“…therapy?” the nurse asks kindly, handing you flip flops to walk in instead of the strange cloth sock contraptions they give upon arrival. you take them shyly, you’re not used to being offered anything, you feel guilty, you need to be tough, you have nearly died.
“is it expensive?”
the nurse laughs. “maybe, but your mind’s worth it.” they sit down and explain a way of healing you’d only ever heard as a joke, as a taboo element of life nobody wants to hear about, as something you never thought you needed. it sounds… it sounds good.
“we can set you and your family up for a session after you’re discharged,” the nurse finishes. “or… just you,” they add, watching your face crumple from passive to pained. “do… you want to talk about it?”
“uh, can i take you up on your offer another time?” you might be sidestreet, but you have manners.
when another time comes, you talk, and for the first time, you are listened to.
aftermath. an invitation. “let’s hang out!”
you’re suspicious. you should be, the people who you trusted stabbed you in the back and forced you to thank them for it.
still, a way out is a way out is a way out. you’ve stopped questioning the morality of a situation and just accepted it regardless of whether it’s right or wrong. what’s that to you anyway?
her apartment’s small, you’ve never been here before. the fun, artsy cousin from christmas and thanksgiving dinners holds her baby with one hand and with the other, pulls you in for a hug. you stiffen, you relax, it’s calm for a while, and then she asks you the question.
“how are you?”
it is then, slowly, surely, you feel like maybe you can heal.
kitchen island at 10 pm, sitting cross-legged as your brother fishes for spoons in the utensil drawer.
“how’s it going?”
you answer by nearly falling off the island in exhaustion, but thankfully your hands grip the side in time and you give a sheepish grin. “oops.”
the truth is that daily mundane life is so freakishly different from living in a state of survival, and you’re not used to waking up to do, to be, to thrive. to running, to being free to run, to interacting with other humans, to do normal daily mundane human stuff. you are used to playing mind games you never win and cussing the person in the mirror, to locked doors and dark windows. you love it and you hate it and you don’t know what to do with it.
“ahh, sounds like you need some sugary motivation for your troubles.” the brother places a bowl in front of your regrettably small form, tucks a spoon into your tired hands, and lifts a giant carton of ice cream from the freezer.
“you’re tired too, aren’t you?” you say, propping the ice cream scoop against the white cardboard to dig into the heavenly coldness.
the brother simply winks and asks for two scoops of chocolate.