Home > Tied (All Torn Up #2)(8)

Tied (All Torn Up #2)(8)
Author: Carian Cole

“I don’t know how to thank you for this.” My words catch in my throat, and I turn to hug her. “I love this so much, and I needed this.”

“You don’t have to thank me. This is your life. All of this belongs to you.”

“I’m still not sure seeing all that is good for her recovery.” My mother entered the room while I was hugging my grandmother. “You should have let me talk to her doctor first.”

“That’s nonsense,” Grandma says. “She has every right to have these photographs and see herself, and her own family. None of this is a secret. And I won’t be kept from my granddaughter any longer, Cynthia.” She continues to talk over my mother, who attempts to interrupt her. “I’m eighty years old, I’m not going to live forever, and I want to see my granddaughter while I still can. I’ve respected your wishes long enough.”

My mother purses her lips together, and her hand grips her wine glass tighter.

“All right, if that’s what you would like,” Mom says. “We only wanted Holly to have time to reintegrate into society first, and recover mentally and physically. She was quite a mess when she first came back. It would have upset you, and that’s not good for your heart.”

“I was a mess?” I ask, surprised by this news. I don’t remember being a mess exactly.

“You weren’t yourself. It would have upset Grandma immensely to see you that way.”

“That’s bullshit.” Grandma once again holds my hand, and I try not to laugh at her swearing right to my mother’s face. “It upset me not to see her. Now let us talk. Go stir something in the kitchen.”

“I never should have let her keep me away from you,” Grandma says when my mother is out of earshot.

“It’s all right,” I assure her, feeling terrible that my mother wouldn’t let her visit me if she wanted to. “I can see you whenever I want to. I’m at residential status at Merryfield now. That means I can have visitors any time, and I’m allowed to come and go as long as I sign in and out.”

My grandmother looks both happy and a bit sad to hear this news, which I don’t quite understand. “Well, I don’t live far away at all, so we will definitely be visiting each other from now on. Would you like that?” she asks.

I nod enthusiastically. “Yes. I would like that very much.”

By the middle of my grandmother’s visit, I’ve decided she’s one of my favorite people, right up there with Zac, Anna, and Feather. Later, when she’s getting ready for my father to drive her back home, I promise her I’m going to visit her as soon as I’m able to. I don’t have a driver’s license or my own car yet, but it’s something I plan on working on right away.

Dr. Reynolds has told me to make a list of goals since I transitioned to residential status last month, and right now my goals are to get a part-time job, learn to drive, get a car, visit my grandmother, get my hair highlighted, and wait for the prince.

Lizzie and I stand next to each other at the front door and wave to Grandma as our father drives her away, and that momentary feeling of dizzying panic I often get suddenly strikes me. Placing my hand on the doorframe for balance, I slowly do my breathing exercise and count to ten.

One, two, three, four…

Thinking of the goals has overwhelmed me. One minute I feel so normal, and the next—bam! Everything closes in around me, and I want to hide. The what-ifs penetrate my thoughts, taunting me. What if I can’t get a job? What if I never learn to drive? What if I can’t get a car? What if my parents never relax and just learn to love me? What if I never see the prince again? What if I never feel…real again? What if I never stop feeling lost—and never really feel found?

I take a gulp of air. One, two, three…

“Holly, are you okay?” Lizzie asks from beside me, concern all over her young face. “You’re not dying again, are you? I’ll go get Mommy…”

Grabbing her hand to stop her, I smile through my shallow breaths. “I’m fine. Just a little tired.” She nods, content with my canned answer, and leaves me there at the door while she goes to help Mom fill the dishwasher. I am still continually surprised at how people out here accept words as truth. Even though I said I was fine, I’m not. Inside I’m scared, and screaming, and crying. Inside, I’m still in that dark, lonely room, waiting for the bad man to show up again, not knowing if it’ll be a good day, where he just talks to me, or a bad day, where he will touch me and say nasty things. Why can no one see, from the outside, that I’m not fine?

