"I'm heading out. I'm taking MinSung to his dad's then I'm off to work." MinJi explains as she picks up MinSung and his bags.
"Okay. I'll be here." I mumble as I toss myself back on the couch.
After everything that's happened, I'm somehow still as depressed as I was before it started. When's my high going to kick in. Isn't that part of what being bipolar is? I'm supposed to have my highs and my lows. The lows are supposed to be crippling and the highs are supposed to euphoric. Aren't they?
To be honest, I wouldn't know the difference. No one ever told me what it was like. No one described it to me either. All they said is my results show it's probable. I did my own research—it didn't go too well. I still have no idea what I'm facing.
I sigh as my phone goes off. No one texts me. The only person who's messaged me in the last twenty-four hours is JiSung. He's busy—who in their right mind is messaging me?
JiHyo: it's been awhile. How are you?
JiHyo? It's been months since I've said a word to her. It's not like something bad happened between us—I mean it did in the past, but it was all my fault. I overreacted a bit. I couldn't help it though, it just happened. We didn't talk for almost a year, then she messaged me—kind of like right now, except it's only been about three months since we last talked.
Me: I'm fine. What about you?
I lock my phone and set it aside as I get to my feet. I place my hand on the window and stare out at the brightly lit streets. Normal people are down there enjoying their lives. They're working and earning money to pay their bills and play. I'm sitting locked up in an apartment all alone. At night, my parents creep into their room, undetected. MinJi tucks herself away with MinSung and I'm left alone again. It's a vicious cycle that never ends. There's no way out of it. I'll always be alone. It's just how it works. My phone goes off again and I hesitantly pick it up.
JiHyo: I know it's been a long time, but do you think we could meet up?
No. I don't want to, but I know better. I know I have to work on mending my wrongs. I have to push myself to become someone I'm not. I have to fit in again. I have to be normal if I ever stand a chance of staying in their lives. I can't be me if I want to remain at his side.
Me: yeah, that sounds like fun. What we're you thinking?
I take a shaky breath. This is the last thing I want to do. I'd rather relive the first time I was trapped in their dorm. I felt suffocated. It was like the entire world had its eyes glued on me. I was a painting put on display in an art show. The line to view me was miles long.
JiHyo: how does the coffee shop by your place sound? I have so much to tell you.
I glance back toward the window. Thirty feet away from the building—I can handle that—can't I? I stare at the ground and take a shaky breath before attempting to respond.
Me: that sounds great. I'm free whenever.
I hit send and immediately regret it. What do I wear? What do I say? She's going to want to know what I've been up to. She's going to want to hear everything she's missed. I can't tell her though. If I tell her about my autism—she may run away. Who wants to be friends with someone who society often looks down upon?
JiHyo: how does noon sound? That gives me an hour to head over.
Noon? I hadn't realized how long I'd slept. Did they really not wake me up sooner? JiSung should've been getting ready at least an hour before I woke up. I glance down at the time on my phone. I woke up in JiSung's lap at exactly eight o'clock. They had to leave at roughly ten o'clock. I spent an hour explaining myself to them. JiSung spent at least an additional twenty minutes in a haze. He's not ready for whatever schedule they have and it's my fault.
Me: noon is perfect. See you then.
It's not. I'd rather not go at all, but I know I have to. If I don't, I'll sit here moping. I'll wait and wait until I get Taro back. Was I stupid for giving him to JiSung? He won't lose him, right? He'll keep him safe, won't he? He won't let HyunJin near him with his americano, right? I don't know what I'd do if he came home with a stain.
JiHyo: I have a surprise for you!
She has a surprise for me? What is she thinking? Is she trying to make me feel bad? I don't have a gift for her. I couldn't get one on such short notice even if I wanted to.
Me: I can't wait.
I could honestly wait my entire lifetime, but she doesn't need to know that. No one does. I refuse to let my problems define me. I can't keep letting them win. I already had to give up dance because of my arthritis. I don't plan on giving up the little bit of a social life I have.
JiHyo: I've missed you so much. I'll see you soon!
I lock my phone and take a shaky breath. I have roughly forty minutes to make myself presentable before I have to head down to the coffee shop. I can't even drink coffee, why did I agree to meet there?
I shake it off and hurry toward my bedroom. I dig through my closet, tossing all of my clothes onto my bed in search of the perfect outfit. Black. Grey. Black. The lack of color in my wardrobe is almost alarming, but expected. I trail my fingers over the one colored piece of clothing I own. A long sleeved salmon colored dress with a daring neck. The neckline dips down a good six inches and is covered by the loose lacing of a thin string. It's way out of my comfort zone, but it's the best way to make her belief that things are okay. I toss my other clothes back into the closet before barricading myself in the bathroom.
It's been awhile since I've taken a full hearted shower. It's honestly exhausting most days. I just can't bare standing in the scolding hot water for too long. It takes too much effort. I take a deep breath and turn the shower on before gripping onto the edge of the sink. I stare at my reflection.
"You can do this. It's not even that hard. All you have to do is play pretend. You used to do that all the time. It's time to put the mask back on. It's time to act like everything is okay. When it's over, Taro should be home. You can sleep the misery away." I rub at my watery eyes and take a step back.