I fought to blink my tears away, but it wasn’t happening. I didn’t care about Will, but that was nothing new. I didn’t care about anyone. That was who I was, part of what had led me to the terminal. But what hurt me even more was knowing there was no way he could ever care about me. Grant had a chance. Mimi knew what he’d done to himself; she understood him in a way so few could. But me? I mean, what could I do? I was a suicide now. It wasn’t just in my head anymore; I’d committed. No one could look past that; even I couldn’t look past that. I’d be alone forever with nothing but those same, diabolical thoughts that had wanted me dead.
I kept spiraling out, the immediate eventually getting lost in the bigger picture. Everything I did was so wrong, but what was the right way? Was there a right way? What did any of it even matter? I felt everything in me tighten as I lost myself to the vastness of our meaningless universe. Maybe if I had a severe enough episode, I’d simply veer off the road and never have to deal with anything ever again. But I made it home.
I crawled into bed and just started bawling. This was bad. This was get-a-train-ticket bad, make-it-all-stop bad. Why? Why anything and everything and everyone and me? Why hadn’t that train just crashed into a wall or something like it was supposed to? Why did I hate myself enough to want that?
That went on for a couple minutes before I realized I wasn’t alone. I remembered him suddenly and looked up to find him frozen in the doorway of the bathroom.
What a freak. What an idiot. He was trusting this to take care of him? He just stared at me, no doubt wondering how to gracefully exit our new friendship. I mean, he was literally tortured every other day, and I was the emotionally wrecked one?
I wiped my face. “I’m so sorry. This is seriously the most gloriously pathetic moment of my life.” Did the universe just live to watch me suffer?
He put his hands up. “No, by all means, do what you need to do. I’ll just…sit on the toilet or something.”
I shook my head. I had to get it over with. The sooner he knew the sooner I could rearrange my life around his absence. “Nope. We’re going to talk. I’ve got some crazy stuff going on, and you should probably know the truth.”
He nodded and cautiously came to sit next to me. “Spill it, Baily.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay. So, you’re here because you’re a prisoner. That’s what working at the plant means. I work on a farm…because…” I felt like I was going to throw up. Shaking and stuttering, I was worse than he’d been the night before. I’d never said it out loud before, not to someone who hadn’t done the same thing. I felt guilt rising in my throat like bile. God, I just wanted to die!
Before I could force it out, he stopped me. “Laura, if you’re trying to tell me you’re a suicide, I already know.”
I stared at him. Was it that obvious? “How?”
He shrugged. “You had a V ticket. Volunteer… I have no idea what would make someone like you do something like that, and you don’t have to tell me… You’ve been here for me when I needed it most. If you’ll let me, I’d like to be here for you.” He took my hand, transferring his magic energy into my body.
I couldn’t stop crying. His impossible perfection made me feel like even more of a monster.
“I’ve only been here because I thought it’d be good for me,” I admitted. “I thought I could force a purpose or a calling or whatever if I had something to take care of.”
He gently pulled me into his arms. All I could focus on was trying not to get snot on him. If I’d been in a less self-loathing mood, his nearness might have comforted me, but for now my stupid runny nose was my biggest concern.
“Laura, I don’t think you realize how beautiful that is. You actualize through transcendence. That’s the most compassionate thing I’ve ever heard. And I’d be honored to be your calling. God knows I’m using you too. You need to be needed; I need to be cared for. It’s a win-win.”
I did my best to sniff the snot away. “You know you’re just supremely unreal, right?” I muttered. “You’re not supposed to be nice to me right now.”
“Well, get over it… I’m not really very useful on my work days, but maybe we could work out a new arrangement.”
I pulled myself off his shoulder and looked at him. “You mean live together? You want to live with this full time?” I gestured to the hideous aftermath that was my face.
He smiled. “This just so happens to be my pretty best friend. We can alternate. You get a bad day, and then I get a bad day. We can take care of each other. What do you think?” He ever so sweetly wiped a tear from my face.
Much as I wanted to punish myself, there was something irresistible about the way he looked at me. I knew it wouldn’t end well. I knew accepting his acceptance was setting myself up for disaster. But I didn’t even care.
I smiled. “I think we’ll have to pick up more than a change of clothes.”
I was by no means cured. It doesn’t really work that way, after all. But he inspired a spark of courage in me. Maybe I didn’t have to be so alone. Maybe we could actually make this work.
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