‘Life is made of so many partings welded together.’
~ Charles Dickens
Friday ended peacefully without Astrid falling dead in the middle of her class, all thanks to Asher. True to his words, he woke her up just a few minutes before the bell rang, just enough time for her to collect her stuff and though his waking up methods were not approved, she appreciated his efforts. And she did not see him for the rest of the day.
To say that she was confused would be the understatement of the year. She did not know what to do. She was a control freak but for the past few weeks, she had been anything but in control. At least, she had the weekend to pull herself together.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Since she and Natalia got along well with each other, though they were polar opposites, she was never really alone. And happily for her, Natalia knew her limits and never pried her for anything.
Just like every single night, she had trouble falling asleep She knew she had to call her doctor and tell her about the nightmares. Her doctor, Mia, had already warned her not to take the drugs too much but she was not able to control herself. The pills were her only escape. She needed them. There were days when she used to be terrified to even close her eyes. So the pills became her saviour when no one else was there for her.
So the next day, she made up her mind. She would call her doctor and tell her the truth. Right now, she knew that was the only option if she wanted to get at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Sitting on the rooftop, under the morning rays, she took out her phone and dialled the number that she was too familiar with. The phone rang a few times and she was tempted to hang up but steadied herself, by giving herself a mental prep talk. Come on. You need it.
“Astrid! It has been so long. How are you? Is everything alright?” The woman’s voice was warm and soft with a hint of concern. The same voice which gently cooed sweet nothings to her when she had bawled like a baby in front of her too many times to count.
“Hello Mia. I’m okay. How’s Noah?” Noah was her three-year-old son. He was a little angel with soft golden hair and big doe eyes with whom Astrid had spent so many hours to distract herself. Mia had told her it was all a part of the therapy and it had worked.
“He is doing just fine, dear. Is everything alright?”
“Yes.” She paused for a second, rethinking her options, searching for a plan B only to realise there was no plan B. So she just went along with it.
“The pills are not working,” she pushed the words out of her mouth quickly.
Mia did not reply for a second. Then she carefully chose her words.
“Are the nightmares back?” she asked softly, though she already knew the answer.
“Yes.” Astrid’s voice was nothing more than a whisper. She hated how weak she sounded. At that moment, all she wanted to do was to curl herself underneath the covers in her bed and never come out. If only it was that easy.
“Is it bad?”
“Not yet, but I feel it will get worse. That’s why I need a stronger dose than the previous one.”
She did not get any answer and she panicked for a second.
“Mia, please. I can’t sleep at night. It feels so real.” She sounded so desperate but she knew she had no choice, She despised the fact that the bottle of drugs had so much control over her.
“Astrid, listen to me, sweetie. I don’t mind giving you more but the same thing will happen again. Soon your body will get used to it and you will need more. It will become a harmful addiction. I don’t want that to happen to you,” she spoke gently to the poor girl, understanding what she was going through but could not do much to help.
“Then, what do you think I should do?” she sounded bitter, the tone which Mia picked up immediately.
“Tell me about your new home. How is it? Do you like it there?” She completely changed the topic. A habit Astrid was too familiar with. At first it used to annoy her but now it helped her to cool down and get her mind off of things that she preferred not to talk about.
“It’s good so far. The family is nice.” Her answer was short and simple. Mia smiled at hearing the girl’s reply on the other side of the phone. Some things never change and Astrid’s curt and short answers were one of them.
They talked about this for a few more minutes.
“Do you have any friends?” Mia asked hopefully. Astrid thought for a moment before answering.
“Yeah. Her name’s Madilyn. She’s cool.” She hesitated for a second. Should she tell her about Asher?
Mia sensing her hesitation, did not waste another second.
“Come on. I know there is more. You can tell me?” She paused for a moment. “Is it a boy? Do you like him?” Mia practically gushed on the other side of the phone.
Astrid rolled her eyes but could not control the small smile that spread on her face. She had trusted Mia with her past once and she did not let her down. So she told her everything. From that day at the P.E. class till the cafeteria thing. She left out the night on the rooftop. That seemed a little personal.
By the end, Mia was practically coming up with ship names and planning dates in her mind and Astrid knew she had to stop the woman.
“Mia, what about the pills?”
Mia hesitated for a brief second before letting out a deep sigh.
“Fine. I will send you more but promise me one thing. You should not depend on it too much. Please, Astrid. It might be hard but you need to try.”
“I don’t know what else to do,” she retorted in frustration. “Even I don’t want to become an addict but I don’t know what to do.”
“Talk to someone, Astrid. Someone you trust. It will help. If it really doesn’t then I will send you more pills. But promise me you will try.”
“Who do you want me to talk to? There is nobody here who I trust with my messed up life.”
“What about Asher? You sound like you trust him?”
“Oh please. I barely know him.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t trust him. From all that you have told me, you seem to trust him so much.”
“And how do you know that?”
“Would you let any other guy to drag you around let alone let him touch you without breaking his bones?” She sounded smug for some reason.
“Whatever,” she muttered under her breath, knowing that she had lost this round.
“Promise me you will at least try. You don’t need to share every single detail. Just a little bit about your past life. It will really help.”
Astrid knew it would help. Afterall she did talk to Mia about her past and it really did help her a bit.
“Fine. I promise.”
“Thank you, dear.” She sounded really happy. “Text me your address and I will send you the pills along the prescription. But remember, this is the last time.”
“Noted. Thanks,” she replied, relieved.
They talked for a few more minutes before they hung up. Astrid decided to go for a walk down the park to relieve herself from the boredom.
She was strolling down her neighbourhood, past the houses with freshly mowed lawns and happy families. She was walking aimlessly down the road, without any destination, whistling a random tune.
She turned right and walked for another few minutes and realised that she was in an unknown street. She really needed to stop getting lost in random places. The entire area looked like the type of place where all the people who had tons of gold lived.
She did not do rich. She rolled her eyes and was about to turn around and walk off the other way when something caught her attention. More like someone.
The neighbourhood was strangely empty at this time of the day as she walked towards what had caught her attention. Her eyebrows almost went to her hairline when she realised what was happening.
Some guy who was clearly wasted, was pulling around a sobbing Rebecca who, in vain, was trying to break free form his grasp.
Too much for a peaceful weekend.
That’s Chapter 18. What do you think is going to happen next?
Question for the Chapter: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
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