Emmaline’s Story – On the Inside
I dragged my hurting ass to breakfast the next morning. Aching from head to toe, I straightened my posture determined not to give goon one iota of satisfaction.
Danica watched me take a tray and walk stiffly to the table.
“Geezzze, Em’, you look like death. Are you okay?”
“Oh sure,” I ground out, “Nothing a year long, hot bath won’t fix.”
Perched before another poor excuse for food, I mused wistfully, “Oh, do you remember baths; dropping into warmth and soaking away your pain?”
Danica touched my shoulder and whispered, “Tonight we hunt. We’ll find something that you can soak in, Em.”
Slapping on a smile I didn’t feel, I prepared for hell day. Almost immediately, psych guy appeared calling my name, “Emmaline!”
Shit. Here we go again.
Without flinching, I raised my hand, “Present!”
“Be present in my office in fifteen minutes,” He said angrily, as he walked away without so much as ‘hello, goodbye, or kiss my ass.’
Helen shot an unnerved look at me, “They know it was us.”
“No way,” I confided, “it’s not about that.”
“What then,” she drilled me.
“Suffice it to say, the score is, us: 3, them: 1,” I informed her, wincing every time I moved a muscle.
“What? Did you do something last night?”
She looked worried sick and I half-feared she would spontaneously combust, so I did my best to ease her tension, “It was nothing. I can hardly believe they noticed.”
Danica jabbed a spork into flapjacks, shaking her head, and I was suddenly riddled with guilt. I broke down and told them, “I just left a teeny, tiny, little message on the scrolling marquee last night. It was nothing, really.”
Helen finally smiled, saying, “Besides, they have an elevator to lasso!”
“Atta girl,” I encouraged her.
She grinned but her face fell as she eyed her breakfast with despair.
I leaned in and said, “I have to face psych guy already. You can do this.”
I stood to go and then turned to wait. She cut off a piece and popped it into her mouth trying not to show her distaste, while I hid how badly I felt for her. Before I could rethink it, I grabbed my spork, jabbed it into her breakfast, and shoveled a big piece of her meal into my mouth.
I must have turned six shades of green just trying not to wretch. Helen laughed right out loud. The sound of her laughter made me feel brand new. Even Danica and Marie were joking and laughing. I walked to the inner sanctum mentally patting myself on the back.
When I arrived at psych guy’s office the door was closed. At times like this, he really grated on my nerves. I stood there thinking over my predicament,
I can knock. I should knock. It’s his office, but he showed me no zero respect in front of everyone in the community room, and I didn’t get to eat breakfast!
Finally, I grabbed the doorknob, twisted and barged in, and flounced into my usual chair declaring loudly, “Present!”
“So you are,” he mumbled into his palm, unimpressed.
“Sir, yes sir,” I saluted him not bothering to stand. Even my bruises felt like they had bruises.
Mercilessly, he stated the obvious, “It would seem you’re not quite up to your usual standards, soldier.”
I rested my head on my hand, nearly crumbling. His stare burned into me. He was just waiting for me to break, to disintegrate into dust so he could be rid of his problem; me.
“What is it, Emma?”
“Emma,” I shrieked, “Don’t you dare presume to call me by a familiar name! You don’t know me and I don’t trust you! You haven’t earned my trust and neither has any of the staff! You fire off your orders, not once considering that we’re all here for a reason. A profoundly ugly reason! If I gave a shit, I’d ask what your major malfunction is, but to be perfectly blunt, I couldn’t possibly care less than I do at this very second!”
I gave him no quarter, not even a space of breath to interject anything before I stormed out, slamming the door behind me. To my stunned disbelief, he didn’t follow.