Dear Coraline

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An open therapy session

"You don't have to -"

"I know. I'm doing it anyway."

"Okay" The pen falters "Just. Take your time."

"Right. Yeah"

"Take a deep breath if it helps."

I inhale deeply, and the exhale is awkwardly loud. I run my hand through my hair. preparing myself.

I think.

"I was... god I can't - I just can't believe I've never actually said this out loud. and not blocked the memory"

"It's alright. As long as you're ready. Take as much time as you need."

"Right" I clear my throat. "I was - I don't actually remember how old I was. I mean. I know it was before the fourth grade. I mean - I know that's - that's when it ended. I'm pretty - pretty sure it didn't start the same year y'know? But - but I can't be - I can't be..." My breath leaves me. I can't remember how to finish my sentence.

"Sure?"

I look at him, and sigh. "Yeah." my hands fumble on my lap. my leg is bouncing. I might be fidgeting.

Definitely fidgeting.

I clear my throat again.

I'm stalling. I shouldn't be stalling.

"My dad - he had this - he had a friend. Nice guy. They had a big house, his wife was.... weird but.... earnest? I think - I don't remember."

Deep breath. In. Out.

The point is to make myself remember this time.

I can't rush.

I must not rush.

(But I can't stall either? What a conundrum.)

"He - They had these two - two sons. One was my age and the other was... I can't remember. I think 3 years younger? I think he was - I think they had the same age gap as my sister and I."

I swallow. Details are important.

Details keep me conscious.

My head hurts.

"Back then I was - I wanted friends." I frown, looking at my legs folded under me. "I don't know. I was just - excitable I think." I rub my knee. "Because no kid that age could stand being around adults, I was stuck with them. I played - I played with them." I pause before I continue. "I don't remember what we did anymore. I know we watched movies sometimes. And he - " I frowned. "I think he found me bothersome. A lot of people did - back then. I think I was trying to gain people's approval even back then. It - its how this happened - now that I think about it." I chuckle.

It turns into a grimace before I can stop it.

"I think he was... bored. " I swallow thickly. "And because I was a bother and - and boring too I guess. I guess. I guess he decided to entertain himself." I blink a couple of times.

"I might be overanalyzing and over villainizing him in my memory." I chuckle, finally looking up.

I don't look long enough to register his expression.

I don't want to see it.

My hand stops on my leg.

"Take your time." His voice is like soothing breath.

Relaxing.

Easing.

"Don't do that. I need to remember this time."

Or.

Or this will be for nothing.

My headache is stronger now.

"The first - " My breath hitches.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath.

"The first time. We were playing truth or dare out - outside."

Deep breath.

"His little brother dared him to kiss me. He had the - " I frown again, trying to find the word. " - intelligence to - to look sheepishly embarrassed. Or uncomfortable. I couldn't tell back then."

I sniff. "He agreed but said if he was going to do it, he wanted us to go inside. Like anyone would walk past and see us" I scoff.

Where did that come from?

"We did and we ended up in his room."



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