Clarity

A rush of adrenaline, a fleeting second of hope, a dangerous romance. 17 year old Jenna has always dreamed of falling in love. When mysterious Finn Lyons crosses her path, she knows there's trouble..

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1. two months before

I've always dreamed of falling in love.

I always imagined 16 was the perfect age. In every fairytale, the naiive little girl meets her prince charming at the tender age. Whether it takes scrubbing floors for years, biting a poisoned apple, or pricking her finger on a spindle and falling into a deep deep sleep, the unassuming girl will always happen to meet some fancy prince riding along on a white horse and fall head over heels in love.

Of course nowadays its more like an underaged, alcohol drinking boy from the year above, but the gist is generally the same. The girls in my year had already been swept off their feet, by these lads, but my boot clad feet stayed firmly on the ground. My heart stayed beating rythemically in my chest. Sure there were a few twinkly eyes, muscly sixth formers I might have a had a little girl crush on, but nothing heart stopping, breath taking, romeo and Juliet style love. And I don't even like that play, I was just jealous that even 13 year old Juliet had her Romeo, even if they did die at the end. But even that was in each others arms. By year 11, it seemed I was the only girl in my year who hadn't had a boyfriend yet. Even the loners who wandered the hallways in between lessons, with a hardback held up in front of their faces, must have had their fair share of hand holing and chocolate sharing in primary school.

In my dreams, I always imagined HIM to be a little taller than me, with a strong jawline and delicate features. Hair would be dark, of course, and he'd have the most gorgeous eyes that could make my knees buckle at a glance. I'd always imagined someone older, more experienced, more mature. When I tried to look for an actor that could fit the requirements, I always came up with Robert Pattinson, Daniel Radcliff, always those leading male characters in my favourite childhood books.

When I turned 16, it was a scorching day at the end of August. The sky was cloudless, the air humid. My favourite lacy white vest top was stuck to my back with sweat, and I remember thinking that this was the day when my world would change forever, be turned upside down by my dream boy wandering casually down my street. I had this weird idea that love could make everything better.

One year later, I am sat on the same bench outside my house, staring at the same cloudless sky, and wondering what the hell happened to the year that I was supposed to be finding the one.

 

 

The walk to the adolescent mental health centre a little way away from the cinema is uneventful. The centre itself is situated in quite a nice street. There are posh tudor houses all along the street, and quite a lot of greenery. Which is always good, of course. I'm sure the depressed, lonely, distressed teenagers who come here would have better to worry about than having enough oxygen. To really rub it in, there are two massive neatly trimmed potted plants standing either side of the entrance to the centre. Whenever I come here, which is once every two weeks, there is never a leaf out of place. It seems to be a sick joke to indicate that the minds of people who come here are nowhere near as neat and tidy as these stupid plants.

 Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. I do that sometimes. Read too much into things. One of the reasons I'm here.

I stomp into the reception, fighting the urge to whip out my scissors and give the bushes a new look. The eagle eyed receptionist snaps up her head when she hears the bell ring. It's a new one, one I haven't seen before. I drop my head quickly. I can't stand looking at anyone in the eye, not since I was 13. The idea of it suddenly felt too personal, too private. I'm pleased to see its a new receptionist though. It used to be a patronising silver haired woman who always spoke to me like I was 8 years old and once even had the nerve to offer me a toffee!

This new one, however, seems to be the opposite of toffee woman, not willing to say any more than is strictly nessesary, which is fine by me. "I'm er, here to see Lauren?" That's another thing I need to stop doing, making everything I say a question. Acting like I don't deserve to speak, a symptom of low self esteem, blah blah.

"I'll tell her. Sit." New girl pops her gum and lifts up an arm that seems like it has no bones, to flap a finger at the row of sterile plastic chairs. This girl really doesn't like wasting words, or energy. When I actually throw a nervous glance at her face, I can see she's quite young, with heavy black eye make up and half closed eyes. Her face is as white as a sheet, and she has clumsily dyed black hair. A goth. I briefly wonder how she could have gotten a job here, she must have had her fair share of mental health problems. What I expected really. Not that I'm stereotyping, I'd hate it if people started calling me mental, and started locking up their kitchen when I came round.

I don't have to wait long, fortunately. I don't think I could have handled another second of goth girl staring at me from behind her long lank fringe without having a full blown panic attack. Even as Lauren leads me to our therapy room, my hands are drenched with sweat and my head is spinning faster than a fairground ride. One of the many reasons I don't like fairgrounds.

I slump down into one of the beanbags gratefully as soon as Lauren closes the door.

"How are you today Jenna?" Then she sees my sweaty hands. "Do you need a minute?"

I nod, clenching my teeth. Or many two. Or ten. "Remember our breathing exercises? Imagine breathing in a nice colour and breathing out a bad one."

She breathes with me, taking long, gaspy breathes. I would have laughed if I hadn't felt like I was going to throw up if I opened my mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

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