Chapter 28 | Here Goes Nothing
“Dal, I can’t come over, you’re grounded.” Lexi deadpans once the final bell rings signaling that school is over. I told her everything that happened yesterday while at the prison, and she couldn’t believe that Jeremy would attack Ethan. Of course, her seeing his cast, proved the story to be true.
“He said I couldn’t go anywhere, he never said I couldn’t have a friend over.” I smirk, proud of myself for always finding a loophole.
“Whatever, but if he gets mad, I’m telling him it was your idea.” She smiles sweetly.
“Hey Dal, can I get the keys and you ride with Lex? Ethan and I are going over to Tim’s house.” Liam says as he and Ethan approach us.
Ethan and I didn’t really talk much during lunch, but for some reason I need to be next to him, so I walk over and grab his arm pulling it around my shoulders. He pulls me into his side, kissing the top of my head. I look up and we give each other a look that says, ‘sorry for being distant today’, and then we both know that we’re okay.
I smile up at him, leaning up to kiss him. He deepens the kiss, but seconds later we’re interrupted.
“Please, I don’t want to throw up my lunch.” Liam grimaces as he crinkles his nose up in disgust.
“Whatever, ass.” Ethan laughs.
I reach into my bag and hand Liam the keys to the Jeep, since he gave them to me this morning to hold onto.
“See you gals later.” Liam says as he starts to walk away. Ethan kisses me one last time, before rushing to catch up to my brother.
“You two are so stinkin’ cute.” Lexi smiles warmly. “Let’s go.”
I follow her to her Toyota as I smile at her words. We are pretty cute, aren’t we?
The drive home takes longer than normal, because Lexi decides to stop at home first to make sure her mom doesn’t need her for anything. Her mom says it’s alright that Lexi comes over to my house, so we leave and head there.
I notice my dad is home, which isn’t normal. He’s always home a little later in the day.
Lexi and I cautiously walk up the steps and into my house, looking around for any signs of my dad. We don’t see him in the living room, so I tell Lexi to wait there and I left to go check the kitchen.
“Dad?” I call out, just as I enter the room.
“Hey sweetie, how was school?” Dad turns to face me from the island in the center of the kitchen.
“Um, good. How come you’re home so early?” I ask skeptically.
“Just an early day, I guess. Is someone here with you?” He eyes me as he hears the TV switch on from the living room.
“Um, just Lexi.” I smile sheepishly.
“I thought I told you, you were grounded?” He raises an eyebrow.
“Well, technically you said I couldn’t go anywhere after school. You never said I couldn’t have Lexi over.” I shrug.
He gives me a strict look, but eventually just smiles at me. “As long as you know that your behavior lately needs to change, and you start to change it, I don’t mind if Lexi is here. However, you still can’t go anywhere for the rest of the week.” He says confidently.
“Sure thing, dad.” I roll my eyes.
“Gotta make sure I’m consistent and the adult here. Punishment is part of the dad job description.” He smiles warmly. “Now, go do some homework.”
I shake my head with a chuckle, before grabbing two sodas and a bag of chips. I head back into the living room and Lexi immediately takes the chips from my hands.
“Awe, you’re so kind.” She smirks while opening the fresh bag.
“Dad says I can’t go anywhere for the rest of the week, due to some weird parental job description, but you’re allowed to come here.” I shrug with a laugh.
Lexi chuckles, “Noted.”
We both watch TV, until dad comes into the living room and forces us to do our homework. We both give him sighs, but eventually do as we’re told. We’re able to get everything done that we needed to for the night, and after that, we decide to watch some movies.
Lexi decides to spend the night, and I give her some clothes in the morning to wear to school.
Exams ended this week, thankfully, but I still have those two exams that I need to make up on Friday. I haven’t seen Blake around school lately, but I know where his crew stays, so I can always go say hi if I want to.
