Saturday, 9 July 2011
03:57:59 PM (GMT)
"Well... would you mind if I came over to see you sometime?"
There was a pause. "I'm not sure. Maybe. When would you want to come over?" I
stopped myself from saying as soon as possible, and told her whenever was good for
her. Again she hesitated; I heard muffled talking, then her own voice was back. "You
can come over now, if you want."
I told her that'd be fine, and she told me where her house was. "You can just come
in through the back door," she said.
"Oh, um, okay. See you then."
"Bye." I heard her hang up the phone, and stood there in silence for a second before
getting ready to go. "Mom, I'm going over to Ophelia's. See you later," I
half-shouted to her since she was in the other room.
"What? Oh, okay. Be back before dark." I grabbed a jacket and then threw it back on
the floor, remembering that it was summer. I ran out the door, extremely curious as
to what, if anything, Ophelia was going to tell me.
I found her house with no trouble at all; it wasn't very far from my own. I thought
about knocking, and prepared to, before I remembered her telling me to just come in.
But I suppose she saw me there hesitating, and she opened the door for me. She gave
me a very slight smile that looked extremely forced. She was still wearing
long-sleeved shirts in the middle of summer. Okay, not the middle. We were back in
school already, which meant it was later than summer. So wasn't it... normal for
people to wear long sleeves I told myself it was as she invited me in, and we sat at
a small circle table with four chairs. I wondered if I should ask her about her
behavior. I knew if her foster parents were around, she wouldn't be able to tell me
anything. I asked her if they were home. She said no, but that they were okay with
having a friend over for a bit. I could easily tell she was lying about the second
part. Still, I pretended to believe her.
"So, how have you been?" I realized that I had already asked her this on the phone,
but my being there seemed to have lifted her mood a little. Not enough to ask me
about nail polish and orange juice, but she said she was okay. "Oh, that's good." I
smiled, and she seemed to force herself to return it.
I knew it was risky, but silence quickly filled the room, and I was afraid it would
be permanent. So I asked, "Do you have the heater on in here or something?" For a
moment she looked as if she was going to freak out. Something like panic passed
through her eyes. "You know," I continued, "you can always roll the sleeves of your
She quickly said she wasn't warm. Another lie, but I pretended to believe her.
Oh, okay." I knew exactly why she had the sleeves pulled down. Why she was cutting
herself, I wasn't sure. But I knew something was causing her to harm herself and
whatever it was I was determined to get rid of it.
She started fiddling with the end of her sleeve, like she was afraid it would come up
if she didn't monitor it. "So, were you sick the other day?" She hesitated, like she
wasn't exactly sure how to respond. I wondered if she'd really been sick, and if I
was just being a jerk by accusing her of skipping classes.
Are you feeling better?"
Yeah. Well, I'm not sick anymore." Was that a good thing, or not? The tone of her
voice told me that whatever the reason was for her not being in class was much worse
than a cold.
Have you talked to Brooke lately?" At this, she cringed. I wasn't sure if I'd played
the right card or not; it was impossible to tell.
Of course I haven't." Her voice was fakely high again, like she wanted me to believe
she was okay no matter what. "We're not exactly friends." She forced a fake laugh.
I know, I know." I laughed a little bit too, but even that felt awkward. "But she
hasn't been bothering you?" She started playing with her shirt again. Obviously
something had happened between them, but I wasn't going to force anything out of
"She has lots of friends," she said halfheartedly. "They're good at making people do
things they don't want to. I think she has them because nobody is scared of her, and
she wants to be feared." I frowned. Another part to add to the puzzle. 'Things they
don't want to do' could have been anything. It could have been the cutting, but
somehow I doubted Ophelia would cut herself for anyone else, not even if she was held
to gunshot. Oh course she wasn't; they wouldn't have a gun. Still, I wondered what
they could have made her do. I told myself mentally that imagination is the worst
possibility, and decided to wait until she told me to make any more accusations.
More than anything I wanted to ask her what is is that Brooke and her friends 'made
people do'. I knew that would be too much to ask her, so instead told her that she
has me to talk to if she ever needs it.
"Oh. Right. Of course." She smiled. To be honest, a small part of me was getting
pissed at her.
As another silence dawned, I said, "you must be hot, Ophelia. Why don't you pull
your sleeves up?"
She tugged at her sleeves again, making sure they came down over her wrists. "I'm
not too hot. It's cold in here."
"Ophelia. you don't even have a fan on. I'm sweating to death, honestly."
"I..." She trailed off. She knew she'd lost, so she grabbed a hold of her left
sleeve. I waited. She let go just as fast, then, "really, Lucas. I've been chilly
all day. It must be my illness acting up again. It gives me chills."
I knew she was lying, and I guess she wasn't ready to tell me. I let it go, hoping
one day she'd trust me enough.
And then, out of nowhere, she finally met my eyes. "I'd never cut. I'd never cut,
ever, Lucas, and you have to believe that because no one else does. And you have to
swear that if I show you, you won't tell anyone, ever."
