Heart

Ryn is morbidly pessimistic, blaming the world for his problems. He would probably see past the anger if he could still... well, see.

Asher sees the good in everyone, probably best since she blocks out what everyone says about her. Not by choice, but she does it.

The pair are forced to form a bond after becoming partners in group therapy as a desperate attempt to bring some light into their lives, starting with writing letters to each other. No one expected a third letter to arrive.

// Cover by ireumeun.chloe

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3. Two ∞ Meetings

“Have a good time, Ryn. I’ll be waiting here a little before three in case they let you out early.”

           

Ryn nods in the vague direction of his father, knowing that the man will most likely not be leaving the car park. Ever since his wife left him two years earlier, he became increasingly protective of his only son, willing to spend all his time waiting on him, making sure he was always by his side.

           

As the younger boy attempts to exit the car, his father leans over and tugs the door handle, opening the door halfway before blocking it with his arm.

           

“Can you at least try and make some friends today, Ryn?” he asks, knowing his son’s tendency to stray away from any discovered human life.

           

If Ryn still had his eyes, he would be rolling them. “Don’t set your sights too high, Dad. I could be sitting in an empty room for all I care.”

           

“But you should, Ryn. You should care.”

           

Ryn inserts another non-existent eye roll into the conversation. “If I make a friend, will you stop bothering me?”

           

“Why don’t you see for yourself?”

           

Ryn restrains a half-hearted laugh at the choice of words, pushing his hair away from where it felt it fall behind his sunglasses. “There may be a slight issue there.”

           

Before his father has a chance to respond, most likely something drenched with sympathy and apologies, Ryn finally clambers out of the car and makes it into the building where therapy is held, guided by an assistant who appeared beside the car after memorising the time he usually arrived, trying to make his life that slightest bit easier.

           

The two always make an odd pair: a scrawny teenager with a bad haircut and sunglasses throughout every weather, accompanied by a young woman in a tight-fitting tracksuit who looked as if she stepped straight out of a magazine, but one of the ones Ryn remembered seeing on the top shelf in the newspaper shop.

           

“How are you today, Ryn?” the woman asks in a voice like treacle. She sounds as if she’s reading from a script, making a point to say Ryn’s name after each line.

           

“Average,” the boy replies, pushing his sunglasses further up his nose. “I’d be better if I could see past my problems.”

           

The woman supplies a fake laugh as Ryn realises he was never told her name. Not like it matters: he made enough attempts to show he wasn’t intending on having a conversation with her in the past. Those attempts mainly consisted of jokes about his lack of a sense. Sometimes, after realising what he was doing, the woman tried to retaliate. Now is one of those times.

           

“Joking about people’s disabilities – even your own – isn’t funny, Ryn. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

           

There is a brief pause when they reach the side doors of the therapy building. Ryn waits until he hears her groan while she tugs the door open, takes a few steps forward and pauses, looking directly at the place where he heard the sound.

           

“To be honest, I didn’t think I saw anyone smiling.”

           

***

 

“Is there anyone here today who would like to share with us?”

           

Jonathon, a man in his late twenties with a haircut belonging to someone at least a decade younger, stands in the middle of the circle of plastic chairs formed by a dozen or so teenagers who never wanted to be there.

           

Asher is seating in a place where her eyes can always be fixed on the clock above the door, counting down the minutes until she can leave from behind the curtain of her hair that she uses as a barrier. If she hides behind the hair, Jonathon won’t try to get her to open up to the group of people she would never relate to. Also, if she hides, she won’t have to force herself to read anyone’s lips and pretend that she can perfect understand what is going on.

           

Ryn is a couple seats away from Asher, sitting with his legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles as if he is lounging on a deck chair in a holiday resort. He always listens with the blind – no pun intended – hope that someone will be like him. In every group session so far, everyone has had all their senses intact.

           

“No one,” Jonathon says eventually when he realises his efforts are wasted. “There is no one in a group therapy session who is willing to participate.”

           

A couple of teenagers who sit out of his sight hide smiles behind their hands. Asher looks up briefly to acknowledge what is happening around her. Ryn does nothing to disguise the grin across his face, only leaning further back into his chair and putting his arms behind his head, something that Jonathon notices with a look of disgust sweeping across his features.

           

“Ryn, please share with the group.”

           

Ryn’s smile doesn’t falter as he stands up, dragging out the entire process out for as long as he can manage. He would pay to see the look on Jonathon’s face whenever he does something that could be considered ‘problematic’.

           

“What am I meant to say?” he asks, slipping his hands into his pockets and shrugging his shoulders in question.

           

“Just introduce yourself, Ryn. This is the first time you’ve ever volunteered yourself. It will be nice if the group can get to know you.”

           

Another smirk, followed by a shake of his head. There’s something about an arrogant demeanour that attracts Asher’s attention.

           

“Hi, I’m Ryn. Nice to meet you all.”

           

Jonathon releases a sound of annoyance. “Tell everyone why you’re here, Ryn.”

           

“What, tell everyone why I’m screwed?” Ryn speaks in a tone that suggests that he’s reluctant to explain the indoor sunglasses and the cane, not like everyone in the room has already guessed.

           

Jonathon crosses his arms and says nothing. Ryn takes the silence as a prompt to continue talking.

           

“Well, I’ve had problems with my eyes since I was a kid. I knew I was screwed when I was fourteen because it got worse. I knew I was really screwed when a doctor dug my eyeballs out of my head.”

           

Without another word, Ryn slumps back into his chair and Jonathon carefully chooses another unwilling victim.

           

“Asher, how about you?”

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