It's now Friday, and school drags on forever. The last two hours are spent retaking my two missed exams. I had to study my ass off, because they automatically take ten points off for missing it the first time around. I knew that was fair, but it still sucked.
My sessions with Lori were coming and going, but I still hadn’t told her about my problem with my little silver friend. I want to tell her, desperately, but I just don’t want her to judge me.
She already thinks so highly of me, and she says I’ve been making real progress, but I know that’s a load of bull. I’m just a really good actress.
I’m sitting in her office, sipping on some coffee, while she eyes me.
“Anything new you want to share with me, Dallas?” She smiles warmly at me.
“Not in particular.” I shrug casually.
“I don’t entirely believe you.”
I give her a look, and see that she’s completely serious.
“I can tell when you’re keeping things from me. It’s a special gift of mine.” She smiles with a shrug.
“I just don’t have anything to say.” I admit.
“Then show me. Draw a picture of your emotions.” She slides a blank sheet of paper over to me, with a freshly sharpened pencil.
“Seriously?” I raise an incredulous eyebrow at her.
“Oh I’m very serious.” She nods. “Get to it.”
I decide to humor her, and I begin to draw.
I’m horrible at drawing, but I think she can get the gist of what I’m trying to say.
First, I draw a girl. Stick figure, of course. Then, I draw a boy. Another stick figure.
I reach for a red colored pencil from the pencil holder on the table, and draw a bunch of red spewing from the girl. It looks horrible, but I know what the picture is trying to say. I draw a satisfied smirk on the boy stick figure, and then draw bars around him.
After that, I also draw bars around the girl stick figure. I add three other stick figures, standing just outside of the bars that surround the girl stick figure. I draw a bunch of question marks around the girl, and then a few feet away, I draw a grave with a tombstone.
I find myself growing angrier as the time passes. Once I finish the drawing, I harshly push the piece of paper toward Lori, and when she sees it, her eyes widen in horror for a second before she masks it completely.
With a blank expression, she looks up at me.
“Would you like to describe this?” She asks hesitantly.
“Isn’t it pretty obvious?” I scoff.
“Don’t give me that.” Lori says sternly, “Now answer my question, please.”
I fidget with my fingers for a few seconds, not wanting to meet her intense eyes.
“It’s me in the one cell.” I begin to explain.
Lori nods, urging me to continue.
“J-Jeremy is in the other cell.”
“And who are they?” She points to the three stick figures surrounding my cell.
“Liam, Lexi and Ethan.” I sigh.
“And what’s this red stuff?” She asks, her voice now more gentle.
“B-Blood.” My eyes begin to water.
“Why is there blood?”
“Because I…” I trail off, not wanting to finish my sentence.
“Dallas… have you hurt yourself somehow?”
My eyes widen as they snap to hers, “Why would you ask that?” I immediately become defensive, no doubt confirming her theory.
“Well, what else would the blood represent? Tell me in your own words.” She tries her best to smile, but she can see the pain behind my eyes.
I shake my head, turning to face the green wall next to us.
“Have you thought about hurting yourself Dallas?”
Her questions are bold. They feel like a knife, penetrating my skin and burning upon entry.
A single tear falls from my face, as I abruptly stand up. I reach for the waistband of my sweatpants, and begin to untie them.
Lori’s eyes widen a bit, but she doesn’t interrupt me.
I pull my sweatpants down just enough to show her my thigh, not caring if she sees my underwear.
“Are you satisfied now?” I ask harshly, before yanking my sweatpants back up and sitting back down onto the couch.
“Oh Dallas…” She trails off just above a whisper.
“I don’t need your pity.” I snap.
“I don’t pity you dear, I worry.” She admits. “As much as you think this is a solution, I beg you to realize that it isn’t. Sure, it can mask your pain with a temporary sensation that you can control, but your real pain will still be there once the damage is done. The only thing you’re hurting is you, Dallas.”
“What do you mean?” I raise an eyebrow, quickly reaching up to wipe a tear from my cheek.
