Dysmorphia

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Leaving the Cage

“Oh my god!” said Florence, flinging the open newspaper onto her bed.

“What?”

Chase walked into the room, picking up the crumpled newspaper and straightening it out, he scowled when he read the headline.

“Bullying Awareness Week” Florence scoffed “Everyone was aware I was being bullied there, they just didn’t give a damn!”

“You know what,” said Chase, He looked at her oddly, like she was an abstract painting he was trying to decide if he liked or not.

Finally, he moved past her towards the door, a look of playful mischief in his eyes.

“Chase?” she was confused now.

“Get dressed. I’ll be back in two minutes.” He left the room, closing the door behind him.

She didn’t hesitate, shimmying out of her hospital gown. If there was any chance of ditching this joint, she was in.

Oh god, she was seriously crushing on this guy. He was basically her doctor and had done nothing to make her think he cared for her more than ... doctor–patient stuff.

But ... technically he wasn’t a doctor, he was a nurse!

For the first time in weeks, she dragged a brush through her hair, wincing slightly.

But true to his word, Chase came back in a few minutes, pausing with his hand on the door when he saw her. He coughed lightly, looking down. “You might be cold outside.”

She looked down at her loose fitting top and leggings, she didn’t think so.

“I’m good. Don’t have a coat.”

With that, he dangled a set of keys from his hand and made his way to the window, first unlocking the security grilles and then the window, sliding it open fully.

‘After you,’ he gestured.

She raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you have to work or something?”

“They have someone else covering my other duties while I’m monitoring you. No one will notice.”

“Is this meant to be some kind of bonding thing? You pretend to sneak me out, but really three doctors and a couple of security guys are tailing us the entire time.”

He gestured to the window again. ‘This is me trusting you.’

She climbed out the window quickly so he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

It felt strange walking the city streets after midnight. Unlike most teenagers, she was routinely asleep at this time.

The last time she had felt this relaxed had been over a year ago when she’d just been Florence with her friends and her life put together, it was funny thinking once her biggest worry would have been giving in her homework on time or something or that sort. It felt comical today which was a good sign, not soul destroying as it sometimes did. And she had one person alone to thank for that.

They must have walked for nearly twenty minutes in silence. The strange thing was, it was comfortable. Calming. But Chase was right: it was cold. When he offered her his jacket, as much as she wanted to, she didn’t refuse.

They passed a twenty-four-hour convenience store and a few late-night cafés, but Chase didn’t stop. When they came across a bar that was still open, to her surprise he headed straight towards it. She was even more surprised when no one stopped her for ID at the door. She doubted this was an all-ages bar.

Inside, things were in full swing. She guessed that’s what happened in places that stay open latest – everyone ends up there in the end. Chase pointed to a free table in the back corner and they made a beeline for it.

She sat down, but he stayed standing. ‘I’ll get drinks. What do you want?’

“Diet Coke,” she said, she had practically lived on Diet Coke on one of her diets last year and didn’t really want to drink it, but it felt like her only option.

He raised his eyebrows.

She raised hers back and he strode off.

She relaxed into her chair. The music was loud and she let herself sink into it, her body starting to sway to the beat. She liked this place. She wished she could get out more at night. The city really changed at the witching hour, in a good way.

“Florence?”

She flinched, spinning in her seat.

Oh crap...

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