Sitting with her back pressed painfully into a white, plastic chair, Ava gazed out the window. Today was the day all of the girls had a counseling session. They took turns talking about what was wrong with them.
One girl, Ava forgot her name, said she was a cutter. She showed off her scars, and then sat back, smirking. Another said she was anorexic, though she didn’t look it one bit. The final in the group of six, was Bridget. Everyone around knew her issue, because she had been a patient the longest.
Emma, the group leader, turned her brown eyes on Ava, smiling softly. They hadn’t gotten a chance to talk when she was first brought here, and that had been two days ago.
“Would you like to say something?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Nothing.”
Suddenly, there was a snort somewhere to the left of the room. A voice said, “Please. I know there’s something wrong with you, or you wouldn’t be here.”
It was Bridget, sitting forward and glaring at Ava with sharp, blue eyes.
She couldn’t get away from his eyes, it seemed.
“Now Bridget,” Emma said, looking in her direction, “if Ava doesn’t want to talk right now, there’s no reason to make her.”
“It’s not your place,” said the cutter. She pushed her brown hair out of her face. Then she looked at Ava, nodding once. “It’s her choice.”
“Ari, you really need to not always give your opinion,” Bridget snapped. “Do you know how annoying it is?”
“Almost as annoying as your rudeness I imagine,” Ari said. She crossed her legs at the ankle, uncrossed them, and crossed them again. Then uncrossed them once more.
Ava reminded herself to thank Ari later.
“Maybe it was a bad day for this,” someone next to her muttered. Ava turned her head, not ever having noticed the small girl beside her.
“Is it ever a good day?” Ava asked.
“Not really,” said the girl. “I’m Marty.”
“Hi,” Ava muttered. “What are you doing here? No offense, but you seem, well, normal.”
“No one’s normal here, not even the doctors.” Marty was playing with something on her wrist. When she caught Ava watching her, she lifted her arm. “I was in a mental hospital up until three months ago. It was pretty boring.”
“But isn’t this—”
“Hardly,” scoffed Marty. “It’s a treatment facility, like it says on the sign out front. They don’t do tests on us here, not like they did where I came from.”
“Where did you come from?”
“Upstate. Easton Psychiatric. Don’t worry, I’m harmless now.”
Ava sat back, feeling slightly uncomfortable in Marty’s presence. Before she knew it, the group session was over, and as the girls started to file out, she saw that Ari lingered behind. She was still sitting in her chair, her lips moving quickly.
“What, you’ve never seen someone with OCD before?” Ari asked, eyeing Ava, who was staring blankly at her. “It’s not as bad as it looks, trust me.” When she had finished, she stood up and walked forward. “Don’t let Bridget bully you. I heard about what you did to her the other night. That was pretty cool.”
“But I didn’t—”
Ari grinned at her. “Don’t you get it? We all have our own personal demons to deal with here. Maybe yours was just fed up and decided to act. Hey, sit with me at lunch, okay?”
Ava nodded slowly and followed her out into the hallway.