Looking For Now[l.h]

in which a lost boy tries to fix a broken girl.

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4. Ashton

 

"Elias!" I screech running into his arms and embracing him tightly. We haven't seen each other in a month due to our busy schedules, and now we finally get to see each other again for my graduation.

"Hey, love, I missed you," he speaks into my hair which muffles his voice.

"I missed you too. God, I'm so nervous," I pull back, and his hands drop down to grab mine and intertwine our fingers.

"Don't be! I mean what's the worst that can happen? I guess you could fall and trip on your face..." He teases and I gape at him.

"Don't say that! Now I'm scared," I pout at him.

"Sorry, love, I was only joking," he smirks and soon I'm smiling too.

"Have any tips, I mean you did do this last year,"

"Head up, look forward, bright smile. Don't look nervous, since hundreds of people will have their cameras pulled out," he says with a very serious face.

"Babe, you're supposed to be encouraging me, now you're scaring me!" I sigh in frustration. This is the biggest moment of my life yet. The beginning of our journey, after this we can go to the same college.

"I'm only teasing you because you're so worried about it. I promise you, it's not bad," he reassures me and kisses me softly on the nose, causing my stomach to do a belly flop. I love him I really do.

"Okay, thanks," I grin at him trying to hide the fear of messing up that is stirring inside of me.

"Well you better go in there, love, they'll be setting up soon," he gives my hands a tight reassuring squeeze, "I'll be right in the front of the audience cheering my girl on, so deep breaths and you got this."

The last thing I see is his white breathtaking smile before my eyes snap open when there is a knock on my door. It better not be that Leigh Anne lady again, I am in no mood to talk to some random woman about the events of the past twenty-four hours.

"What?" I groan loud enough for it to reach through the thin door that separates my tiny, old, and rotting room from the hospital hallways.

Once again, rather than answering me, the auburn haired woman comes walking right with clutching a bag in her painted red nails. Hasn't she ever heard of privacy? If this is going to be my room for a while I am not going to deal with this every day.

"Good morning, Cora. I am here because I have to ask you a few questions. In case you were wondering this is not the start of your treatment, not yet anyways. This is simply me trying to explain to you what is going on," she says in a very business-like tone before pulling out the chair from my desk and sitting down.

"Look, I know what's going on. You're going to monitor me for seventy-two hours and treat me like a psycho-path then we can both move on with our lives, am I correct?" I cross my arms daring her to tell me I'm wrong. Yesterday I was too out of it to try to process what would happen, but now I remember reading about a girl who attempted suicide and was out in "suicide watch" so three days and I'm out. The thought relieves the stress of having to stay here, but it strikes a fear into my heart that Elias will find me.

"Actually, you are in fact, mistaken," she says with a smirk that says "I told you so" before continuing, "the man who brought you here, Jackson, is a good friend of mine and that is how he knew to take you here. He has convinced me that you are not an average patient, since you didn't actually harm yourself yet, you were waiting for the train right?" I nod my head slowly in answer. I'm surprised by her new information and don't know what to say, "he thinks it is best if we keep you here as more of a therapy patient and talk you through your troubles. I am thinking that this is the best option and I will decide after you answer one question: do you have a home, Cora?"

I chew on my lip debating on whether to be honest with her or not, "no, I don't have a home or a family really."

"It's settled then, since you've got no place else to go, and we obviously cannot let you out on your own again, you will remain here for as long as I, your doctor, find it necessary. This is a state run facility, so we offer our service to everyone, but since you don't have insurance so you'll stay in this room, which is intended for the short stay patients, but it will do. I am going to allow you to leave the room, just like the other long term patients, but there will always be someone watching, so don't try anything," she says all at once and my mind whirls trying to process everything I was just told.

"Okay," I mumble anxiously waiting for her to leave my room and leave me the hell alone.

