On JC’s third day at Wycroft, it cleared up enough to plan activities outside. Sara’s group and the other 18 "students" were outside playing volleyball and soccer and basically just hanging around. Sara stayed out long enough to get the "good wholesome fresh air" as Deb so eloquently put it, then she retreated back indoors. All of this socializing was getting to her.

Sara walked around the building and back in the front doors, where she was greeted by the admissions nurse, "Had enough of the out doors huh?" She smiled.

"And then some." Sara mumbled as she brushed past her and headed down the hall to the library. She pushed the curtain aside, none of the shared rooms there had doors, and she stepped inside. She had been here a couple times before, but Cassandra was always curled up on the couch reading some kind of trashy romance novel. But no one was here now.

Sara skimmed the shelves and chose "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" in it’s old leather cover and yellow worn pages. She pulled up one of the floor pillows and sat with her back against the wall under the window, to let the sun shine in on the pages.

She was lost in the world of dreams and fairies, and didn’t notice when the curtain was pushed aside and a young man walked in. "Oh, sorry. I didn’t know anyone was in here." JC said as he stopped just inside the doorway.

Sara jumped and looked up from her book, "H-Hi." She stampered.

"Hi." He picked at his fingers; she was the first person other than the staff that he had talked to here. She was the first person like him he’d talked to.

"Who are you?" She asked suddenly.

"Who are you?" He looked up and caught her eye.

"I’m a student here."

"Student my ass." He rolled his eyes.

"And you?"

"I guess I am too."

"What are you here for?" She asked, looking at him as if he was a bug under a microscope.

"None of your business." He cast a glare in her direction before he reached up and brushed his hair off his forehead.

"Ahhh." She noticed the white gauze around his wrist. "The old razor trick huh? Did you leave a note? Were you lying in the bathtub with the water running? Did you even do it right? You know… up and down instead of side to side?" She imitated the move on her own arm. "Obviously you didn’t, you’re here." She looked disgusted.

JC stood there for a second in stunned silence. No one had ever spoken to him like that. No one. He picked his jaw up off the floor and spat, "Fuck off." He turned on his heel and left Sara alone in the library, just like she’d hoped he would.

The next day Sara had her one on one counseling session with Dr. Grayson at 3:00pm. She sat in the doctor’s office behind a closed door. "So Sara, do you think you’re adjusting okay?" Dr. Grayson asked.

"What do you think?" Sara crossed her arms and stared at the doctor.

"Well, I personally think you aren’t trying very hard."

"I shouldn’t have to try."

"The solution won’t just fall into your lap you know."

"That’s not what I meant."

"What did you mean then?" Dr. Grayson asked.

"Nothing." Sara said softly.

"Okay." Dr. Grayson nodded a second later. "I know that you’re not too comfortable sharing your experience with the others in your group, but I think that really might help."

"How? How would that help?" Sara’s eyes filled with tears as she asked.

"Those kids have been through a lot of the same things you’ve been through." The doctor explained. "And just talking about it helps sometimes."

"They haven’t been through the same things I have." Sara sniffed.

"You’d be surprised." Dr. Grayson said slowly.

"I just want to go…" She couldn’t finish the sentence. There was nowhere she really wanted to go.

"Home?" Dr. Grayson asked.

"No." Sara shook her head. "I’m here because I can’t stand my home. I just want to be anywhere but here."

"You tell me where you want to be, and I’ll work my hardest to get you there Sara."

"I want to be dead," Sara whispered. "That’s the only place I want to be."

"Sara…" Dr. Grayson’s heart broke hearing this young girl say that. She knew that the kids that came here, and they were kids in her eyes, they were so hurt, and so depressed. She wanted to help them all, but it was hard to remain objective when you truly loved the kids you were helping. "There are better places to be."

"Like where? No one gives a shit about me. My parents sent me to live with my aunt because they couldn’t stand me, and she left me home alone for months at a time. I don’t have any friends, no family, no teachers, no nothing." This was the most she’d shared since she was brought in.

"I care about you." Dr. Grayson said. "If you give these other students a chance, they’d care too."

"So what? They’re all losers and freaks anyways. I mean look how messed up they are." Dr. Grayson just smiled, without saying a word. Sara paused for a second and thought about what she’d said. She cracked a small smile and said, "You know what I mean."

"I know what you mean Sara." Dr. Grayson continued to smile. "And I think the others would too."

"Forget it." Sara’s smile faded. "I’m not talking to them." She shook her head.

