Kelly sat inside the coffee shop with a view of any who approached the front door. There weren’t a lot of people around. Most people had already gotten their morning coffee on their way to work while others were students who had also gotten their fix and were now in class. This meant Kelly basically had the place to herself except for the artist across the way who was thoroughly engaged in his extremely detailed drawing—of something Kelly couldn’t identify yet.
She sat with her laptop open on the table in front of her and wrote as she waited until she saw a tall, black-haired teenager approaching the coffee shop. They locked eyes, and Kelly lifted her brows as she rose from her chair. “Nathan Jameson? I’m Kelly Blanchard.” She shook his hand. “Thanks for meeting with me. How are you doing today?”
Nathan had woken up only an hour ago, and he needed coffee; desperately, He knew he had an interview with an author and he knew he had to be on time, so he figured he could grab a cup of coffee at the coffee shop he was meeting her in. After all, that’s what coffee shops were for.
Nathan walked into the coffee shop, his hand passing through his fringe nervously as he scanned the room. He saw a person looking at him intensely; a woman. He immediately recognized her as the author and she called out his name. He nodded towards her direction, walking to her table. “Nice to meet you, Mrs Blanchard.” he said, shaking her hand back. He sat down, getting himself comfortable. “I’m doing better than I did when I set up this interview.” he said with a smile, trying to be on his best behavior.
Kelly smiled. “That’s good. If you’d like to get some coffee, you’re welcome to. You look tired, and I need you awake for this.” She gave him a warm, humored smile.
Nathan nodded in acknowledgment, lifting his hand and waving at the waitress. “Can I get a cappuccino? No sugar, cinnamon on top. Thanks.” After his order was placed, he turned his attention to Kelly. “So, are you having a good morning?” he asked.
“It’s been rather productive. Thank you for asking.” Kelly nodded then sat back in her chair and considered Nathan. “So, I hear you’re going on a roadtrip? Where to?”
Nathan scratched the back of his head. “All the way across America with Seattle as the final destination. I know, it’s pretty far away.” he said, laughing a bit
“Enjoy Seattle. I hear it’s rainy.” Kelly chuckled. She’d been to Seattle once before, and it was nice. “So, you’re traveling with Peace and a few others? What do you think of them?”
“I love rain, so I will enjoy it, thanks.” he said. He sighed, “Carmen is my best friend and I love her like a sister. And Amelia, her girlfriend, is such a sweetheart. I haven’t gotten to know Peace much. Her brother died recently, so she hasn’t been opening up very much. But she suggested the road trip, and she’s searching for her father.” he explained.
“Well, it sounds like a fun group of people.” Kelly offered him a warm smile but then decided to go more to the heart of the matter. “And this is an opportunity to get away from your…mother.” She watched him as she said this but then pressed on, “Does she even know about the trip?”
Nathan’s shoulders stiffened up as he heard the word. “That woman shouldn’t even be called that, but… Yes, it is an opportunity. Even though I have no idea how I’ll manage being away for 5 days without her noticing one way or another.” he said. The waitress came in with his order and he thanked her, grabbing his coffee and taking a big sip to calm himself. “She does not know about the trip, no.” he answered.
Kelly raised her brows. “Now, I completely understand your reason for not telling her, but do you think you just disappearing one day might scare her and make her call the cops on you to try and hunt you down? I mean, I know she treats you horribly which is just awful, but, from my understanding, her mind isn’t stable at all, so she could totally demand people help her search for you.” Then Kelly added, “though I’d hope they wouldn’t find you because I’d like you to get away from her.”
Nathan shook his head. “I’ve talked about it with my old man – my dad. He’ll cover up for me. Even though I hate doing this to him. I’ll put a sign on my door that says I’m studying for exams. Plus, she’s always gone to work in the mornings before I leave for school. I’ve alerted the school as well, they think I’ll be taking a medical leave for my fibromyalgia.” he said, sipping more of his coffee, the cinnamon splashing against the top of his mouth pleasantly.
Kelly nodded. “Good that you have your bases covered. Now though, you mentioned your fibromyalgia, and I’ve read up on it a bit before meeting you because I wanted to understand although I don’t have a thorough understanding of it. You’re going to be fine on this trip?”
Nathan nodded. “Yes. I’ve stacked up on the medication I will need, even though there’s no ‘actual’ medication for fibro. I have painkillers and other things that I would normally use at home.” he replied. “I’ve also got enough cigarettes so I can smoke as much as I want,” he smiled sadly.
