s e v e n t e e n

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I STARE AT her. She stares at me. Everything was silent. Well, everything except for the ticking clock on the wall that was driving me out of my goddamn mind. 

She glances down at her notebook, before sighing and taking off her tiny glasses, "Are we going to talk or are we going to continue to sit here in silence, Hayden?" 

I fold my arms defiantly and shrug, "I was having a nice time sitting in silence." 

"Okay." Vivienne Parker nods as she puts her notebook onto the coffee table between us and settles back into her original position, "I'm going to ask you one more time, why are you here?" 

"Because my mom made me." I answer. 

"And why did you mother make you, Hayden?" Vivienne presses further and I could already feel the walls closing in. 

"Because she saw me in that really cute beachside cafe down the road, y'know the one with the raspberry pastries that deserve a fucking Nobel Peace Prize—oop, shit, not allowed to swear. Sorry, forgot." I give her a sheepish smile before continuing, "Anyway, she saw me there when I said I had a therapist appointment. So now I'm here." 

"Why did you think she made you?" Vivienne questions as she purses her lips. Vivienne was an older woman, maybe a few years older than my mother. She was sweet and kind but that didn't mean I was just going to put my brain on a fucking platter for her to dissect. 

I roll my eyes and groan, "Jesus Christ, what's with all these questions? Am I on Jeopardy or something?" 

"I'm a therapist, Hayden. It's my job to ask questions so I can find the best way to help you." Vivienne explains and I knew she was getting frustrated with me. I'm probably her worst client. I'm everyone's worst client, no matter the job. 

It's truly a gift. 

"Can I get PTSD for six-hundred, Alex." I joke and start laughing at my stupid sense of humor. I notice Vivienne's blank expression and my laughing slows awkwardly, "Jeez...tough room." 

Vivienne then leans forward and rests her elbows on her knees, "You mentioned PTSD. Tell me about that." 

"PTSD....It stands for Post Traumatic Stress Dis—" 

"I know what it means, Hayden. But what I want to know is what it means for you." She then continues, "How does it affect you?" 

"Affect me?" I scoff as I run my hand through my blonde hair, "Do you mean to ask does it affect me when I wake up in the middle of the night screaming from a nightmare because it feels so damn real. Do you mean does it affect me when I look in the mirror and still see the scars he left on my body?" 

Vivienne stays silent as I pause, feeling everything rise to the top. 

"Do you mean does it affect me when I can't even be with the guy I love because I'm afraid that the same thing is just going to happen and he'll end up worse than he did the first time?" I continue to explain before I smile sweetly at her, "No, Vivienne. PTSD doesn't affect me. It's in me. It's a part of me. It is me."

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