“People self-harm because they want to be able to control their pain. They want to feel pain on their terms, not someone else’s. They want to know that they have the power, and that nothing else does. It’s normal to want to do these things as a way to mask the real problems within. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met, who have told me the same things you have, dear. Your mother included.”
My eyes snap to hers again.
“M-My mother used to hurt herself?” I ask, just barely above a whisper.
“I’m not allow to confirm nor deny that, patient confidentiality and whatnot, but you and your mother are more alike than you realize.” Lori says with a sad smile.
It takes a moment for her words to register. I suddenly feel connected to my mother in a way I never have before, and she’s not even here anymore. God, I’d give anything to be able to talk to her about this. I just know that she would know exactly what to say, to make me feel better.
“Thank you.” I finally say.
Lori nods. “All I want to do, is give you the tools in order for you to help rebuild yourself. I know it’s not going to be easy, and you’re going to face a lot of bumpy roads along the way, but I have nothing but faith that you’ll come out of all of this stronger and definitely wiser.”
“How do I stop cutting?” I boldly ask.
“That’s something you’ll have to work out for yourself. This may seem a little old-school, but you can always use the rubber-band method.” She suggests.
“What’s that exactly?”
“Here.” Lori gets up and walks over to her desk. She opens a drawer, and when she returns she holds out a package of different colored rubber-bands. “Choose any color you’d like, preferably one or two.”
I take a lime green, and a purple, and slide them both onto my wrist.
“Anytime you feel the urge to cut, just snap the rubber-bands against your wrist. Not too hard, but enough to feel a little sting. It should eventually help you to stop the cutting, as this is still a pain you can control, without permanently scarring yourself.” Lori explains.
I slowly pick up the green rubber-band, and lift it up, snapping it against my wrist once. The stinging sensation only lasts a second, but it’s enough to relieve some of the pent up anxiety and need to use a blade.
“W-What do I tell people?” I grimace.
“You don’t have to tell anyone anything. If they ask why you’re wearing rubber-bands, just tell them you simply like the colors.” Lori shrugs. “You only need to explain yourself, if and when you want to. Just do whatever makes you comfortable.”
The coo-coo clock on the wall goes off, and I look at Lori and smile.
“Thank you so much for this.”
“You are absolutely welcome, Dallas. You made a big step today in regards to your recovery, I’m very proud, and I know your mother would be too.”
Lori smiles at me, and I find myself stepping forward to hug her.
“See you next week.” I say as I walk toward the door.
“Absolutely! Oh, and happy Early birthday!” Lori replies before I thank her, leave her office and close the door behind me.
I almost forgot Liam and I’s birthday is this weekend. The other day, Ethan talked to me about our parties, and I finally decided Liam and I should celebrate together. We only turn eighteen once, and I do want to spend it with him and all our friends.
I walk down the hall of the building, with a new pep in my step. I even smile at the rude receptionist, who only looks at me quizzically.
I feel so much relief finally telling someone about my self-harm. I hate doing it, but I can’t seem to stop. Hopefully these rubber-bands will help, because I don’t know how much longer I can keep this a secret. I’ve thought about telling Lexi numerous times, but I don’t need her freaking out and turning it into something huge, when it’s not.
Okay, maybe it is, but I can handle myself. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Maybe I do need to tell someone else. Maybe I’ll tell Lexi, or Ethan.
I don’t want to tell my dad or Liam, they will definitely make too big a deal out of it. Maybe in the future, I’ll be able to sit them down and explain it, but I don’t think I have the nerve to do it right now.
It’s still too soon.
All I want to do right now, is go see Ethan.
I get in my jeep, and head to his house.
Once I’m there, I walk up and knock on his door.
What I don’t expect to see, is Mrs. Hart.
“Oh, hello Mrs. Hart. Is Ethan home?” I warily ask.
“He is. First, can I speak with you?”
Her eyes are soft, so eventually I nod and follow her inside and into the kitchen.