"I plan on your cooperation, Cora, we want to do nothing, but help," her tense and uptight expression flickers for a moment and she gives me a small smile, "you slept the whole morning away, lunch starts in twenty minutes and if you aren't out there I am coming back in to get you. After lunch we will meet for a more formal discussion," she says eyeing my bruised arms and making me feel self-conscious.

"I'll be there, don't bother coming in," I begin to pick at a whole in my ratty jeans, not wanting to make eye contact with her.

"Here is a bag full of things you might want during your stay here," she gets up smoothing down the front of her skirt and hands me the canvas drawstring she was holding.

"Thanks," I take it from her and wait for her to shut the door behind her before I look through the contents of the bag. There are four different colored t-shirts: navy, green, white and black, two pairs of black yoga pants, two pairs of running shorts, and a black hoodie. There is also a toothbrush with a small traveling toothpaste tube, and a rubber hairbrush. At the very bottom there is a watch, and a small journal and pen. These are all I have for who knows how long.

I reluctantly stand up to change, mostly because I do not want her coming back in to get me before lunch. I didn't realize how sweaty I was until I have to peel my shirt off of my wet skin. I put on a pair of the yoga pants and slip on the sweatshirt to conceal my arms. I grab my toothbrush and toothpaste and go to open the door, but realize it's still locked.

I bang with all of the energy I can muster to try to get someone to let me out. My door swings open before my fist can make contact with the door twice and a broad middle-aged man is behind it, "how did you get here so fast?"

"Don't you know miss, I am your guard, Walter, I'll be with you most of the time to ensure that you can come in and out. I will accompany you to where you need to go," he speaks as though I should have already known all of this.

"I thought I wasn't on the suicide watch though, that I would be a normal patient,"

"Yes, that's what Leigh Anne decided, but it is still mandatory procedures that you have someone keeping an eye on you first three days. You do have the privilege to go to the commons areas of the institution already, which is something most people in your situation do not," he explains and makes it seem like I should be grateful for this.

"Well, I'm going to brush my teeth," I huff and push past him down the hallway looking for something to indicate the restroom areas.

"Um, it's the other way miss," I blush at spin on my heels to walk in the other direction. I try to ignore him as I hear his footsteps close behind me.

I get to the bathroom and swing open the door and try to slip in before he can say anything, but he stops me from shutting the door with his foot, "you have five minutes to brush your teeth and whatever else you need to do," he informs me before moving his foot and letting the door close. Now I know why they gave me the watch, they time everything. I seriously regret not grabbing it on my way out.

"Times up," the gruff voice calls from behind the door, and I push it open in fear that he would not have a problem with barging in if I was in for too long.

We walk down the long, gray, and creepy looking corridor when I realize I don't know where I'm going, "how long until lunch?"

"About two minutes. I doubt you'll have time to stop in your room, so we might as well head over," he looks to be for response and I nod my head and follow him to the cafeteria.

We don't have to make any turns to get there, the hallway leads straight into it. The cafeteria isn't very big; there are four round tables with four seats at each and there a door that says kitchen on it on the opposite wall. There's a window where the kitchen is that I assume is where they give you the food. I look around and see there aren't too many patients here either, each of the four tables has at least one person at it, but one of them has three people sitting around it.

"I'll let you get your food from here, and I'll watch from back here for when you are done eating," he says and leans against the wall outside of the hallway. I reply with an "okay," and start towards the window.

"Haven't seen you around before," the lady in the kitchen behind the window grumbles as she slops some mashed potatoes and a chicken sandwich onto my styrofoam plate.

"Yeah, I have not been here before," I answer and she gives me a knowing nod and a sad smile before I turn around looking for somewhere to sit. I immediately rule out the table with three people at it, although they do look to be around my age, maybe a bit older. The table next to it has a very scary looking girl with skin as white as paper and jet-black hair that cover half of her face. I am coming closer to the tables and feel like a fool so I grab a seat at the nearest table.