And how have I slipped into the habit of lying about how I really feel, constantly covering up my feelings?

It’s not until later that night, after watching a movie with my parents and Lizzie, when I’m lying in bed in Zac’s converted room, that I realize Lizzie asked me if I was dying again. I have no idea why she would ask such an odd question. I drift off to sleep wondering, and I jolt awake some time later, drenched in sweat, after having a nightmare. I was in a dark hole, being buried alive with dirt and worms being shoveled over me. I tried to scream, but no one heard me—no one came. I’m alive, I screamed silently in the dream. I’m not dead. And then I saw it was my mother with the shovel. You’re not yourself, she kept saying, as she shoveled more dirt over me.

I feel a tremor, and waves of nausea and dizziness hit me as I stare at the ceiling, until I stand on wobbly legs and go to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and sip water from my hand. After a few minutes, the sick feeling subsides, taking most of the horrible visions of the nightmare with it. I make my way back to my bed in the dark, stopping at my suitcase in the corner first. As quietly as I can, I unzip the suitcase, pull out my backpack, and take it to bed with me.



“I think a day out will be good for both of us.” Feather glances at me in the passenger seat of the car her father gave her a few weeks ago. “I love the mall. It has everything we could possibly need in one place. And you’ve always wanted to get your hair and nails done. No better time than the present, right?”

I nod in vague agreement. I think the real reason she wants to go is because, while I was away for the weekend, she tried to cut her own bangs and give herself layers. Now her shoulder-length black hair is only shoulder length in some places, and her bangs are on a wicked slant.

Hair trauma aside, Dr. Reynolds is always telling us to live in the present—the gift of life. Not the past or the future. So today seems like a good day for me to finally have my first salon experience.

Early last night my father dropped me off at Merryfield after my first weekend visit at their home. Other than seeing my grandmother, the weekend was disappointing. Stupidly, I had daydreamed about my parents telling me all about the past ten years of their lives and sharing cute, happy childhood stories about me in an effort to bring my memories back and help us bond. Instead, they were polite and friendly, but distant. When my father announced, after dinner, it was time to drive me back to my apartment in the confines of Merryfield, I felt relieved. And I couldn’t help noticing they seemed equally relieved.

At least I had the photo album from Grandma, which Feather and I stayed up late looking at together. Feather said hardly anyone has real printed photos anymore and that my Grandmother must be amazing to have printed them all out like she did and label them.

On the way to the mall, Feather takes me to my first drive-through to get us each a Starbucks latte (also a first for me), explaining that she recently read in a popular magazine that every morning should start with a good coffee or else we’re doomed to have a craptastic day. I don’t think the person who wrote that article has any idea what a truly craptastic day would even entail, and I’m sure if Feather or I wrote in and shared our past craptasticness with her, she’d rethink her belief that a coffee with the perfect amount of froth could make a person’s day better.

That being said, as I sip the vanilla latte Feather ordered for me, the warm, sweet, creaminess is actually very pleasing.

“Don’t forget your father gave you a gold card and said you can spend as much as you want,” Feather reminds me on our way into the shopping center, after spending half an hour looking for the closest parking spot possible. “I think he’s got the major guilts just like my dad does and thinks buying us stuff will make it all better. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us taking them up on that and buying a few things, right?”

“Right,” I say, because I know that’s what she wants to hear. Feather was sexually abused by her stepfather when she was younger, and her biological father didn’t come into the picture until Feather developed a drug addiction, three years ago, at age seventeen and went into a severe depression. Her stepfather went to jail, and her mother moved away. Feather was already in the therapy program at Merryfield when I arrived, and we both transitioned to residential status at the same time.

During our stay at Merryfield, Feather and I occasionally went shopping with a few of the other girls. This was part of our treatment program—getting out into the world. Those outings were nothing like my current experience with Feather, who takes it upon herself to bring me to all her favorite stores and pick out outfits for me. Apparently, Feather used to shop a lot before she became a patient at Merryfield.

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