SARAH E. BODE

Parasites

Sophia

I love watching Him. He likes to pretend I’m not always watching. He likes to act surprised when I know about something He’s done. He thinks it’s cute. Thus, so do I.

One time, I remember when He had come home from school with a smutty DVD concealed in His book bag. I knew exactly what He was up to—the plan laid out in His head. He had locked His bedroom door in case His mother got curious or needed to deliver some clean laundry. He glanced around the room for me.

We both pretended I wasn’t watching from the shadowed corners. I was both disgusted and proud.

His shrink calls it a “healthy activity.”

The kids at school call it “pie time,” in this case, cream pies.

“So what’s up?” He asks me, glancing over out of the corner of His eye. Wilbur, His cat, purrs from the floor, and He pats the bed beside Him. Wilbur jumps up, snuggling in next to Him. I wish I were Wilbur right now. I’m Romeo wishing I were a glove. I want to be caressed by Him, touched by Him, loved by Him.

I tell him there’s nothing up. I keep eyeing Wilbur, wondering if I could kill him. The wretched thing constantly purrs, which grates my minute patience. I would love it if my competition disappeared, and Wilbur would be easy to dispose of. I doubt that He would notice. That’s a lie; I know He would notice. He would get all weepy and depressed over His dead, stupid cat. Fucking Wilbur.

Wilbur looks over at me.  His hand slides down Wilbur’s back and comes up to play with the cat’s ears.

I wish He would play with my ears.

I get up from my chair and sit on the edge of the bed. He looks at me curiously. Then He gives me the eye fuck—sliding from my blonde hair; to my gray eyes; to my plump, purple-painted lips; to my perfect chin, gracefully pointing to my hefty cleavage. He knows every luscious curve of my body. He knows the way my breasts arch over the constriction of the lacey, fuchsia bra He’s dressed me up in today. He knows that beneath my clothes lay His very own dream girl.

All He can think about is me—my perfection. He doesn’t think about his mother cleaning her guns in the kitchen, or his father drunk watching soap opera reruns. He doesn’t think about the test He has to study for. He doesn’t think about His cat. He can only think of me, and all that I am—all that He has made me.

“God,” He whispers. I know what He’s thinking. Wilbur jumps off of the bed, threatened by me. “Come here, Sophia,” He beckons to me. He pats the empty bed beside Him.

He sweats from the constant, mild fever—a mix of His rampant hormones and the meds the shrink’s got Him gulping down three times a day. It stirs me.

I know what He wants; I want it too. I want His hands all over my palpable body—caressing my skin, making it sear. He wants His lips upon mine. His tongue dancing with mine. His legs straddling my waist.

It’s pie time.

Casey

The florescent lights glare off the over-waxed floor of the hallway, and I curse Union High School for multiplying my headache into a migraine.  More like Unholy High School.

I think about Sophia and last night’s fantasy—her body taut and ready, her eyes willing and steamy. She had wanted me. Needed me.

Robbie approaches my right flank, then Jerry swoops in on my left—his nose buried in a textbook.

“What’s up, guys?” I ask them.  I lean over to see what smutty anime magazine Jerry’s got safely sprawled under his Social Studies textbook.

“Not much, man,” Robbie says. “You?”

“I’m gunna fail Mrs. Robinson’s trig test,” I admit.

“You study?” Jerry asks from the spine of his textbook.

“Hardly.”

“Nah, man, you’ll do fine,” Robbie says. “Mrs. Robinson grades dudes easy. She’s desperate now that her and her hubbs split.”

“Yeah,” I say, “I heard Mr. Robinson slept with a junior prostitot during the assembly last week.”

“I heard it was a sophomore prossy,” Jerry says.

“Well,” Robbie cuts in, “whoever it was, Mr. Robinson is a balla’!” Robbie fist pumps his right hand in the air and continues, “Dudes, we should be so lucky to roll in like Mr. Robinson. I heard he’s slept with ten prostitots, and that was just this year.”