Kelly tilted her head regarding him. She didn’t think smoking was good for his health, but she understood people in extreme pain often resorted to anything that would help them forget that pain, and she respected that. “So, what’s life like with fibro?”
Nathan shrugged. “What’s life like without fibro?” he retorted, smirking. “I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to answer this question, though. I only got diagnosed 3 years ago, and it didn’t really have a huge influence in my life. It just makes things more difficult to deal with. I’m already a difficult person to be around, so living with fibro made me close up more. I really hate that I can’t talk to anyone else besides Carmen and Amelia. It also makes getting girls difficult. Once they see how messed up my head is, they run for the hills.”
“That’s unfortunate.” Kelly nodded her understanding. “But would you say you have a positive outlook on life or more of a negative one?”
“A negative one. Life has never been kind to me. So, I can’t really help it. Bad things keep happening to me.” Nathan said.
“Understandable. You live a hard life, but can you think of one good thing about your life? Or two good things that you’re grateful for?”
Nathan had to think of it for a while. What was a good thing about his life? He had no clue. Maybe Carmen and Amelia? “I guess my two best friends may kind of count. But since they’ve been a couple for as long as I’ve known them, it’s kind of hard to separate their personalities. But Carmen is witty and sarcastic, just like me, so we get along. And Amelia used to be this shy girl, and as she got to know me more, she eventually opened up. And she’s deaf, did I mention? We usually text, but I know some sign language so I can hold a conversation with her. Not fluent though, so I mess up a lot. I guess that would be the “good” thing in my life currently.” he replied
When Nathan mentioned he could sign a bit, Kelly smiled and then signed, “Good!” and then she spoke, “I took ASL for several years, so yeah, sign language is cool. You should definitely take it up sometime.” But then she pondered her next question. “So, you said it’s hard for you to get any girls because of your illness. Other than the fact of girls maybe running away, is part of the reason because you don’t want to burden a girl with it?” She lifted her brows.
Nathan nodded, biting the lid of his coffee cup and holding it against his chin. He took a sip and placed it down, getting more comfortable in his chair. “Yes.” he replied. “I don’t want to burden anyone with what I’m going through.” He kept it simple.
“Because you think you need to just cope with it on your own?” Kelly watched him.
Nathan nodded positively. “That, and also because it’s always been my own fight. My dad couldn’t do much when I was younger. His older work didn’t allow him to be at home very often. Until he realized what was going on, it was already too late. He found out when I was 10, about the situation with… her. And he couldn’t run off with me because if he went to court, they would accuse that he was the one abusing me, and not her. And they’d give custody to her instead, because she’s a woman, and women as seen as these vulnerable creatures when they’re in court for their child. Honestly, if courts were serving proper justice, they would hear the person who was accusing another person, not the societally weakest person. I was a kid, and I wouldn’t have had a voice in court any way.”
“That’s unfortunate, and I can see your point, but you are wrong in one regard.” When he looked at her a little confused, Kelly went on, “You should reject any possibility of a relationship just because of your illness. Now, I’m not saying you need to go out your way looking or so because, to be honest, that usually leads to heartache. But, do what you can with what you’re given in life, try to make a life for yourself, and if she ever comes along, then no amount of pushing her away will make her go. Sorry, buddy, when a good, stubborn woman finds a good man, she’s not letting go–regardless of all the trials he may endure. Why?” Kelly raised her brows then tilted her head. “Because it’s who you are that would matter to her–not what you’re going through, and she’d want to be there as a support and a pillar of strength in your difficult times. Wouldn’t you like that?”
Nathan sighed. “I would. But have you ever lived through abuse, Mrs Blanchard? Have you ever lived through coming home and seeing bottles on the floor next to the couch where your “mom” is passed out? Have you ever felt so alienated from the entire concept of having a mother because you never had one? I’m not saying she ruined my relationship with women, that’s not the case at all. But because of her, I have no clue who I am, who I really am. I’ve lost all hope in any future cause I’ve no clue what my interests include. And a girl being in a relationship with me would only complicate things.” he explained. “I don’t want to become someone I’m not, just for the sake of another person. All I know myself to be is my illnesses. All I know myself to be is the depressed, abused kid, who has never had a girlfriend, has never even had a first kiss, has had multiple bones heal wrong because /she/ decided to throw me down the staircase, or /she/ decided to chuck a bottle towards me and get glasses stuck in my arm, or she decided to not be a goddamn mother but an abusive, mentally ill person who refuses any help and pushes people away. Do you know I attempted to kill myself after I found out about my fibromyalgia?” As he was saying all of this his composure remained. He was never the type to throw a hissy fit or an angry screaming fit over something that had happened to him. And it severely pissed him off when others would react extremely, angrily, screaming and shouting in his face. He despised that attitude.
