The Freedom That Paper Gives

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What was really going on

CW: The following episodes heavily surround themes of bipolar disorder. This includes but is not limited to; depression, mania, not eating, self harm and suicide.

If you feel uneasy around subjects surrounding depression I would advise that you skip the next couple of chapters (chapters 12-16). You will not miss too much in terms of plot. Check out my insta or Tumblr for a break down of those episodes.

Asha drove in silence as Percy looked out the window. He would know if Asha was taking him the wrong way as he had walked Marie home before. Only once, it was darker than usual when Percy was closing up and he could tell that Marie was anxious to walk home alone. Marie’s house was in the exact opposite direction to Percy’s but he didn’t mind walking with her, it gave him an opportunity to talk to her more. They discussed the current exhibition at the nearby art gallery and Percy wondered whether he should ask Marie if she would like to go with him. He thought against it not thinking that they were good enough friends yet and not wanting her to get the wrong idea, as he was nearly sure Byron was her boyfriend.

Looking back on it now Percy wished he asked her. Perhaps she caught something from walking home with him, perhaps he should have offered her his jacket. Maybe then she wouldn’t be sick. Percy was looking back through the past few weeks to see if there was anything different about Marie. He remembered thinking that she looked a bit tired recently and she was wearing darker clothes that didn’t match her usual aesthetic. She wasn’t smiling as much and had twice turned down his offer of cake nor was she drinking as much hot chocolate as usual. He also noticed that she didn’t eat anything the entire time he was saw her last. She also wasn’t writing as much or engaging in conversation as much as usual. He sometimes felt she was spacing out. But at the time he put that down to stress, thinking she had a project or paper due, or some form of exam. Looking back on it now he wondered how he could have been so stupid, of course she was ill. She was acting differently, Percy should have put his fear aside and asked if she was ok. Not pushed her into conversation, or left her alone. He should have been more adamant that she go home and sleep, or eat something. Percy couldn’t help but feel that he could have prevented this if he had been a bit more attentive.

“Alright we’re here. Just get out and knock on the door, we’re ages away from home.” Asha said, breaking Percy’s train of thought.

Asha didn’t like this, she shouldn’t have brought Percy here. He didn’t need to know Marie’s business. But before she could say anything Percy had already left the car and was going to the door. Asha wondered to herself how he knew which one it was, and she hoped he hadn’t walked Marie home because its almost twice the distance from here to their house as it was from the cafe. And their mum didn’t like Percy walking from the cafe. But Percy was already at the door and knocked on it. The worse case scenario Asha thought was that Marie answered, but she wouldn’t in her current state. The best case scenario was that Oscar answered, everyone was at least a little scared of Oscar as he was probably the tallest person Asha had ever seen. Oscar would go into protective best friend mode and scare Percy away. But it wasn’t Marie or Oscar who answered it was Byron. That’s alright Asha thought, Byron knows Marie better than anyone, he’ll know how to deal with this.

“Um, hi you must be Byron. I’m Percy, Marie’s friend from the cafe. I just wanted to make sure she’s alright.” Percy said.

Even in this situation Percys first thought was wow, he couldn’t help it. Byron was very good looking and Percy had never seen him that close before. His dark brown eyes seemed limitless and his messy dark hair made him look like a mix of farmer and academic. That and his sleeves were folded at three quarter length revealing his forearms. Percy could see why Marie was dating him, if she wasn’t he would.

“Of course Percy, Marie’s mentioned you.” Percy noticed Byron had a small Italian accent which only added to his frankly unfair good looks. “Marie’s not well at the moment but she’ll be fine. I’ll tell her that you asked after her.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Percy asked.

“No I’m afraid not.” Byron said sadly.

“I don’t suppose I could come in and speak to her?” Percy asked already knowing the answer.

Byron looked a little confused in his own thoughts. On the one hand he wanted to invite Percy in, Marie had mentioned him a lot and he thought that maybe seeing Percy will help her. On the other side Marie clearly hasn’t told him about her condition, and she wouldn’t want him to find out this way.

