This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for high school students, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.
"Good Afternoon, Miss Dawson. How do you feel today?" That's how every appointment started. She'd make small talk, asked me about my day, my feelings, how school went, and in return, depending on my emotions at that moment, I'd decide whether or not to be direct and honest. I hated small talk and her conversations were no exception.
"...Broken. I feel broken, Maria." I just wasn't up to tiptoeing around. "It feels as if there are parts of me missing and parts of me that are crumbled. I feel like I was just completely shattered. You know, like glass."
Maria shuffled a few pages in her stack around quietly. "It's interesting that you use the word, 'glass,' as a metaphor for yourself. Can you think of any other ways that you are similar to glass?"
"Well, it seems like you can see through me as if I am glass." A weak smile and my eyes darted to Dr. Kane's to dissect her reaction. Abruptly, I lowered them to my grungy converse after realizing what I did and where I recognized the behavior from. Why do I still seek that stupid approval?
"Why don't you try again?" Her voice was kindly and gentle, as usual, but I still attempted to analyze her tone. Even after all of our sessions together I still tried to locate some semblance of real emotion on her face. Some sign of a woman behind the robot. No one could be that happy all of the time. No one could always be that understanding. Especially when they were a pyschologist specializing in other people's personal problems. It's inhuman.
Failing, I sighed and attempted to find an answer to her question. "I'm... fragile, right? That's the way we're similar, right Doct- Maria?" I looked up again to see if the therapist caught my slip-up. Ever since the first appointment, the "test run to see if you [I] would benefit from continuing" (in actuality, I had no choice in the matter), she insisted on me calling her by her first name. It was to install some familiarity between us, she said. All the while, she continued to address me by my surname. I didn't want her pseudo-familiarity and I took her calling me by my last name as a power move. I was not one for playing games but I liked losing them even less.
"Do you think that that is the right answer for you, Miss Dawson? Do you think that you are fragile?" I frowned at her questions. In one of our earlier sessions, I had dropped the fact that it was quite rude to answer a question with a question and that when you did do that, you weren't giving a proper answer. Dr. Kane simply smiled noncommittally and wrote something down on that damned pad of hers. After that, I just gave up on ever receiving a straight answer. Additional thinking about it simply led to migraines and a true understanding of the nickname, "shrinks."
"I'm not fragile. I don't think I am. Not now, at least. Maybe before I was. Can you consider broken pieces of china still fragile? Can you break what's already broken?" As a method of defense, I had also taken up the habit of answering her questions with more of my own. It slightly helped to think I wasn't the only one to pop an Advil after our session.
But then I began to ponder my own question. Was I broken? Yes, that I knew for sure. But am I fragile anymore? Am I still breakable?
My forehead creased with thought and though my eyes were still glued to my dirty sneakers, I saw a ghost of a small smile flit across her face while she scribbled on the aforementioned pad. Oh no, I thought, she was winning.
"Interesting. You keep using that adjective, 'broken'. Why is that?"
I began to feel uncomfortable again. I was restless in my seat and I shuffled my feet around a bit. "Because I am broken," I said in a quiet voice. "Because he broke me."
- Sydney Guillory, 15, Chicago, IL