“OK Danny Boy” by Felicia Johnson is a spin off of Felicia’s debut novel “HER”. “OK Danny Boy” is due to release in Summer 2016 during production of the book to film adaptation of “HER” the movie based on the novel by Felicia Johnson. Learn more about “HER” at http://www.herthebook.com and Felicia Johnson, Author and International Speaker at http://www.feliciajohnsonauthor.com.
OK, Danny Boy
By Felicia Johnson
“My father probably would have killed my mother. Theresa probably would have killed herself, and I probably would have done it, too,” I say.
“Were you scared?” Kristen asks.
It is the first time anyone has ever asked me that question. I think about her question for a moment. I sit across the table from a girl who looks like she can break at any moment. I want to be careful because I have a feeling that if I say the wrong thing, look at her the wrong way, or even make an offensive noise, she will start crying. Although, at this very moment, I am holding in a serious gas bubble that wants to pop right out of my ass. I release it, silently. Relief. I don’t care anymore.
Kristen is a peculiar girl. She doesn’t seem to say much. Her emotional outbursts, dramatic facial expressions and bandaged wrists tell me a lot about her. She is broken, like most of us who are doing time in Bent Creek Hospital for various mental health issues. We are the lost and troubled teenagers with screwed up parents, a raw fetish for self-harming and sick regrets of our suicidal inclinations. It’s kind of like a messed up joke to think about how many times we fail each time we try to die, but we don’t really want to die. It feels like one more thing that we can’t seem to get right.
Kristen has scars up and down her arms and a frown that sticks to her face. When we first met, Kristen’s frown was the first feature I noticed. Janine introduced her to everyone on her first day. Kristen and Janine are roommates. We all have roommates. Unfortunately, even I had a roommate. His name was Rocky. He’s no longer here.
Patients at Bent Creek Hospital are separated into co-ed groups. The groups keep the numbers of jaded youth from growing too large against the smaller number of therapists and counselors who treat our mental health complexities. Their jobs are to shrink our minds from overwhelmed humans to zombified dust bunnies with state of the art coping mechanisms, new findings from studies of techniques that prove useful for young minds such as DBT and CBT along with the latest, shiny new drug. At least, that’s what I used to think about the system.
Right now, I’m off of meds. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe most of the things that I’ve seemed to overcome in the last few weeks. It seems as if the events that took place before I came into Bent Creek hospital happened years ago instead of weeks ago. That person who broke down and couldn’t cope with what had happened doesn’t seem like it was me. But it was me. If it wasn’t for Dr. Finch, Dr. Bent, Dr. Pelchat and people in my group like Janine, Kristen, Tai and believe it or not, even Rocky, I wouldn’t have noticed the difference in myself.
We were all together in Group One. It must be fate because all of us seem to have the same diagnosis of sorts. Diagnoses range from some form of depression, whether it’s Bi-Polar I or Bi-Polar II, mixed with something else; a dual diagnosis? While the other groups have their dissociative identities, hair eaters, schizophrenics and the demonically colorful personalities of the insane youth with sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies, our group seems to dwell right in the middle of those who don’t seem to fit just one single problem. We don’t have a problem. We have problems. Plural. Therefore, I was given a couple of diagnoses of Bipolar I (complete with manic episodes and Major Depression) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder also known as OCD. Having to deal with that on top of having Juvenile Diabetes seemed to be enough to keep the medicine cabinet full at home.
Looking at Kristen is a lot different from when I look at Janine. Janine is obviously thin. She could be mistaken for a model except she has some major flaws that probably would keep her off of a runway. She isn’t naturally thin. I can tell that she makes herself that way, unhealthily. Dark purple pools circle the skin around her eyes like bruises. Janine tries to wear make up, but she has to put on so much to cover up her discolored skin. Her hair is long, but it is thinning. Her teeth and fingers are discolored from what I figure comes from when she makes herself throw up, if she eats anything. Her mood fluctuates frequently, especially after Dr. Cuvo gave up and disappeared. After he left, she and I grew closer. Janine is beautiful and angry.