“Mr. Hart is out fetching dinner, and Ethan is upstairs, I just wanted a moment alone with you.”
At first, I’m a little nervous, being that she once indicated that I falsely accused her son of rape.
I frown at the thought. I always had a rather strong relationship with Ethan’s parents, and I hated that they didn’t even believe a little bit of what I had to say.
“Is anything wrong?” I blurt out.
“Of course not, in fact, quite the opposite. I wanted to apologize for my behavior.” She begins, and my eyes widen in surprise.
“The truth is, I know exactly what you’re going through.”
My stomach drops. “What?”
“When I was around your age, something similar happened to me. I didn’t report it, because I was too scared, and thankfully the man left town and I never saw him again. For months and months I was scared to walk down the street, afraid that he would be there waiting for me to attack again. It was awful.” I watch as her eyes begin to tear up, just thinking about it.
I’ve never heard any of this before now, and honestly I can’t believe it.
“When the police told me the charges brought up against Jeremy, I couldn’t believe it. I was in complete denial. Just the thought of my son being a monster, the same kind of monster that hurt me all those years ago, it made me sick to my stomach. Naturally, I wanted to pretend it wasn’t true, hence my horrible behavior toward you.” She explains, and I nod at her reasoning.
“I just wanted you to know, how sorry I am for calling you a liar. I’ve known you for the better part of your life sweetie, and I feel so ashamed for making you feel as though your words didn’t matter. I spoke with Jeremy, and Jeremy’s therapist, and he confessed to me that he did in fact force himself onto you.” Mrs. Hart begins shaking her head. “I just couldn’t believe he was capable of something so heinous.”
Fresh tears fall from her weak eyes, and I too, find myself tearing up.
“I am so sorry you’ve had to go through this a second time. I couldn’t imagine. You’re very strong, Mrs. Hart, and I forgive you.” I smile up at her, and she smiles right back.
We’ve reached an understanding, one so deep not many others would ever understand.
I get up and so does she, both of us meeting in the middle for a strong embrace. I cry into her a little bit, letting go of some of my hatred and emotions. Letting go of all the things she said to me.
Combine my session with Lori, and my reconciliation with Mrs. Hart, I feel really good right now.
I haven’t been able to say that in a while.
Suddenly, we hear the clearing of a throat not far away. Mrs. Hart and I pull apart, to find Ethan eyeing us suspiciously.
“What’s happening here?” He asks, taking note of the tears both Mrs. Hart and I were wearing.
“Nothing sweetie, we’re fine. Dallas and I had a talk. We’ve reached an understanding.” Ethan’s mom says happily, and I nod in agreement.
“Yeah, everything’s fine. I’m actually here because I needed to tell you something.” I turn to Ethan and his smile falters.
He knows it’s serious.
“You kids go upstairs, I’ll make some snacks and bring them up.” Mrs. Hart says happily and I nod, turning to follow Ethan out of the kitchen and upstairs.
Realization hits me that this is the first time I’ve been inside this house since everything that happened with Jeremy, and it feels surreal. I know Jeremy isn’t here, and I know that he can’t hurt me anymore… but still, I find myself feeling a little uneasy as we wander down the long hallway to Ethan’s bedroom.
Once we’re inside Ethan’s room, he leaves the door just barely open, and then he turns to me.
“What’s up babe?”
“I, uh, don’t know how to say this…” I begin slowly, and this immediately puts Ethan in distress.
“Oh no, are you breaking up with me already? Liam said it might end if I didn’t take you out on another date soon, I thought he was only kidding, I mean we can go out if you want to I just-“, but I instantly cut him off with a laugh.
“No Ethan, I’m not breaking up with you, you dork!” I scold playfully.
Ethan visibly relaxes as he sits beside me on the foot of his bed. He wraps his arm around me and pulls me into his side.
“Then what’s going on?”
My smile turns into a frown, and he mimics my facial expression.
Here goes nothing.