There’s no such thing as normal
“What is normal anyway? There’s no such thing as normal. Marie if you were normal you wouldn’t be able to write as beautifully as you do. You wouldn’t dress like you do, talk like you do, act like you do. You wouldn’t be YOU. You wouldn’t have friends like Byron or Kamila or Oscar. You’d be some basic carbon copy. But your not your unique, special, different. The way I look at it is that we all need weaknesses to balance out our strengths, or people like you would be too powerful and you’d rule us all.”
Percy knew what he said was cheesy but he thought for a second that he saw Marie flash a glimmer of a smile, but that was probably wishful thinking, if she did it would make it all worth it. Marie on any other occasion would be moved to tears, but the numbness that she felt at the moment was stopping her. But it wasn’t going to stop her from showing Percy how she felt, if she couldn’t cry or say something she was going to show him another way.
Marie leant over and hugged Percy, it was an immense effort on her part but it was worth it to feel him hug her back. It was worth it for Marie to feel the weight of his head on her shoulder and his hands slowly tightening around her waist. As Marie allowed herself to relax into Percy she found that it was this simple act that touched her more than anything else he had said or done. That this simple act of a hug told her everything that Percy couldn’t say, that he was there for her, that he didn’t mind that she didn’t reply to him, that he really liked her the way she was, that learning about her bipolar didn’t change the way he thought about her at all, that she was safe with him.
It had a similar affect on Percy. That Marie felt safe enough around him to make the effort to hug him, that while at the moment she couldn’t show or say what she wanted to she still wanted to let him know how much this all meant to her. Feeling her arms tighten around his neck and shoulders was her way of saying that she was there for him, that it was ok for him to cry. And he did, he buried his head into her shoulder and cried because she understood. This was her way of saying that she cared for him and nothing he could say would change that. That she didn’t see him as someone who needed help, in fact she didn’t see him differently at all. That he was safe with her. He hugged her around her waist to say thank you for being honest with him and for feeling that she could, he hoped that from this simple act she would understand that. That she would know that while he couldn’t talk about it yet he would and that he is grateful that he can be so raw and emotional with her. That he hasn’t talked about this with anyone else outside his family because he didn’t want anyone to see him differently and that he knew she didn’t.
This simple act of a hug said more than a thousand words between them and solidified the fact that they were friends, it solidified that they trusted each other, it solidified that they could rely on each other. But mostly it solidified the fact that nothing had changed between them, if fact their honesty had only strengthened the bond between them, they were still the same person but with some backstory, it didn’t change who they were or anything that they said or thought about each other. It solidified the fact that their worst fear was proven wrong.
It was Percy who ended the hug as he sensed that Marie was becoming tired of fighting the numbness. As they broke apart Marie wiped a tear from Percy’s eye and forced herself to give him a comforting smile and he took her hand and gave it a comforting squeeze.
“Let’s take a closer look at what you brought me then.” Marie said trying to restore a sense of normality to the conversation.
“I told you I’m not good at buying gifts.” Percy replied grateful that the heavy moment was over.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Marie said as she put the basket on the coffee table and looked inside.
Percy and Marie had been in the living room for two hours now. Neither Kamila nor Oscar wanted to disturb them and instead stood in the kitchen to give them privacy. Well Oscar stood, Kamila was sat on the countertop. Besides if Marie needed anything she would let them know. On her way to the bathroom Kamila thought she heard crying but couldn’t be sure and didn’t want to check in case it was. It was when Byron came home from his evening class that the three decided they would check on Percy and Marie, and honestly Oscar was starting to get a bit hungry. When Byron opened the door he saw Marie sat next to Percy and them both going through the contents of a rather large, what looked like homemade, gift basket. Percy clearly knew Marie well, Byron thought, as he had bought her candles, a notebook, a fountain pen, her usual brand of lipstick and in her signature colour and other small gifts. Byron noticed that Marie was starting to look more relaxed and dare he say it like her old self. He knew a part of it was an act she put on so Percy wouldn’t worry, she did the same thing to him. But this time Byron let himself believe that maybe Percy was helping her, its no miracle cure and she was no where near back to normal but she was definitely better than she was yesterday. And that’s it, one day at a time.
“We’re about to start on dinner. You can stay if you want Percy.” Byron said.
Percy looked at Marie as he didn’t want to outstay his welcome and he didn’t want to put any pressure on her if she would rather be alone.
“Do you want me to stay?” Percy asked.
“I’d like that.” Marie replied.
And Marie really did like this idea, she liked the idea of Percy getting to know her friends better, perhaps this would be something that solidifies his place in the group. In fact she had a good idea.
“Byron why don’t you invite Blake and Georgiana round as well?” Marie asked.
Byron looked a bit concerned, he didn’t want Marie pushing herself too far too soon. Having one guest was something but Blake and Georgiana were another, sure they both knew what she was going through, but Byron was sure Marie wouldn’t push herself into anything she didn’t want to do. And he could see what she was doing.
“Are you sure? You don’t want to overwork yourself.” Byron asked.
“I’m sure, and if it gets too much I can just go to bed. Remember Dr Hills said normality is helpful, and nothings more normal that having all my friends together.” Marie assured him.
That’s true Byron thought, she can just go if it gets too much. Besides we would all be there for her, and this was her idea.
“I’ll call them now. Are you sure you really want Blake though? No one would mind if you replaced him with Percy.” Byron teased.
Marie rolled her eyes.
“Blake has no one else. Besides he’s our friend, we can’t just drop him now.” Marie said as she stood up and headed to the door, “Now if you’ll excuse me I have to change, I can’t be seen looking like this.”
As Marie walked past Byron he gave her a worried look. He didn’t want her to push herself or dress up if she didn’t want to. She had no one to impress, no one cared about what she looked like. It was as if Marie could sense this as she put her hand on his arm.
“I’m doing this for me, no one else. And by change I mean put something on that I haven’t worn for the past three days. Nothing fancy. I know I don’t have to but I want to.” Marie said.
In reality she also needed a quiet moment to reflect on everything that had just happened and prepare herself for the night ahead. Marie went up stairs and left Byron and Percy alone in the room. Byron looked at Percy and noticed how nervous he looked. He wouldn’t be nervous soon, he wouldn’t have time to be.