~Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.
José N. Harris
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
This should be fine. Dad and mom are right. I should talk to someone.
I have to do this.
Come on, Sam.
Don’t you dare think of backing out now. Who was pleading a few hours ago to do this? Who was so confident about this?
You, right, Sam? Deal with it, then.
Geez, Sam. Stop it! Go, talk, and come back. That easy.
Stop overthinking. Nothing will go wrong.
I shook my head to get back to reality and well. . . stop talking to myself like a lunatic. There was no point in reconsidering my decision. I would go. And there was nothing to stop me this time. Not even my own thoughts.
Shutting my eyes tightly, I quickly took a notepad and a pen from my desk and scribbled out that I was going to the therapist’s office so that Ceci wouldn’t worry. But I soon added that I’d come back in a maximum of two to three hours and wouldn’t walk much because of how I knew Ceci would freak when she knew I wasn’t taking my proper “bed rest.”
I would have told her myself had she come back from her practice already. But I had already waited so long and I was getting late.
Taking one last breath and leaving no time for any more thinking to be done, I let go of the paper on her bed where I knew she’d see it and left with my keys and pass in hand.
Mom also, thankfully, talked to the officials to let me go irregularly just for today, so that was sorted with them.
I may have brought up enough courage to take myself to that place again, but I knew. . . I knew that it may bring unwanted memories. It may lead to my breakdown yet again. But at this point, I had no other option. Nowhere to turn to apart from this.
And there was nothing more I wished other than for this to work.
So with one deep, deep breath that I let out, I finally stepped into the office, talked to the receptionist, and waited for my turn. And only while I was sitting had I noticed my sixteen-year-old friend sitting on the chair with his eyes shut, bobbing his head to the music running through his headphones.
My lips contorted into a smile as I approached him. “Ronnie?” I called out as I tapped him on the shoulder.
His eyes blinked open and as he stared at me before recognition came to him. “Hey! You again!”
“Yup, the one and only.”
“I saw you run out the other day. I felt so bad. Are you okay now?” he asked, concerned.
“I’ve seen better days,” I smiled at him again. “What about you? How is it that you’re here every time I come in?”
“It’s all up to Dad honestly. He never follows a schedule and mom can never take a break from working at the hospital. So whenever he finds the time, we drive back here. I don’t even understand his messed up logic of taking me two days in a row and then missing sessions for a week again. Why can’t he just keep them evenly spaced out?” he complained.
It just made me appreciate my parents so much. They’ve done so much for me despite being in a different city and I couldn’t have been more grateful to have them in my life.
“Hey, at least he’s trying his best to get you the courage you need to move past this?” I suggested, unsure of my words as I spoke. Truthfully, I had no idea what to say. I’d never been in such a situation so I was afraid of saying something that was totally out of my line.
“I guess,” he admitted. “What about you? Why are you here again?”
“To finish unfinished matters, I guess.”
He nodded his head slowly as he probably recalled my very embarrassing run away moment the last time I was here and was about to say something when the receptionist called out his name. “Ronnie Williams?”
“That’d be me,” he got up. “See you later, Sam.” He twitched his lips upwards and waved a goodbye to me while he turned on his heels and left.
I just scrolled through my phone despite having nothing to do in it to kill the rest of my time, until my turn had finally come.
“Mrs. Harrison will be waiting for you in room thr-”
“Yup, I remember. Thank you very much,” I shot her a quick smile and headed in the direction of her office. My heart thudded once again and I tried to swallow to clear up my throat that was seemingly getting clogged by each passing second. I had a little bounce as I walked, but tried my best to tone down my nervousness.
It’s only an hour.
And it’s pretty much for you.
Just pull through it, Sam.
My fist clenched and unclenched numerous times as I stared down at the shut door and door knob in front of me. This is it.
You will not leave.
And you will answer each and every one of the questions she will ask.
I can do this.
With a final surge of determination, I twisted the knob in the left direction and entered in.
“Good evening, Ms. Anderson,” Mrs. Harrison welcomed with that forever soft and sweet smile still planted in its face. “How are you doing today?”
“Good evening,” I looked down as yesterday’s events came to my head and my cheeks turned into a deep red. “I’m doing fine. How about you?”
“Oh, I’m fine too. It was nice of you to ask. Now, sweetie. Are you better than yesterday? I’m so sorry I pushed you too hard. I’ll try my best and go slow-paced today, okay?”
I merely nodded. “Wonderful. All it will take is one baby step at a time, alright?” she forced me to look up and into her reassuring eyes.
“Okay. Let’s start with the sweet stuff,” she continued. “How was your relationship with your brother?”
