Raine stared at her for more than a minute before answering. All he could muster up softly was, “Better?”
She nodded, smiling, and he let out of huge sigh of relief. Not that he actually believed her. She appeared to be better but he had a feeling the worse wasn’t over yet. Though this Dalton thing was over, she couldn’t possibly be better. What does better even mean?
But he pushed those thoughts aside, smiling back at her. He wanted her to believe that he believed her. He wanted things to go back to normal. He wanted everything to be okay.
“Why are you opening the fridge?” Macy asked with a snicker, “You can’t cook, let’s go out.”
He closed it, laughing as well. “Oh shush. Fine, let’s go out.” He held out his hand graciously and she took it, holding onto him as if only he could make everything okay. And he did.
One month later…
“You were given this life because you are strong enough to live.” Ellie Aston declared to Macy before every therapy session.
Ellie Aston was in her mid-30s, alone, with one kid. She has been working as a therapist since she was 25 and is completely in love with the idea of helping troubled people. Especially because she’s been through her own troubles, though who hasn’t? At fifteen she was raped by a boyfriend and became pregnant. Her parents kicked her out even after she admitted she was raped. They didn’t care; they had always loved her younger sister more. Up until her high school graduation, she lived with her best friend’s family and attended the local community college. She eventually graduated, moved into an apartment on her own and supported herself with two jobs while continuing extra schooling in psychology. When dealing with long-term patients, she felt it necessary to share her story, gaining their trust.
This was their 12th time meeting since the Tuesday Macy had stopped crying herself to sleep. She rarely cried during therapy sessions in the beginning, putting on a mask that she was fine, just fine. But as she got closer to Ellie, Macy opened up to explain her true feelings. If talking about it could make her forget it all, she’d stay talking for days. But still, even if it didn’t, she was determined not to let this event consume her summer.
By the end of week three, Macy had explained her family issues, her parents’ divorce and everything going on before Dalton. Week five, she started in on the Dalton thing. She never once said his name to Ellie, secretly couldn’t bear to because it made the event all the more real. By telling everything in he-she form, she separated herself from it. Never mentioning his name, her name, Raine, Brandon, or Stan made it seem like nothing more than a story. And she was okay with that. Whatever would make it go away faster.
And even though she was talking about painful things, she somehow started feeling better. And not just pretend better, but really better. Stronger. Talking about the incident gave her a strength she knew she had but couldn’t quite reach until now.
Her mom still didn’t know anything, but Macy didn’t have the strength to face that just yet. Or more like, Brandon didn’t. He agreed to the therapy and recovery process but he just couldn’t tell their mother. Though she deserved to know what was really going on with them, he couldn’t tell her, lying every time Macy left the house from 2 to 4 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Sometimes she would go alone; sometimes Raine would accompany her and sit outside the office. On this particular day he was waiting, promising to take her out to lunch afterwards. A new diner had opened up on the corner last week and they were instantly frequent customers. It was a cute, quiet, and homey place nested on the corner of Howard and 6th Street.
Raine checked his watch, 4:03. He was hungry, almost impatient and stood as soon as Ellie’s office door opened. Macy stepped out smiling and he couldn’t help but smile back. It was a good day, he could tell. Sometimes her eyes and nose would be red from crying but on days like today, when she walked out with a smile, he knew good progress was being made. He kissed her cheek as she closed the door behind her, holding out his hand like always.
“Lunch?” he asked.
“Yes please.” They walked a ways down the hall and Macy pressed the elevator button as Raine bounced on the balls of his sneakers. “Impatient are we?” she observed and he nodded slightly.
“You know me too well.”
“And that makes me happy. Before I couldn’t tell if you were sarcastic or just rude. Now I know you’re both … Mr. Bond.”
He chuckled as they entered the elevator. “Sarcastic and rude are very becoming qualities you know. So I’ll take them both as a compliment, thank you very much.” She shoved his shoulder lightly as he puckered up for a kiss. The elevator doors slid closed just as she leaned into him.