A/N: Thanks for chosing to read this.
I. Lucy, for all her faults and problems, isn't stupid. She realizes there is something very wrong in hiding in a closet because she is scared to death of all the people outside. She figures that it would be an acceptable reaction if she were a three year old on her first day of school, but she's not. She's twenty-seven, now, and she knows she's supposed to be a bright, confident woman – but she's not, is she?
She has another proof of her inaptitude later that day, when she goes to the hairdresser. It took her two hours and the assurance that everyone had left her GP's waiting room to get out of the cupboard, and when she finally walks into Supercuts, she's so late she feels mortified to even show up here. Gilda, the forty-something woman who always cuts her hair, smiles and tells her that it's okay, it's not been a busy afternoon anyway, but Lucy still feels like the biggest failure ever, and she can feel the sweat pool under her arms, on her forehead and in her back, the fabric of her shirt sticking to her skin and ugh, she's in for a fifth shower when she gets back home, isn't she?
Gilda happily chats while cutting Lucy's hair, and she doesn't seem to mind that no one really answers. Lucy can only make an educated guess, but she realizes that Gilda probably figures Lucy's a good listener. And, well, she kind of is. She made plenty of friendships on the Internet through her blog, and Lucy's always there for them, and she listens to their problem, and she offers advice, and she never complains.
And that's kind of the root of the problem, isn't it? Lucy never complains. Lucy never tells anyone she'd like to be listened to, at least once, even if it's only once. Lucy never tries to take a stand for who she is. Lucy never can do it, even when she's dying to.
That's why, once more, she leaves the hair saloon with a haircut she hates – bangs, for crying out loud – and doesn't dare telling Gilda what an unprofessional hairdresser she is, because she really should have realized Lucy's forehead is her best feature.
II. There is a knock on her door and Lucy feels her heart rate increase and her palms go sweaty. Looking up from her laptop, her gaze falls on the dreaded wooden door, and she's already fearing that a second knock will follow.
And sure enough, there it is, tormenting her when she is supposed to be in her only safe haven, her apartment.
Lucy considers for one moment to simply ignore it, but she ordered the complete series of Lost last week, and it might be her delivery and she'll never know if she doesn't answer, will she? She breathes in sharply, trying to give herself the courage to open the door, and gets up from the couch.
Her steps are slow and hesitant and she kind of wants to hide in her room in shame, because she's alone in her own apartment but she still can't be a normal human being. There is a third knock on the door just as she reaches it, and she inhales slowly before unlocking and opening it.
It's not the mailman.
Two kids, no older than sixteen.
"We're selling subscriptions for Guns and Ammos," one of them says, before the other adds "Would you like one?" and Lucy can tell they've trained themselves to be in synch, just like she's trained herself to say "no". They're far more successful than she is, though, for when they leave, she's a new reader of Guns and Ammos.
III. When her mom visits a few months later, she spots three of the Guns and Ammos magazines on the coffee table and she visibly gets angry.
Lucy's relationship with her mother has never been a good one, and even though Lucy doesn't really know whether it's her social anxiety that estranged her from her mother or if her social anxiety was caused by her, the fact remains that there is very little patience left in the sixty year old woman.
"Were you incapable to say no to one of those door to door vendors again?" she asks, and Lucy shakes, and it's enough to give the answer away.
Her mother dumps the three magazines in the bin, and turning to Lucy, she says: "It's high time you see a therapist, Lucy."
And Lucy doesn't want to, because she has no interest in letting a stranger meddling into her life and creating chaos in the semblance of order she's achieved creating. Lucy doesn't want to, but the black, cold, piercing stare of her mother is looking right through her, so she just nods her approval.
"See, there is hope for you, after all."
Lucy doesn't point out that there is literally no hope, for her answer simply stems from the fact she once more just couldn't say "no".
IV. In the end, the therapy does help a little. There is no other explanation as to why she would find herself in a party, of all places. Mind you, it's not that big of a thing, for it's just a few single people reuniting on Valentine's Day in a comic book store owned by another patient of her therapist, but she's here nonetheless. A year ago, it would have been unthinkable.
The mood is morose in the shop, and Lucy knows why. Everyone here is feeling worthless, for it is a day to celebrate lovers and no amount of discussion with another fat guy is going to make them feel better. That is until an Indian man speaks up and reminds everyone that they're not freaks just because they're single.
His speech is touching, really, and it moves something in Lucy, and her therapist did tell her to put herself in dangerous situations, so she does.
Walking up to him, Lucy lets him know she's liked his words, and for a fleeting moment, she's proud of herself. She's done something outside of her comfort zone twice tonight, and she's telling herself she has the right to go back home when he asks if she wants to grab a coffe.
No, she wants to answer, because she's done enough scary thing for the day, but he looks so much like those kids who sell magazine subscriptions, that in the end, she follows him into a coffee shop.
V. She can feel Raj's and his friend Amy's eyes scrutinizing her, begging for an answer to Raj's question, and suddenly her mouth goes dry.
Things have been nice with Raj so far – she's even kissed a boy for the first time in her life! – but she's not feeling comfortable. Or maybe she's too comfortable, and it scares her to death.
Is she really Raj's girlfriend? She doesn't know, and she wants to tell him to stop pushing but she can't and, oh, God, I'm literally the worst.
She ends up locked in the bathroom. When Lucy finally comes out, Amy has already left an hour and a half ago.
VI. Her eyes are glued to her phone screen, pondering whether or not she should hit "send". The thing is, Lucy knows Raj is only trying to help her by pressuring her into things that scare her – this party for his friend is just like the funky crabcakes all over again – but he's going at it the wrong way.
She is damaged – beyond repairs. She can't be fixed with thread and needle, not even with patience and care, and certainly not with pushes in the wrong direction.
She is damaged and Raj is nice and she actually likes him a lot when he's not trying to fix her but he can't do anything for her and it's best if they stop seeing each other.
She hits "send" and the message is out.
She won't be seeing Raj anymore.
It's the first time she takes a stand for herself.
She absolutely hates it. Somehow, it's even worse than the alternative.
A/N: thanks for reading.