I am laying in bed with Melissa at their own house. We are watching that dumb popular movie about the girl who comes to a school and joins a clique, only to realize she has become a fake. "So, are we going to kiss or not?" They say at exactly the same time the girl on the television says it, and I crack a smile.

God damn, I am in love, I realize, when I look up at them. They are such a wonderful, funny, rude at only the best times kind of person, and I don't understand how I could ever even doubt my love. I really don't know how I could have never really realized I am in love with them until just a few days ago.

I move upwards to kiss them on the lips and they steal the kiss first. I giggle, and they poke me on the nose. I almost get to poke them back, but they move their head back way too fast for me.

"Well, are we?" I ask, and sit up on their bed. It smells like cigarette smoke and regrets in here, but it's just the regrets that we left from the other shit that plagued our lives before we met each other. At least, that's what I'm hoping for. Aiming for, actually. I'd hate to be their biggest regret.

The cigarette smoke though? That's all them. I don't smoke at all. I hate it, even if I respect their habits.

Melissa sits up and presses their lips up against mine. They taste like their lip balm and that's okay, because it's that cheap strawberry-flavored stuff you can find at those really girly little stores at the mall. I move my hand around their waist and use my free one to put in their hair.

"Remember when you tried so hard to impress me? Well, you never really had to impress me. You impress me so much," Melissa flutters their eyes and moves their arms around me. "You impress me so much, god damn it," They repeat, and their eyes are so pretty under the lack of lighting in this room.

"Obviously, or else you wouldn't be letting me do this," I smile and my lips find their way back to their's. I secretly hope that they always make their way back to their lips, or at least to someone as lovely as them.

This kiss is so much different from our first, I realize. That kiss was just a weird experience that led to this one. This kiss is about us.

This kiss is about us making up for all the other shitty people who wrecked our Saturday nights with broken promises and false hopes high. Not about being rebounds for each other. Just helping each other piece back the parts we were missing in our yard sale puzzles we were given here on this Earth.

It's not like we were born broken. It's more like we were born as those broken, sad toys that nobody gave a second look at. When someone did, we took it for granted, then when we realized that they were serious, we put too much hope into them, hoping that they were the medication or therapy we needed to feel alright. Then, they decided to take parts of us and not return them back.

Melissa is just helping me find the best parts to fit where the broken parts were stolen, and I'm trying my very best to find those pieces for them. I think I'm helping, but I'm not so sure.

` I feel them take a breath, and I take one as well. Then I start to kiss their neck.

We continue on with this for a good thirty minutes, until my phone starts to ring. That really embarrassing pop-punk song starts to play really loudly, so I feel my face become hot. I pull away from Melissa and pick up my phone. It's my dad.

What does he want? What could he need? Why did he have to interrupt this?

"Why the fuck are you a lesbian?" I hear him shout at me through the phone.


I glance at Melissa, who appears confused. "What?" I am confused. "Dad, I swear to God I am not a lesbian." I squeak, still confused, wondering where he heard this from, and kind of irritated this stupid call ruined the moment. I mean, it's kind of true I don't identify as straight, but.. That's something I don't mention to many other people.

"You and that one girl are! Your step-brother was talking to some stupid guy named Ronald or something after school when he was walking home and they mentioned you being a lesbian for her! Making out with her and touching her! Stop it, you dyke!" My dad is fretting, and I just really, really, really, want to hang up the phone. In fact, my finger is hovering above that precious end button. "Do not fucking dare set foot in my house if you're a lesbian!" He shouts, and I just drop the phone. No, I don't actually drop it, I throw it. Kind of like what I want to do with my life right now. "Alright, I won't!" Melissa yells into the phone for me, and then hangs up.

I burst into tears and cover my head with Melissa's pillow. They start rubbing my back, trying to soothe me.

"I don't think he meant it, I swear. My dad did that when I came out and he still talks to me sometimes. He loves you, Carmen, I promise."

Yeah, I really fucking doubt that, but okay.