Kelly listened to all he said, and then she leaned forward, resting her forearms on the table. “Nathan, you’re right. You have experienced horrible things, and you don’t know who you are. What I’m saying is, go with your friends on that roadtrip and focus on trying to learn about yourself. Each of you may have a different agenda, but I want you to focus on discovering who you are. And at this time in your life, you don’t want a relationship with a girl because, as you said, you don’t know yourself. But tell me this…” She paused to make sure she had his attention. “What kind of man would you like to be?”
Nathan swallowed hard. “A happy one.” he replied. “I was given a little pill holder, for every day of the week. It includes anti-depressants, pain killers, and vitamins. I can’t repair the damage that’s been done to me.” he said.
“You can’t, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be healed. Yes, you’ve got a lot against you, and you have a lot of baggage, and that is hard to unpack and accept, but you need to take a step at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time, and more toward being more happier.” Then Kelly pulled back with a sad smile. “It’s not easy. I know. You probably don’t even know where to begin, but tell me this, is there a man–could be a fictional character in a book or a film, or someone you know in real life–that you admire and would love to imitate?”
Nathan didn’t even have to think about it twice. “Harry Potter.” he said, replying as if it was a speed-fire round. “He’s been through the same shit I have. Minus the fibromyalgia and the suicide attempt, because he discovered he was a wizard at 11, and not that he had fibro like me at 14.” he said. “He’s happy, he gets friends that understand him and how complex he is. He’s taught to never ask questions, so it makes him a bit defensive when people accuse him of not asking enough questions. For example, there’s a scene in which he’s having a conversation with Ginny Weasley. And she says to him that he can talk to her, cause he isn’t the only one who got possessed by Lord Voldemort. And it comes to show how rare, but yet amazing it is, to find a person that understands. But until they tell you themselves that “hey, I’ve been through this too” you can’t really know for sure, y’know?”
Kelly smiled. “I’ve never read Harry Potter, so this is very interesting, but tell me, with everything he’s gone through, is he happy?”
“I’m not entirely sure. But in the end, he is. With all the horrible things that keep happening. In the Epilogue of the last book he surely seems happy with his family. But then again, he was never a character that showed that much emotion and feeling. The way the books are written you can’t really get much info about what Harry’s thinking. In Book 5 his PTSD shows so much. He’s livid, angry that Dumbledore’s ignoring him-” Nathan cut himself off. “Sorry, I’m blabbering.” he said, looking down at his lap. He had finished his coffee already, and it had woken him up for good.
“Hey, keep blabbering! It’s good.” Kelly grinned at him. “But do you see what I’m trying to say? Harry Potter could be an example for you–someone you can look at and try to imitate. Sure. You might not know what he was really thinking, but how did he respond? What he did let control him? Who was he in the end, and is that something you want? Sure, it’s not a perfect fit since he has magic and you don’t, but…” Kelly shrugged. “It’s an idea. You’ll think about it at least?” She raised her brows.
Nathan nodded. “I’ll think about it, yes.” His head lifted as he heard thunder coming from outside. “It’s going to rain. I love rain.” he said, mainly to himself, then snapping back into reality. “Can I tell you something?” he asked.
“Of course you can—anything.” Kelly nodded with a smile.
“I don’t thing the antidepressants I was given do anything. I haven’t seen any improvement whatsoever.” he said silently. “Keep in mind they only gave them to me a year ago, though” he added.
“You know what? I agree with you. Healthcare is a business. Drugs are a business. They only suppress the symptoms without going to the root of the problem.” Then Kelly leaned in again and searched his eyes. “You know what you need? You need to go through a liver cleanse and a thorough detox and heal your leaky gut. You need to reconsider your eating habits and what you take into your body. You build up toxins in your body due to bad habits, and your liver can’t handle it all. It had 500 jobs to do, and if you constantly have bad habits, it can’t keep up. Sure, it’s not easy to break old habits and form new ones because it is your lifestyle, but…that’s what you should do.” Then Kelly paused and pulled back. “No, I’m not a doctor. My mom is a wellness consultant, and she helps people like you. I talked with her about your condition before meeting with you.”
