There's going to be a point in your life when you do something good. Something important. Something that, though it might not be so big, could change somebody's life. Could save somebody's life.
And, of course, there are times when everything falls to pieces.
So which one is this?
He was staring at his hands, sitting on his bed, when I walked in.
The room was mostly dark, with light slanting through a reasonably-sized window onto the plain cement grey floor. It was small, only containing a bed, a chest of drawers, a wall-mirror, and a springy-looking old arm-chair. There were some pieces of paper stuck behind the bed, but I didn't pay close attention to them. I was more concentrated on the boy on the bed.
His dark, glossy hair was hanging over his eyes, as his head remained bent over his wrists. They were covered in white bandages. He curled and uncurled his fingers cautiously, almost as if he were afraid they were going to disappear.
I felt the need to break the silence. I coughed lightly.
He ignored me.
"Excuse me?" I asked politely.
He ignored me yet again.
Ok. Now to try for a different method.
I walked over to the old chair infront of his bed, and sat, resting my elbows on my knees, looking at him.
He looked up, startled, at my sudden entry.
"Hey," I said.
A confused, then irritated look flashed over his face, and he bent back over his hands, examining them.
"Hey," I repeated.
He glanced up at me again, only to duck again.
Now, I was irritated.
"Hey!" I said loudly.
He flinched and turned his full attention to me. His eyes, hooded by long eyelashes, were full of disgust, annoyance, and slight fear.
"Thanks," I sighed. I caught the expression on his face. "I know what you're thinking."
"That you're just another of those stupid therapists who think I'm crazy?" he snapped. "Then yeah, you're right."
I was slightly startled, but I pressed on.
"I don't think you're crazy," I countered.
"Yeah, right," he muttered. Then, in even softer tones, "I'm not crazy. I'm not."
"I know you're not," I reassured him. "This isn't crazy."
He laughed bitterly. "What, this?" He showed me his bandaged wrists.
"Yeah. That," I said simply.
He tucked his hands underneath his folded arms. "So, who are you?" he asked.
"I think I should be asking you that question."
He snorted, pushing some locks of hair out of his eyes. "Please. That idiotic doctor - what's his name, David? - no doubt already gave you my file. You already know my name, my age, my family members, how long I've been here, and what I did to get here. But, you know what? That's just crap. He doesn't know anything else about me - heck, he doesn't know anything about me in general. YOU don't know anything about me, either."
"He did give me the file. But I didn't read it."
The boy looked up at me from staring moodily at the door, startled. "You didn't?"
"No. I hate reading files. I'm not that old."
He examined me. Suddenly, he seemed more vulnerable. More open. "No. You don't look it. You're about my age. Why're you here if you're my age?"
"How old are you?" I asked, avoiding his question.
"I just turned seventeen two weeks ago."
"Oh." And he smiled, hesitantly, revealing the person he might've been. "Happy belated birthday."
I smiled. "Thanks. But I think I'm here to talk about you, not me."
The smile disappeared, and the same look of irritation and disgust pasted itself on his face. The vulnerability in his expression decreased.
"Fine," he said shortly. "I'm Cas."
"What's that short for?" I asked, instantly curious.
A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. "Casper."
"Like, the friendly ghost."
I laughed. "I think I'll call you Casper."
"Do I look like a ghost to you?"
"Not literally. But it makes sense. Ironically."
He thought about it, glanced down at his hands, and then smiled sadly. "I suppose it does."
"Anyway," I said. "Continue."
He twists his hands. "Casper Luca Johanson. Seventeen. Two brothers, Leon and Alexander. Been here for two months now. And got sent here because - " he put his wrists up, palms towards me. " - I attempted suicide."
Then he sighed, in a broken way, and dropped his hands back onto his lap.
I brought my legs up and tucked them underneath my body, on the chair, with my shoes still on. Casper eyed my feet warily, as if dirtying the couch could possibly kill me.
"I guess you want me to tell you something about myself, too."
He snorted. "No, I'd prefer not. But sure, go ahead. If it gets me out of this asylum, do whatever the hell you want."
His attitude constantly changed, like a door in the wind. He would flutter open, slightly, slightly, only to slam shut again.
I ignored that. "Ok. I'm Sage Thurling. Seventeen. I have an older brother called Luke, and a younger sister called Neoma, which means the new moon in Greek. I've been studying psychotherapy since I could. I tried out for becoming a therapist, and they accepted me because - " I thrust my own arm at him. " - they thought I might have experience."
Casper blinked, surprised, and glanced at my arm. His eyes trailed down to my wrist.
He jumped back in shock. His door seemed to open even wider.
"You did it too?" he asked, looking stunned.
I withdrew my arm, hiding the pale scars on my wrist. Self-inflicted scars.
"Yes," I replied plainly.
He looked stricken, the door still open. "You shouldn't."
"You shouldn't, either," I pointed out, gently.
"Yeah, but - " he still looked caught offguard. "You can't have needed it like I did."
I shrugged. "You don't know anything about me."
"Well - " Casper struggled with words. A strand of hair looped over his forehead.
"Never mind," I said, brushing it off. I glanced at my watch. "I just thought I ought to know who you are when we start having sessions."
And the door slammed shut again. "Therapy sessions? You've got to be kidding," Cas said in disbelief, looking at me with repulsion.
“Sorry,” I said, shrugging again.
"Whatever," he muttered, staring at his fingernails, angrily.
"I'm not here to annoy you, you know," I said.
"Well, every other therapist seemed to be. So I have no doubts about you being the same," he shot back.
Then he straightened up. "Why are you a therapist, anyway?" he asked, curiously.
"I want to help people in the ways others never helped me," I said simply. "I know what others never told me, never tried to help me with. And I can help other people like me with that, so I thought I should."
He glanced at me again, then looked back down.
"See you next week," I said, and slipped out the door.
It might've been my imagination, but I heard him say something back.
Not much. But a start.