I wasn't quite sure what she was saying, but I swore to secrecy.
When she did pull up her sleeve, I wasn't sure if I was relieved, angry, or even
more upset with her. Several bruises were around her upper arm, below her elbow. I
guess that really set me off a bit, because I knew Brooke and her friends had done
that much. Below those were several rubber bands – hair ties? - each in a different
color. She looked at me like I was going to kill her.
"What...? So Brooke and her friends did that?" I said something under my breath, it
just kind of happened out of pure anger. I'm not sure what I said, or if I said
anything at all.
"Yes. They did." That was her only reply, and it was all I needed.
I got up quickly, slamming my hand on the table as I did so. "I am going to kill
"Lucas, stop it! It's nothing." I grabbed her arm, pointed to the bruises on her
"Right. That's nothing." I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
"It is! It's not like I'll die from a few bruises." She was right, but...
"How did you even get those, anyway? What did they do?"
"Lucas, if I told you, I know you'd tell someone. Not that I don't trust you, but
it's too much."
"Damn right I'd tell someone!" I said. "What did they do?"
"You already swore to secrecy." She said, determined. "You can't tell anyone."
"Okay. If I promise not to tell anybody, will you tell me what happened?" I needed
her to tell me. It was driving me insane.
"Okay. You swear you don't tell anyone? No one at all."
“Yes, I swear."
"They made me drink something. I'm not sure what. They told me not to accept things
from strangers and I started feeling kind of weird." She hesitated. "And then Brooke
cut my hair, and put something on my wrist. She kept snapping it, telling me that
she'd cut me but she'd want me to do that on my own."
"What did she put on your wrist, specifically?" This wasn't sounding good. I was
staring to worry about Ophelia, and even though I swore to secrecy something told me
that I needed to get her help. But I knew I wouldn't; she would be way too mad at
"I don't know, entirely. I think it was a rubber band, maybe. She said that's how
all the cool people dealt with things." She paused.
"And, the ones you're wearing now?" I gestured to the colorful bands around her
"I was scared, after that. I guess I felt like it was my fault I'd even came that
way and ran into them. And I didn't want to cut, because I thought that would mean
I'd be as low as her. And she said that I would, eventually; cut, I mean. And so I
put these on, like she'd done before, and I tried snapping them and it worked, sort
"It works for what?" I already knew, but maybe she'd give me more details.
"Well, to deal with all the issues I have. Like my foster family. They're great for
taking me in and stuff, but I can tell they don't see me as their real daughter."
"Well you aren't." I'd said it before I could think. I quickly started apologizing.
"It's okay," she said. "You're right. I’m not."
"But legally, you are now." I just wanted to mend this awkward moment, I didn't know
much about the legal aspects of adoption.
"Whatever," she replied halfheartedly, "Either way they don't act like I am."
I wasn't sure what to say next. "How does that make you want to..." I paused. "Snap
those things? I mean, can it really be that bad?"
She looked at me blankly for a moment. "In case you didn't notice, Lucas, my world
isn't just them. School. People. I hate people." This time, she didn't flash me her
classic smile and tell me that it was everyone except me. I suddenly leaned over and
wrapped my arms around her shoulders. It was just a friendly hug, but it was the only
thing I could think to do in the moment.
I couldn't tell what her response was. She didn't fight, or remove herself from the
situation, but she didn't hug me back, either. It was sort of like seeing a once
entergetic puppy lost and sickly. Almost pathetic, but in ways you knew the puppy had
already given up. We were like that for a few seconds, though it seemed like more,
before she sighed and I let go.
She didn't act like it bothered her, so I kind of let that go. "If you ever need
anyone to talk to, or for anything, you've got me. Always."
At this point, she pulled her knees up on the chair and hugged them close to her
chest. She rested her head on her knees. "Lucas, I hate them. And I hate Brooke." I
sort of knew this already; it was what had been hanging in the room for as long as
she'd told me of what they'd done.
"It's not that bad, is it So they snapped your wrist with a rubberband. They could
have done worse, right"
"But it's more than that. It's an obligation I have now." I didn't know what she
meant by this, and part of me didn't want to. "What? What could you possibly be
obligated to do?"
"Snapping it." She took her hands off of her knees and grabbed a rubberband with her
fingers. She held it away for a few seconds, pulling as hard as she could. Her eyes
didn't leave mine, but when she snapped the rubberband, I wished they had. As
terrible as it would be to see fear pass through her eyes, hurtfullness, it was worse
to see nothing.
I tried to meet her eyes, but she kept avoiding my gaze for a while. Eventually,
probably by accident, I caught her blue eyes in a dead stare. It was only for a
second before she averted her eyes, but pain and hurt were evident.
I pretended to suddenly be very interested in the cream-coloured wallpaper. Even so,
I caught her moving the rubber band away from the spot she'd snapped. I wasn't sure
if this was so that she'd have a fresh place to snap next time, or if the pain was to
much and the tight band was adding more pressure, but either way, she moved it.
