"They're sending you to a shrink?"
Laura's reaction was pretty much the same as mine when I called her later that night. After telling her the initial news and allowing ourselves to rant about it for a good twenty minutes, making joke after joke about what complete idiots my parents were, we ended up staying on the phone for hours, talking like old times. This was what I needed. Not a licensed professional that was going to do nothing but tell me everything I didn't want to hear.
Above all, this made me want to unleash everything I had been holding back the past several weeks to her. No pun intended, it was practically killing me to not be completely honest with her. It was like I was locked in an inescapable prison, except my cell was my own mind.
In actuality, I hadn't even talked to anyone else besides Laura and my parents since arriving back home. It was agonizing not talking to Ryan, though I couldn't say the same for Spencer. But I also could not deny that I needed a small break from the both of them. Spencer, mostly.
After finally getting off the phone, even though I had claimed I was exhausted and needed some rest, I couldn't find it in me to drift off to sleep. The appointment my parents had set for me had been scheduled for the following morning, leaving me not much time at all in which to prepare myself. The idea of having to allow someone to probe into my mind, and that my parents were actually paying someone to do this because they thought it was going to stop me from trying to hurt myself again was just unimaginable. What was the point if, in the end, I was just going to have to lie, like I was doing to everyone else?
The office was painted an unbearably dull tan color, and it gave off a sort of stiff air, though the various photographs of trees and lakes and other various nature aspects were probably supposed to give it a more comforting appearance. The only thing I felt was that I was a rabbit being led into a trap.
The receptionist's attitude was about just as apathetic as the rest of the room, and her face barely betrayed any sort of emotion as she instructed my parents to fill out several forms of paperwork before I would be brought back to see the psychiatrist.
Not to my surprise, the chairs lining the walls were just as stiff as everything else, and I kept finding myself squirm as my mother filled in line after endless line of information. This was taking forever; how long had we been here already? I just wanted to go home.
My father placed his hand on my knee, which caused me to realize that it had been bouncing up and down nervously.
"Everything is going to be fine," he assured me. But if that was the case, none of this should be necessary. If everything was fine, I should be able to go home and crawl back into bed. It wasn't even noon yet, for Pete's sake.
The wait to have the receptionist call me back after my mother returned all of the completed paperwork seemed to be even longer, and I was on the verge of leaping out of my seat and bolting out of the building when I suddenly heard my name.
I looked up to see an open door leading to a hallway, and another woman, with a kinder face, standing at the threshold, a clipboard in hand that probably contained all of my information.
"Dr. Clemmons is ready to see you, sweetie," she told me, gesturing for me to follow her.
I took one last pleading glance at my parents before I stood up, hoping that maybe they would reconsider once they saw the fear in my face and want to take me straight back home. But their faces betrayed no emotion whatsoever, except for my mother, who looked on the verge of tears.
I was taken down a main hallway and led towards a room that was a smaller version of the lobby I had been waiting in, the only difference being that there was a comfortable looking couch, probably the one I'd be using, and a desk with a nameplate on it, labeled Doctor Lucille Clemmons. To the right of this desk was a large bookcase almost overflowing with educational looking textbooks.
"She'll be in shortly," the woman informed me, and closed the door behind her as she left, leaving me completely alone.
I was officially an animal trapped in a cage. I had never been claustrophobic before, but this room was feeling smaller and smaller as the minutes passed and the doctor didn't make her appearance. Then, all of a sudden, the doorknob jiggled a bit, and I flew over to the couch, landing in it and folding my hands into my lap as soon as the door opened.
The doctor was younger than I thought she was going to be, probably in her mid-thirties at the latest. She had an extremely pretty face, with jet black hair tied up tightly in a professional looking bun. But she also looked like she was the type of person to not take any kind of shit from anyone, and I admired that about her, wishing that I could be able to do the same.
"Hello, Colbie," she greeted me, smiling as she flipped through my paperwork real quick. She walked over to me and held out her hand, I'm supposing for me to shake, so I extended my hand back to her, surprised at how firm her grasp was. "My name is Dr. Clemmons. It's nice to meet you."
"Oh, uhm. Yeah. You, too," I replied, wishing my words would have came out smoother.
She rolled out the chair from behind her desk so that it was sitting in front of it, close to where the couch was, and sat down.
There was a few moments of silence, and I think was maybe expecting me to make the first move, and start ranting about how I wanted to kill myself, and all the problems I was facing in my young adolescent life. But I said nothing, instead looking down at my shoes and pretending to focus on how dirty they were.
"Well," she said after a while, and it seemed to echo a bit, even though the room was quite small. I looked up to find her smiling at me. "Where shall we begin?"
Our session was supposed to last for an hour but it seemed to be much longer than that once I started talking her ear off, answering all of her questions as best I could while still keeping most of everything to myself. It was when she first brought up Spencer that I felt myself start to close up a little bit, afraid to say much of anything. I still hadn't even talked to Spencer since I had been home, which means he had no idea that my parents were making me do this. It scared me to think of what he would do once he found out about it.
"So you and Spencer have been dating for quite some time, haven't you?" she asked. I just nodded. "Have you guys been having any problems lately? Did your relationship undergo any stress since your sister died?"