Sophia

I wait for Him all day. I wait for Him to finish school. Some days, I wait extra while He’s with His shrink.

When He arrives home, He usually comes straight to His room to find me waiting on the bed, ready for Him. Sometimes, He’ll get around to some homework or play some video games. His mother calls Him down for dinner, and I wait.

When He comes back, He beckons me.

The next morning, I watch Him wake to a headache. My head aches with His—He’s late taking His crazy-people drugs.

The sheets cling to His legs. Wilbur is skulking around the bottom of His bed, purring a symphony. I wish he’d shut the hell up. He glances around the room. Finding me, His eyes widen.

I chime a morning greeting. He squirms.

Stumbling out of bed, He steps on Wilbur’s tail. I watch in amusement as Wilbur screeches and darts out of the room.

“Mornin’,” He grunts. Clutching His head, He groans again and lurches into His bathroom. I hear the shower start up.

I step into the bathroom and watch His figure through the frosted-glass. Abruptly, He shuts the water off, slides the door open, and steps out onto the cool tile. Water drips from his body onto the bare tile floor.

He grabs for His pill bottle, throwing back one Risperdal—choking it down with a handful of tap water.

“What do you want?” He snaps.

Suddenly, I feel alone. His eyes—instead of beaming—glare down at me.

He growls, “You tricked me last night.”

I inhale sharply, bringing my hands to my hips, appalled at His assumption—however correct they are. I tell Him that I would never do that.

“Bullshit,” He grunts. I deflate.

I tell Him that if He hadn’t wanted it, then He wouldn’t have done it.

He wanted it, I know He wanted it. So He did it.

He snarls, knowing I’m right, like always. Our uphill battle no longer invigorates Him. It’s killing Him.

But right now I don’t care. I am the one who is right. I am always right.

“I hate you,” He whispers.

Casey

“I heard,” Jerry says, “you and Lizzie were ‘studying’ together after school.”

Robbie looks over at me and asks, “Lizzie who?”

“Lizzie LaGanke,” Jerry says with a smirk.

“That bitch from our first period last semester?” Robbie asks.

I nod and shrug.

Robbie grunts, “What are you doing hanging with that when you could have a prossy?”

“I heard she slept with Mr. Robinson,” Jerry interjects.

“More like Lizzie LaSkank,” Robbie says. “You going after Mr. Robinson’s sloppy seconds, now?” Robbie asks me.

Robbie and Jerry expect me to be a Mr. Robinson—not some desperate pussy.  They want to be a Mr. Robinson. Hell, every high school boy wants to be a Mr. Robinson.

“That’s disgusting, man,” Robbie says.

“I’m not doing anything with Lizzie LaGanke,” I shoot back.

Robbie and Jerry walk down the hall, freshman thronging around them. “We were just studying,” I yell at their backs. Robbie barks out a laugh, and Jerry shakes his head.

At our fourth “study session,” Lizzie suggests we should study at my place.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I say, thinking about Sophia.

She furrows her eyebrows and pouts out her lips, “Why not?”

“My parents,” I offer, hoping this will drop the subject.

“I’m great with parents!” Lizzie says, grinning. It’s radiant—her smile. “Plus, we wouldn’t be bothering them. We’d just be studying in your room, right?”

“Right,” I agree. Sophia’s going to flip the fuck out, I think.

“Great! Plus, studying at coffee houses is horrible and a good way to go broke fast,” Lizzie says, flicking her hand about the café we are sitting in. It’s one of the worst ones in town; a pseudo-bohemian runs the place, putting up a front for the macro-economic owner. There are dread-locked and tattooed baristas. And the customers are Kasey-and-Keruac-carrying tourists.

“Great,” I echo.  Lizzie’s enthusiastic smile nearly blinds me.

Sophia

His hand touches hers, and I die a little. Lizzie—a living, breathing, high school girl.  I’ve been watching them for a whole two hours, twenty-two minutes, and fifteen seconds.

