Brief note: this ended up not being the last chapter, oops! One more.
A phone rings.
In this room, a phone rings. It’s a quiet tone, so soft and melodic I almost mistake it for the music from the TV. Except that music stopped playing over an hour ago.
This is something else.
When I look around, Chase is sitting cross-legged before the window, his body silhouetted by the streetlight, his face lit by the ringing phone in his hand. He tilts his head up, eyes meeting my own. How mine must glow for him, here in this dark room.
“You have her phone,” he says.
“You’re the blocked number,” I say. There’s a pause, a tense, heavy breath held between the two of us. He averts his gaze.
“You’re not telling me something, Chase,” I push. “I don’t know what you’re hiding, but I know you and Audrey lied about why Emily attacked Lissa.” I hang up the call and wave the phone in his direction. “Now I know Lissa didn’t want to see you, and you went to her house anyway. What did you say to her—what did you do to her?”
Content warnings for alcohol, suicide, allusions to sexual violence.
If there’s one person I never want to see when I wake, it’s Sam. So when I open my eyes to her sitting at an unfamiliar desk in an unfamiliar room, her back to me, my first reaction isn’t confusion. It’s a sudden exhaustion at the unfairness of the world to place me somewhere so obviously hers.
The room is a mess. Creased clothes tossed over every surface, at least three mugs on the desk, photos peeling from where they were stuck to the wall with gaps showing where pictures have already fallen into the chaos of the room. What sticks out most of all is a jar filled with half-dead flowers beside Sam. There’s enough life in them still to justify keeping them, but I can’t help but feel that the room itself is pulling the flowers closer to death. The limp, purple blossoms lean away from Sam as if trying to escape her anger—her room’s atrophying presence.
Or maybe that’s just how things are when you’re organic. Flowers die. Sam loses Lissa. I continue existing.
When I first read The Hunger Games at sixteen, I hated the book. As a young girl struggling with asexuality and aromanticism, I had been plagued by love triangles or relationship drama in almost every Young Adult novel I picked up. At the time, I was hyper-sensitive to hints of love triangles in stories, and so I severely misunderstood Katniss’ character, completely missing what was actually important in her relationship with Peeta: the support he offers her as someone who genuinely cares.
The narrow thinking that creates the idea of a female character needing to choose between two male characters is a serious issue in fiction aimed at young adults. While it’s a topic for another post, this does sometimes alter people’s interpretations of the series, creating kneejerk reactions like my own initial one, and it’s a trend that needs to be questioned.
Katniss is much more than her potential love interests, the entire series being about far more than her feelings towards Peeta or Gale. Trivializing any of the characters by their level of attractiveness or romance potential entirely misses the point. Katniss’ fluctuating relationship with Peeta is a driving factor within the series, and a large part of the woman she becomes.
This week has been one of mental health awareness, and in typical Saf fashion I left this post to be written at the last day. In NZ it’s been Mental Health Awareness Week, while elsewhere it’s been Mental Illness Awareness Week. Exactly a year ago I wrote a post about why awareness is important, and a year later it’s still just as vital.
It was maybe a month or two ago that a friend on Twitter opened up about their own struggles with mental illness, which prompted an open discussion among our little community. A lot more of my friends were struggling with mental health than I realized, and I’m sure others felt the same about me.
Despite my personal vows to be open and honest with regards to mental health, I suddenly realized that I am essentially a freezer of feelings—I carefully tuck the bad ones away in a back shelf and leave them to freeze for a few months, until the power breaks down and they begin to thaw. I fully contribute to the lack of awareness, in part because I don’t like to show weakness, and that is a failure of mine.