I rolled over into the plush pillow that laid flat on my sheeted mattress. The moon peeked through my curtains and slowly, my senses came back to life. Blinking, a dull headache spanned over my forehead.
In those rare occasions where I'd wake up hours before sunrise, just to fight to fall asleep again, I'd sit for hours reassuring myself that I was some form of normal. The consistent nightmares, my divorcing parents who fought on a daily note, and the therapy sessions. I told myself that it was totally ordinary to have some rough waters, a therapist wasn't horrible. I truly didn't need her, and I'd survive without her. Although, somewhere inside me, I knew deep down, Julie was my saving grace.
She took me away from all the hurt from my parents from all the fighting.
She took me away from the deep side of my brain for that hour that I spent with her every other couple days. She took me away from the high school drama. From, the oh so amazing quarterback, the most popular junior, who dumped me for a cheerleader.
She made me feel like I wasn't so different from the world outside my door.
But every time I left, it would all come flooding back.
I stood and padded to the window, hoping that the intrusive torment from inside my head would stay at the foot of my bed. I didn't care that I would eventually have to come back to my mental prison, but the abuse followed. With double-dealing sincerity.
I hoisted the window into place and crawled out onto the plated platform, stretching into the summer night breeze. In Southern Washington, it got pretty cold at night but fairly warm in the mid-afternoons, but it was rare to get such a good sight of the stars.
I plopped down, pulling my knees to my chest. The moon was bright, slender, and waning. Just the light itself was delicate on my skin, softly kissing each and every goosebump. As I shifted to get comfortable the stars winked at me. Getting comfortable seemed impossible as all my senses fell under a state of purgatory.
A cool draft swept up my sleeves as a dark fog profiled a silhouette until it cleared through. A light-skinned gentleman, with wavy caramel hair, dull, deep bluish-green eyes, broad cheekbones, but a soft slender face came into view. He didn't look older than twenty-five.
He never spoke. He shook and nodded his head to literally anything I would ever say. But he was someone who would just listen. No advice. No input. But with that, I never knew his name. And so his nickname came to be Blue.
He didn't argue.
I first brought him up to Mom, about eight months ago, she had said how nice it was that I had someone I could talk to. The second time, I tried to introduce him to her, I'd lost him. He vanished in the awkward exchange between my mother and I. The third time, she said 'invisible friends weren't real. When I tried the fourth time she told me it was time to get this 'make-believe shit out of my head'. And so I started therapy. And I'm supposed to tell Julie every time I see him.
It's been five months with Julie, and I can't remember the last time I told her.
"I'm glad to see you."
"It doesn't seem like you've been up to much."
I glanced over to watch him shake his head.
"What makes tonight so different from every other night? Why are you here now?"
He shook his head.
"That doesn't even make sense. I don't know why I ask you things."
He gave me a sympathetic puppy dog look. I shook my head and smiled.
"The simplest things man." Just his company made me feel like a complete person. But that look, it got me every time.
We sat there for a good hour, just staring at the stars, tracing the constellations, watching the clouds form shapes. I only tucked inside when the rain started to come down. Blue followed me in. He sat down on top of my deep blue sheets and patted the empty spot beside him. I crawled under the covers and rested my head on his lap. He was a safe place, my safe place, where nothing could affect me. Not even my nightmares.
Rolling over into the blankets and pillows, I realized Blue was gone. I let out a sigh of disappointment and debated if I even wanted to leave my bed today.
Peeling open my eyes against the light peeking through my curtains, light grey clouds hung over the sun, and light droplets of water pattered on my window. I stretched, with the hope to extinguish an awful pinch in my mid-back. I only made it worse.
With a groan, I rolled to the edge of my bed, planting my feet in to cool soft carpet. Across the way stood my mirror. It captured the majority of my room. Including me.
Pacing over to the mirror, I could already notice all my imperfections. My eyes, a mix between sapphire and emerald, seemed to have sunk in my face, my jaw was tense, my dark brown locks bounced around my head in knots. Scanning over my reflection, each and every noticeable point on my body stood out. The tightness in my shoulders, the crook of my elbows, the knobs of my knees, the pink tint to my toes.
Taking one last glance at the mirror, I ducked away to find clothes that didn't make me feel seen. A good pair of black jeans and a pretty green t-shirt, I decided to throw in a little color with a mix-matched pair of socks. I brushed my hair into lazy waves to hide the awkward tightness in my face and pulled a thin blanket around my shoulders as a final touch. Where was I headed? Into the dangerous waves of hate and disgust my parents spewed at each other everyday.
I tip-toed around the creaky floorboards I had mapped in my head and sunk down the stairs, in hope to stay out of my parents' earshot. As soon as the arguing started again, I crept a little closer trying to stay as adjacent to the wall as possibly capable. I knew if one of them saw me, they would drag me into the conversation and use me on the other parent.
"Why are you acting like this?" Dad stomped down the hall.
"Acting like what?" Mom sipped at her tea.
"A child, Valerie! A fucking child!"
"I've done nothing but clean out your half the room for you, Thomas." She glanced out the sliding door as Dad stormed back into the living room only for him to glare at the smoking grill on the porch.
"Woman, I swear." Yanking the sliding door open, he ripped the lid off the grill to find crispy underpants still burning.
"The rest of your clothes are out the front door, once you head that way don't bother coming back in," Mom called out.
Dad stomped back in, storming into the dining room, his loaded suitcase in his sights. My stomach sank. My heart began to crumble, and I realized this was probably the last time I'll talk to my dad, or even see him, again.
Mom was the kind of person to hold grudges, and now that it was my Dad being sought out by my mother, I was going to be the breakaway. I was the 'get out of jail free card'. So I was always hiding, in fear, I would be brought into another fight. I was terrified Mom would hold a grudge on me if I ever tried to help my Dad in any argument, and I had no idea why.
I slipped out from behind the wall to make a quick glance at my Dad as he looked back. He gave me that look, "I'm sorry sweetie", that he always gives me when he's in the wrong but couldn't bring himself to admit it. I caught the line of my mother's gaze, the look wasn't of anger or disappointment but rather tenderheartedness.
I didn't know if I should chase after dad just to see him for these last few minutes, or if I should retreat to hiding back upstairs. Everything was closing in on me faster than I anticipated. But once dads' car started, my feet moved on their own, and I was already racing to his window just as he shifted into reverse.
"Do you have to go?" I could feel the burn behind my eyes.
"Honey, I wish I could explain." I sniffled.
"Why don't you? I just want to understand. Just this once, explain to me, make me understand." And that wave of emotion rolled down my cheek.
"Sweetie, everything will make sense; eventually." With one last pinch of his brows and twinkle in his eye, he pulled away. Left. Vanished. And you know, he probably wasn't going to come back for me.
I stood there for a minute. Taking in everything that was happening.
Dad, the one who took me to Julie, was leaving. Mom, who probably thought I was psycho, watched me from the corner of her eye as I paced back in the house. And I, I didn't know where my life was going to go after this. I closed the door behind me softly before turning to retreat back upstairs.
"I can take you to your therapy today," Mom called out, a pinch of hope in her voice.
"I would like to take the bus." I kept my back to her.
"Oh, okay. Well if you change your mind before one, let me know." She slowly lowered her voice as I walked up the stairs. She knew I was trying to avoid her. She hated that I was closer to my dad, but it's difficult to be close to someone who makes you fear for the next argument, or next fight.
I laid down, hiding under the covers again. What was I going to say to Julie? Hey Julie my dad left me this morning with my emotionally manipulative mother.
I'll just take a walk to the farthest bus stop from the house and I'll only be a few minutes late.