“So what’re your questions?” asked Florence.
“Not so fast” he gestured to the mirror “Remember your promise”
She was already starting to shiver, she wasn’t brave enough, she couldn’t, she shut her eyes.
To her surprise, she felt his hand close around hers.
“Hey,” he said.
“Florence I know you think you can’t do this but I know you can, I believe in you, just think of this object in my hand being just that, an object, its only so powerful as you make it. By making it something to be afraid of you’ve made you’re reflection something to fear, I’m hoping today we can take those first steps to overcoming it”
She opened her eyes, cautiously Chase placed the mirror in her hands, it was a simple mirror with black plastic edging.
The girl who stared back at her looked like an utter wreck, large circles haunted her eyes and her face looked so chiselled, her cheekbones poking out prominently, her hair lay in rats tails, hair that had once been vibrant. brunette was now a dull mousy brown.
“Oh God, take it away!”
And they sat there for five minutes in silence whilst she counted in her head, trying to fill her mind with numbers rather than dwelling on her skeletal reflection.
“Florence I’m going to tell you what I see when I look at you if that’s okay?” he asked.
She nodded, for some reason she just needed to hear his voice, to know she wasn’t alone.
“I see a girl who’s survived traumatic experiences, probably the strongest girl I’ve ever known judging by the files I’ve read about you. I know you think I see some kind of fat girl, some kind of monstrosity, but I really don’t, what I see is a kind of beauty not much people posses, and a broken girl who thinks she can’t be put back together again who holds the key to becoming whole again.”
She was taken aback at this little speech of his, she hadn’t known she was as easy to read as an open book. In a matter of days he’d worked her out far more accurately than her parents had managed in months.
“Thanks, Chase” was all she managed.
“Eat” he chucked her another bag of popcorn, she was almost glad to open it this time and popped five pieces into her mouth before she put it down.
“So what’s your deal anyway? I never see you in a uniform. Are you really a nurse, or are you a student?”
After that intense moment, she needed to ask some less serious questions, to stop the awkwardness spiraling out of control.
“I’m a qualified nurse and med ... I was a med student. Now I work nights here.” he replied without missing a beat.
He shrugged. “Anyway, I like it. I’m a night person. How about you?”
She rolled her eyes. ”Smooth.”
He laughed and the sound filled the room. An easy, liquid sound that moved its way right through her. When he finished, he looked at her closely, tilting his head.
“The first question,” he said, “What happened to you at Phillipson High?”
“Don’t you already know, you said you read my files?”
He looked at her “I read you’re files but I want to hear you’re explanation”
She couldn’t tell anyone the full story so she opted for the short and blunt version.
“I was put on a List Chase, a List for being the fat girl, all my friends turned against me and I went absolutely crazy” she tried to sound unaffected and robotic, but she couldn’t stop a hint of emotion making its way into her voice, and a slight crack.
“I’m sorry,” he said, and he really sounded like he meant it.
“Not your fault” she shrugged and took a sip of water.
“Why did you leave anyway?” she asked.
“I wanted to become a medical student, they offered me a job here so I left,” he said simply, she gathered there was more to his story, but seeing as she wasn’t telling him the whole truth, she didn’t push him.
“Second question, Why did we never talk when I did go to Phillipson High?”
She wasn’t expecting that and let out a laugh.
“I don’t know Chase you tell me”
He looked up at the ceiling.
“We were in Mr Chandra’s Biology class together you know”
“Do you believe in fate Florence?”
“Is that Question Number Three or...” she joked “And yeah Chase, I do”
“Well today’s interrogation is over for now Miss Clarke, I’ll be on my way seeing as how we can’t stand each other” he raised his eyebrows and stood up.
She didn’t want him to go, if he went Neeta might come back, the voices might come back.
“Can you stay until I fall asleep?” she asked.
Her eyelids were already weighing her down, she could feel them drooping, she was always tired these days, always tired, always hungry.
“Sure” he sat back down on the armchair.