Nathan made a sigh of understanding. “But what if I’m comfortable like this?” he said. “I mean, right now I can’t do anything. My conditions are only valid when something seriously life threatening happens to me, like, oh I don’t know, a suicide attempt? That woman only cares for me when she thinks she’ll lose me. She promises she’ll be good, she’ll go to rehab, she’ll fix herself, she’ll stop beating me with baseball bats and throwing me down some stairs and almost running over me. But she never does. And she shouts at how I’m not her Nathan, I’m not her son, I’m not her real son. She complains that I’ve changed, when in reality she never bothered to know me. Getting healthcare and proper habits is near impossible, whilst I’m still a minor. But you wouldn’t know. You adults think it’s so easy to step out of a situation and jump into another.” he said, getting slightly agitated. He crossed his arms and looked outside at the clouds.
“I know it’s not easy to change your situation, and I’m not suggesting that you do. I’m simply telling you that I wouldn’t trust the doctors, but I’m not saying you shouldn’t take any medicine because I’d prefer you not kill yourself, okay?” Kelly raised her brows. “Because, as hard as it may be for you to imagine, you’re actually not that bad to talk to. I talk to a lot of people—part of my job—and honestly, this chat with you has actually been one of the better interviews I’ve done. You haven’t stood up and started yelling at me yet, and you haven’t tried to kill me yet—both of which other people have done—so yeah, you’re not a horrible person, okay?”
Nathan felt his cheeks turning red. “To be honest, when I booked this interview I was expecting someone very rude and intrusive and just very insensitive. You actually managed to know a lot more than anyone else in my life does, currently. I know that keeping everything inside is horrible for my mental health, but again, I have this ‘hero complex’ where I’d rather save others than myself, including not talking about my situation with others.”
“You’re rather save others than yourself. You’d rather talk about others than yourself—I know that feeling completely because I can totally relate. Why do you think I have this job?” Kelly smiled sitting back and spreading out her hands. “You don’t know a thing about me, but here I’ve managed to listen to you, and all I want to do is set you on a good path and give you hope. That’s what you want to do for others too, right? So you see, I can relate. Yes, I don’t have your illness, but I have my own trials, and do you want to know what I’ve learned?” She raised her brows. “I learned it can always be worse, and honesty—even in the most difficult of times—is best but also with discretion. My motto is ‘expect the worst, hope for the best, be prepared for anything’. You’re not alone, Nathan. You may seem like you are, but you’re not, and here and now, you’re welcome to tell me anything. I have time, and I’m not going to tell anyone anything you tell me.”
Nathan had to bite the inner side of his cheek and look away at that. He wouldn’t cry. He cleared his throat before speaking again. “Thank you for this interview. At my current stage, I can’t do much to change my future. Maybe in a year or two, when I’ve left home and finished school. If I can get a job. Who knows, maybe I can find a roommate, right? They don’t even have to be a friend, but they could become one; that’s entirely on my hand.” he said.
“And you need to take care of yourself too, Nathan. Be sure that whomever your roommate may be isn’t a toxin person. That would be horrible for you. I have a good friend who’s enduring that, and he texts me regularly because he’s about to have a breakdown, and I have to talk him down. It’s hard, and I don’t want that for you.” Then she tilted her head to a side and smiled. “But I think you’re a good judge of character. Just…with your hero complex, you need to find an outlet to express yourself. It may be music, art, writing, or anything—but just some way to express what you’re really enduring even if no one can completely and fully comprehend it, and do you know what will happen eventually? Eventually, the right person will come along and will see exactly what you’re expressing in whatever form you choose to express it. She will understand. She will get it. You wont’ have to explain it to her, and when you find that person, don’t let her go. Okay?”
Nathan nodded. “Now that you mentioned it… I used to play the guitar. I started learning at 12. I dropped it when I found out about my fibro. My hands… They don’t work right. There’s a few wrongly healed fingers, there’s stitches up the entire side of my arm from the glasses I mentioned earlier, and my hands are too weak to handle a guitar anymore.” he said.
“Maybe you can’t handle a real guitar anymore, but you have an iPhone or an iPad or something? There are musical apps. Sure, it’s not as good as the real thing, but it could be a start. You can become an awesome composer actually just by using the computer or apps or so.” Kelly shrugged. “There are a lot of options. You just need to think what you really want to do and if you can’t do it like everyone else, find an alternative. If nothing else, make an alternative.”
