Emily’s mind is a mess. A complete and utter disaster. It only got worse with time. There was no way to sort what she actually felt from what her intrusive thoughts were feeding her.
Emily dug her fingernails into her palms. It feels…calming. Grounding. She hoards off the destructive thoughts, keeping them at bay. One could only hope it would last a while.
Lifting her head, Emily uses the palms of her hands to wipe away the insistent tears. After taking a few deep breaths, she moves to sit criss-cross.
Beca backs off for a second, adjusting herself by letting her legs stretch out in front of her. She holds her hand out, palm up, towards Emily.
A silent, “I’ll be your anchor as long as you want me to.”
Emily looks up from her companion's hand, a watery smile settling on her face. Beca returns the sentiment. Emily scoots a little closer towards Beca, wanting to be close, wanting to be in a safe presence. Their shoulders touching, Emily interlocks their fingers.
Emily contemplates what she’s going to say for a few seconds.
“A couple of years after my dad died, I think I was 16 when this happened, I was put into foster care. I guess at some point my biological mom got tired of my shit. She never told me why she put me in the system but I think it’s pretty obvious why.”
Emily rubs her fingers across her knee, “Anyway, I um, I got shifted around a few times. Mostly because the families I “lived” with couldn’t stand me or the social worker decided I wasn’t worth the families time to try and “fix” me.”
Emily chuckles darkly, “I lived with my teacher one time. He was an ass but he cared.”
Nadine got out of her mother’s car, slamming the door behind her as she strolled towards a particular teacher's classroom.
Nearly running down the hallway, she dodges students. She slows down once she gets closer to the classroom. Walking in, she pulls a chair up to the front of Mr. Bruner’s desk.
He looks up from his book for a slight second, “Busy.”
Nadine clasps her hands in front of her, “Hey. I don’t wanna take up a ton of your time but I’m gonna kill myself.”
Mr. Bruner looks over at her, book still open in his hands.
Nadine just grimaces. “I just thought someone should know. I don’t really know how this works. I’m probably gonna jump off, uh, an overpass in front of a semi.”
She hits her fingertips against each other, in thought, “Or a U-haul maybe, just not a bus. I’m not gonna be a dick and make people watch. But it has to be big.”
“It’s got to be so big that it just-,” Nadine makes a quick snapping noise, “done. Kills me. Lights out.”
“Cause if it just maims me-,” she makes a face and sticks her tongue out, “well then how is that good for anyone.”
She rambles on, “Then I got to find a nurse to smother me. How am I going to get across smothering if I’m-,” and imitates the same face again.
Nadine's face is nonchalant, gesturing around with her hand, “We don’t need to get caught up in the minutia, I just thought an adult- so you should know.”
The teacher grabs a bookmark to save his page and sets the book aside, “Wow, this is a lot to take in Nadine. I- I wish I knew what to say. Well, you know, I was actually just drafting my own suicide note just now.”
Nadine looks down at the paper in his hands, disbelief written across her face.
He “reads” the words off of the page to Nadine, sarcasm evident. “Dear everybody, as some of you may know, I have 32 fleeting minutes of happiness per school day during lunch.”
Nadine’s mouth drops open in shock as he continues, “Which has been eaten up again and again by the same, especially badly dressed student. And I finally thought, you know what, I would rather have the dark, nothingness. I really would.”
Mr. Bruner closes his eyes and sways his head, “It sounds…relaxing. Have a nice life without me fuckers.”
Nadine sits back in her chair, scoffing, “You’re so gonna get fired when I actually do it.”
Mr. Bruner throws the paper down and picks up his sandwich, “Well not for sure but I can dream.”
Beca looks over at Emily absolutely gobsmacked, “You actually said that? To your teacher? And that’s what he- Dude- what the fuck?”
Emily dismisses it, finding the old memory to be funny and ironic. “I had a bad day. I was with my bio mom at her job when she said some really shitty stuff to me. I took her car and drove myself to school. I think I just needed to vent and get some things off my chest.”
Everyone else is still processing the story. Maybe also going through the five stages of grief simultaneously.
Beca rubs her thumb over Emily’s hand. Emily squeezes lightly in return.
“A couple nights later, I um, I went out. I don’t really want to get into that story right now because it’s really triggering for me but I ended up running and crying behind a shipping container.”
Emily has a few flashbacks. Her chest feeling so tight, like she could barely take a breath. Her head feeling so light that she could barely see her hands in front of her.
“I walked to the nearest place I could find, which happened to be a donut shop, and called Mr. Bruner. I asked him if he could come pick me up but not to take me home.”
Emily gulps down the lump in her throat, eyes brimming with tears. “We went to his house and I finally met his family. I never thought he would have a family. I just thought that he was an old crabby white dude that lived alone.”
“He has a wife and a baby girl. It was so, I want to say refreshing, to just see him interact with his daughter like that. He was so gentle and kind. His wife was really nice too.”
Emily scoffs at herself, “I feel so selfish when I say this but I wish I had what she had. Mr. Bruner’s daughter, I mean. To be appreciated and loved. To be seen.”
Chloe speaks up from her spot cuddled into Stacie with red-rimmed eyes, “We appreciate you. I know that it’s way long overdue but we’re glad we met you. I hope that’s worth something.”
Emily gives the redhead a small smile and nods.
“A little bit later my brother shows up. I guess Mr. Bruner called my mother and she sent Darian instead. We argued like always and then he asked Mr. Bruner to take me home instead. And when I got there, a lady I had never seen before was sitting on our couch.”
Emily sucks in a deep shaky breath, blinking the tears away. “She told me that she was a social worker and that she was there for me. That was the last day I ever stepped foot into that house.”
Beca grips her hand tightly, looking Emily in the eyes. “I cannot tell you how messed up that is. For your mother to just, put you in the system like you meant nothing to her. I won’t pretend to know how you felt or how you still feel but we’re here for you now. We’re your newfound family and I hope that we always will be.”