I just want to feel nothing. I just want to puke right now. I don't want to feel rejection from my own father. Rejection is one of my greatest fears.

Yet, I am feeling all the backlash from it right now.

Can't you hear, World? I don't want to feel anything.

The world pressures me to move on every single day, feeling like this, though. I don't think it'll stop unless I end it. Ending the pressure seems like a good option.

I cry into that pillow for what seems like eternity. I know my eyeliner has bled into Melissa's poor powder white pillow, and I feel bad, but I can't stop crying. I don't want my dad to hate me.

Eventually, I stop feeling the comfort and hopeful yet extremely hopeless ramblings of Melissa, so I sit up and look for them in the room. I see I have gotten a text message on my phone. It's from Genevieve.

I open it, hoping that there's some good news in our lives. Maybe she got accepted into a good college or something.

Ha, what luck we have. We've both been kicked out. How rejected we both are.

She got kicked out for admitting she is never, ever going to marry Ryan. Which I don't see how that is a huge surprise, but people only see what they want to see. Her lovely family included.

I head into the bathroom next to Melissa's room, and stand and stare at myself in the mirror while wiping away drippy makeup. Why me? Why couldn't something like this happen to someone else? Why can't I just live normally? Why do I feel like a burden even on my best of days?
I start to touch the mirror's corners, hoping to calm myself down. Everything is telling me to touch those corners on those mirrors, because those will fix what just happened. But, deep down, I know that will not help.

This may seem like the strangest things to people who do not suffer from their head telling them weird little things about those corners on that mirror will cause them to have a good life or an awful life, but do not worry. We all know, inflicted with anxiety or not, that it is strange. Our minds just tell us to believe every single lie it tells us. Ridiculous or not.

I text back Genevieve the directions to Melissa's house. I just want Genevieve here right now. Too bad I'm not speaking to Felix right now, or else I'd ask him if they could make room for her at her place.

I take the rubbing alcohol from Melissa's bathroom cabinet, and right before I am able to pour any of it anywhere, Melissa barges in. I put the bottle back and jump.

"What are you doing?"

"Just.. I just want to feel okay," I spit out. God, I look like a freak. More than usual, too.

"Uh huh," They whisper, confused. Don't worry, I'm confused too.

"I asked my mom if you could stay here for a bit. She said we had enough room for another at the table." Melissa explains, "Mom also said she needed to know a bit more about you. Since she's awfully convinced that me and you are going to be wed. But, uh, no sleeping in my bed because she's worried that sex will happen. You know, she believes in saving yourself or whatever. Guest room."

Suddenly, a really great idea pops into my head. What's one more, after all?

"Well, uh, can you do Genevieve a huge favor?" I ask them, and their brow furrows. "She got, uh, kicked out too. So..?"

They go back and ask their mom. They come back in a matter of minutes. "Yeah, but she can't eat at the table tomorrow. My mom's partner and company is coming over tomorrow."

Wow, I'm really grateful that these people are so open and welcoming. Well, kind of. Melissa can be kind of a butthead. But you gotta love them anyways.

"So, why were you looking at the rubbing alcohol again? Thought you were straight-edge, which means no alcohol, right?" Melissa asks, swipping the bottle from my reach. "Hah, very funny. Never heard that before.," I reach for it, and they put on a serious look.

"Really, Carmen. Fucking spill. You shouldn't be keeping secrets like this from me. I want to know."

I don't know where to begin, though. I could start with the fact that if I don't touch that bottle, I will get anxious and end with the extreme idea that my family won't accept me, they'll all die from cancer, and Matthew and I will become best friends again and he'll control so much more of my life than he already did in previous attempts to be friends with me. Then I'll kick the bucket because I did something stupid.

It hits me here that I really don't think I'm going to make it. I am too much of a wreck to really live on this Earth. I'm just kind of one big mistake trying to collectively fix other mistakes and just making much bigger, worse mistakes.