Sixteen: His thumb brushes her knuckle when He turns the page of the textbook they share.

Seventeen: She smiles at Him. Even in the dingy light in His bedroom, her teeth gleam.

Eighteen: God damn, she’s flirty.

Nineteen: He brought her home from school, trying to get a reaction from me, by parading her about. I refuse.

My hair’s been the same washed-out blonde for the past week. Lizzie’s is a brilliant brunette—the enticing locks of a dark maiden. A dusty layer of freckles speckle her cheeks, making her all that more adorable. Her small lips are pink and shimmery.  My wet, glossy, blow-job lips pucker with disgust.

Now twenty seconds: She’s wearing a turtleneck sweater. It covers—giving an illusion of propriety. But it’s also three sizes too small.  The whore has painted it on.

Twenty-one: His attention slips from the poetry they are studying to the apprehension of and appreciation for His horniness.

Twenty-two: He thinks of me.  I smile. He’s measuring her against my thumb. But I’m afraid at how high she’s gotten with a little hand holding. The anxiety pulsates off Him—this feels like His only chance at a relationship.  But He’s pussyfooting.

Twenty-three: To me she’s vapid, but to Him she’s lovely.  Beautiful.  To Him she seems interested in Him.  Or perhaps, just not uninterested in Him.

Sitting next to her, He feels like the world sees him. Next to her, He feels.

Twenty-four: She’s sitting there, pretending to read lines of Keats.  She knows He’s thinking about fucking her.  Which He is.

Twenty-five: He gets all sexed up just sitting there next to her. Now, there’s no need for my tussled hair, or war paint, or lusty looks.

I hate her.

Casey

“I’ve been thinking about asking Lizzie out,” I share between bites of my cold burrito at lunch.

“What do you mean ‘out’?” Jerry asks.

“Like girlfriend, boyfriend shit?” Robbie snorts. “Queer.”

“What, just because you can’t find a girl who would want to date a douchebag like you?” I say, standing up and tossing the remainder of my burrito on the tray.

I see the sting of last summer’s romantic disappointment flare in Robbie’s eyes.

“Yeah, that’s it, Casey,” Robbie says.  He looks up at me from his set at the cafeteria table. “I think dating is below me. I think I’m better than that.”

Jerry looks from me to Robbie. “Come on guys, don’t do this.”

“I’m not doing anything,” I claim.

“You’re asking Lizzie out. Way to be proactive, Casey,” Robbie lolls and rolls his eyes. “Just another prossy-douchie-filled teen movie.”

“Shut the fuck up, man,” I say. “I like this girl, but Christ, it’s not like I’m asking her to marry me.” I look down at Robbie.

“You’re my guys. We’re a tripod, remember?” I ask the two of them.

            Later that day, I ask Lizzie out. Sort of. I got nervous, and she had to fill in the blanks.

“I was wo-wondering,” I stammer. I flounder, unsure of my phrasing, unsure of my hand gestures, unsure of myself. Sophia would think I was being a pussy. Finally, I’m able to spit something out—“I was wondering if you’d go steady with me.”

“Are you asking me out?” Lizzie asks. I nod.

“I’d love to,” Lizzie says and smiles.

Promptly, I lean over and kiss her hard on the mouth. I imagine Lizzie buck naked, splayed out on my bed.

Sophia

I remember better days. Mornings when He would wake up thinking about me. Thinking about things He wanted to do to me. Mornings when He would dress me up.

Sometimes, I would be a dirty, clubby prostitot. Hair: tangled and matted. Nails: chipped florescent. Make-up: sparkly—smudged from the sweat. Clothes: tight and ripped in all the most suggestive places. My personality would be insipid and trashy.

Other times, I would be a sex puppet. Hair: bed head. Nails: killer red. Make-up: smokey, Covergirl bedroom-eyes collection. Clothes: lacey lingerie. My personality could be easily undone.

