Everything happens for a reason.
I’ve heard people say this my whole life. Friends, Counselors, family members, psychologists, concerned third parties. I hear it. I understand it. I take it in the same way I take in celebrity gossip. In one ear, out the other. This is what I grasp at, now, turning the key in my ignition.
"Come on, you gotta start." I think, as the engine turns, but doesn’t start. Fucking old cars. “Come on, Alice,” I’m speaking to my car, as if she can hear me. “I don’t have the money for you to break down on me right now.” I turn the key again, pressing down on the gas pedal as I do, willing the engine to start. No such luck.
I sigh heavily and sink into the seat. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is driving a beat-up 1990 Crown Vic. Sometimes that reason is being too financially unstable to properly maintain your car. I’m suddenly thinking about every lecture my dad’s given me lately about getting the oil changed on time.
Is this my fault, for not changing the oil enough? I give the key another turn, but I already know it won’t work.
The little green fairy that usually hovers above my engine is laying, arms outstretched, on the center of the hood of my car. She looks like she’s sunning herself.
I know the car will be stagnant for awhile. I’d been planning on going to a support group. I’ve been having anxiety about it, anyways. Maybe it’s not meant to be.
I spend a few minutes in my car, comforting myself with the thought that the universe doesn’t want me to go.
My mother disagrees. My arrival back through the front door, minutes after announcing my departure, arises questions. I see them hang above her head.
“Did you forget something?”
“Yeah, I forgot I drive a car that only starts half the time.”
“You should really take it in,” she sighs. I clench my jaw. I know this. There are a lot of things I should do. “You could always take the train.” I turn my head and laugh. “The train?” “It’s walking distance . Runs on the half-hour.” I know it well. It’s been a few years since I’ve even stepped foot at a train station, but the knowledge hasn’t left me.
I find myself in a lot of situations without much recollection of how I ended up in them. I chock it up to depression.
This is how I find myself, boarding the train I once took every day to and from school. I deliberately choose a seat by the window.
I’m glad it doesn’t seem to be a busy hour for public transportation; I hate dealing with crowds. The seats are old and blue, flecked with abstract primary colors.
I put my feet up on the one in front of me, lean my head against the window. The train is still stopped, but only for another moment or so. I see a flash of light pass the window.
It looks like fire. I blink a few times as the train begins to roll. My eyes clear a little and I realize the flash was a girl, running to catch the train. She appears to be engulfed in flames.
I’m used to seeing shit. Dark clouds above people’s heads, flowers growing in odd places from their skin. This, though… It’s a little much. Even for me. I’m staring at her through the window.
She’s fast, but not quite fast enough. The flames lick at her skin, relentlessly, as she runs, growing with her speed. I watch her curse and stop running, realizing she’s missed it.
The flames calm and reduce themselves to her feet, black smoke billowing up around her limbs. We’re moving quickly away now, and soon she disappears from my line of sight. Huh. Fire, I think.
That’s new. I reach into my bag to grab my notebook and a pen. Quickly, I jot down the time and my observations. Train. Girl on fire. It’s Dr. Matthews’ idea.
He says acknowledging the hallucinations might be my first step to dissecting their meaning. I’ve come to appreciate his company and not much else, but his words still echo through my mind at times. I still practice the self care he tells me is so important. I’ve got to be a good little patient, show that I’m putting in effort. Show that I want to get better, no matter how long that process is going to take.
Seems futile at this point, though. I try to count the years i’ve been seeing him. Too many. The train comes to a full stop at the next station and I find myself thinking about highschool. I’d sit with a few others my age, feigning friendship. We knew each other’s names, classes, hobbies, but the connection ended there.
That’s how most of my relationships have been. Vapid, shallow, consisting of small talk and only only small talk. This station is where Charlie, redheaded and bubbly, would join the bunch of us. She kept most conversations going. I wonder what she's up to.
It’s almost comical, thinking about the normalcy my once-called-friends are most likely experiencing. College, work, family. I should be in college by now. Mental health wearing on my nerves, I spend most of the ride wallowing in my own self-pity. I’m so busy feeling sorry for myself that I almost miss my stop.
Public settings give me uncontrollable anxiety. I’m careful to smooth out my sweater and hair as I stand, train rolling to a halt. There’s something charming about taking public transportation and walking yourself to and from a destination. Feels self sufficient. It’s like when you get your driver’s license and think wow, I can go anywhere I want!
Followed with that same twang of disappointment when you realize that you cannot, in fact, go anywhere you want. At 16, this comes because of things like parents. Pesky fucking authority figures deeming certain places, and certain hours, too troublesome. Silently, I curse my mother and her heart of gold. Always keeping my ‘best interest’ at heart.
She keeps herself blameless, always. Always someone you could never, possibly, not in a million years, hold at fault, because her intentions are so obviously pure. I picture her now, straightening her spine, trying her best to make herself into a teacher and friend, offering up her best piece of advice. Advice like: take the train!
I’ve been to more than my share of support groups. I find it easiest to speak freely with people who are, themselves, considered abnormal. In whatever way that may be. I believe most people go to various groups and meetings from a selfish point of view; They want to talk about themselves, get advice to help themselves, think about their own problems.
I doubt anyone at these meetings has remembered a single word I’ve said. I doubt they pay attention when I speak. I hope they don’t. It doesn’t take long for me to wish I had stayed at home. It’s all nice and good to want the support of people who understand what you’re going through, but one glance around the room tells me that is not what i’ll find here.