"Alright, fine. I have to touch that bottle. I have different things I have to touch to feel okay and safe. I feel like if I don't, I'll lose the people I love and I'll get cancer or something-" I choke up, and Melissa just hands back the bottle immediately. I run my fingers over the labels that cover it multiple times and put it back exactly where my mind tells me. I don't want to piss off my mind anymore.
I am always at war with my head, and there really is no good way to reach an agreement on this.

"So, when did that start happening, exactly?" Melissa asks as we leave the bathroom. I think I can hear Genevieve walking up the steps of the house, so I check the front door. "Oh, uh, around eighth grade, I suppose. It started happening when a friend of mine stopped caring so much about me. So I started to touch the ceiling in hopes to make it better. And it just kind of, uh, escalated from there."

All true.

It was over Matthew. I remember that. Matthew started being mean to me, so I touched the ceiling in my bedroom hundreds of times, trying to make it okay again.

It really fucking sucked that I did that to fix him harassing me, while he could have just kept his mouth shut. I mean, I know that he is not my obsession or anxiety, but yes, I can blame it on him for making it a lot worse. Also, I can blame him for not caring.

But that doesn't make it better.

"You know what? Tomorrow afternoon, I'm getting you some books. On OCD. And anxiety. I'm going to help you fucking get through this shit." Melissa pulls out a cigarette from their pocket.

"That's what it is?" I ask. Melissa shrugs. "That's what it sounds like, babe. Sorry about your luck. Mental illnesses will eat you alive, but I think you're strong enough to kick its sorry ass. I'll be there for you, I promise. As long as you'll be there when I stop smoking." They wink at me, and I just offer a weak smile back in return.

Melissa steps out to take a smoke, and I pull Genevieve inside.

"Hey," I whisper, and pull her into a hug. "I'm glad you're here."

Genevieve sets her bag down and hugs me back. "I knew that this would end up getting me in trouble," She whispers, and I really don't think I can do anything other than hug her. We all need hugs sometimes.

Melissa peeks back in. "Dinner is served at 7. Be in bed by midnight, or else."

"Alright," Genevieve agrees and pulls away from our hug. She pulls out her phone and sends off a quick text. "I just gotta tell Flint not to come by our house tonight."

I open up the door and walk outside. Melissa puts out their cigarette and turns to me. "Thank you. Uh, it means a lot to me that you'd do something like this."

"You're welcome Carmen. Now, let's go to the library and get some books for you. I don't think that they're closed yet."

In just twenty minutes, we are at the library looking for books on anxiety. I come across one written all about anxiety disorders, and a magazine about mental illnesses. I hand them to Melissa and they check them out for me.

I can't believe that anxiety is something you can fix. I am sitting in the car, skimming through the book. I feel like this is my savior in book-form. "Thank you for taking me to get this," I thank Melissa, and they just shrug. "You're welcome. I hope you enjoy those books. It's not a big deal though."

Really, I am so fortunate that they're letting me stay at their place while my dad and I are in this.. argument or whatever this is. I really don't understand why he wouldn't let me talk this out with him, but considering he got this information passed on by my step-brother and Ryan, they probably twisted it a lot.

In fact, I wouldn't even put it past them to twist the entire thing to their desire. Melissa might as well be a fucking dragon in their stupid stories. I don't know, whatever the story was, both of them were incredibly childish and ignorant for telling my dad this.

I'm sure my dad will get over this eventually, though. Once he drinks a bit too much one night, he'll be begging for me to come back. If not, I'll just mess with my step-brother to make it seem like he's the bad kid.

I'm the good kid, you know? I don't do bad things. I don't get caught sneaking out. I hardly ever get grounded.

This, though, this was a slip-up on my oh-so-perfect record.

We are just in time for dinner. Apparently, we are having pasta tonight. My favorite.

I take a seat in the middle of Genevieve and Melissa. I take a good look at Melissa's mom.

