Authors Note: Sorry about the long wait between updates. Hopefully now that Dark at Heart is up and running again, you guys will focus on this.
Reviews always appreciated, no matter how short.
Yes... Arnold is going to be in this WAY more than he is in this one or the last. No worries. :)
Chapter Three- Unlike Myself
Olga makes blueberry muffins for breakfast. I have no problem stuffing my face, one after the other, a thick layer of butter spread between their deliciously fluffy and warm centers. I wash it all down with milk; gulp after gulp without a pause until the entire cup disappears. I then slam it back onto the table and wipe the liquid white mustache off my lip with the back of my hand. Bob stares at me incredulously the entire time.
"You eat like a pig!" He accuses.
"I don't know what happened to her, Miriam. She must take after your side." Half a piece of sausage is hanging out of his mouth as he says this, and there's a muffin crumb clinging to his chin. I contemplate telling him what a hypocritical bastard he is, and that if I'm a pig, then he's a hog. But I keep my peace. For reasons I don't even know.
"Nonsense Daddy, she just likes my cooking." Olga justifies my alleged bad habits and kisses my cheek. I wipe it off savagely and wonder why she still thinks I'm four years old. "Do you want more?"
"No, I don't want any more." I snap.
Why am I so angry all the time?
…Because you're stupid, I remind myself.
My chair scrapes across the floor as I scoot it out to get up. Miriam doesn't look up. She hasn't looked at me in over two weeks. But of course, Bob watches my every mood.
"Where the heck do you think you're going?"
"Out where?" He demands.
"Out." I repeat, already half way to the door.
"Nice seeing you, Helga!" Steven shouts. I close the door without answering back, then pause on the stoop.
He's the only one of Olga's boyfriends whose ever remembered my name.
I have a secret.
And no, it isn't about Arnold. This secret would destroy my life in a completely different way, because if Big Bob ever found out his daughter was a nutcase he'd flip. Sometimes I'm even mad at myself for this; I still see Dr. Bliss sometimes.
She never charges me, so I know it isn't about the money. I think it just makes her feel better to have someone around whose more screwed up than she is. Or maybe she just thinks I'm pathetic.
She's cried with me before.
Sunday's are when I usually find myself storming into her office, in a bad mood or some other disturbing form of self destructing panic, because for some reason that happens to be the day of the week I choose to do something particularly stupid or humiliating in front of Arnold and I know I'm going to have to face him in school the next day. But I find I'm heading there today; Saturday. And I don't really know why.
Boredom, I think, kicking a rock and watching it skid down the sidewalk.
I miss Phoebe and the way she used to gently decline offers to hang out with friends and go on dates with boys to spend her weekends with me instead. I miss having someone there who actually cared more about me than they did about themselves. I smile to myself; it's watered down by sadness.
When I get to Dr. Bliss' office, the secretary blinks at me, but says nothing. She doesn't like me, and I don't like her, either. Her glasses are thick and round, and she looks like an Owl with a bad haircut. A mean, ugly owl that scares everybody away.
I wonder if that's what other people think when they look at me.
"Dr. Bliss?" She snarls into the phone. "that girl is in here again. Do you want me to send her away?" Her eyes are like stone, and it makes me smile when the smirk evaporates from her weathered face. "Fine." She snaps, slamming the phone back into its cradle, then hitches her thumb toward the door. "Go. She's waiting."
I hold back until I cross the room and then flip her off in secret, wishing I could do it to her face but knowing I can't if I ever want to be allowed in here again.
The door clicks when I open it, and I click it closed behind me. The room is familiar and cool with artificial air. It makes me sleepy.
"Helga," Dr. Bliss says, her voice happy and sweet like always. "How are you today?"
She hasn't looked up from her papers, but I shrug in response and perch myself on the edge of her wide, cherry-wood desk, swinging my legs.
I'm still too short to touch the floor, I realize.
Blinking, I wonder why I always feel like such a towering ogre. I'm really… not one of the tallest people in school anymore. Shorter than most of the boys, but taller than Lila, Nadine, and Phoebe; when she was around. Shorter than Rhonda, though not by much, and the same exact height as Arnold.