"That’s fine. You don’t have to talk to them. You don’t have to talk to anyone. But what I would like is for you to stay in the group sessions for the entire hour." Dr. Grayson folded her hands on her desk. "Storming out doesn’t help anything, and it just agitates the others."

"So?" Sara asked.

"So that is not acceptable." The doctor said with authority. "If you can’t sit for an hour with us, then we’re going to have problems."

"All they do is complain about their lives."

"They’re coming to terms with their problems. They’re getting better."

"I think I’m all right."

Dr. Grayson nodded slowly, "I think you are too. I just think that you need to open your eyes to a couple things."

"My eyes are open." Sara looked at the clock and said, "Times up. I‘ll see you Friday." She stood up and walked out of the office.

"No honey, your eyes are shut tight." Dr. Grayson said softly as the door closed behind the troubled young lady.

 

JC took advantage of the nice weather the next day and walked around outside, carefully avoiding the groups of other students chatting or playing games. He walked toward the back of the building and up onto what looked like an abandoned porch. He pulled a little flimsy notebook out of his back pocket and sat in the shaded corner, opposite a ratty looking beach chair. He took the felt tip pen he was given and began jotting down some ideas in his book.

Sara sat on the grass absorbing the warmth of the sun for almost an hour before the group of chattering girls edged closer and closer to her. When one finally turned to her and asked, "So, you’re Sara right?" She had to get out of there.

She stood up and brushed her butt off before saying, "Yes." She walked around the end of the building to her porch. She began calling it her porch when she realized that no one else went near it. It had cobwebs in all the corners and the floor looked almost completely rotted out. She hopped up the step and turned to sit in the broken chair.

"So what are you here for?" JC asked from his position on the floor.

Her heart skipped a beat at the sound of his voice. When her eyes focused on him she squinted down at him and said, "We’re all here for the same reason."

"Well?" JC asked.

"I OD’d." Sara said, sticking her chin in the air.

"Or tried to." JC shut his notebook and looked up at her.

"No, I did overdose. I ‘took more than the prescribed dosage amount’, it just didn’t have the effect I wanted."

JC paused for a second, debating whether or not he should say what came to mind. Screw it, he decided. "Bummer." He said, holding her stare.

"Fuck off." She raised an eyebrow at him, and stormed off.

 

On Thursday, JC had been at Wycroft for almost a whole week, and he’d seen the doctor a couple times since then. He didn’t like it, but he’d seen her.

"So JC, you don’t know why you did this?"

"No." He said softly, casting a dirty look in the doctor’s direction.

"Were you angry?"

"No." He repeated.

"Were you hurt?"

"No." He stared up at her. "I just felt like it."

"Hmm, I see." She shook her head and walked around her desk to sit in her chair. "Well JC, have you ever felt like that before?"

"I don’t know."

"Have you ever told anyone you thought about suicide?" She asked.

"No, because I never did."

"So a week ago you were just standing around getting ready to go out and you thought, ‘hey, before I go I think I’ll try to kill myself?’ then proceeded to break the mirror and cut yourself?"

"I didn’t break the mirror." JC said quickly.

"You didn’t? It said in the report you cut yourself with a piece of broken mirror." She flipped through his chart again, knowing full well that’s exactly what it said.

"But I didn’t break the mirror to k-" He stopped, "cut myself."

"Why did you break it?"

"It was an accident." JC said.

"Do you remember picking up the glass?’

"Yes, and I don’t want to talk about it."

"That’s part of the process JC, talking about that moment."

"Well too bad man, I’m not playing that game. I told you I don’t know why I did this. I just felt like it."

"That’s not good enough JC. I don’t think you’re a mental case, I know you have rational thoughts, I just don’t know which rational thought you had that said to cut yourself."

"Your guess is as good as mine." JC frowned. "Can I go now?"

"To your room?"

"Home."

"JC, you’ve admitted yourself here, until you’re diagnosed as… well as ‘okay’ to go home. I don’t think you are. Until you’ve identified your ‘demons’ we won’t know how to deal with them, so that nothing like this happens again."

"You sound like you’re trying to cure me from a disease."

"I guess in a way I am." She smiled. "The killing yourself disease."

"I don’t want to kill myself." JC said softly.

"Ahhh, but you did."

"Can I leave now? To my room?"

"Sure." She nodded. "I’ll see you tomorrow in group therapy. Two o’clock, okay?"

"Got it." JC nodded as he bolted from her office.

 

There was a knock on JC’s door about an hour after dinner. He wasn’t in the mood for another visit from the doctor, so he didn’t say anything. Whoever it was knocked again then pushed the door open slowly. "JC?" Jim asked as he stepped into the room.