Other people seem to see what they want to see in us. However, we know that we’re nothing at all like how we see ourselves. In an odd way, I see Janine as a lot like myself.
Kristen is a different story. She doesn’t cover up her physical flaws. She shows her bandages. She doesn’t even try to hide her face with her hair, always pulling her hair back in a ponytail, as if to make you look at her. Ironically, she doesn’t look anyone in the eyes. She opens and closes like a broken cabinet that won’t shut all of the way unless you slam it hard enough.
I can tell that she’s like the others. She sees something in me. She sees something in Janine. She sees something else within herself but whatever it is, she won’t let it go. I can see it too. It’s dark and I cannot define it. Kristen scares me and she intrigues me because, unlike Janine, she’s not easy to read or understand. She was difficult from the very start.
It seemed like Janine tried to help Kristen feel welcomed. She tried to include Kristen in our group. However, Janine had insisted that Kristen must have disliked us because when Kristen first arrived at Bent Creek, she wouldn’t talk to us, nor would she smile. Janine and I made a bet against each other. I bet Janine that Kristen would smile before the end of her first week at Bent Creek and Janine bet that she wouldn’t smile. Of course, I won that bet. Janine had to give me her evening snacks for a whole week after I had won the bet! Little did I know at the time, the loss of that bet wasn’t such a huge loss for Janine.
Nonetheless, it was hard work to get Kristen to smile. Eventually, she did smile. After the day that I made her smile, she started to open up more. It seemed to help since we were all in the same group. I didn’t want to give up on her. I tried to make her laugh and talk to us about why she is here at Bent Creek, but she seemed too sad to speak about it without getting upset.
On today, of all days, the day before I am scheduled to be released, this broken and attractively mysterious girl decides to open her mouth and have a real conversation with me. It seems like it’s completely unprovoked on my part! At least, I don’t think that I did anything to draw her attention to me.
I am working on a sketch quietly in the commons area on the Adolescent Ward. Drawing helps pass the time. Only one more day until I can go home with my mom and Mom-Mom. I don’t want to cause any trouble or lose my temper or let anything trigger me into having a manic episode again. All I can think about is how much I want to smoke a cigarette. I can’t wait until tomorrow! I even asked my mom to bring me a pack of Marlboro’s to the hospital so that as soon as I am free, I can take in what I have been craving for over a month!
I haven’t told anyone in my group that I am going home because I want to be as inconspicuous about it as I possibly can. I don’t want the others to feel badly and then start acting weird around me because I’m leaving.
I don’t know. Maybe Kristen sensed something in me that gave away my secret because she walked right up to the table where I am sitting and started talking to me. She surprised me because I was concentrating on drawing straight lines without shaking. I haven’t tried to draw since Rocky killed himself. That was a messed up time. Kristen was there, but she hasn’t asked me about it. It’s a good thing. I don’t want to think about it, nor talk about it anymore.
Honestly, I am not prepared to talk about any of this stuff. Really, I’m not ready to open up about what happened with my mom, my dad and Theresa. I’m ready to move past all of that. But Kristen has a way about her that I don’t understand. It is the mystery behind her sudden interest that pulls me in and moves me to want to talk to her. When she asked me if I was scared, I may have seemed to open up to her right away, but in my mind, it seemed to take a little more than minute for me to answer. I am thinking about what she asked and the fact that she is the first person who has asked me if was scared.
Kristen’s eyes glistens as she waits for me to speak. I replay her question in my mind.
“Were you scared?” Kristen asked.
When I think about it, I remember everything very clearly. From the moment that I knew that I was in love with her to my dad getting out of prison, and when my mom almost gave up on our family to Theresa’s suicide up to now, this very moment. Here I am, sitting across from Kristen. She’s the odd girl that spoke up. Kristen is the inscrutable girl that scared me and amazed me and who dared to ask me the question that no one, not even Dr. Finch, had ever asked me.
Was I scared?