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As she walked down the hall she saw the faces. She saw the anger, guilt, mistrust, and pain, etched as worry or hidden by a smile. She saw, but did anyone else? After all, she knew what to look for and she knew why it was there. If only she knew why such emotions existed at all. She had been given these dark secrets, these worries, these problems, and whether the gift was intentional or not, part of the worries were still hers; their burden shared. She felt that people could always cope with a situation better if they shared their problems, and for whatever reason, she apparently looked like the most goody-two shoes kid in the entire sand-box. Some problems were confided in her, in want of an answer, guidance, support, or just for relief. It was never quite specified. She also noticed things, it wasn’t like she tried, but one over heard phone call or fight certainly clued you in. After all, some bruises are hard to hide.
Running. The boy had said. He loved it. The feel of his feet hitting the pavement, the cold air inhaled, exhaled; nose, mouth. He loved running so much, maybe one day he wouldn’t stop, just keep going, to the end of town, to the end of the world. Would they notice? Probably. Would they care? Nah. Go ahead, why should anyone else care?
No matter how miniscule or cliché people’s problems were she would at least try to relate to them. She knew she could’ve been more understanding, or at least less judgmental, but sometimes she couldn’t help it! After all, didn’t these people realize they had gotten themselves in to these messes? How could she show compassion for stupidity? Of course; not all problems were someone’s fault, sometimes life just deals you a bad hand. Other times people fall in to a rut of their own mistakes, and she sure as heck wasn’t the one to drag them out. After all why should she? It’s not like she had asked people to talk to her, she never even tried to be overly friendly, so why had she been voted the Supreme Councilor to harbor everyone’s burdens? Whatever the reason, she demanded a recount.
Scars littered her arms. Lines and lines, angry and red. Tricia, she knew Tricia. Had been friend since fifth grade. On top of that Trish spent too much time in the bathroom, conveniently after meals. Tricia didn’t want to be a model, she didn’t care about how skinny she was, Tricia just couldn’t stop, needed help. Needed a friend. She wanted to help, she desperately wanted to help. What can you say when self-abuse is cause by bruises and welts that are made by an angry hand that strikes only where clothing can cover?
She truly didn’t know why this happened to her. It baffled her that people would just come up and talk to her like that. Her friends, schoolmates, coworkers, and even a few times, strangers. She had never understood what it was about her that people had a fancy to trust. To some people it would have been a gift, but she hated the curse. To be fair she didn’t hate having people confide in her, she wasn’t even angry at them . Looking back there was only one person she had truly been mad at, but she hadn’t been about to admit it then. What she truly hated wasn’t the problems, but helping to solve them. She didn’t like to have the weight of someone else’s worries on her shoulders. It was bad enough having to solve her own problems. Ironic how her own problem was having to solve other’s.
He hadn’t always lived there. The man confessed. He had a house. A kid. School shooting. Worst phone call of his life. Two weeks later his wife shot herself with his own gun. Bullet to the head. Just like Michael. What do you say to that? Get back on track? Get a job? It’ll get better? Hah. Fat chance. She was clueless on this one. Condolences.
She knew who to go to for help. If she absolutely needed it. He was truly a genius (or at least he thought he was, even if he never said as much). Sometimes, if she felt she had doled out particularly bad advice, she would let go of her pride long enough to ask him what he would have said about a situation. She knew she would have to endure the explanations and critiquing, but he had answers! She wished she was like he was, if people would only come to him instead, and leave her alone.
She remembered when she had met him. Some guy sat down next to her, tall, a few years older than she was. Great, some bum wanting to share his life story. What if she was done? What if she was out of ideas? What if her supposedly unlimited reservoir of answers and pity had gone dry? But what if this one was different?
Uhg! She couldn’t believe him! How dare he! He had the nerve to tell her she needed his help! She hated him for it, but she knew he might be right, after all, how many mistakes could she make worse?
Two years since the first day. Two years since for the first time in her life she had confessed. She had poured her heart out, she had been the one to cry on a stranger’s shoulder. She had gained more than she dared to admit from him. Had she just wrecked it? Had she, like so many before her, fallen in to her own pride and mistakes? Had she become what she had mocked all these years? No. She would learn. She wouldn’t run away from what she’d done. She would let go, and not let her past affect her future. Now.
She had done it. Asked him. They had agreed to work together from now on. She would come to him, he would help her. After all, she did have some good ideas, they just needed tweaking. She had been so focused on clinging to her pride like a roll of bread during a famine, that she was surprised to realize how wonderful letting go felt. Her life raft had turned out to be a brick, and as soon as she let go she found the strength to swim. He would help her to realize what she needed to start saying, how she needed to start thinking. She also knew that her old brick hadn’t completely sank and sooner or later she would try to go back to it, she hoped she would be smart enough to learn from her mistakes, and she hoped she could make a change in the lives of the people that looked to her, she realized she had been given a gift and she knew that she could use it.