Ru knew the world was cruel; she learned that the hard way. She thought that she was the only one, but when she met Luke Hemmings and then Calum Hood, everything changed.


3. 2.

Chapter 2


Month 15. Day 15. (Still)


As much as I thought I was going to hate this group therapy thing, it isn’t actually so bad. After June makes everyone say their names out loud-except me- she announces that we have some time to talk and get to know each other. Even though I won’t be talking, at least I can spend some time by myself.


I can tell that she’s watching me as everyone gets up and walks to different corners of the room, some in groups, some just in pairs. But I stay where I am and pull my feet up onto the plastic chair, resting my chin on my knees.


I want to laugh: did they really think one session of group therapy was going to break me? Fat chance.


I glance to my left and notice that Luke is still sitting in his chair as well. He’s looking at me, so I raise an eyebrow at him. He smiles and shakes his head. I notice that he’s wearing a lip ring, and though I don’t usually like that sort of thing, it looks good on him.


“I’m Luke,” he says, offering his hand out to me. I look at it, wondering what exactly he’s doing with it, but then he drops his hand, blowing air through his lips. “Ouch.”


I look at him, confused. Why did he say ouch? I didn’t hurt him.


“You rejected my handshake.” he explains once he sees the confused look on my face. I blush and mumble a sorry, then gulp when I realize what was happening: my mom just won the first battle. I press my lips together, mad at myself for caving that easily.


“You okay?” Luke asks and I shrug my shoulders, determined to keep my mouth shut. I haven’t worked for a whole year to be quiet just to give everything up in one night. “You don’t talk much, do you?”


I sigh and shake my head, already annoyed with his questions. Couldn’t he just understand that I want to be left alone?


“Something happen to make you this way?” he asks, but I ignore him, staring at the wall. “I’m taking that as a yes.”


I try to zone him out like I do my mother, but it’s been such a long time since someone my age has talked to me, especially a boy, that I can’t seem to shut him out.


“And wouldn’t you like to know about me?” he asks, which I reply with a shrug. “Again, taking that as a yes. Anyways, when I was five all the way up until I was thirteen, my uncle sexually assaulted me. You know, I didn’t tell anybody because he said it wasn’t that big of a deal, and that’s what uncles did. And to his advantage, he was my only uncle, so I didn’t know whether he was telling me the truth or not.”


I stared at him, my mouth open slightly, not believing that this boy was rambling on about being sexually assaulted to someone he didn’t even know.


“When I was thirteen, my friends and I were talking about how cool our uncles are. My friend Chase was talking about how his uncle takes him to concerts, and my friend Paul was talking about how his uncle takes him hunting and stuff. And when I asked if their uncles ever played with them, they gave me a weird look. So that night, I asked my mom about it. Apparently, most uncles don’t “play” with their nephews.”


I wince at that last part, but continue to stay quiet. Even if I were talking, I wouldn’t know what to say to him. Sure, his situation must suck, but what did he expect me to do about it?


“So, what are you here for?” he asks and only gets a shrug in reply. I expect him to be mad that I keep brushing him off, but instead, his voice softens. “You know you won’t be able to get past it and move on if you don’t talk to somebody.” I just look at him, so he sighs, and pulls a small notebook from his pocket, along with a pen. “Will you at least write something down? Like your name?”


I take the notebook and pen from him and open up to the first page. Hesitantly, I write down my reply, “June already told you my name. Ru.”


He looks down at the paper and nods. “Sassy, I like.” He laughs as I roll my eyes. “Now, is Ru short for something?”


Again, I write down my answer. “Ruthanne. It’s short for Ruthanne.”


He reads my answer and smiles. “So, Ruthanne, why are you here?”


I roll my eyes and write, “First, don’t call me Ruthanne. Second, isn’t it obvious why I’m here?”


He chuckles. “You are very feisty. I meant, why don’t you talk? What happened.”


“Can’t say.” I show him the paper and he nods, not saying anything.  


“Well, if you ever decide you want to talk, call me.” he scribbles his number down on the pad of paper. “Keep the paper. We’ll need it for next time.”


And as June dismisses us to go home, Luke leaves me sitting there, my jaw open.


After a year in therapy, I think I just made a friend.

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