Come on… Any minute now… Harper kept telling herself as she stood up for what felt like the thousandth time. She’d been waiting for one of the guards to knock on her door all afternoon, and kept rising to her feet in anticipation… But there had still been no sign.
“Jesus, will you take a chill pill, deaf girl?” Katie laughed. “You’re giving me anxiety over here.”
“Sorry… Just excited, I guess.” She shrugged almost guiltily, sitting back on her bed once more.
“Um, yeah. I can tell.” Her roommate shook her head in apparent amusement. “I get it though. Must be nice having a visit you can look forward to so much…” Katie’s face seemed to fall for a moment. “But why don’t you go take a walk or something while you wait, instead of sitting around here driving me insane?” Her usual smirk quickly found its way back on her face as she spoke.
Harper couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, okay… not the worst idea.” She agreed as she rose to her feet yet again — this time with purpose.
“Be sure to tell them that their favorite former classmate says hello.” Katie teased as Harper headed for the door.
She replied with a laugh. “Uh-huh. I’ll be sure to do that.”
Harper was still bursting with excitement as she began making her way down the nearly-deserted corridor. She hadn’t seen Rylie and Devin in so long — not since Jocelyne’s funeral. She just couldn’t wait to see their faces again. Hear their voices. Feel their warmth. Her stomach did somersaults at the thought.
There had been so little for Harper to feel truly happy about since her grandmother’s death. It was hard not to relish in the joy she felt in that moment. It was nice to finally feel a bit of genuine happiness again.
But as she passed by the last door at the end of the hallway, she felt her heart sink, and the butterflies in her stomach all seemed to fly away.
Part of her almost wanted to knock. She knew Elly was off with her husband for their conjugal visit… Ivy would be alone. This could be the perfect opportunity to finally talk, couldn’t it? Harper asked herself. And I still owe her an apology, don’t I?
Things had been so uncomfortable between them since Harper’s outburst last week. Ivy still sat with her and Katie at all their meals, and made her usual small talk with them… But everything felt so different now. Harper had foolishly hoped that she could just sweep their argument under the rug, but the more time that passed, the more impossible that seemed.
Harper had to try and explain herself, didn’t she? She had to help Ivy understand… The problem wasn’t her. Not really, anyway.
It’s me. I’M the one who fucked up… Ugh! I’ve gotta talk to her. With a slow, deep breath, Harper finally lifted her fist to knock.
“Harper Rosebrook?” She practically jumped at the sound of a deep voice from over her shoulder.
“You have visitors.”
“Okay, I’m still not sure if I can wrap my head around this…” Rylie laughed softly. “So you’re actually friends with Bitchface now? Remind me again how that happened?”
Harper’s smile faltered at Rylie’s words. All the joy and relief she’d felt at finally seeing her friends again was momentarily tainted by a small burst of anger that rushed through her.
It was a strange feeling. How many hours had she spent with the two of them making fun of Katie when they were teenagers? Hell, Rylie had even punched Katie in the face once… And at the time, she’d deserved it! Who would have thought Harper would ever actually wind up defending her former enemy?
“Yes, Katie is my friend, believe it or not.” She replied at last, putting emphasis on her roommate’s real name. “Or at least, I think she is. I’m not really sure how it happened though…” She confessed. “It just sorta… did.”
Rylie shook her head in disbelief once more at Harper’s words. But beside her, Devin’s lips curled slightly. Some of the butterflies from before returned at the sight of his smile.
“It’ll definitely take some getting used to… But I think it’s great.” He said seriously. “I’m sure you need friends to get by in a place like this.”
“You really do.” Harper agreed, her face suddenly falling. Devin’s mention of ‘friends’ had brought to mind her earlier moment of indecision outside of Ivy’s room. “Too bad I keep pushing them away…” She muttered.
A soft sigh passed Rylie’s lips at her words. “Crap. I knew something was up… What happened?”
Oh shit, did I say that out loud? “It’s nothing.” She said quickly.
Rylie almost laughed. “Bullshit. We know something’s wrong.”
For a moment, Harper considered trying to deny it again… But she knew there would be no point. “Is it really that obvious?” She bit her lip.
“Totally.” Devin nodded. “Even before you said anything, we could tell… Still gotta work on that poker face.” He gave a small smile, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
Harper felt herself blushing slightly under their stares. Damn it. How do they still know me so well? “Fine. You caught me…” Her eyes darted back and forth between their beautiful faces for a moment. “I guess I’m kinda having a problem with one of my other friends in here… It’s Ivy. Remember her?”
“That new girl?” Rylie asked.
Enough time had passed that Ivy hardly qualified as ‘new’ anymore, but Harper nodded. “She’s been pretty awesome ever since Oma died. And she knows all this crap about me and what I’ve been through. She’s been great to talk to… But it’s like she never wants to tell me anything about herself in return. Especially how she ended up here… And it annoys the shit out of me.” She sighed. “We got in a fight about it a few days ago.”
Rylie laughed softly in reply. “Well, do you remember how much you used to love opening up about your problems?” She asked sarcastically. “Even to us. And we’re your best friends!”
“Yeah, maybe it’s just not easy for her to talk about that shit?” Devin suggested. “I mean, we all have stuff we don’t like talking about, right? And that’s gotta be even truer for the people in here…”
Harper lowered her head. She’d never thought about it that way… But her friends had a point. She always used to shut everybody out. She never wanted to confide in anyone about her problems — Even the people she cared about the most. So how could she possibly expect Ivy to open up to someone she barely even knew?”
“Ugh. You guys are right.” Harper agreed reluctantly, breaking the silence at last. “But see? I did it again. It feels like I keep fucking everything up…” She paused for a moment, holding her face in her hands as more words suddenly spilled from her lips. “Okay. Maybe that’s not such a new thing. But it’s like all my mistakes are just being shoved in my face again and again ever since Oma died. And I feel awful about it. I wanna make things right. I just don’t know what to do…” Harper felt a sudden tightness in her chest as her emotions started getting the better of her.
She felt a large, warm hand on top of hers for a moment. And though it helped to calm her slighty, somehow the warmth reminded her of Ivy too.
“Hey. Just breathe, okay?” Devin urged her gently before finally pulling away.
Harper nodded gratefully. “Sorry, just… having a moment, I guess.” She muttered, a bit embarrassed.
“This sounds like it’s about a lot more than just Ivy.”
She nodded. “It is. It’s about… God, just everything. My Oma. You guys. Ivy, Katie, Erik, Phoenix… Everything’s just a mess. I feel like I’ve ruined everything. With everybody.” It felt so good to finally get it out. There was so much that had been piling up on her for a long time. “But… If I had to pick one thing that’s really bothering me… I guess it’s my Papa.” Harper confessed softly. “Katie and Ivy keep telling me I’ve gotta talk to him. And I want to. I really do. I just… I don’t know how. And I get so mad anytime anybody brings him up… Because I guess I just don’t know how to deal with it.”
Her two best friends exchanged a quick glance. “We’ll think of something.” Devin assured her. “We’ll figure it out.”
“Yeah.” Rylie agreed. “We’ve still got your back, no matter what.”
Harper returned her friends’ smiles, feeling a familiar warmth rush through her. She still wasn’t sure how she was going to clean up the huge mess she’d made of everything, but it felt good knowing she had people supporting her.
Harper had a lot to be ashamed of… But she tried to remind herself that she had a lot to be grateful for too.
And maybe that would be enough to help her make it through.