Shit Therapy Fans Say

I apologize for the random audio cut-out on “He’s too upside-down for her!”

But that’s what I said.

  • “Come on, Andy,” Tabby interrupts my mulling by yanking my wrist. “Systems are go in, like, two minutes.” We take our seats. Separated from her by the alphabet, I settle in with a crowd of unfamiliar As and Bs and fall to inspecting my nails.
  • The faculty speeches pass by without a spike in entertainment levels, though I do derive some enjoyment from glowering at Winsor throughout the duration of hers. Donny Osmond’s speech provides more excitement, but I cannot decide whether his jokes are actually funny, or just sound like they should be, because his voice inflection rises above par.
  • My name is among the first called. I succumb to a brief attack of stage fright at the foot of the stairs and trip over my robe, but I recover quickly. Accepting my diploma, I flash a huge smile to the audience, and join in the laughter my classmates share at my expense.
  • Only two students stand out amongst the trail taking to the stage. Tabby stands out with her electrifying smile, along with the goofy thumbs-up she flashes me. Leo stands out because of the tattoo on the inside of his wrist. It peeks out from underneath his violet sleeve when he reaches for his diploma. In spite of the horrendous excuse for a graduation gown, he retains a piece of himself. I catch myself smiling when he turns to the crowd, presses his hands together, and bows in Japanese fashion.
  • Then all the seniors rush the stage. As one mass of writhing bodies, we fling our caps into the air.
  • “Asking you to a dance, involving flowers and fancy attire and limousines, implied romantic intentions on my part.” His response comes without a second’s hesitation. “And, considering you were blissfully unaware of my existence until that day, romantic intentions were jumping the gun.”
  • “So I figured I’d invite you to get some tacos – the most casual, least romantic of all foods.”
  • “Least romantic?” I echo.
  • “There’s nothing romantic in watching a lady dribble ground beef down her chin.”
  • That’s the “crown” they awarded her at the Prom I failed to attend. Her victory was one vote shy of unanimous.
  • “Hey Andy,” Leo greets. … He waves a hand to indicate the tiara still worked into my curls. “Finally got the crown, I see. Good to know my vote wasn’t cast in vain.”
  • “You were the one who kept Tabby from a unanimous vote?”
  • He regards me solemnly. “I did it for Betty.”
  • “Wait a sec. I want to give you something.” Reaching under the cotton tent that constitutes her gown, she produces a plastic silver tiara encrusted with more silver, in the form of rhinestones. Gripping it with both hands, she thrusts it toward me. …That’s the “crown” they awarded her at the Prom I failed to attend.
  • “You won that fair and square. I can’t take it.” “You can, and you will,” she insists, pushing back. …“You’re moving all the way to California, Andy. I know we have phones and internet and all that, but I want you to have something physical to remember me by.”
  • Then, with a nonchalant flick of her wrists, she adds, “Besides, you deserve it way more than I do.”
  • I’m not sure what consumes me in this moment. Whether it’s fury, passion, or divine providence, the answer arrives in one piece, with all the right phrasing and none of my previous hesitation. No more searching for words that won’t come. They’re all here.
  • “What I deserve,” I say, “is someone who refuses to settle for what I am now, who challenges me to strive for what I can become. I deserve someone who will always tell me the truth, regardless of how much it might hurt me. I deserve someone who understands me in silence as easily as conversation, someone who won’t ever intentionally hurt me, and someone who’s brave enough to let me cry.”
  • “I fight so much every day. I fight to hide the truth from my parents, because I’m afraid they won’t understand. I fight to hide my emotions from my friends, because I’m afraid they’ll hate me for them. I fight to hide myself from everyone, because I don’t want their pity, and I fight myself, because I don’t want to admit that I’m losing.”
  • “After all the battles I wage, what I deserve most of all is someone who will fight for me.”
  • Asher leans against the counter and watches me with a bemused grin plastered to his face. I halt in my laps to raise an innocent eyebrow at him. “What?” “Nothing,” he says. “Just admiring your form.”
  • “I didn’t realizing swimming was a requirement.” … “I’ll have to come out some time and teach you.”
  • “What, am I offending you or something? … Cause I can go put a shirt on if it bothers you that much.” “I didn’t say it bothered me.”
  • “And what about the educated observers?” He reaches out to twirl one of my wet curls around his finger. “How do I appear to them?” “You’re not that bad.” “Gee, thanks,” he laughs. I become suddenly aware of the fact that his hip is pressed against the edge of my stool, and that he’s leaning forward to talk to me. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
  • Irritation grinds through Tabby’s words, bringing to my attention the tears pooling in my eyes. “I didn’t know, Andy. I swear.” Blinking the tears away, I meet her gaze. For the briefest of seconds, her face changes, and I see Katie.
  • This time, she’s isn’t smirking, isn’t smiling, and isn’t teasing. Just watching, with the calculating blue eyes wanting so desperately to be loved, but not trusting anyone to do so.
  • Shaking free of Asher, I close the gap between me and Tabby in a matter of strides. Then I embrace her.
  • I forgive you, I say in my head. But not to her.
  • Katie in kindergarten, tearing my 124 pack of crayons, complete with sharpener, from my grasp. Waiting expectantly for me to protest, softening when I don’t.
  • Katie in first grade, taking my hand and walking beside me when I’m forced into the unwanted position of line leader. I’m not ready to face the world – to lead. But she is.
  • Katie slumped against the foot of my bed, the first time she ever got drunk. I had to drag her up the apartment stairs, into my room, where she could sleep it off in peace. Her head lolling back so she can look me in the eye, though hers are half-closed. Her slurring, “thanks for saving me,” and, “my parents would’ve killed me.”
  • Katie ducking under the dashboard in front of me on my sixteenth birthday, teaching me to hotwire the Sir’s car, so we can take it for a joyride around the parking garage. Banging her head on the underbelly of the steering column when she tries to straighten up. The two of us dissolving in giggles.
  • Katie, waiting faithfully outside the bathroom stall for the results of the pregnancy test. Katie, taking me in her arms when it comes back positive. Though she reeks of cigarette smoke, alcohol, and whatever perfume she wears to smother the previous two scents, she is warm and solid and strong.
  • Katie, saying softly, “hang in there, Kiddo,” as she strokes my shoulder and carries me back into the world.
  • Katie, whose parents never expressed their love for her, who didn’t know how to love, but who tried to anyway. For me.