“I’m sorry but Marie is asleep at the moment and I don’t think she’s in the best place to see you for a couple of days. But I can ask Marie when she wakes up and perhaps she can message you.” Byron replied sounding genuinely sad.

Percy was disappointed by the answer but not necessarily surprised. Somehow Byron’s good looks made even the most devastating news easier to bare.

“Ok, just make sure she know’s I’m here for her. And that I really enjoyed her book and am looking forward to seeing how it ends.” Percy said, turning away from the door.

Byrons face went from calm understanding to shock. Marie had let him read her book, he thought, even I can’t read her book. Maybe he should invite Percy in, maybe he can help, maybe he’s closer to Marie than he thought. No, Byron thought, not now, I can’t push him on her now. But Percy had to know how close they were.

“She let you read her book?” Byron asked, causing Percy to stop in his tracks.

Great, Percy thought, have I said something wrong. Does Byron not know? Have I potentially caused an argument between them? Has he not read it, am I the first person to? Percy couldn’t lie he liked the thought of being the first and only person to have read Marie’s book and while he hated himself for it he almost liked the idea of causing an argument between Byron and Marie. Just not when Marie was sick. Percy ruffled his hair and looked away as he spoke to Byron.

“Yeah, she wanted my feedback. English Lit student and all... I’ll go now, just make sure Marie knows I’m here for her.” Percy said, looking back to the car.

“I’ll be sure to tell her. Have a nice evening.” Byron replied, meaning it.

How could he have a nice evening Percy thought. How could he possibly be anything other than worried as he can’t see Marie and he still doesn’t know for sure what’s wrong? But he had to respect Byrons decision, he knows Marie better than Percy did and surely he knows what’s best for her.

“You too, or at least as well as you can.” Percy replied, not quite sure what to say.

Percy walked back down the path, determined not to meet Asha’s gaze. As he reached the car Byron called out to him.

“Percy! Can you continue to message Marie please. Maybe not in the same intensity as today, but just let her know your there. I think she would like that.” Byron called.

“I’ll do that, thanks Byron.” Percy called as he got into the car.

Byrons not that bad, Percy thought to himself as Asha pulled off the drive. He could have been an overly possessive boyfriend but instead asked Percy to keep messaging Marie, and Percy would every day. Just to let her know he was there and hoped she is ok.

“You can stop sulking, Byrons told you to message her, thats a good thing.” Asha said, wanting to comfort Percy but not knowing how to do so.

Asha wasn’t sure of the exact relationship between her brother and Marie, but it must have been stronger than she thought. Again Percy’s train of thought had been broken by Asha, but this time he was actually happy about something she had to say.

“How is that a good thing? I still don’t know what’s happened to her.” Percy replied.

“Because you clearly mean a lot to Marie if Byron thinks you can help. Look its not anyone’s place but Marie’s to tell you what’s happening. But if Byron thinks your close enough that your messages will help you might be close enough for her to tell you once this is over.” Asha replied.

Percy wouldn’t admit it but this did make him feel a bit better. But there was still one answer he needed.

“So Marie’s not going to die?” Percy asked quietly.

Asha inadvertently slammed the brakes on the car before pulling off again.

“Look I’m going to be honest with you and say that I don’t know. I’m confident that she’s not going to die, but I don’t want to tell you that in case something happens to her.” Asha replied, hoping this was the right thing to say.

“Then why isn’t she in hospital?” Percy asked, almost like a child.

“Because a hospital can’t help her like they could you. At least not the hospital that you go to.” Asha replied, instantly regretting it as she had revealed too much.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” Percy asked, already knowing the answer.

Asha pulled up outside their house and looked at Percy. She noticed he had tears in his eyes.

“Just do what Byron said, let her know your there. There’s nothing more we can do now.” Asha sighed before carrying on, “lets not mention all this to mum ok, you know how much she worries over you.”

Percy nodded and they both got out the car. It had always been that way for Percy, his parents spent so much time worrying over him that they didn’t care about anything else, not Asha, not their marriage. It seemed that the more Percy tried to prove they didn’t need to worry over him the more they did, it felt like he was suffocating. The more independent he became the more his parents would hold him back. I mean I’m twenty for gods sake and I still live at home Percy thought. It was worse that Asha only stayed to make him feel better, she would be graduating this year and should be living with her girlfriend, but she still lives at home and still treats Percy like a child.

