Tasting, Finding, Keeping: The Story of Never

Tasting, Finding, Keeping: The Story of Never by C.M. Stunich

Book: Tasting, Finding, Keeping: The Story of Never by C.M. Stunich Read Free Book Online
Authors: C.M. Stunich
back of his hand. “Because I wanted to be free. Every time I got a new tattoo, I promised myself that this was the day I changed everything. This was the day I grew my own wings and flew away.”
    “What happened?” I whisper, afraid that if I speak too loudly, the receptionist might look up and see me for what I really am. A person with a broken soul. I swallow hard and glance at the door fearfully when the bell above the entrance rings. There are no other patients in here now, but if there were, I don't think I could do this. I couldn't sit here with anyone who knows what I really am, what's wrong with me, why I'm here. Except for Ty. Just Ty. Fortunately, it's just a delivery man. He drops a small package at the front desk and leaves while I keep my head tilted down and away for fear that he'll memorize my face, call me out on the street or something, see me in class.
    “I never really tried, Never. I didn't know what to try for.”
    “But you do now?” I ask, but before Ty can answer, the door to the back opens.
    “Mr. McCabe?” the woman with the clipboard says. She's smiley and nice and all, but I bet underneath all of that sweet, she's thinking, What the hell is wrong with these kids? Why are they here? What happened to make them this way? I stare into her brown eyes and am paralyzed with fear. This is my worst nightmare come true. Inside these walls, I cannot lie. I cannot pretend, not anymore.
    “Are you going to be okay?” Ty asks me as he shakes my knee gently to grab my attention. I look over at him and don't know what to say. No? Is that an option.
    “I have to tell you a secret,” I say to him. Maybe now isn't the best time, but after. I'll tell him after. “When we get out of here. I want to tell you what I didn't say that day you picked me up in Art History.” Ty nods his head and presses a chaste kiss to my cheek.
    “I would like that, Never,” he says to me. “I really would.” As he rises to his feet, I have to close my eyes to keep myself from following after him. I count up to a hundred and back down to one again. When I open my eyes, there are tears in them.
    Here in this office, in this room with the too true posters, my own mortality sits in a plastic chair of her own, stares me straight in the face and smirks. I feel her eyes on me, calculating, judging, disapproving.
    “I already know what you think of me,” I say aloud and notice that the receptionist's eyes lift from her computer for just a second and gaze out at me. I give her a tight-lipped smile and resist the urge to flip her off. My anger is just a reaction to the fear I have inside of myself, a fear that somehow, one of the dozens of stupid mistakes I've made, the desperate attempts at filling that deep, aching, loneliness, will kill me. That I'll go out of this world alone and without dignity. That I'll never really understand what it means to live.
    I get up three times and go to the door, and three times, I turn around and go back, sit in that plastic chair and wait with my inner Never staring at me, waiting for judgment day. I don't read any of the magazines that sit on the table to my right nor do I watch the silent TV screen that's hanging near the ceiling, flashing bright colors at me in a blurry slide show. I just sit and wait and think. And when I've had enough of that, I get out my phone and dial a number that I haven't dialed in a long, long time.
    Three rings later, and I hear: “Hello?”
    I swallow hard, try not to cry again and say one word, “Beth?”

    “Never? Oh my god, Mom, it's Never. Never?” I open my mouth to speak, but the words won't come out. They're stuck deep down inside, buried by hurt and pain. I start to cry again and dash the tears away angrily while I listen to my sister's frantic voice. “Never, are you still there? Please answer me, Never.” Beth is hysterical. She's sobbing, and I can just imagine her face in my head, the way her nose turns red when she cries and the way her

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