"What?" He asked angrily. "Don’t I get any privacy?"

"Not around here pal." Jim smiled and handed JC a small piece of paper. "Here you go. You’re not allowed to get personal calls here in your first week, but these guys wanted me to pass on the message. Shoot, we’re not even supposed to do that, but I think this may help you snap out of your funk."

JC unfolded the note written on a phone message slip, "Time: 6:45p Date: Thurs. To: J. Chasez From: Chris Lance Justin Joe Phone number: Joe’s cel Message: We’re glad you goofed. We’re thinking about you. We’ll talk to you this weekend."

Just seeing those words on paper brought tears to JC’s eyes. He folded the note and shoved it in his pocket then said, "Thanks Jim."

"Did it work?" Jim smiled with a twinkle in his eye.

"Thanks Jim." JC repeated, then sat with his back to the older man. Jim shrugged and shut the door behind him as he left. JC sat on the edge of his bed and took the bandages off his wrists. They’d healed a lot, and he could have taken the bandages off a couple days ago, but he wasn’t ready to see. He was ready now.

JC dropped the bandage to the floor and examined his cuts. There were tiny black stitches holding the skin together, and a little bit of dried blood around the edges, but overall it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. He held his arm close to his nose to look closer. He stared until he could see each individual stitch. He’d come so close… so close to ending everything. Those little two-inch cuts were almost enough to take it all away.

He’d spent the last 6 days being angry with himself and everyone around him. Angry that he had even tried to kill himself, angry that he hadn’t succeeded, angry that no one here understood and angry that he couldn’t go home and figure this out himself. He didn’t need the doctor to examine his head and tell him why he did this. He could figure it out himself. Or so he thought. Seeing those words, and knowing that the guys didn’t hate him, and were genuinely worried about him made him realize that he needed a lot of help. The sooner he figured this stuff out the sooner he could go home and get back to normal. He sighed, and lay back on the bed with his arm over his eyes.

 

JC stared at the ceiling, counting the cracks and singing songs in his head. It was well after 2 in the morning, and he could not sleep. He continued his endless concert in his head as he stood up and stretched his arms over his head. He yawned and hitched up his pajama bottoms as he pulled his door open slowly.

The nurse at the desk outside his door looked up from her book, "Can’t sleep?" She asked.

"Nope." JC shook his head and stepped into the hall.

"Would you like something to help you sleep?"

"No." He shook his head again and walked barefoot down the hall to the library. It was warmer in the library than in the hall so he pulled the curtain closed and went to the shelf to retrieve the book he’d been reading.

He sat on the couch and turned the lamp on the end table on. He made himself comfortable and opened the book to the marked page as he yawned again. He read for almost an hour before his eyes drifted closed and he fell asleep, his head resting on the arm of the couch.

Sara crawled out of bed at 4:30am and creeped out into the hall. "Good morning Sara, you’re up early." Ellen the nurse smiled.

"Hrmpgh." Sara grumbled and headed down the hall to the library. She walked with her head low and a scowl on her face.

When she got to the library, she pulled the curtain aside and stepped in before yanking it closed behind her. That was when she noticed JC asleep on the couch, the pale yellow light from the lamp behind him making him look like an angel. She felt her heart give a quick start as she stood there watching his even breathing.

She took the Shakespeare book off the shelf and walked over to the couch where JC was asleep. The book he was reading was about ready to fall so she placed her book on the floor and took the book from his hand. She folded down the page and placed the book on the table by his head before turning the light off and heading for her window. She pulled up her floor pillow and made herself comfortable, escaping again into the magical world of "A Midsummer Nights Dream".

An hour later JC rolled in his sleep and came within an inch of falling off the couch. He jerked awake and sat up quickly. He ran his hands over his head as the bright sunlight spread across the room. JC rubbed his eyes and stood up to stretch his back. He yawned loudly and noticed that the book he was reading was placed in the middle of the table beside him. He remembered reading it the night before, but he didn’t remember marking the page and placing it on the table.

JC frowned and picked up the book to re-shelve it, which was when he noticed Sara curled up on the floor pillow under the window. The thick book of Shakespeare was propped open with her hand, and her curly dark blonde hair covered half of the page.

He quickly put the book away, then reached into a drawer on the desk for a piece of scratch paper, and a pencil. He scribbled a note quickly – "Hey… Thanks, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said-" He shouldn’t have said what? He thought to himself for a minute. "I shouldn’t have said ‘bummer’" He folded it in half and stuck it on her book. He sighed, then went back to his room to get dressed for the day. It was Friday, his first adventure into group therapy.