Percy fully intended to message Marie every day, even if she didn’t reply and even if she didn’t read them. As he went into the house he couldn’t stop thinking about what Asha said, that the hospital can’t help her, or at least the one that he went to.

Byron closed the door and sighed, Percy seemed nice, and Byron knew Marie liked him a lot, more than she was letting on anyway. Byron wished that he could tell Percy everything, that Percy could help. Byron wished that life was like a fairytale and by simply hearing Percy’s voice Marie would get better and come to the door. But life’s not like a fairytale, there’s no miracle cure for Marie, she has to do this herself. But that didn’t mean she had to be alone. Byron went further into the house and looked at Kamila who is carrying a tray down the stairs.

“How is she?” Byron asked, but he knew the answer as soon as he saw the tray.

“She hasn’t eaten anything, she won’t talk to me. I don’t think she’s moved since the last time I went in there. But I got her to take her tablets and drink something.” Kamila replied.

Byron took the tray from Kamila and headed into the kitchen, she followed.

“At least she’s taking her meds, thats better than last time.” Byron sighed.

Kamila suddenly looked scared and looked down at her feet.

“You don’t think this is like last time do you?” She asked quietly.

Byron stoped clearing up and went over giving Kamila a hug. He didn’t like to do that often but he knew she needed it.

“No, this is nothing like last time. We knew this was coming, she’s taking her meds and going to class. I know its scary but we have to wait this out, its an illness like any other.” Byron replied, not just to comfort Kamila, but to comfort himself.

Byron let go of Kamila before things go any further. He always felt nervous around her because she had a huge crush on him last year, she claimed to be over it now but he still wasn’t sure. She always clung on too tight when they hugged and she always sat too close, but he didn’t want to tell her and seem rude. In reality he hated it because he knew he could never be what she wanted, he would never be able to kiss her or hold her hand or embrace her or god forbid sleep with her. Sure he loved Kamila but it was in the same way he loved Oscar, as friends. He felt no romantic or sexual attraction towards her, towards anyone. While Kamila understood and never pursued him it still made him feel bad for her. He loved romance but in the same way you may love horror, he was fine with it in fiction but in the real world he didn’t know what seemed worse, having to kiss someone or being chased by a monster. He would probably choose the monster. Byron knew she would never make a move on him but the fear was still there, because he didn’t want to hurt her or make her feel rejected. Byron was perfectly content with his sexuality, there was nothing missing in his life, but he didn’t like how obsessed the world was with romantic love. Why should romantic love be held to a higher esteem than platonic or a love of nature when they are all equally beautiful? That’s why he liked his friends as they agreed him, they were all romantic but not in the traditional way, they all loved each other and they loved the world.

“Who was that at the door?” Kamila asked.

“Percy, Marie’s friend from the cafe. He was asking after her, she hasn’t told him. Asha hasn’t told him anything either.” Byron explained.

Kamila knew Asha wouldn’t tell Percy anything, Asha knew it had to come from Marie. But Kamila was surprised Percy had come at all. Marie had only mentioned him a couple of times, once after he walked her home and Oscar had gotten the wrong idea. But Kamila knew that they often spent all night talking to each other. Kamila also noticed that on weekends Marie would go to the cafe earlier and come home later.

“Asha wouldn’t say anything. But its sweet that he came, they seem to really like each other.” Kamila replied

“He’s read her book.” Byron found himself saying, he knew she would know what this meant.

“What!” Kamila exclaimed, if she were holding something she would have dropped it.

“Yeah, so they clearly do. I told him to carry on messaging Marie. I hope that was the right thing to say, I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed.” Wanting Kamila to tell him he had done the right thing.

Kamila went over and put a hand on Byrons shoulder reassuringly.

“You did. When she’s back to normal she’ll have someone waiting for her, and she’ll know he cared. In fact I think you should tell her who was at the door, it can’t hurt to try.”

“I wish I had your optimism Kami, but your right it can’t hurt to try.”

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