She's a pretty woman, honestly. She has a good fashion sense, like that one beautiful British woman I always see in magazines these days. Right now, she's wearing a cute flower print blouse and a pencil skirt and a matching flower headband in her short, curly hair. She hands me a plate full of pasta and gives me a friendly smile.

"Your girlfriend is so pretty, Melissa." She says to Melissa, and I grin, kind of taken aback. "Well, uh, thank you." Melissa's mom turns to look at Genevieve.

"Your friend is so pretty too. Is your hair naturally that red?" Melissa's mom asks Genevieve as she turns to get another serving of the pasta. Genevieve twirls her hair and smiles. "No, actually. Unfortunately."

"Ah, that's a shame. I hate taking care of dyed hair, you know? Anyways, tell me about yourselves. Even if my darling Melissa is popular, they refuse to bring too many friends around. Which is a shame, because y'all seem lovely. Darling Melissa only brought around their crummy ex-boyfriend Nick or whatever his dumbass name was after they kept him secret for the longest time. And turns out his dumbass self was cheatin' on her. What an idiot. Excuse my tongue." Melissa's mom sips on her tea.

"Enough, Mom. They know about that and that was a dark time." Melissa picks at their food and glares at their mom.

"Alright, darling, sorry. Sore topic. Anyways, tell me about yourselves, dears."
Genevieve and I exchange glances with each other, trying to decide who will go first.

Genevieve decides to take one for the team and go first. I think it was the look of panic in my eyes. I need the extra thirty seconds to make myself seem cool, you know?

"Well, I'm Genevieve. Me and your teenager haven't been friends for long, but they do know how to entertain, that's for sure. Congrats on raising such a splendid kid. Anyways, I like music and I want to be a therapist when I grow up."
Melissa's mom nods and it's my turn.

"Uh, well, I'm Carmen. I'm dating your kid. I run a blog. I don't know what else to say, really?" I laugh out of nervousness.

"What's your blog about?"


"Uh, well, just about anything I like. Mostly bands I like. And I write, too." I don't know how to sound cool in front of adults. Actually, I try quite hard to sound cool to anyone.

"What bands?"
Oh, just that band that sings about having anal sex in prison. No big deal, I'm totally fit to date your kid.

"Uh, mostly post-hardcore bands. Do you know what genre that is?"

Melissa's mom's face lit up. "Wow, where did you find this one?" She asks Melissa, and Melissa whispers, "Outside of a coffee shop." I grin.

"What's your favorite band, darlin'?"

"Uh, do you know Good Guys Salute?"

"Do I!"

I think I might have competition for the best friend slot.

"I met all the band's members. Twenty different times. Since my best friend and future spouse is in that band. The little short lead singer? He's so sweet. He's just a darlin'. I can't even believe he's real. The bass player is the biggest fuckin' cutie ever. I miss his crazier days, though. After he got divorced from that two-timin' actress, he's gotten a lot calmer. His book is the best thing ever. It got me through my suicidal phase. The two guitar players are darlings, absolute darlin'. The guy who does the screamo, though, him and the guy from Bleeding Fashion were datin'. I asked him. And the drummer? The drummer is mine."

I want to ask her for concert tickets, but would that be taking advantage of her?

"Can I get a picture and an autograph? My blog readers would love that." I spit out, and I immediately regret it. "Sorry for asking, uh.. I guess that was kind of rude, sorry." I apologize, but Melissa's mom loves the attention. "He wouldn't mind it at all! In fact, all of the band is coming over tomorrow. Along with their families."

This is the best thing since Melissa bitched out the idiots at the mall. I love this family.

I now have something to look forward to tomorrow.

After this, Melissa has to pull and drag me away. I just want to know more. Was their mom the one woman that Randy, the drummer, was rumored to be seeing a few years ago? Or was that someone totally different? My mind is racing.

Melissa forces me to read the anxiety book until midnight. They just want me to get better. They urge me to read that book front and back, just because they want to see me happy.

I don't say it, but I really appreciate that. I just hope I give myself a chance this time. They always say that the third time's a charm, right?