The Unrequited(2)

By: Saffron A. Kent


“Well?” Kara raises her blonde eyebrow in question.

I lick my lips, trying to think of something. “I think I’m gonna stick with the regular courses. College is hard as it is. I don’t wanna pile on new things.”

Kara smiles—she’s always smiling—and leans forward. “Look Layla, I like you. In fact, I think you’re great. You have great potential, and to be honest, I don’t think you need these thinly disguised therapy sessions with me.”

I sit up in my seat. “Really? I don’t have to come here anymore?”

“No, you still have to come. I’d like to keep my job.”

“I won’t tell anyone. It could be our secret,” I insist. I don’t like to keep secrets, but this one I’ll take to the grave.

“It’s tempting, but no. Cookie?” She chuckles, offering the chocolate chip cookies sitting on her desk, going all friendly on me again.

She gives me whiplash and sometimes I want to ask her, Are you here to analyze me or not? Not that there is anything to analyze. I’m a simple girl, really. I hate winters, Connecticut, and college. I love the color purple, Lana Del Rey, and him. That’s all.

I reach out to take one cookie but then change my mind and take three instead. I never say no to sugar.

Kara watches me carefully and I am about to snap at her when she speaks up. “So as I was saying, I think you have great potential, but you need set goals and you need to work on impulse control.” She gives me a pointed look as I take a bite out of my cookie. “You don’t have any, or at least, what you have is very little.”

“Huh.” I sag back in the chair. “Well, I knew that already.”

Kara threads her fingers together on the desk. “Great. So we’ve already conquered the first step: acceptance. Now we need to work on the next step.”

“And that is?”

“How to control it.”

I hold up my finger. “Way ahead of you there. I’ve totally got it under control.” Kara raises a skeptical brow and I continue, “I’ve been going to all my classes even though I wanna walk around aimlessly all day, and I’ve got C’s across the board even though I hate college. Not to mention, I’d kill for a drag or a drop of Grey Goose, but I haven’t touched any of those things. I don’t even go to parties, because we all know parties are just breeding grounds for pot, alcohol, and sex.”

I shoot her an arrogant smirk then finish my cookie. She can’t get me after that. I’ve been good. I’ve busted my ass to be good.

“That’s commendable. I appreciate your restraint, but that’s also the bare minimum. You shouldn’t be drinking and partying it up anyway.” She pushes her glasses up. “College is your time to learn, to discover yourself, to see what kind of things you like, and for that, we have electives. So, I ask you again, any thoughts?”

Sighing, I look away. I’m back to staring out the window. The grounds are white and the trees are naked. It’s all desolate and sad, like we’re living in a post-apocalyptic world where things like electives are mandatory.

“What are my choices?” I ask.

Kara beams at me, swatting at a wayward curl that’s getting in her eyes. “Well, we’ve got a great writing program. Maybe you should try some of the writing classes.”

“You mean, like, writing writing?” At her nod, I shake my head. “I don’t even like reading.”

“You should probably pick up a book sometime. Who knows, you might end up liking it.”

“Yeah, no, I don’t think so.” I sigh. “Do you have anything else? I don’t think I’m cut out for writing.”

“In fact, I think you’d be great at it.”

“Really?” I scoff. “What do you think I should write about?”

This time her smile is both sweet and sad. “Write about New York. I know you miss it. Or maybe something about winter.”

“I hate winter.” I wrap my arms around my body and hitch my shoulders to huddle in my purple fur coat. Another thing I like: fur. It’s soft and cuddly, and it’s the only thing that can somewhat keep me warm.

“Then why do you keep staring at the snow?” I shrug, and she dips her head in acceptance of my non-answer. “How about you try writing something about what you felt when Caleb left? About the way you acted up?”

Caleb.

I’m jolted at the mention of his name. It’s not an outward jolt, more a tremor on the inside, like when you hear a sudden loud sound in a quiet apartment and you know it’s nothing, but your body tenses nonetheless.