Nathan felt the urge to smile, but he didn’t. It didn’t change the fact that he was fucked up. “For now I’ll wait to be able to leave. As soon as I turn 18 I’m out the door. She can’t chase after me, I can sue her if she does.” he said.
“That’s a good idea.” Kelly nodded but then her eyes filled with worry. “I just hope you’ll be okay between now and then, and I wish I could help you, but you know what is best for your situation.” Then Kelly happened to glance down at her phone and saw the time then looked back at Nathan. “We have ten more minutes before I have to leave. Is there anything else you’d like to get off your chest? You’re welcome to tell me anything.”
Nathan thought for a bit. How did time pass so quickly? “I want to tell you about my suicide attempt. Can I?” he said.
“Of course.” Kelly nodded
“I’d turned 15 two months before I attempted. I was kind of relieved that I’d made it to an age that I liked the number of. I had learnt about my fibro a year prior to that. The day I chose was the anniversary of finding out I had fibro. I had never harmed myself in any way; /she/ did all the work for me. I felt useless. When I was younger I used to want to get an amazing education, because according to adults, if I got straight A’s I could become a doctor; and I could help her. I went through a lot of years of school where I would get straight A’s every semester. It really damaged my mental health. Then, one day I brought home an A-, and all hell broke loose. I had kept up a good score up until I was 12. But things were getting difficult for me to manage, and she would still go off like a bomb on random times. I did my best to not anger her, but she still hurt me and belittled me. So, upon reaching the “anniversary” of my diagnosis with fibro, I decided to take enough pain killers to kill me. I guess in my poetic mind I thought that by saying pain killers, they also referred to mental and soul ones. Anyway. I locked my door, I wrote a letter to my dad, and I sat on my knees, on the carpet of my bedroom. I had two packs of painkillers in my hand. I took all of them, swallowing them down with water. Then I waited. I waited and then it hit. My stomach hurt, I basically folded into two and let out a scream. It burnt so badly that I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I noticed my hands were sweating, my heart was beating in my ears and my stomach was churning. The last thing I heard was the noise my body made when it collapsed with the floor.” he said.
“When I woke up in the hospital, I found my dad asleep next to my leg, there was an IV hooked on my arm and she was sitting by the window, clutching an old baby blanket I had. In the hospital she wasn’t allowed to yell at me, or blame me. But she had such a sad look on her face, I thought maybe this would open her eyes. She kept the “good mother” act up for a month. Then she threw me down the stairs and I fractured my shin.” he said, ending with a bittersweet smile.
Kelly listened as he described this to her. It made her frown. She wanted to go and strangle his mother or at least knock sense into her, but of course Kelly couldn’t do that. “I’m sorry.” She knew those sounded weak, but then she went on to speak, “I had a brother who attempted suicide—took a razor to his wrist. I’d never forget his cry, and I wasn’t even in the house. I was out in the yard playing when I heard him. I was younger then. He did that because he was literally a genius but, and he just couldn’t handle it all, so he became an alcoholic, and he knew he was messed up and hurting the family, so he tried to take his own life.” Kelly shook her head. “Yes, it’s different from what you endured, but I want you to know that I mean the words when I say, I understand why you did it. I don’t blame you one bit, but…” She offered him a small smile. “I’m glad you didn’t succeed because otherwise we wouldn’t be having this chat.”
Then she paused and looked at the time on her phone and sighed. “Time is up unfortunately.” She frowned and glanced at him. “I’m glad we had this chat though. I thought it went rather well.”
Nathan nodded. “It went better than I expected, that’s for sure.” he said, smiling gently. “Thank you. Just, thanks.” he said, sitting up. “Can I hug you?” he asked kind of shyly.
Kelly rose to her feet with a big grin. “Sure thing!” And she gave him a big hug and didn’t let him go right away. “You’re going to be okay.”
Nathan almost broke down at that, but kept himself composed until the end. “I’ll try and have fun at the roadtrip.” he promised with a smile. “Bye.” he said, walking up to the counter to pay for his coffee and then walking out. The rain on his skin felt amazing and he subconsciously let a tear roll down his cheek. He swallowed hard and walked away, leaving the coffee shop and heading to a nearby park.
Angelica Cat’s story ‘Journey to Peace’ has no release date set yet.