Sprawled out on a dark leather sofa, a young man stares out of a window, watching a flurry of white.

"Edward," Dr. Gerandy says. "How are things today?"

"Fine," is his automatic response.

"You missed group."

Disinterested and exhausted, Edward's shoulders lift and fall. He doesn't want to have this conversation. He doesn't want to have any conversation. "I didn't feel like going."

Calm as a glassy lake, the psychiatrist looks over his lenses and tilts his head. "Why's that?"

Shrugging again, Edward mutters, "It's stupid."

"How so?" Dr. Gerandy asks, crossing his ankle across the opposite knee. He's heard it all, a hundred times over.

"It just is. Some of those people are idiots."

There's a girl with spiky black hair that talks and talks and talks. Like him, she has someone on the outside waiting. But unlike him, her significant other – some guy named Jasper – is clean and sober. She's here for 'maintenance', as she calls it. Whatever that means. But he's tired of hearing about how they're going to get married and how her life is going to be peachy keen.

The doctor surprises him with a jarring shift. "Edward, why did you start using?"

His shoulders tense. "What?"

"Why did you start using?" Dr. Gerandy repeats. "You've been here long enough to start talking about the whys not just the whats and hows."

Outside, the snow whips into a soft white frenzy. "I just did."

"What about your parents?"

Edward's head spins and he stares. "What about them?"

Taking off his lenses, Dr. Gerandy offers, "Abuse?"

A wave of hot indignation sweeps through his body. "Fuck no."


"I was just… " Edward sighs, thinking back, trying to piece through the years. "Tired, I guess."

Scribbling on a yellow pad, Dr. Gerandy probes, "Tired? How so?"

"Of everything." This conversation feels intrusive, although Edward can't pinpoint why. Maybe it's because he's not even sure of the answers himself, he thinks. "I guess… I was worried about some of my classes. It just… I don't know. It wasn't like high school, you know? Things weren't clicking for me. There were so many people. And…"

"So pressure?" the man across from him taps his pen. "Did you feel like you had to do well?"

"Yeah," Edward mumbles. "Maybe. It was just kind of… I don't know, expected. My dad's a doctor. I was supposed to be one, too. I just wanted to let off some steam. It helped me… I didn't think about all that shit when I was high."

"Did your girlfriend start with you?"

Wincing, Edward pictures Bella's gaunt face when they said their goodbyes. She was crying and he was, too. "Yeah. No, that's wrong. I started it all. She was mad at me for that. At first. But then… she tried. Just a little. She hated the needles, though. Always. Sometimes I had to help her find a vein."

The doctor's face is impassive, betraying neither support nor condemnation. "And you both used together?"

"Yeah. With other people sometimes, too." Edward hesitates. "But most of the time, just us. It was our thing."

"Why do you think Bella kept up?"

"Her mom and dad were splitting up, I think. It was stressing her out," Edward muses, wondering how much of it was all his fault. "Then it just… took over. She spiraled faster than me."

Their eyes meet once more when Edward asks, "When do I get to see her?"

Flipping the yellow pad closed, Dr. Gerandy softly asks, "Do you think that's a good idea? Can you two be healthy together?"

The idea that he thinks they should stay apart makes Edward instantly angry, and his kunckles curl around the cushion beneath him. "Whatever. When can I see her?" he asks again.

"At the end of treatment. If you both still want to. You should know that a lot of–"

"I'll always want her. No matter what."