not answering, but knew that it wouldn't help. “Yuh-yeah.” My voice sounded hoarse and small.
“Will you please come out?”, Jennifer asked. She sounded worried.
I hesitated. “...please don't make me.”

“I need to make sure that you are uninjured”, she said. The “and not harming yourself” went unsaid, but we both knew that is what she meant.
“I have a master key. It also works on the guest restrooms. If you don't come out willingly, I will have no choice but to come in and get you.” She sounded apologetic, but also stern.

I mouthed a silent curse.
Well, it wasn't like I had a choice in the matter. Getting dragged out wasn't an option.

I took a deep breath and unlocked the door.

As soon as I stepped out of the stall, Jennifer examined my hands, arms and legs. Her fingers were warm and her touch was gentle, but it still made me uncomfortable.
I stayed quiet and held still until she was done.

“What's wrong?”, she asked, searching my face.
Unsure of what to say, I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “I have a horrible headache and I feel nauseous.” It was the truth, although it wasn't the reason I had hid here in the first place.

Jennifer stayed quiet and scanned my face with an unreadable expression.
For a second I was scared that she didn't believe me, but to my relief, she gave me a small smile and asked: “Do you want some Ibuprofen? If you want to, I will cancel your appointment with Doctor Simmons.”
“Yes!”, I said a little too quickly and Jennifer quirked an eyebrow at me.
“Please”, I added on.

“Do you think you will be okay for the SOUL scan though?”, she asked, “It would be a little hard to reschedule, since the scanner is almost always in use.”
“Yeah, I think that's okay. I don't have to do much, right?”, I asked, slightly nervous.
“No, it's kind of like an MRI. You just lay there and the machine does all the work. And”, Jennifer smiled, “it doesn't hurt at all.”

“Okay”, I said quietly, massaging my forehead. I could feel the pressure behind my eyes spreading.
Jennifer placed her hand on my back and started to lead my outside into the corridor. “Now, how about that Ibuprofen, hmm?”

I just nodded and followed her lead.

The SOUL scan was a lot less spectacular than I anticipated.

After Jennifer had given me the pain killer, I was left to my own devices until it was time for the scan.
I used that time to take a nap and catch up on sleep.
I got about an hour and a half of rest, before a knock on my door woke me up.

This time it wasn't Jennifer who escorted me, but a cat monster named Catty. My nervousness must have been showing because she reassured me that a SOUL scan was “totally not a big deal, like, you won't even feel it.”

The SOUL Scanner (MTT™ brand) looked similar to an MRI, like Jennifer said. It was a round machine that was hollow on the inside, with a bed to lay on.
The biggest difference was that it was bright pink. And there were no cables. At least not that I could see. It must have been powered by magic.

Catty instructed me to lay on the bed and hold still. That proved to be very difficult, because I was so nervous I was trembling.
Once I was situated the bed, it moved slowly into the tube-like Scanner until I was fully inside.
I wouldn't consider myself claustrophobic, but the impending SOUL scan, paired with the small space made me jittery.

After a few seconds, I heard a whirring coming from the scanner that got louder and louder.
Similarly, my heart was beating faster and faster.

Once the whirring had reached an almost painful volume, it suddenly went quiet.
And before I could question if I had done something wrong or if the scanner was broken...

… my SOUL was pulled out of my chest.

Like Catty said, I didn't really feel the extraction itself.
But as soon as it was outside of my body, I felt hyper sensitive. It was like my senses were intensified.
The light in the lab looked much brighter, the (before almost unnoticeable) antiseptic smell burned in my nose and the bed I was laying on felt harder and lumpier.
It was a little overwhelming.

But despite it all, I couldn't take my eyes off of the little heart shape in front of me.
My SOUL was a deep purple.
It was surreal to think that this tiny thing held such a big importance.
But no matter how baffling it was, I could feel it. I could feel that this was the very culmination of my being.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed.

Sure, it was cool that I knew what my SOUL looked like. And my senses being so sensitive was kinda trippy. But when others talked about seeing their SOUL for the first time, it always sounded like some sort of spiritual experience – which was not what I could say for myself.
It was impressive, sure. But not how I imagined it.

The scan must have only lasted a couple of minutes because it didn't take long until the scanner started whirring again and my SOUL disappeared back inside my body.

Once it was back inside my chest, my senses dimmed again. I felt a little dizzy.

“The dizziness will, like, pass in a second”, I heard Catty say. “You can totally sit up once you feel ready though”.

The bed moved again until it was outside of the Scanner. I stayed laying down for a couple of seconds, taking deep breaths.
Once the dizziness had faded a bit, I sat up.

Looking around, I saw Catty standing by a panel installed on the side of the scanner, that I hadn't noticed before. Having felt my gaze, she turned her head, looked at me and shot me sharp toothed smile. “Your SOUL is purple”, Catty said, sounding excited, “That's, like, the second rarest trait. It stands for perseverance.”
She turned back around, not seeing my face turn into a grimace.
I wasn't sure how to feel about that. “That is.. weirdly fitting.”, I whispered, too quiet for her to hear.

Catty pressed a few buttons and a printer in the corner of the room printed out a report of my stats – twice. One copy for medical analysis and one copy for myself (which was apparently a legal requirement).

“So, like, the day after tomorrow, you have another appointment with me.”, Catty said, handing me my copy.
Curious, I scanned the contents and... was left confused.
There wasn't much on the page and most of it didn't really make sense to me.


HP: 3/5
LV: 1
EXP: 0

* Smells like desperation and tears.
* Half-heartedly returned from the brink, and for what? She doesn't know.

Catty cleared her throat to get my attention and I looked up at her.
“As I said, like, in two days, I wanna go over your stats with you and, like, explain a few things. Maybe we will adjust your treatment too, but that's totally up to you!”

And with that information, I was sent back to my room to “like, get some beauty sleep” by Catty.

The walk back to my room seemed to take forever. My limbs felt heavy and it seemed like I was moving in slow-motion.
Despite the nap I had taken earlier, I was incredibly tired and wanted nothing more than to go to sleep.

When I arrived at my room, I let out a relieved groan. I opened the door and was about to step inside - but stopped in my tracks.
There was a piece of paper lying on the floor.
Someone must have shoved it under the crack of the door.

Using only my finger tips I bend down, carefully picked it up and went inside, making sure to close the door behind me.
Walking further into the room, I sat on my bed and stared at the slip of paper, debating if I should read it or not.
Maybe I was being paranoid, but I was scared that it was some sort of “I know what you did last summer” type of deal.

But eventually, my curiosity got the best of me. Bracing myself for the worst, I unfolded the piece of paper and looked it over.
It took me a few seconds, but once I understood what was written on it, a huge smile broke out on my face.

It was the Morse code alphabet.

it's morse code hope that's okay