He walked in the room.
Dr. Shepherd.
"I need to draw some blood."
He pushed up my sweatshirt sleeve.

I saw him.
He glanced at the scars on my wrists.
I smiled.
He froze. He noticed that I saw him.

"You're a doctor, Dr. Shepherd.
Haven't you seen scars before?"
He looked ashamed.
"Yes, I have. But I don't know why someone with such talent would do that."

He picked up my drawing.
The one with a girl crying,
a bleeding rose,
a melting park bench.

The usual.

"You're so talented, Mariah."
He took my wrist and traced my scars
with his overworked,
soft hands.

He let them go
and got the needle.
When he pushed into my vein,
I winced.

This pain was sharper.
A new kind of pain.
He sat on the end of my bed and spoke.
A whisper. "Life doesn't have to be like this."

He had been looking at the floor.
He looked up and looked me in the eyes.
His eyes were red,
tears forming around the edges.

He took my hand,
squeezing it.
"Scoot over."
I did.

He swung his legs onto the bed,
and laid back.
He put his hands
behind his head.

"You know, I used to struggle."
I was shocked. "You did?"
"Yes. In high school."
I shifted.

"Dr. Shepherd, can I ask you something?"
"Of course, Mariah. Anything for you."
He smiled.
"Why do you put up with me?"

He had been my doctor
every time I came
through the hell hole
doors.

He chuckled a little bit.
"I wouldn't give away my patient, Mariah."
He put his arm around my shoulder.
"I wouldn't give you away.
You hold a special place in my heart."

I rested my head on his chest.
"Dr. Shepherd, am I okay?"
He lifted my sleeves again.
"Do you want to be?"

With that, he swung his legs off,
got up, and walked to the door.
"It's three in the morning.
Get some sleep, kiddo."