She was absolutely paranoid her friends would see her and abandon her. See, Rachel is what I call a Plastic. Fake clothes, fake hair, fake nails, fake lashes, fake friends. She only wore the tightest and most-fashionable clothes, accentuating her tight stomach and huge chest. And she drank. A lot. She started drinking at 14, trying to impress her friends with how many Cosmos she could hold down in the span of a party. A few years later, she got incredibly wasted and slept with some guy named Rich. She got pregnant and never told anyone. That’s when she came to the clinic. That’s when she met me. Now she’s so worried her friends will see her and know everything, despite the fact her story and trial was told to every available media in the county. Rachel was an idiot, her plastic head filled with lip gloss and silicone. And right now she was succeeding in tearing my left arm from its socket.
I shift my arm, trying to loosen her grip, “Rach… get off me.”
She titters nervously, and rubs her hands together, “Sorry… but if Alyssa or Candice are here and they see me-.”
I hold up a hand and shut her up, “They won’t see you, and besides, part of therapy is interacting with people.”
Gee, and my other patient Niah, were a few paces behind me, trying to keep a low profile and blend into the mass of people swirling around us. Niah was a nice girl, but I don’t think she liked me too much. Her head was always down and she always was chewing on a wad of gum or her nails or a chunk of her weave, and would rarely speak but two words to me. She was introverted when she came to the clinic; maybe she just has a bad personality. Rachel tugged on my sleeve, nearly tripping over her designer flip-flops, “I think someone I know is here, let’s go back.” She wails desperately, her mascara beginning to cake in the corners of her eyes.
I sigh deeply, “No, we have to stay here at least an hour.”
I’ve reiterated this to her about 6 times already.
The waterworks begin and soon everyone in the mall is staring at me as a hysterical teenage girl hangs off my chest and bawls loudly into my shoulder. My cheeks flush a sharp crimson, “Rach… Hun, its okay…”
But she doesn’t let go, and I feel the collar of my shirt give a little. Gee and Niah just stare at me, their jaws slack and wide, neither of them sure whether to help me or start laughing. I finally manage to pry Rachel off of me and set her down in a bench, “Take deep breaths, Rach.”
She nods obediently, and rests her chin on her knuckles, taking deliberate gulps of air as I settled next to her. Gee and Niah come up slowly, their features pale and drawn, “Is she okay?” Niah whispers, her mousy voice ringing out like a tea bell.
I smile to myself, “Should be… why don’t you and Gee go to the music store, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
They nod sheepishly, sticking close together as I gather Rachel up to her feet and follow after them, “You shouldn’t be embarrassed Rach.”
She nods, sniffling and wiping the make-up from her cheeks, “I know… I’m just worried they’ll laugh at me.”
I simply shrug. Plastics are vicious. They go through friends like most people go through napkins. Everyone is expendable in their eyes, like a hamster or goldfish or something. I’m sure Rachel’s friends abandoned her long ago; seeking skinnier, prettier, richer girlfriends. She sighs and runs her hands through her long, poorly dyed brunette hair, “I just hope they aren’t here today.”
I roll my eyes and look into the CD store, where both Gee and Niah are standing stock still next to a rack of hip-hop posters. “Rach… we have to get back to the others.”
She sniffles and nods, pulling the hair from her face, “Okay.”
She calms down for the most part, but still keeps a firm grip on my arm. The crowds seem to dissipate around us, probably the fact I’m in scrubs and some overly dressed girl is hanging off my clothes. Not exactly what anyone would consider a normal scene in the mall. We toddle slowly into the store as I try desperately to pull her hands from my arm. Her long nails are beginning to create deep welts in my skin, and it hurts like a bitch. As soon as I get inside the store, Rachel stumbles off of me and sniffles heavily, “I’m gonna go look at CD’s now…”
I shrug, avoiding eye contact with her as she takes off for a row decorated with brightly colored albums and a large hanging display of some hyper-blonde girl holding a pair of kittens. The whole thing is so overly-cutesy I kind of want to gouge out my eyes with a tack hammer. I hear Niah cough and shift behind me, and I turn my head, watching as she clears her throat, “D-Do we have to stay in this store?”
Shaking my head, I turn my body fully to face her, “Just don’t go to far, but yeah, you don’t have to stay here.”
She gives me a very taut smile, her usually dark face glowing for a few brief seconds before she wanders out of my vision. Niah was one of my favorite patients. She was quiet and honest, and didn’t really say much unless it was well thought out and relevant. She never spoke around me, at least not very much. It was better this way, the less interaction the better. I find myself flipping through a set of vinyl’s, treasuring the gentle thud of the albums hitting one another as I flick through the collection, trying to find something to spark my interest. That is, until I hear Gee snickering behind me, “What is this shit?”
I turn quietly to see him rooting though a bin of cassettes, laughing to himself as he pulls up obscure bands ands titles, obviously humored by the awkwardness of it all. I can’t help myself but to walk over and watch him, “Michael Jackson? Seriously?”
He chuckles to himself and tosses the hunk of useless plastic down, almost running me over as he turns away. I feel him tense up in fear when we collide into each other.
“Oh… god, I’m so sorry…” he mumbles, hiding behind his shield of thick hair.
I grin softly, “It’s okay Gee,” I condole, holding up a hand so he can pull himself up, “It happens.”
He swallows thickly and shakes his head, “Y-yeah I know.”
He gets up shakily, wiping invisible dust from his shirt before he takes off to the alternative section, trying to regain some of his dignity in the safe harbors of punk rock.
I follow silently, “So, you’re into punk?” I ask, trying to be as a friendly as possible.
Gee looks at me like a deer caught in headlights, “Y-yeah I guess. I mean, it’s pretty cool.”
I cross my arms, leaning against a support post, “Who’s you’re favorite? Mine’s definitely Goldfinger, or maybe The Casualties.”
He twitches a little, and wipes the sweat from his face, “Misfits. No… uhh…”
Flipping nonchalantly through a stack of old CD's, I smile, "You don't need to impress me. I think you're perfect."
He looks up, his hazel eyes wide and glassy, quickly turning to a shade of brilliant chartreuse. His cheeks flushed and for a breif second, our eyes connected. Everything stopped. The little kids running and screaming through the halls fell still and silent. The loud, non-sensical rap was shut off in an instant. It was just Gee staring into my eyes, chewing on his lip with his little pearl teeth. I could feel my arm unconsciously reaching out towards him, trembling in anticipation. Every nerve in my body screaming to feel his warmth, breathe his scent... taste him.
Everything clicks back on in a loud burst of sound and motion. Gee is staring at me with wide, worried eyes, "Are you okay?"
I lower my arm, feeling myself blush, "Yeah, I uhh... was gonna ask you a question, but forgot it."
He smiles quickly, somewhat satisfied by my half-assed answer. He turns back to the music selection, and I just lean against the racks, watching him in silence. A shorter man comes over to us, a proud smirk plastered across his pierced, thin face. "Gee... nice to see you again. You know those court fees are getting awfully heavy."
Gee turns, every last drop of blood draining from his face. He wavers on his feet, barely stammering out, "Fr-Fra..."
Then he collaspses at my feet.