“I was just wondering if I should get, like, tested or something?” I said.
I was putting a lot of trust in this woman. I did kind of want a professional opinion on whether I should do something though.
“I don’t think she stabbed anyone else with it… but I can’t be sure” I said. She was just staring at me though, had I don’t something wrong? Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.
I’d checked, in this state I could take her to court if she broke confidentiality. The only exception would be if she had solid evidence that I was being abused by an adult or evidence I was a direct danger to myself or someone else.
I’d also looked into past court cases and there was a precedent set in numerous cases for how far ‘a danger’ was. For example five years ago a school councillor had gotten convicted of breaching confidentiality when a she give information on a student who said they would act in self defence. That didn’t count as a being a danger to someone because the student wasn’t initiating the violence, just reacting.
I didn’t think she would put her career on the line for my sake.
Eventually Mz Andrews said something “Are… are you ok? Can I see where? I have some first aid training.”
I didn’t see why not. I lifted my sleeve.
“It looks worse than it is, it’s actually healed over. There’s just a bruise now. I’m more worried about like, tetanus or… something else.” I said. She seemed to be making a bigger deal than it really was.
She took my arm and poked it a bit. “Does that hurt?”
“Nope. It mostly stopped hurting after a day. I thought it would be worse you know. It was better than a kick to the ribs.”
“What? When has that happened?” She said.
“Oh, hasn’t happened for ages. Not since before the holidays. And even then it didn’t hurt for long. Sometimes, it keeps hurting for like weeks afterwards.” I smiled. “It’s actually not been as bad since Monday. Nothing has happened. Well, you know just words.”
“Weeks? How did it hurt, when you breathed in?”
“Well, yeah – that’s what it’s like when you get hit in the chest duh.” Was this woman stupid or something?
“Alexis, that sounds like you had fractured ribs.”
“Really? I thought that was bad or something?” I was dubious, how could I break my ribs and not even notice? I didn’t think I was going to tell her about that time my wrist swelled up when I fell on it, she was blowing this all out of proportion.
“It is bad Alexis, how long has this been going on?”
“Oh I don’t know. Things got worse this year. People have always picked on me though, I’m not normal.”
“Why do you say that?” I rolled my eyes. She was in councillor mode. Always questions.
“Because it’s true, anyone can see that. I don’t have any friends – well except recently.”
“Recently?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I started talking to this girl, Beth. She’s really nice. She’s the only person who actually tried to talk to me for years even when I was kind of mean to her.”
“Well, that’s really good!” She sounded a bit happier with me. I felt myself relax a bit. Thinking about the holiday I spent with Beth was making me happier too.
“Yeah it is. I slept over at her house. I’ve never done that before. Recently though…” As quickly as my mood lifted a moment ago it fell. I started tapping absent-mindedly on the arm of the chair I was sitting in.
I’d been having trouble since we started back at school. She’d spent all the lunchtimes talking with Mike about stuff I just couldn’t really join in with. It made me hate myself for being so weird – everything they seemed to talk about, TV programmes, holidays, celebrities and films, I knew nothing about.
Mz Andrews waited for me to continue as she so liked to do.
“It’s just that I’m not used to talking. We don’t really have much in common and ever since I’ve been back she’s always been with other people and she gets on with them so well. I just feel… Left out? I mean, normally that’s the status-quo but with Beth it matters.”
“How does that make you feel?”
Oh god, not this again.
The rest of the session went along a similar vein. Mz Andrews, or ‘Kayla’ as she liked students to call her listened and asked questions but didn’t offer many solutions. She kept trying to herd the conversation back to Haley and what she’d done to me. I told her about almost everything, the name-calling, taunting and smaller things along some of the ‘big’ ones like when they stole my clothes after gym or threw me in one of the large bins around the back of the kitchens.
To my annoyance she tried to persuade me to tell someone. I explained why I wouldn’t over and over but she just didn’t get it in her head. Being stabbed with a needle just confirmed my theory that Haley was a complete psychopath. Unless I changed school, she would find me as soon as she found out I said something and I’d get worse than a pin-prick in the arm.
Still, I left my second session feeling a bit lighter. Nothing had been resolved but I did feel like I had gotten a lot off my chest.
* * *
My next class was one of the few I shared with Beth. I got there early, my counselling session ending a little before a class would. I had to miss a class to attend but it was Mz Gregory’s and she was happy to have me drop out as long as I did the work – which she usually watched me do after school anyway.
I found a table at the back and unpacked my stuff and pretended to be doing some work for the ten minutes it took for people to filter in.
I looked up and saw Beth enter, my mood lifted when I saw she was alone. She caught my eye, smiled shyly and took the seat next to me.
Ok, now I really didn’t know what to say. We sat in silence, like we almost always did. God I was an idiot. Why can’t I just be normal? I’ve got to say something, anything.
I just started making noises and hoped they would turn into sentences.
“Uh… Err.” Good start.
“Hi.” Play it safe. Can’t go wrong with that.
“Hi Alexis.” Beth replied.
“Are you, do you…” Do you still like me? I couldn’t finish. Earlier I’d sat with her at lunch for an hour with her, why was I so retarded? I concentrated on the pen in my hand, rolling it between my fingers.
“Listen Alexis, I’m sorry about how we left things over the holidays.” She said.
“Huh?” Why was she sorry? I dropped the pen on the table and had to slap my hand down to stop it rolling on to the floor. I looked across to her. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you couldn’t stay over because of my mom and everything… I just thought I’d pushed you away. You didn’t call me and you haven’t spoken to me since we got back.” She looked away.
“What the fuck are you talking about? Beth, I don’t have a phone.” Shit too loud. I lowered my voice. “I didn’t want to annoy you. I didn’t know whether you wanted me to ring you straight away…”
“Really?” She said.
“Yeah… It’s hard for me. I’ve not really had a friend like you before” She blushed. I looked back down at my hands. “I don’t really know what to do. Every lunch you’ve been talking with Mike and… You seemed to get along so well. I didn’t want to get in between you. I dunno – I never know what to say.”
“Oh, Alexis. I’m sorry – I didn’t realise.” She flashed me a smile. “You don’t have to say anything you know, I don’t mind. I really like being with you even if we don’t talk much.”
Did she really mean that?
“Do you want to come over tonight or something? Mom is making Thai-curry again.” She said, looking hopeful.
“Of course! Hey, I was meaning to ask you all week – could you cut my hair? I want it shorter and I thought you’d be good at stuff like that.” I was smiling again. My heart felt lighter.