There is a boy sitting across from me who looks to be close to my age as well. I notice that he looks... normal. He doesn't look like he belongs in this place with all of these broken people. I try not to stare, but I try to get a good look at him. He has curly light brown hair and fair skin with bright hazel eyes that shine with life, unlike the other people I saw here.

"Hello," he flashes me a dimpled smile as he catches me looking at him and I blush slightly embarrassed that I was caught staring, "what's your name?"

"Cora... Yours?" I ask and take a small bite of the potatoes, even though I'm really not hungry.

"Ashton. How long have you been here?" He asks curiously.

"Today's my first day. What about you?" I watch as he looks down at something in his hands. It's a phone. I didn't think you could have a phone here.

"Oh, I don't stay here really. My mom works here so I have a job here until I can find my own," he explains and now it all makes sense. Of course he isn't a patient, he is too lively to be as broken as someone like me.

"Oh, that makes sense," I mutter and push my potatoes around my plate.

"I guess. You don't seem like the, erm, type of person to be here," he surprises me by saying my exact thoughts about him, but to me.

"Really?"

"Yeah, you... I don't know really, you just seem different. How long are you staying?"

"Not sure yet, some lady named Leigh Anne is going to decide when I am okay to be released. I think one of two things will happen; she'll either get so sick of me that she will want me out of here and let me go early, or I will be stuck here forever because I don't plan on talking to some random lady about my life," I'm sure I sound like a bitch, but I really don't care. I have no reason to try to make this kid think otherwise. For some reason he starts laughing and I shoot him a puzzled look, "what's so funny?"

"Leigh Anne is my mom," he chuckles.

"Oh," I cross my eyes at him and then I see the resemblance, "my bad."

"No worries, I know she can be difficult, but she really does mean well,"

"I suppose," I try to take another bite of potatoes, but I really just don't feel like eating.

"I would try to eat as much as you can, your guard is probably watching and he will report to my mom if you don't eat, and that will only extend your stay here," he suggests noticing that I'm not eating. I nod my head and manage to eat about half of the sandwich and a few more spoonfuls of potatoes before I feel like I'm going to throw up.

"I'm going to, um, head back now," I announce awkwardly, deciding it would be even more uncomfortable if I left without saying anything. He doesn't seem half bad and at least he's sane; if I'm going to make a friend here I wouldn't mind it being him.

"Okay, I'll see you back for dinner?" He asks as I stand up.

"Sure," I grab my plate and walk back towards my "guard" after throwing it away. We don't speak he just gives me a knowing look and walks me back to my room. I wait until I hear the door swing shut behind me then I pad over to my small cot. I lay back and stare up at the peeling ceiling. I wonder if Ashton will still be working here when I leave. He seems decent enough and not one to bull shit around about what's really going on, although I think he was lying when he said I didn't look like I belonged here. Of course I do, I look just as broken an empty as everyone else in there. When I looked at my reflection this morning my dull eyes held absolutely none of the vibrance and life that they once did. As hard as I tried to remember the girl that once stood in front of the mirror, I realized that that girl is long gone.

I lay there for at least an hour deep in thought. I wonder what Elias is doing now. He is probably drunk and trashing our-I mean his apartment in anger. I'm sure he has gone out looking for me, but he won't find me here. Will he? He's probably a mess because the one thing he held onto for so long, like his own caged bird that he refused to let free, finally got away. Prim sure he is infuriated, not because he misses me, but rather that for once he has lost control of me and it would hurt his pride and ego. I wonder if I hadn't gone to the train tracks what he would do if he knew I was pregnant. He would surely abuse the child as well when it was born. I wonder what Leigh Anne will do when she finds out I am going to have a child?

A knock at the door calls me out of my thoughts, and this time I don't even get a chance to answer before Leigh Anne barges in with a clipboard in hand.

"Good after noon, Cora, we are about to begin your first session on your journey to recovery."

 

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