More about Riley later? I wanted to know now. She... he... fuck it I don’t know. Riley’s interesting. We’ll leave it at that.
I walk with Riley to get my meds before the day’s activities began. For me, it’s the kind of antidepressant that can potentially make you a vegetable for the day - I think they call it Mirtazapine - and a methadone dose to stop me going insane from withdrawals while I’m here. They want to get me clean. Like that’ll ever fucking happen. If I want to get clean, I’ll fucking do it myself. Somehow. Either way, I don’t want to, so chances are I won’t.
After the pills (Riley doesn’t get any, the lucky cunt), we’re herded off to the music room for a couple hours. The music room isn’t so bad. I mean, the instruments aren’t exactly good quality, but they’re okay. I settle down in the corner with an out of tune acoustic guitar and set about trying to get it to sound at least like it’s half in tune. I glance up at Riley.
“Y’know this is a music room, right? We’re s’posed to sit here and play something til we’re told to shut up.”
“Yeah, but I don’t particularly like playing music in front of people. And what if you can’t play an instrument like whatshername with her drum over there?”
I looked over at the chick she... he. Fuck. I looked over, anyway, and smiled a little. “I won’t start playing my guitar then.”
“No... don’t let me stop you.”
“I don’t wanna make you feel more shy,” I laughed slightly. I know, I sounded like an egotistical dick, but I’d been playing guitar for most of my life. I was, at the very least, half decent at it. I put the guitar aside and leant back on the wall. “Is it later yet?”
“Later?... Oh right. Hmph. What do want to know?” Riley tugs at their sleeves.
“Well, if you’re a tra- trans, does that make you a guy?”
“Yes. Yet biologically a girl.”
“But I’m s’posed to call you ‘he’ and stuff?” I ask, tilting my head, trying to understand.
“Yeah... I’m just as much ‘he’ and male as you are.”
“But you don’t have a dick,” I arch an eyebrow.
He rolls his eyes and lets out this sigh that kind of sounds like he gets this a lot. “That’s not the point... what’s down there doesn’t matter.”
“Oh,” I frown to myself. “I’ve never met a tranny - sorry. I’ve never met a trans person, before. Doesn’t it bother you though?”
“Now you have. And it would be awesome if you treated me just the same as other people. Of course it bothers me. It bothers me a lot... like I said HUGE clue as to why I’m here...”
“Because you don’t like your body? That’s not enough to land a person here unless they have an eating disorder, usually.” I remember this chick that was here with me once. Her name was Sally. She was the tiniest person I’d ever met, but she thought she was the size of an elephant or something. I don’t remember how they got her to eat. Can’t have been much fun for her though.
“I loathe my body. But I guess that’s just the root of my problems that landed me here. I don’t really want to talk about it right now though. I’ll have to later and the thought of that is unbearable.”
“Yeah, sorry. I’ll shut up,” I smiled weakly and glanced up at the clock. A whole hour til I had to go see Campbell.
“It’s cool... It’s just, I don’t know.” There’s an awkward silence. “Play something... pleeease,” he drags the word out insistently.
I hesitate before picking up the guitar, wondering what I can play. After a moment, I decide on playing ‘Be Like That’ by 3 Doors Down. It’s easy enough that I end up humming along, totally forgetting that I’m playing in front of someone watching me intently.
“You’re good... better than me.” He smiles; he doesn’t look jealous, which is a kind of relief, I guess. I get the feeling he was being genuine. I smile and thank him, asking if he’ll play something too. He gives me this lopsided smile that’s kinda cute, and holds out his hand for the guitar. I oblige, handing it over.
He stares at me blankly “...What should I play?”
“How about... something by AFI?”
“They’re good... pick one and I’ll tell you if I know it”
“‘It Was Mine’?” It was one of my favourites, both to play and to listen to.
“I guess you’re lucky that I know that one.” He plucked nervously at the strings, warming up with the chorus and I smiled. He was pretty good. But he ended almost as shyly as he started.
“I dunno what that face is for. You’re not bad, y’know.”
“Thanks man... when is this over?” he asks, handing back the guitar.
“Music room is two hours, usually,” I replied, cradling the guitar, just because it gave me something to do with my hands other than scratch at the bandages, or sit there awkwardly not knowing what to do with them.
“That’s a bit long... Seriously. I’d much prefer to just go back to my room... how long do you think it would take for that one to notice me go?”
“They prefer us to be creative instead of vegetating in front of the TV,” I looked over at the nurse watching over our group, “not long. You’d be better off waiting it out. We get a cigarette break at the end of the session, though.” Even if you don’t smoke, it’s a chance to go outside and get a break from being inside all day. Smoking breaks are every hour or so, which isn’t so bad, I guess.
“I don’t smoke. I’m barely hitting legal age... how old are you even?”
“Eighteen,” I reply.
“Seventeen.” He slouches into his chair. “Do I have calls?”
“You have to buy a call card for the pay phone. Y’know, if you wanna get out of here, I can distract the nurse, if you want?”
“Never mind. I’m good.” He couldn’t look anymore disinterested right now.
“Fair enough. I wanted to see how the nurse would react to me throwing the guitar at her. I’ve never thought of doing that before.”
“I think you’re mad.” I laugh. That was certainly ironic, considering.
“I’ve heard that one before. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that, I’d be a very rich man,” I chuckle and so does Riley. It’s really tempting to throw the guitar at the nurse, but I decide against it. The isolation room is boring. And the last time I was here and kicked off - I was having a really bad day and figured I’d make it hell for everyone else too - the nurse had to use those restraints that tie you to the bed. She didn’t appreciate it when I made a comment about how kinky it was. I can feel myself scowling at the floor at the memory, but before Riley can say anything to me about it, there’s a knock on the door. We all look up.
“Damien Cross?” I stand up and pat Riley on the shoulder.
“See you in an hour. Try not to go crazy in here,” I flash him a half grin and follow the nurse out of the room to Campbell’s room.