One night, when I was a good girl, He had beaten me, upset over His shortcomings.

But it’s okay, since all I am is an exercise concocted by His shrink.

“Casey,” she had said trying to soothe, “you need a healthy fantasy to play with. Think of what you are sexually attracted to. This will help you release.”

And here I am, forever morphing to fit His needs—an opiate to His hormones. At least, I used to fulfill those.

Afternoons used to waste away until He came home, came home to me.  Later the glimmering sun would slip down, lassoing the moon up. He always liked how I looked naked in the moonlight. He would fall asleep thinking of me—content only with Himself.

But now, He’s got her. Lizzie—that good-girl tramp. He has tripped up on her.  Now He thinks about her before drifting off to His usual post-coitus dreams. He liked her better when she was just the tease, and the possibility was never a probability.

He can’t deny He didn’t want it. He can’t deny He doesn’t still. Incessantly.

No more single-serving slices of “pie” for Him.  No, now she’s serving up the daily, blue-plate special.

            I want to claim that there’s not even an inkling of admiration for Him in me anymore—but there is. He’s practicing the things I’ve been preaching. He’s defied me, left me, and broken me—all for His own gain. How can I not be a little proud of Him? He’s gone from a squire to a foot soldier—still lowly, but minutely improved.

Every time she laughs, I yearn to strangle tons of kittens. Cute, furry, adorable kittens.

Casey

Lizzie perches on the edge of my bed. In the six months we’ve been dating, I’ve never seen her with such a serious face. Her forehead creases between her worried brows. Sophia’s forehead would never do that—it’s disgusting.

“What is it?” I ask her. I can smell her sweating; I hope for a quickie. Lizzie paces around her room, wringing her hands.

“I-I-I’m,” she stumbles. “I’m pregnant.”

I suppress the urge to vomit.

“I was thinking about having an abortion,” Lizzie whispers.

“That’s your choice,” I repeat this from my middle school Sex-Ed class.

“My choice?” Lizzie echoes. She pauses. My palms get clammy. I wipe them on the legs of my jeans. “You know what? I’m going to keep it.”

“What!” I say. I double check my list of Sex-Ed answers. I’m forced to compile one of my own: “I guess I’ll do this with you.”

“You guess!” She barks. Her eyes flare, and her breathing quickens. What happened to her being so fragile? So docile? She was so willing before—so intoxicating.

“Casey, I need you with me one hundred percent. You are going to do this with me. I need you,” Lizzie screams. She puts her hands to her flat belly. “This needs you.”

Then, she collapses on the floor, sobbing. All I can do is stare.

She’s insane, I think.

I fly to her side, cradling her in my arms. Lizzie’s sobs deepen. I can feel the wetness of her snot and tears through my T-shirt. I’m revolted.

I should have known, I think.

If Hollywood’s taught me anything, it’s that when a girl you’re fucking sits you down to talk, it is always the untimely arrival of the fetal parasite. Fuck.

Sophia

Lizzie steps into the bathroom, leaving the door cracked. She’s washing her face—her make-up has run from all the crying. He paces.

“What the fuck have I gotten myself into?” He asks His room. Purring answers Him.

Looking down, He sees Wilbur slinking out from beneath His bed. Wilbur jumps up onto His unmade bed and looks up innocently. Suddenly, His hand comes raining down, and Wilbur hisses. He grunts as Wilbur defensively swipes at His other hand and catches the top of His arm. Wilbur darts off of the bed and into the bathroom.

He snorts violently and punches his bed hard. The springs whine in protest of the abuse.

Casey

When Lizzie comes out of my bathroom, my arm is bleeding from Wilbur’s scratches.

“What happened to your arm, Casey?” Lizzie asks me.

“Wilbur got me,” I reply without looking at her.

“Did you want to run some water over it?” She asks, reaching for my upper arm and pulling me up off the bed. “I saw some Band-Aids in your cabinet. Come on.”

