Here's the second part of "Never Blend In." Thanks for reading!
I survive the meeting with the therapist and it isn’t awful a the time, but her questions seem to linger and I take a Vicodan as soon as I get home to clear my mind, put on Lou Reed’s Berlin -- Caroline says, as she gets up off the floor, you can hit me as much as you want to, but I don’t love you anymore. I know it’s my last night alone, and I feel how I imagine wives feel after their husband’s return from a long business trip -- sad to have their alone time cut, happy for things to return to normal, although I’d hesitate to use that word for our situation.
"Did you get my dry-cleaning?" Josh asks. "If you didn’t, I don’t have a shirt for tomorrow?"
"So why did you do it?"
"Do what?" Josh asks. He’s staring out the window at the late January scenery. The streets are littered with crap people toss out their windows, not caring how it will look embedded in the side of the road.
I try not to raise my voice. "Slash yourself to ribbons," I say. "I thought we were through with that. Isn’t your face enough?"
"I don’t want to talk about it."
"Shock, surprise," I say, a little shocked and surprised at how bitter I sound.
"Don’t be a bitch, Josette," Josh says. "I’ve had it with the psychobabble for the week. And I’m dreading school tomorrow. Does anyone know why I was out?"
"I said you were sick."
"Good. Nobody needs to know anything else about me."
"So I guess it’s long sleeve shirts forever then," I say, thinking of all the cuts, hesitation cuts if you fail to kill yourself. I don’t know if there’s a name for what they are if what you’re trying to do actually work.
"It’s Detroit. When the hell is it ever warm enough to wear anything else?"
We rent a movie on our way home, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, because Josh wants to see it even though he thinks it’s going to be stupid.
"It might be watchably bad," he says. I’d rather not take the risk, but I defer to him. He looks frail, as if the week in the loony ward took something from him.
"You have a late charge," the woman at the counter says. Scarface. God, I could not make this shit up. I forgot that I rented it during the blizzard and kept it for two weeks. I dropped it off and didn’t pay the fine, assuming I wouldn’t be here again for a long time.
"It’s mine. I’ll pay," I say, whipping out my debit card, a place where much gets taken and little added and somehow it’s all supposed to even out.
In the middle of the movie, Josh starts to cry. It’s such a strange unexpected sound that I don’t understand what’s happening at first. It’s not like I don’t ever see people cry -- almost every day I work, someone cries at the news of an unwanted pregnancy or news of an STD. Josh doesn’t shed a few tears -- he sobs. I pat him as if he’s an elderly aunt I haven’t seen in years. I rush up for Kleenex and find there isn’t any so I return with a wad of toilet paper. The movie continues and the wedding is predictably wacky and wonderful and I think, how did this piece of shit story draw anyone to the watch it?
Josh accepts my offer of a Xanax. I hate to part with one of my friends, but it’s an emergency. Since Josh never takes any pills except anti-depressants, he’s asleep in no time, and I set his alarm. Despite everything, I want to make sure he wakes up.
With Josh back home, things feel almost normal, but not quite, as if we’d broken up. After Josh’s crying jag, everything feels tentative. Josh did not comment on Coley’s clearing out, and I know he hasn’t heard from her. I wonder if she had an abortion, decided that she could get away from Josh, no strings attached, unlike me. She was still in the first trimester when things are pretty uncomplicated. I suspect Josh and I might never know the answer to that question. Are you sure you want to delete? Maybe Coley doesn’t know and maybe she does and yells at the phone, Yes, why are you still asking me that question?
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everything will change. The only question is growing up or decaying." Nikki Giovanni
Drinking music suggestion: America V: A Hundred Highways Johnny Cash
Benedictions and Maledictions