She looked at me, her eyes finally meeting mine once again.
Winter came, and she never did. Sometimes I would take walks around her block until
I saw her sitting by her bedroom window, and she'd look at me for a long time.
Sometimes we would talk, but it was never the same after that.
My mom kept asking me if I was sick, and Jaycee kept asking about the 'short little
girl' and if she was okay.
"No!" I screamed one day. "She's not okay. She's dead on the inside, get it? She's
dead and there's nothing I can do about it!" Jaycee was taken aback. I punched a wall
and ran upstairs. Sometimes I broke down crying.
Slowly I got rid of anything and everything that reminded me of her: Orange juice,
my old Peter Pan movies. I sold them to girls with black hair and blue eyes.
One day at lunch, I saw that Brooke was gone. And I knew exactly where she was: with
During lunch, I went outside looking for her. Her, and Ophelia. Around the corner of
the lunch room was the Janitor's room, which uncoincidentally had no windows. And
that's where I found her.
She looked so different, I could barely recognize her.
Her smile was the first I'd seen in months, but it was different. It was wide and
open and her eyes didn't focus in any particular way. Her skin was a bit grey, and
bags hung under her eyes. Her hair had grown back to her shoulders, but now it looked
dry, like it was falling out. I knew instantly what had happened. Brooke had sold her
drugs. Her nose was a shade of cherry.
She didn't fight me when I grabbed her arms to inspect them; there were red marks up
and down her arms. I remembered when she told me about her obligations to do Brooke's
"Ophelia, I hate you for making me do this." I took her hand and started towards my
car. She stumbled and laughed.
I waited for Ophelia's soberity to make my approach. She spent the night on the
swinging bench in our backyard, covered by the warmest blanket I could find. I made
and froze blueberry waffles and made sure we had enough orange juice. I looked up
drug addictions, cutting, and Neverland.
"My head hurts."
Since our mom was gone for a trip for work, we were the only ones in the house.
Jaycee had already left to see her friend. I'm sure she saw Ophelia laying on the
couch, but she didn't say anything about it to me.
"Did you drink last night, too?"
"No, actually I didn't," she replied,pulling the blanket over her head. "Why did you
bring me here?" She asked meekly.
I handed her the orange juice that had been sitting for a few minutes on the coffee
table as I attempted to wake her up. "Because I care about you." Knowing our question
game had officially started, I set my mind to thinking of a good question to reply
with. "What happened to you?"
"Honestly? I'm not sure." She laughed, bitterly, and bit her lip. "Can you keep a
"Of course I can. What is it?”
"There's a reason I didn't come see you. Brooke got me into drugs and- and I didn't
want you to see me this way. To think badly of me."
"Do you hate me?" The words left my mouth before I could think them through.
"No," she said, wiping sleep from her eyes. "Why?"
"You never talk to me anymore. It's like you've disappeared entirely. Or maybe it's
me that's disappeared." When she says nothing, I asked, "What really happened?"
"I already told you; don't remember."
"I mean about your family. What happened to your parents?"
She rolled over, facing the cushions of the couch. "Sick kids are hard to take care
of. Morbid, impulsive ones are worse." She paused, and I guess I should have said
something. I didn't. I just waited for her question. "Do you love anyone?"
My mom. Jaycee. My dad. Thousands of mismatched faces popped up in my head, most
without names. But I knew that wasn't what she wanted me to answer. She wanted to
know if I cared about -- loved -- her.
Because I was too scared to answer yes, I said no. "Do you have anything you're
hiding from me?"
She stopped drumming her fingers against the fabric, and stayed still for a long
time. Then, "mhm. What about you?"
I do care about you. "No. What are you hiding, then?"
"Remember," she laughed a little, but shakily. "That time when I told you about what
Brooke did to me?"
"A lot more happened on that night."
She turned back around to face me, left arm still on the cushion. She stared at me
for a long time, running her eyes over my face over and over again. Then, "illegal
"Such as?" I repeated.
She tucked her hair behind her ear. "I'm not feeling well, can we talk about this
later?" Ophelia grabbed Jaycee's blanket, pulled it over her head.
"Okay," she breathed in. "I was drunk. And I was flirting with this one guy, right?
And things went sort of... out of hand. He showed me how to cut and how great drugs
were and," she laughed bitterly. "And how much life sucked."
I digested her words. "So you did drugs. Got drunk. Cut. I mean, that's pretty bad,
but, if Brooke made you do it, then.."
She grinned, her breath escaping through the gaps in her teeth. Her smile faded.
"Lucas, Brooke never made me do anything I didn't want to do."
My stomach hurt. "I'm confused."
"She offered me a drink, and I took it. That's it. That's all."
"But that's not all."
"Listen, there's no reason I should give you every little detail about what happened
that night, alright?" She turned back around. A few seconds passed. "Sorry," she
'It's okay." I left her with the orange juice.
Last edited: 9 July 2011