Abigail’s room was so neat and tidy, nothing like my room back at home. The walls were painted pink and the curtains were a limey green. Her covers on the twin-sized bed that was pushed up against the wall opposite her window matched them. The bed looked like a bookshelf was attached to it. The small, fluffy pillows that decorated it differed from blue, pink, yellow, and purple. She had a desk with a laptop sitting on it against the wall beside her window. There was another bookshelf in the corner on the other side of the window, and a blue bean bag sat in front of it. There was also a thin, yellow blanket draped over the blue bag of beans.
Her room looked almost aesthetic. I think, at least. I had heard that word used before for stuff like this, but I didn't actually know what it meant.
"Welcome to my room," Abigail says, dramatically bowing as I step further inside. She shuts the door behind me but I’m still scanning the room, so I hardly notice.
“It’s very colorful,” I tell her, mesmerized.
I don’t turn around but I can tell she's smiling at me when she says, “Thanks, that’s how I like it.” She walks around me, turns to look me in the eyes, and directs my attention to her by giving a little wave in my face. She tells me, “Come in and make yourself at home. My parents won’t be home for a few hours, so we’ve got some time to talk.”
“They’re okay with leaving you home alone?” I ask her, not budging. She hesitates before answering.
“Yeah, they are.” There’s a sharp edge in her voice, but I can’t press the issue further because she turns and flops onto her bed.
“What’s with all the books?” I ask, walking over to the corner bookcase to examine what she had. Maybe she had some sci-fi hidden in there somewhere.
“You can’t tell anyone this, but-” She sighs, then continues. “I’m a nerd. I love Charles Dickens and I love Shakespeare even more.” I look away from her collection but she avoids my gaze. “And I haven’t told anyone because if the other girls found out, I would lose all my friends.” She sighs again and lets her head fall into a pink pillow that was shaped like a cat.
I get up from where I was sitting by the shelf and walk over to her bed. I stand beside her, but she doesn’t look at me. I tell her, “Well, you won’t lose me.”
She turns to look at me and I see a quizzical expression. “I mean- if we are friends!” I begin rambling. “I don’t really know you well, so it’s okay if we aren’t! I just meant that, uh…” I trail off, looking back at her.
Abigail laughs at me and says, “No, it’s okay. We’re friends.” She smiles at me and I feel myself blush a little.
“Oh, uh, cool,” I say, trying to sound chill. Didn’t girls like guys that acted like that? I smile at her but in my head, I’m arguing with myself about my little crush. “Hey, uh, what’s Charles Dickens?” I ask, coming back to reality.
She laughs again and responds with, “He’s a famous author. He wrote a lot of classics.”
“Oh,” I say, sounding like an idiot.
“Anyway,” she draws out the word as she sits up on her bed, “I want to talk about that place.”
“You mean the void?” I ask, sitting down beside her. I’m glad she changed the subject. I don’t know how much longer I could fake being chill.
“Yeah, that.” She waves off the name and asks, “Why were you trapped there for so long?”
“I,” I try to say, but I end up stammering. “It was, um-” I try to tell her, I really do, but my breathing suddenly needs my attention and my forehead starts to get hot. I feel my throat start to dry up. A drop of sweat drips down my neck.
“Hey,” she says, her voice startling me. But, suddenly, I feel her soft hand on my shoulder, calming me down. “You don’t have to talk about it if it’s uncomfortable. I’m sure we could play a board game instead-”
I cut her off, saying, “No, I really want to tell you.” Her big eyes stare straight into mine. I take her hand from off my shoulder and hold it tight between my own hands. “For some reason, I feel like I can.”
“Okay.” Her voice is like a calming tranquility. “I’m here to listen.”
I drop her hand and tell her, “I, um- I have anxiety.” I brace myself for her input, looking down at my shaking hands. I had already told her, so what was I still worried about?
Abigail doesn’t say anything for a moment. Then she says, “You got stuck in there for two months because of anxiety?” I nod, even though I know she already understands. “How?”
“It‘s a, uh, curse,” I say, still looking away from her.
“Look, anxiety is awful, but that doesn’t make it a curse.”