In the bathroom, I see the towel Lizzie used to wipe her face hanging by the sink. A slow chill comes over me. I see the bathroom window open.

“That’s weird, Mom never opens windows up here,” I say, motioning to the window.

“Oh, I opened it just now. It was so stuffy, and I was in such a state—I just needed some fresh air,” Lizzie says with a shrug of her shoulders.

She runs my arm under the faucet. The cool water stings my scratches. I think about Wilbur. I think about how annoying he’s been lately. How annoying Sophia has been lately. I think about my future: What’s at risk? What I’m giving up? What I’m getting in return?

Then we hear a loud screech and a thump outside. Both our heads turn to look out the window. Lizzie turns off the water and we walk over to the window to get a better look. On the street before my house, there’s a car, headlights lit, stopped. The driver has gotten out and is looking at something in the road, her hand to her head.

“Let’s go make sure everything’s okay,” Lizzie suggests.

Sophia

Fucking tramp. Fucking dimwit.

That fucking little tart has up and killed Wilbur. His body just lay there on the dark pavement. Accosted by the tires of a fucking Dodge. Fucking bitch!

He slams His door shut with a loud thump and strides across His room in order to punch a pillow. Tears stream down His face.

“Fuck,” He says.

I tell Him that Lizzie is a bitch. It’s all her fault.

“I can’t believe she would do something like this. Why would she want to hurt me?”

I tell Him it’s because she’s a crazy, pregnant cunt.

He sits on His bed and slumps, overwhelmed with grief. The slash marks on his arm still raw from Wilbur’s attack earlier. “I miss him already,” He says. His words hang in the air of His room. He had shouted at the sight of Wilbur’s lifeless body. He had shot Lizzie a look filled with pure hate. Oh, how He hated her right now.

Good—fucking whore deserves it.

            Later that night, I make sure He’s sleeping before I go into the bathroom and empty his bottle of meds down the toilet. Things need to be done. He can’t handle them if He’s a zombie.

Casey

I go to school the next day barely functioning. I can’t stop the stream of flashes of Wilbur’s limp body—bloody and gritty. Half-way through third period, I suddenly realize that everyone is looking at me. When I glance around, their murmuring ceases.

In the halls, Robbie and Jerry approach me.

“It true, man?” Jerry asks me.

“Is what true?” I ask.

“Knock, knock!” Robbie says. “Lizzie?”

“What? Shhhhh. How did you know?”

“Come on, dude. You know how things get around.” Robbie shrugs.

“Yeah,” I relent.

“And?” Jerry asks.

“And what?” I ask.

“She been cheatin’, or are you gunna be a poppa bear?” Robbie asks.

“She told me it was mine.”

“Wow, dude, that sucks,” Jerry says.

Sophia

I stalk Him down the hallways. He’s talking with two guys. His shoulders are tense, and His mind is elsewhere. He’s worried about Wilbur. He’s worried about Lizzie. He’s worried about His kid baking. He’s wondering how He can make everything just go away.

I tell Him I can help. I watch as His head turns away from His friends. His eyes search the body-ridden hall for me. When He sees me, my body blushes. He hasn’t looked at me like that in six months. He waves at His friends without looking and preys upon me.

He walks right past me, knowing I’ll follow Him. I already know where we are going—to the boys’ bathroom on the third floor. It’s His hide-away-place. I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen it lurking in the corners of his thoughts. The sun’s showing through the floor-length windows, illuminating every scrap of dirt and grime that has been sitting undisturbed for ten or more years. Sometimes He’ll open one and lean out of it, smoking pot or a cigarette.

He comes up here because everyone else thinks it’s haunted. Sometimes, an errant freshman will dodge in and out, not knowing any better. But afterwards, they never come back.

The door slides shut with a thud. “What are you doing here?” He demands.

I say that I wanted to make sure He was okay. Last night was hectic.

“Bullshit.”

I ask what He means.

“I mean, what the fuck are you doing here?”