I hadn't even told her that he disappeared altogether after the accident. I kept most of my answers about him as short as I could, but she liked to ask more questions when she felt like the answers I provided weren't satisfactory enough for her.
When I didn't answer this question, not even sure where to begin on explaining that one, she spoke again, changing it up a little bit. "How does your relationship with him differ from then and now? Would you say that things used to be better before your sister's accident?"
To say that my relationship with Spencer used to be better was an intense understatement. I could still remember the first day that he talked to me, way back in sophomore year when we were placed in the same English class, before I started moving up to more advanced courses.
Our teacher had made assigned seats when the class first began, which most students complained about, but I was more happy than anything when I saw that I would be sitting next to him. I had actually noticed Spencer the year before, only in the hallways every now and again, but that was more than enough for me. I'd spent that year hoping to gain the confidence to say something to him, but never had. Us being English partners was obviously my chance to get to know him.
Within the first week of class, we were assigned to read a poem and then analyze them with our partners. I learned real quick that Spencer was the type that didn't like to do his portion of the work when it came to group stuff. He had given up on reading the poem within the first twenty minutes of class, and I was not about to do all of the work myself.
"Are you going to help me out with this at all?" I had asked him, slightly annoyed. He picked up his head from his desk and looked at me for a second.
"I, uh…I don't understand it," he said quietly, probably to avoid having our peers hear him say this. For a second, I didn't know what to say.
"Do you want me to help you?" I finally offered, knowing that English was my strongest subject, and from that moment on, we were practically inseparable. Within the next month, he decided to ask me on a date, and we had been together since then.
I looked at the doctor now, who was peering at me intently and waiting for my answer.
"Can't really say anything has changed," I lied to Dr. Clemmons flatly.
Spencer tried coming over the day after my appointment. That's what my parents told me, anyway; luckily, I was over Laura's house when he tried coming over. The calls and text messages never stopped either, but I wasn't about to budge anytime soon. Ryan and I still hadn't talked, either, but unlike Spencer, he wasn't trying to badger me. He knew me better than that. He knew that I would come around on my own, which I intended to do very soon.
The next couple of days were spent trying to relax, and away from everybody else. My parents gave me the benefit of the doubt for a while and allowed me to stay home from school, but I knew it wasn't going to last forever. I must have jinxed myself on this, because my parents broke the news to me later during the weekend that I was going to be returning to school that Monday.
"Wait, what? Already?" I asked them. "You guys can't give me a little more time than that?"
"I think we've given you more than enough time already, Colbie," my father said. "You can't avoid going back to school forever. And you have a lot of work that you need to catch up on."
Nothing I said was going to change their minds, so I just accepted this and stopped arguing. Remembering that I hadn't seen my sister in a while, I went upstairs to grab a hoodie and check my phone. Besides the messages I was expecting from Spencer asking me to please call him back, and how sorry he was for everything, I had nothing else of interest.
Without thinking twice about it, I sent a text to Ryan asking him to meet me at the cemetery.
I wasn't surprised that to see his truck parked off to the side once I finally rode up on my bike. I felt the familiar twitch in my stomach when I knew I was about to see him. I took my time walking over to him, and I saw that he was smiling as I grew closer.
"Hey," he said warmly, and wrapped me in a hug. I felt my cheeks heat up as soon as he touched me. "How are you feeling?"
"Good," I told him, and it was the truth, but only because I was here, with him. "I missed you."
His smile grew wider still. "I really missed you, too."
We sat down near my sister's grave and spent the next few hours talking. I told him all about how my parents were sending me to a shrink, and I wasn't surprised at his outrage.
"They really think you need that?" he asked.
"I did almost die," I pointed out, "so it's not like I really blame them. I just don't want to waste the time doing it."
He cringed a bit at that, and I felt bad, remembering how he had been when he came to visit me at the hospital after I'd woken up. I never wanted to scare him that bad again.
He took hold of my hand, and I relaxed a little bit. "I'm so glad you're okay. I really am."
The corner of my mouth twitched into a half smile. "I am, too."
He traced his thumb on my hand, shooting sparks throughout different pressure points along my body. How was he able to do that so easily?
"So, does Spencer know you're here?" he asked quietly. My hand stiffened.
"I don't really want to talk about him," I said. I hadn't even been thinking about him at all, to be honest. But everything came crashing down on me at that point, and I remembered he had his followers out there, at all times, always watching. Always.
"You know what?" I said, moving away a bit. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I shouldn't be here. I don't know why I asked you to meet me."
Ryan looked taken aback; he clearly hadn't been expecting this response. "What? No. No, I'm glad you texted me. I am. I wasn't expecting it. I've been dying to see you these past couple of days but I wasn't sure if I should call or not. Please. Don't go."
I sighed. "I don't know, Ryan…everything is just so damn complicated."
"I would say I understand, but I really don't," he said. "You still haven't explained everything to me. I've been so patient…"
"I know. I know you have. I have asked so much of you, and I don't know how you've put up with not knowing anything," I told him. "Why are you still sticking around waiting for me?"
"You don't get it by now?" he asked me, shaking his head in disbelief. "I'd wait for you forever."
He kissed me with a strong passion so unlike the first few times, and every other thought from there was lost in a tidal wave of emotion that only he had the ability to stir up.