He hung around the halls for most of the day, writing in his notebook and trying to keep his mind off what everyone was thinking about him. He’d noticed more stares over the last couple days, and he just figured people were finding out who he was. That made him the most uncomfortable, people knowing who he was, and judging him by that. He sighed and shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he walked around the building to the abandoned porch.

Sara wiped the tears from her eyes and blew her nose as she heard footsteps splashing in the shallow puddles beside the porch. It had rained most of the morning and the backyard was covered with shiny spots of pooled water. She stood up as JC rounded the corner and stepped up onto the porch. "What did you mean by that?" She asked quickly.

"By what?" He asked, stopping a couple feet in front of her.

"Your little note." She narrowed her eyes at him.

"Nothing. I just meant thanks for moving my book, and marking my page. And that I was sorry I said "bummer" that was uncalled for." He said softly.

"Why?"

"Why was it uncalled for? It’s… I just wasn’t raised that way. I would never had said anything like that before."

"You’ve never said bummer before?" She asked sarcastically.

"I’ve never said anything like that to intentionally hurt someone else. Someone I don’t even know." He said, getting defensive. "I was just trying to be… I was just saying sorry. If you don’t appreciate it then forget it."

She stared at him for a minute, her mind reeling. He didn’t care about her, he didn’t care whether she lived or died. She knew that, without a question. If she had succeeded, he never would have known and never would have cared. And if he had succeeded, she never would have known, and never would have cared. So why did his apology mean so much to her?

She looked up and noticed him staring at her, still waiting for an answer. She took a deep breath and before she could change her mind she whispered, "Thank you."

"Your welcome." He said just as softly. He truly hadn’t expected an answer, other than the back of her head as she walked away.

"Um… and I’m sor-" She paused for a second, "I was out of line."

JC nodded and extended his hand toward her, "Even?"

Sara stared at his outstretched hand, she hadn’t voluntarily touched another person in months. She nodded and said, "Yeah, even." JC left his hand in midair for another second before lowering it to his side uneasily.

"I’m uh, I’m JC."

"Like Jesus Christ?" Sara smirked.

"No, well I guess yeah, the same initials. Joshua Chasez." He cleared his throat and nervously looked at his shoes.

"Then why JC? Why not Josh?"

"It’s a long story." He kind of half smiled and looked up at her, still standing a step above him.

"So give me the short version." She crossed her arms over her chest.

"There was already a kid named Josh."

Sara looked at him for a second as she felt her guard slip lower, "And the long version?" She finally asked.

"It’s none of your business." JC said, he meant it as a joke, an ice breaker of sorts, but she missed that. Her eyes grew dark as she stepped around him and walked back towards the front of the building. "Wait, I was kidding." JC said as he followed around the corner. She didn’t even slow down as she pulled the front doors open and let herself in. "Shit." JC grumbled under his breath. He trotted around the corner and into the building after Sara.

Sara stormed down the hall towards her room. She didn’t need him, she didn’t need anyone. She was just accepting his apology, he didn’t have to be such a jerk. And yeah, he was just kidding, right. Why should he care? Why should she care?

"Hey slow down there kiddo." Jim smiled as Sara flew past him in the hallway. She didn’t slow down or look back as she went into her bedroom and slammed the door.

The door didn’t make a sound as it slowly drifted closed, she could slam it all she wanted and it wouldn’t go any faster. JC appeared at the end of the hall in time to see her door drift shut, "Hey, that girl that just ran down here, where’d she go?"

"Sara? She ran that way." Jim pointed down the hall. JC nodded his thanks and walked to her doorway and knocked, even though the door was still open about a quarter of the way. He heard her fall onto the bed and sigh.

"Hey… Sara?" He asked softly.

"Go away." She said loudly from inside the room.

"I just wanted to-"

"I don’t care!" Sara shouted as she threw the door open and stood nose to nose with JC, she was taller than he thought. Her dark blonde curls shook as she continued her tirade. "I don’t care about you or your stupid name! I don’t care about your lame attempt to cut your hands off! I don’t want to hear anything else you have to say!" A small crowd had gathered in the hall by now.

JC stood there, her words hitting him like a ton of bricks, this attack had come out of virtually nowhere. "Hang on a second…" JC started, putting his hands up in defense.

"JC, go to your room please. Sara, my office." Dr. Grayson said loudly as she stepped into view, she’d witnessed the whole scene.

"I was only trying to-"

She cut JC off, "JC, please. We’ll talk about this later."