I tell Him that I’m here to finish what He’s started. I tell Him that I’m here to clean up the mess He’s made of our life. I tell Him that I’m out and ready to Godzilla this place.

That last one gets me half a smile from Him.

            I sit with Him in fourth period as He broods over things. He hates Lizzie. She took away the only real thing He loved in this world: Wilbur. Lizzie killed Wilbur, and He hates her for it.

When I get bored of sitting there, I get up and walk out. I amble the halls, looking for trouble, thinking, plotting. I see several teachers and other students walk by, but no one says anything to me or asks to see His hall pass. I walk out thirty minutes before the bell rings, I take Him home—thinking, scheming.

He’s supposed to have a therapy session tonight, but I don’t feel like going, so instead I make Him masturbate. No porn, no fantasies, no hair dye, no silly lingerie. Just me. Me standing there in front of Him. When He tries to touch me, I back away.

I tell Him He’s only allowed to look.

Later that night, His father raps on the door.

“Casey!” he screams.

“Yeah?” He answers.

“Your therapist called. Why didn’t you go to your appointment? You know we pay damn good money for those, and here you are just wasting it!”

Casey looks at me, wanting to know what to say.

I tell Him He got sick. Threw up all over the park on the way home.

“Well, next time, suck it up. You just threw up a lot of your mother’s hard-earned cash,” he grunts. We wait for the thumping of him walking down the stairs.

“I shoulda gone,” He mumbles.

When He goes to bed, I try to think of everything. I try to remember all the details. I scheme the night away.

We walk to school the next morning. It’s chilly out, but not unbearably so. I watch as He pulls His jacket closer around Him. I tell Him to text Lizzie. Text her telling her to meet Him in the third floor boys’ bathroom at noon.

“Why?” He asks.

I tell Him to shut the fuck up and just fucking do it.

He does.

I tell Him not to ask anymore stupid fucking questions.

Casey

I’m jittery all the way through first and second period. I’m on edge and nervous, but I can’t put my finger on why. All around me, people are talking, but I can’t hear anything they are saying. It’s all vowels and hand gestures. Bile creeps up the back of my throat. I could throw up at any moment. I’m sweaty and sticky. My heart is pounding. My hands are clams.

Robbie and Jerry try to stop and talk in the hall between periods, but I brush them off. I feel mute. I have no control. She has it.

Sophia

We walk out of second period, ignoring everyone around us. We walk across the school to the back stair case, up three flights of stairs, and slip silently into the bathroom. We check all the stalls for feet. Then double check them for bodies.

We are alone. We wait. It’s the lunch period, so everyone is on the other side of the building, eating in the cafeteria. It’s stuffy in here today, so we open several windows. The building is so old there aren’t any screens, just fresh air. It gushes in from outside, like blood from a deep flesh wound. We sit on the window ledge, our backs to a fatal fall.

After five minutes, there’s a tiny knock on the door. It squeaks open, and Lizzie pokes her head around.

We tell her to come in. Her body follows her head, and she hesitantly enters the bathroom. The heavy door closes securely behind her.

“Hey,” she says meagerly.

We greet her, warmly enough.

“What’s goin’ on?” she asks. She’s filling the silence with verbal clutter. People are so afraid of a little silence, a little quiet, a little room to breathe.

“Nothing,” He replies. “Nothing at all.”

We tell her we just wanted to talk.

Her head nods, but her eyes look worried, concerned, frightened.

“It’s okay,” He assures her. “I just wanted to talk to you, somewhere where we wouldn’t be bothered.” He motions to the bathroom around them.

We offer her a seat on the window ledge, by the fresh air. “This view is great!” she says before sitting down.

I nod my head. I tell her I come up here all the time to think.

“Doesn’t anyone ever bother you?” she asks.

I tell her no, no one ever comes in here. I assure her we’re all alone.

“Oh, oh good,” she whispers. “What did you want to talk about?”

I tell her I hate her. I tell her I can’t stand to look at her anymore. I tell her she disgusts me. I tell her that she’s a murderer and a liar. I tell her that she’s been fooling around on me. I tell her that she’s a tramp and that I don’t love her anymore.

She begins to cry. I tell her she’s weak and stupid. I ask her why she wasn’t on birth control like she told me. I tell her she tricked me. I tell her she’s a whore.

Before she knows it, I’ve got my hands around her neck. Her eyes pop open, wet from the tears and stare up at me. It feels good to wrap them around that pretty little neck and squeeze. Her eyes begin to water, wetting the sleeves of my jacket. I tug her up by her neck so she’s standing. Her back is framed by the looming open window. I squeeze hard.

I tell her I trusted her, loved her, cherished her. I tell her that I was genuine and how I’m hurt that she would do something so malicious to me. I ask her how she brought herself to kill an innocent, sweet cat. I squeeze harder.

Her hands have come up to try and pull my arms away, but she’s too weak.

I tell her that I never even loved her.

Then I pull my hands away from her neck and shove her out the window.

Casey

I’m speechless. I can only stare at her body three stories down. Stare and wonder. Wonder if she’s alive.

“I fucking hate you,” I scream.

Sophia tells me I hate myself.

“You’re vile!”

Sophia tells me I’m vile.

“Fuck you,” I shout.

Sophia tells me to go fuck myself.

I walk away from the ledge, and Sophia asks me where I’m going.

“Away from you,” I reply.

Sophia asks if I’m going to her.

I walk out the door, throwing, “What the fuck do you care?” over my shoulder.

Sophia screams that I’m a weak, pathetic creature. Worthless. Pointless. Nothing.

            When I get down to the ground level and outside, several frantic people have gathered around Lizzie’s limp body. I force my way through the throng to get to her side. She’s Wilbur. She’s bleeding on the pavement, like Wilbur after he was struck by that god damn Dodge.  Except Lizzie’s been struck by me. I stare for a while.

I look up from Lizzie’s body for Sophia in the window, knowing she’d be watching, but she’s gone. I glance around me on edge. The squeal of tires brings me back, and I watch as an ambulance fires toward us.

            I wait for my court-appointed shrink to show up. I sit in the cinderblock-lined room and wait. It’s been six months of waiting in this juvie jail. It’s been six long months of constant badgering from this woman.  She’s different from my other shrink—less compassionate, more like the Inquisition.

Finally, she shows up and begins our state-mandated, weekly session.

“How are we doing today, Casey?” she asks me.

“Fine,” I say.

“Good, good. No nightmares?”

“No.”

“Good, good. Any thoughts?” she asks, scribbling down notes on her pad of paper.

“No.”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Lonely.”

“What about your parents? Have they come to visit you lately?” she asks, but she already knows the answer, she has my file with my visitor list in it. But I play along.

“No.”

“And how does that make you feel?”

“Lonely.”

She scribbles again. I’ve given up trying to read her writing from across the table.

“Well, I have some good news. Lizzie is walking again.”

I nod my head to show I’m pleased. I am—pleased that is. But it hurts too much to think about Lizzie.

“Is there something you would like to tell me, Casey?”

I know what she’s getting at. She’s been trying to get me to tell her for the past six months. She wants me to tell her that Lizzie was pregnant. She wants me to break down crying about how I’m a murderer and a wretch of a human being. I can’t. I know, but I can’t.

“No,” I say and weave my fingers together, placing my hands out in front of me.

“Have you seen Sophia?”

“No.”

She looks up from her pad. It’s the first time she’s brought her up in six months, thinking she would catch me off guard.

“No?”

“No.”

She scribbles. “And how does that make you feel?”

I sigh, trying to think of any words besides “no” and “lonely.”

“Casey, how does that make you feel?” she prods.

“Lonely.”

 

Sarah is in attendance at UNC Wilmington, currently writhing in the throes of her master’s thesis.

 

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