I look up quickly. “What? No, not the anxiety. The real curse is the thing that follows me around, wrecks havoc, and traps people in the void! My anxiety just had me stuck in there for longer.” I realize that I had snapped at her only after I had said all this. My eyes grow wide and I stutter, my head falling in shame, “I- I’m sorry, I d- didn’t mean to-”
“That’s awful,” she whispers, just loud enough for me to hear. I raise my head slowly to find she was staring out the window.
“W-what?” I ask, still upset that I had turned on her so quickly.
“Your anxiety keeping you trapped in there for that long, that’s awful.” She sighs, then turns to me and asks, “What were you thinking about while you were in there?”
I had dreaded this question. When people find out about it, they usually just look sadly at me and then say they’re sorry. But, what do they have to be sorry about? It’s not their fault. And their sympathy only makes the situation worse.
I look away from her again. I don’t answer but in my head, I tell myself to. I tell myself to say something, anything. So, I lie.
“My grandmother’s death. It was- it was really hard to get over.” I avoid looking at Abigail so she can’t see the guilt on my face. Why was I lying? Why did I have to hide the truth?
“Right,” she says quizzically, leaning down to try and look me in the face. I can’t help but crack a smile as I turn away from her. “Well, you weren’t lying when you said you were bad at lying,” she says, shrugging her shoulders and leaning back on her hands. Her head bonks the bookcase directly behind her and she immediately mutters an “ow,” rubbing the back of her head with her hand. I feel a warm breath escape my nose in a staggered, laughing pattern. “Do you think you can tell me the truth now?” The question brings me back to reality, the harsh and cruel reality.
“Oh, uh…” I trail off, not sure if I actually want to.
Why would she want to know about my past? And how would my past help her discover the truth about the void? I already knew that this is what she wanted to do. As she said, she was a nerd, and I had found a couple Sherlock Holmes books in the bookcase. She clearly wanted to figure all this out and, for some reason, she thought that knowing about my past would help. I almost laugh at the thought. There was no way I could help. But she still wanted me to, so what was I supposed to do? Turn down the only person who didn’t run away when I told them about my curse? That definitely isn’t an option.
I had no control here, so the only thing I could do is tell her the truth. But it’s too painful to remember. I don’t want her to see me have a panic attack or start crying or-
“Hey, are you okay?” Her voice joints me out of my daze. She looks concerned, like I had just turned bright purple. “You look like you zoned out for a minute there,” she says, keeping her eyes locked on mine. I feel myself swallow hard and find that my throat had become dry. I wonder if she was just as uncomfortable as I am. Not likely.
“I, uh-” I try to say, but my throat gets really dry again and I have to swallow some more. “I can’t,” I finally say, letting my head fall. I stare at my beat-up sneakers as Abigail just sits beside me. I probably looked like a crybaby as I felt a tear stream down my cheek.
Why was I like this? Why couldn’t I just tell her? Why did she have to be so nice? Why can’t I do anything right?
“Hey, it’s okay if you don’t want to tell me.” I don’t look up, but I can hear her understanding through the words she spoke. “My past isn’t the nicest either, that’s why I got stuck in there for- how long did you say I was in the void?”
“Four and a half days,” I mumble, trying not to let myself get my hopes up again.
“Yeah, four and a half days!” She smiles and I can see it from out of the corner of my eye. It was a bit blurry, but it still fills me with warmth. “How about this? I’ll tell you what I was thinking about in the void and then you tell me what you were thinking about. Does that sound fair?” she asks, reaching out her hand like I should shake it to accept the deal. I turn to look at her, then I look back at the carpet that covered her room. It was a cream color and it felt calming.
I sit up and extend my hand to shake hers. “Deal,” I say confidently, though I felt a bit queasy on the inside.
“That’s great!” she exclaims, smiling at me. I smile back, trying to match her enthusiasm. Suddenly, her smile fades and she says, “Oh, I have to-” She freezes and takes a deep breath. I can tell her past is not something that she actually wanted to talk about.
Just as she was about to begin, we hear the front door slam closed. A woman calls up in a drunken voice, “Abigail, I’m back!” All we can do is sit there and stare at each other in shocked silence.
Author Notes: It's finally here! Sorry for the long wait, it wasn't worth much-
I still don't know where I'm going with this, so I guess it'll just be a roller coaster of confusion. Try not to fall off, lol