I can stare directly into his eyes now.
"Helga?" My attention snaps to the short-haired woman I'd come to know so well. Her pen is frozen over a thick stack of manila papers. "What's on your mind?"
She clicks her pen closed and abandons it on the desk. Her eyes are sad today. Puffy and red, and I know that she's been crying, just like she was crying last week. I don't understand the feeling I get when I see her this way. It makes me feel crappy. It makes me want to cry.
I don't know how to handle these emotions.
There's a lump in my throat I have to swallow, and then I pull my eyes away, unable to stand it any longer. Therapists shouldn't be allowed to feel bad. I ignore her question and look out the window, my legs swinging leisurely.
"Helga," It's not a question this time. "Why don't you tell me what's on your mind?"
"Why don't you tell me why you were crying?"
A loud silence buzzes all around us, but it only takes a moment for her to regain her cool, professional tone. A front she's built.
"That isn't the issue."
"It's what's on my mind." I argue.
"What brought you here in the first place?" She rephrases, her sigh deep and mournful.
Today, I decide to cut her a break. I don't feel like myself. Attitude problems take a lot of energy, and I'm just too tired. My legs stop swinging and I pull at my pastel-blond pigtail.
"Olga…" I start, then look down at my leg. There's a scar on my knee that's been there since I was seven. It's shaped like a football. "she came home this weekend. And she's… she's pregnant."
"Congratulations." Dr. Bliss says, her smile soft.
I scowl and jump off the desk. "There's nothing to congratulate! Don't be happy for her!"
Dark eyebrows perk up in question. "And why not? A baby is a beautiful thing."
"A baby is a disgusting thing!" The wind picks up outside, howling through the trees. Clouds are starting to creep over the city and shadow everything below. "She got knocked up by some guy she's barely known a month, that we've never even heard of until yesterday, and everyone's acting like it's the best thing that's ever happened!"
"Maybe everyone is just trying to make the best out of an awkward situation. Did you ever think of that?"
I scoff and roll my eyes. "Or maybe they're just okay with whatever perfect Olga does with her crappy little life."
"Or maybe it's because she does it… without anger." The words freeze in my heart; freeze the glare off my face, because it's crossed my mind before. "People respond to emotions more than any other thing, Helga, and they rub off on other people. It's hard not to get excited about something when someone else is."
"It's not hard for me." I grumble.
"You're a very special girl. Unique. You know how to hide everything you feel behind anger."
I turn to face her, but I'm not angry. Not anymore. When I speak, it comes out soft. "And you hide yours behind professionalism." Her lips are painted a deep ruby, and she purses them together now, almost like if she doesn't, a secret will spill out like barf. "Don't you?"
"You're very observant, very smart." She answers that way, sidestepping the issue itself. "You can read people the moment you meet them."
"And you're half phony." I decide, pulling myself onto the edge of the giant desk again. "Dr. Bliss? Why do you always work on the weekend?"
Nervously, she scoops up her pen and taps it against the acrylic coated wood. "When I was in high school, I made a promise to myself that I'd dedicate my life helping kids."
"Don't you ever want to do anything for yourself?"
She shakes her head, and I don't understand her. I think she's crazy.
"No Helga," she breaths. "I don't."
We're both silent a while. It makes me uncomfortable that I'm so comfortable, no matter how little sense it makes.
"How are things with Arnold?"
My heart gives a little flutter at the sound of his name, but I'm used of discussing it with her. I shrug. "He's mad at me right now."
Another shrug. "Cause I screamed in his football headed face."
I see her nod out of the corner of my eye. "Did that make you feel good?"
My index finger swirls around my childhood scar. I can see his face there, and his eyes are sad. "It made me feel…" I pause, trying to think of the proper word. "alone."
"Yes," She agrees. "I can see why it would. Are you going to apologize?"
I push a stray piece of hair out of my face. "No. He'll be over it by Monday."
I hesitate for a moment, tasting dread. "…sure I'm sure."
But I can't help but think that this time I might be wrong.
To Be Continued...