A nostalgic smile overcame my features as I found myself remembering the best moments my brother and I had shared. In only a matter of seconds, my heart rate seemed to go back to its original pace while my leg stopped bouncing in its place nervously. “It was one of the very best things I ever had in my life. We were. . . inseparable, I’d like to say. He always made me feel so special. It was a magical bond.”
“That’s nice to hear! So, tell me everything about what all you used to do together.”
This wasn’t going too bad-- yet, at least.
“All the things really would just end up with us having the time of our lives one way or the other. I’d say we spent the majority of time on the field, practicing for the upcoming game, or just simply walking around and clicking pictures while discussing life with just an ice cream cone in hand,” I let out a small laughter at the thought. “He always got that cookie dough flavor from Ben and Jerry’s while I got my favorite chocolate fudge. It was funny because I’d end up eating up the entirety of mine and sneakily eating his too. He’d be so mad, and then we’d end up calling Xavier and complain about everything to him. I’m pretty sure Xavier blocked us after a while. He was so done with the both of us.” A wide grin took over my face as I remembered the very small details of an enjoyable life I once had.
When I looked up to find Mrs. Harrison with a toothy smile present on her face. “It sounds like you guys had loads of fun together.”
“We did,” I whispered, my body now relaxing as the stress and pressure rolled off me.
“And Xavier? Who’s he?”
“Oh, Xavier is quite literally just that one annoying pest out of a bunch who I love to death,” I described, before seeing her amused expression and further elaborating. “In other words, he’s a friend.”
“But he’s only one of them?”
“Seems like a handful.”
“Don’t even get me started,” I scoffed.
“Why, what did they do?” she laughed as she leaned forward against her desk with her fingers still clasped in her own professional way as her face lit up.
“The worst of things!” I exaggerated in a light tone, rolling my eyes. “They’d come into my house at any time they wanted and make a mess of it. And mom would just scold me and make me clean up what they did. And they’d eat up all of my food. They were like hungry beasts. Such annoying creatures, I swear to god.”
She laughed heartily at their antics. “Wouldn’t your mom ask Seb to do the work as well?” she asked with a raised eyebrow and her evergreen smile intact.
“She knew it was no point. Seb would just pick up his camera and make sure its safe before leaving me to all the hard work. He used to get on my nerves so much whenever he did that. The majority of our fights were for the simple reason that he never helped while we were working.”
“Sounds like my brother and I too,” she said.
“You have a brother too?” I asked with interest.
“Oh yeah. And he gets the free pass just cause he’s younger.”
“I know right! I’m telling you. Mom always let him off easy because he was 4 minutes younger than me and--”
“Only four minutes?”
“Hey, in twin world. . . that’s a lot,” I shrugged my shoulders with an all knowing expression on my face.
She laughed along to my comment. “What did he want to do later on?”
I sighed, looking into the distance. “He really liked photography. Always wanted to become one. I mean, he enjoyed football, but that was only because I did. It wasn’t what he wanted to pursue in the future. Instead, he always had that camera in his hand sticking it into either my face or the nature’s.”
“It is,” I nodded along. “I always told him that I’d be the one taking all the credit when he becomes a famous photographer and earn all that cash. Guess I won’t be able to brag anymore,” I scoffed yet again at my dark humor.
The atmosphere around the room seemed to have dulled down again. Mrs. Harrison sighed at my response, at a loss of words. “I understand where you’re coming from, Sam. I really do. But will it be too much of me to ask how he died?”
I took in a sharp intake of breath as my nerves came back to me. I was reminded yet again as to why I hated these sessions so much. But as I slowly gathered my courage, I found myself nodding.
“Then tell me, Sam. What happened that day? What really happened?”
“I was coming from my football match and I had gotten a scholarship. It felt like I had everything I ever dreamed for in my pocket and I was coming to tell Seb everything. But when I arrived home, there was nothing but silence. . . and then. . . and then there was that deafening boom. I’ll never forget that sound. I was just about to run into the house when I saw someone come out.”
I peered up to look at her and found her sitting with a concerned expression on her face as she gave me a slight nod to urge me to continue. I took another deep breath and continued.
“It didn’t take a genius to figure out that something was wrong and that the guy was a cause of it. So, I tried running behind him to stop him. But I was too late. He had gone out of my sight. So, I ran back home to make sure everything was fine. I found him there,” I choked as the tears threatened to come out as I visualized everything as if it was happening yet again for the millionth time. “He was bleeding right here.” I trailed my fingertips on the edge of my shirt as my eyes focused on the ground, continuing to deceive me as I imagined him calling out to me from the floor.
I stood up and took a step back, still shaking in fear at the sight of him hurt in front of me. “Sam? Sam, its okay. I think that was great. We’ll do the rest next time, okay, honey?” Mrs. Harrison’s voice came out to me.
With all the will left in me, I shut my eyes close reluctant to see anymore. “No. No, please. Let me finish. Just please.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea--”
"Please,” I begged. I wanted this section of the therapy to be done with. I wasn’t going to sit down and do this for each session for two months. I genuinely just wanted it over with.
She gestured for me to take a seat and sighed as gave me a silent nod of approval.
“I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t do anything,” I cried in despair, but wiped my tears dry to explain the part I wanted to, the hope in me alive as everytime I told this story to someone. “It was ruled as a suicide, Mrs. Harrison. But that’s the thing. It wasn’t. It wasn’t a suicide because I saw the bloody murderer running away.”
“No one would believe me,” I continued. “I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Everyone thought I was in a state of shock and therefore blabbering nonsense when they heard me. Everyone thought that guy was a figment of my imagination. . .things my brain was making up because I couldn’t think straight.”
She put a hand on mine for moral support. “But I’m telling you. I saw him. There really was someone on the 17th of April, outside my house, trying to run away. And it doesn’t matter to me if they found a gun with only his fingerprints all over. Or even a freaking suicide note in his handwriting. He was with me in his last few moments. And I swear on my life, Mrs. Harrison, my brother would not kill himself. He had so much to live for. It was a murder, Mrs. Harrison. It really was a murder.”
I turned my gaze upwards as I stared into the sympathetical eyes of Mrs. Harrison. No. That was not what I wanted. “I believe you, Sam, but you have to understand. There was too much of evidence that day--”
“You don’t believe me,” I stated as the hope I had left crushed itself into small pieces.
She was about to open her mouth to speak, but I stopped her before she could utter a word. “That would be it, Mrs. Harrison. I think I’m done for the day. It was nice meeting you. I’ll see you next week at our usual timings.”
She nodded, with a look of apology written all over her face. I didn’t need an apology. I needed justice.
I stepped out of the office and the cool wind hit me right at the face. I called mom, to tell her about how it went, just as she asked and walked towards the point where I usually got my cabs from in the meanwhile.
“Yeah, mom?” I tried to hide the disappointment in my voice as I talked to her.
“Honey! How was it? Better? Oh god, I hope so.”
“At least I didn’t run away this time,” I joked, my tired voice seeping through.
“Oh sweetie,” she sighed.
“It’s fine. I wasn’t expecting unicorns in there. This was what I expected and this is what I got. Not a big deal.”
“It’ll get better, Sam, you know. . .” but mom’s words weren’t going through my head anymore. I stared right back as an odd-looking businessman maintained direct eye contact with me, walking right past me, phone in hand, talking to someone. But the phone wasn’t unlocked. Probably a tiny detail he had forgotten to cover up, but the suspicious act didn’t go unnoticed by me.
In the corner of my eye, another person had his gaze set on me as he stood by the lamppost with a mop in his hand.
“Mom, I’ll call you later,” I whispered into the phone, as I cut her short while she was speaking and cut the call. Goosebumps rising up on my arms, I tried to quicken my pace and get to my destination quickly.
I looked up again to find a security camera recording all of this and sighed to myself, a little relief coming to me. But in that moment, a large group of people rushed past me, part of some sort of a strike. I found myself stuck between a huge force of people as I struggled to push them away from me and get to where I was supposed to be.
But destiny truly did have other plans.
Because all of a sudden, there was a hand over my mouth and the forceful pulling as they tried bringing me to the side. I screamed and kicked the person behind me, but to no avail. Just when I thought I hurt the other guy enough and his grip loosened, another pair of hands came to help him and I was rendered useless.
My cries of help weren’t heard anymore due to the piece of cloth they had tied around my mouth and the tears wouldn’t stop. However, I didn’t stop my constant kicking, hoping to hurt them enough so that they’d let go even the slightest and I would run away.
But their hands were tightly gripping mine, in no mood to let go easily. I struggled against them, wriggling myself and trying to do just about anything to get myself out of that situation. One final kick made the guy stumble a bit and I heard him mumble some profanities under his breath.
Unfortunately for me, all it did take was a nick of time until I felt a needle poke right through my shoulder and spread out an unbearable amount of pain all over my body. I seemed to lose control of my body, and my eyes were finally shutting close due to some kind of serum they hand injected me with.
And just as always, all I was left with was pure darkness.