Dysmorphia

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Ignorance is Bliss

For the next few days, she did everything Chase asked, she ate when she was meant to eat, answered Dr. Levi’s questions and was even polite to Mitch when he brought in a food tray for her.

Something had changed after that day now that Neeta was gone she could concentrate on getting better and she was getting better. It shocked her but she could now look at herself in the mirror without flinching, she changed her clothes daily and brushed her hair every morning until all the tangles that had built up became silky smooth.

Chase asked her a lot of questions. Some she could answer and some she couldn’t and for some reason, she didn’t mind, it didn’t feel like counseling it felt like a chat that would stay between the two of them.

Levi didn’t press her for information anymore, in fact no one acted like she was a prisoner, it was as if she could get up from bed anytime she wanted and walk right out of the doors, but strangely even given the chance she didn’t think she would be able to bring herself to do it.

And there was one reason and one reason alone for her, Chase.

The two of them were lying under the weeping willow on Friday night when he asked her.

“Have you ever been in love?”

Taken aback was an understatement.

“Well yes actually” she replied “I had a picture of Harry Styles taped onto my wall like any other teenage girl, I thought I was in love with some guy called Cameron last year, but that was some crush type situation, and the one time I talked to him he laughed in my face”

Chase rolled onto his side and looked into her eyes, gently wiping away the tear sliding down his cheek.

“Well this Cameron sounds like an idiot,” he said and she snorted.

“What about you?” she asked him.

“Nope, never I think if you love one person you love them fully or there’s no point right?”

“Right” she replied

“By the way, I asked Dr. Levi” he quickly changed the subject, “I asked him whether you’d be able to leave for one evening on Prom Day, and he agreed”

“What!” she had almost forgotten that they’d had a plan, “He said yes!”

“Yep” he smiled “As long as you don’t mind me being there with you”

“Mind!” she shouted “I’d love to have you there with me” she took his hand.

He squeezed her hand back “You are pretty annoying you know” she teased, this is what they did, kind of their defence mechanism when their conversations started straying in a non-friends direction they joked around.

“The kind that sticks with someone” she finished.

He laughed before setting back down beside her, both of them watching the willow branches sway in the pre-dawn breeze.

“What’s important to you Florence?” he asked.

“I want you yo make a list of all the things worth living for, Your family, Clarice and all the important people you’ve told me about”

She sat up not looking at him “You didn’t put yourself on that list”

He sat up quickly, grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her towards him, she found her heart beating erratically not knowing exactly what was going to happen now, what she didn’t expect were the angry words that erupted from him like he’d been keeping them inside for far too long.

“Listen to me, this isn’t about me! This is a choice you make for you, you’re getting better and you need to stay better! It doesn’t matter how much I... it has to be about other things Florence, not me... not me”

She recoiled, pulling herself out of his grasp, she was so shocked she just sat there, frozen. Chase didn’t do angry, the only time he’d been angry it had seemed more like disappointment like he expected so much more from her, this was pure anger.

Florence felt hurt. Impossibly embarrassed.

Finally, when neither of them had said anything, she stood up.

“Sun will be up soon, you should take me back” she started walking towards the car so he wouldn’t see her face.

When she got back to her room she went straight to the bathroom to change the bed.

She couldn’t believe she had made such a fool of herself, there she was, sneaking out with Chase every night, thinking that maybe there was something between them, something she didn’t dare hope for.

But there wasn’t, he didn’t want to be part of her world.

“Not me” he’d said. He didn’t even want to be a consideration, the words echoed in her mind like she was in a tunnel, and she clasped her hands over her ears, anything to make it stop.

Florence walked over to her bathroom and stared at her reflection, she’d begun to believe that someone could see the beauty inside her, she’d allowed herself to be derailed so badly. She should have been concentrating on herself, there was a more important reason for not walking out of Oakland Clinic and it didn’t include Chase, she had to get better for herself or there was no point in anything.

When she got back into her room she was surprised to see Chase sitting there, sitting in the chair, head in his hands, she certainly hadn’t anticipated having to talk to him again today, the first time had been enough.

“Florence you don’t understand” were the first words he said.

She climbed silently into bed and rolled over, turning her back to him, she wanted the mind-numbing ability of sleep, she tried to harden her heart against everything Chase related, because she didn’t need anyone, if she’d managed to let go of Neeta who had plagued her countless nights she could cut him off just as easily.

“I’m tired Chase”

“Florenc-”

“I get it now Chase” she shouted, suddenly unable to keep her own anger contained, she didn’t want him to see how red her face had probably become how furious her eyes were so she nestled under the blanket using it as her protection from the outside world, from him.

Her voice came out muffled.

“I can see how little you think of me, how pathetic I must seem. I should’ve realised sooner and then I wouldn’t have”

He was on his feet by her bed, she hated that, the fact that she could sense his presence so easily it may as well have been her own.

“Wouldn’t have what?”

Ever the concerned nurse, concerned about his patient, she was his patient that was all.

She shook her head and buried her tear-streaked face in the pillow “Just go, Chase”

She heard the door close behind him.

So this was what heartbreak felt like.

She’d thought she completely understood what it had meant, Cooper, Madison, and Lauren leaving her so brutally had begun the process of breaking her heart piece by piece, they’d shattered its outer frame, its protective casing. Her classmates taunting her each and every day had sent splinters through the middle of her heart, turning her cold and indifferent because the reality of her situation was too hard to face. Her parents watching as she was carried away had completely set her heart on fire, leaving only ashes in the place of what had once been a beating organ and Chase, Chase had just scattered every one of those ashes under a willow tree and all she could do was hide under her perfectly black world under her blanket and pray that it all went away.

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