"All I was trying to do was say-"

"Later." Dr. Grayson took Sara by the arm and guided her down the hall. Sara was shaking as she entered the doctors office.

"Let me leave, please!" Sara said as the doctor shut the door and sat at her desk. "I don’t want to be here!"

"Sara, what happened out there?"

"Nothing." Sara clammed up suddenly.

"That didn’t look like nothing to me."

"Nothing, he’s just a jerk." She crossed her arms and dropped her chin to her chest.

"What did JC say to provoke such a reaction?"

"He… he just made me feel stupid." Sara practically whispered.

"Sara… I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way." Dr. Grayson said, hoping she was right. "Can you tell me what was said?"

"No." Sara shook her head.

"Is the problem resolved?"

"If he’ll stop talking to me."

"He’s talking to you?" Dr. Grayson looked up from her desk.

"Yes." Sara pouted.

"And you’re talking to him?" This was a wonderful first step, even if Sara was upset, at least she was talking!

"No. Yes. Not really." She sighed and said, "I commented on his ‘injuries’."

"Sara…" Dr. Grayson groaned inwardly. "That’s an extremely touchy subject for most students here, especially new ones."

"I know." Sara said defiantly.

"Is that why you said it?"

"Maybe."

"In that case I don’t see why you were upset with him." Dr. Grayson commented. Sara didn’t say a word, she just stared at the doctor. "Did he by chance retort with a comment about you?" Sara didn’t move a muscle. "He had every right you know."

"No he didn’t." She angrily brushed her hair out of her face.

"He did." Dr. Grayson said softly.

"He doesn’t even know me."

"And you don’t know him."

"He told me he wished I was dead." She whispered as tears fell off her cheeks.

"Sara…" Dr. Grayson’s heart stopped as she thought of the impact of what the young girl in front of her had just said.

"He doesn’t even know me, and that’s what he wants."

"Sara, I’m sure-"

"No you’re not. You’re not sure of anything." Sara glared at the doctor and stood up. "Can I go?"

"Yes, you can go. I’ll see you at the group session today."

"Do I have to go?"

"Yes."

"Even though I came here?"

"Yes." Dr. Grayson nodded and stood to walk Sara out. Sara stomped off down the hall and out the front doors, while Dr. Grayson went to JC’s room. She knocked softly then pushed the door open. "Hey JC, we need to talk."

"Dr. Grayson all I was trying to do was apologize." JC said jumping up from his bed.

"JC wait, I just talked with Sara, and I’d like to hear what was said."

"She asked what JC stood for, I told her it was a long story so she asked for the short version, so I said ‘some other kid already had the name Josh’ then she asked for the long version and I told her it was none of her business. But I was joking, I told her I was joking but then she started yelling at me."

"You didn’t tell her you wanted her dead?" the doctor asked.

The blood drained from JC’s face, "Jesus…" He mumbled.

"JC that’s a very serious thing to say around here. I’m sure you know that."

"I do know that." he sat back in the bed and hung his head. "I know that. But… I mean, I apologized for that already. We both did, kind of."

"Why don’t you tell me exactly what happened, from start to finish." Dr. Grayson sat at the foot of JC’s bed. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, and told her the whole story. When he was finished the doctor stood up and said, "I’m glad you were able to talk with her JC. None of the others have been able to crack that shell she has."

"Yeah well, I can see why." He grumbled. "I’ll be keeping my distance."

"Don’t shut her out JC." Dr. Grayson shook her head. "This is the biggest improvement she’s made since she’s been here. She’s been shut out all her life. You must have sparked something in her to make her open up even that little bit."

"Forget it. I’m not going to do anything for her if she’s not going to appreciate it. It’s a waste of my time. And besides, isn’t this about me? Making me better?"

"It’s about everyone, making everyone better. And about realizing it takes all of you working together, to make it better."

"Well forget it. She can be someone else's project. I’ll take the kid that doesn’t talk." JC shrugged.

"His name is Jem, and Jem doesn’t need your help right now. Sara does."

"No thanks." JC shook his head. "If I wanted to be shouted at I’d go back on tour."

"Oooh, did you just share a little about your problem?" Dr. Grayson smiled.

"No." JC folded his arms across his chest in the same attitude Sara showed.

"I think you guys were put here to help each other." Dr. Grayson stood up and headed for the door. "Don’t forget, group session in an hour."

"I know, I know."

"We’re having pizza today, so don’t be late." The doctor waved as she shut the door behind her. JC sighed and frowned as he looked out the window. Pizza wasn’t going to brighten his mood this time.

 

 On to part 3

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn