He cracked a smile. “Well, I don’t know, what sort of stuff did you take? What’s the house special?”

She tossed him a container of what looked like cold ramen noodles. “Took a little longer than I thought to get you out of the hospital, so they’re a bit cold, but I made noodles. Your favorite spice combination too. How are the drugs working, now that you’ve got the prescription?”

He took the container and wiped the dust off of the plastic fork. “Well, they’re gonna take a while to kick in, which is why the doctor said I should find someone I trust to check in on me every once in a while until I’m feeling better. That being said, would you mind just like, calling or something every so often until the meds start to help more?”

She pulled a few chunks of bread samples out of a bag and offered him a few. “No problem! How should I test to make sure you’re doing alright?”

“Uh, I guess just make sure I don’t sound demotivated and sad, or if I pause for a really long time between sentences?? I don’t know, just make sure I reply and am not dead or anything.” He glanced up at her. “Hey, why don’t you have noodles. Did you remember to bring some for yourself?”

She shrugged. “Nah, I just didn’t bring any. You need the food more than I do anyway, it’s fine.”

He pushed the container towards her. “Let’s just share it, ok? You also need to eat, and I’ve been eating plenty in the hospital, they made sure of that.”

She fidgeted with the ties of her hoodie. “No, really, it’s fine, I brought some of this other stuff to eat.” She picked up a bread cube, to prove her point.

“Seriously. I know you’re worried about me, but you can’t treat yourself worse because of that. I’ve been eating, I will be fine. I have food in my dorm-”

“You have a quarter bottle of mustard and two granola bars.”

“That’s more of a motivation problem than an affording it problem. You eat these, I’ll just eat when I get back.”

She tried to hold back a frown. “Listen, I don’t need you worrying about me! I’m fine, I can afford to eat, you don’t need to pity me. Just eat, ok?” She looked away and started gingerly eating one of the packages of peanuts.

“Ok, I’m sorry if I’m offending you, but please just tell me what’s wrong. We can’t be in this together without helping with each others problems, but we also can’t hide problems in fear of causing more, cause then we just end up with increasingly worse problems.” You know she doesn’t trust you near enough. You’re not close enough. “Please, Angela?”

She sighed and fidgeted with the edge of the picnic blanket. “Fine, I can’t really afford this. I know most of it is all free junk I took from stores, but this storage was my month supply. I kinda have to choose between college and eating food.”

“Why can’t you just ask your parents to help you?” He scooted closer to her and put an arm around her shoulder. “I’m sure they’d be willing to help their daughter, who wouldn’t help their own child.”

“Mine. One of the other reasons I live in a tent is because they kicked me out. Can’t go back unless I conform to their rules, which would be really, really sucky.” She folded her arms and stared pointedly away. “I can make it on my own. Just couple months more of college, then I can work full time, and stuff will start looking up.”

Adri paused for a minute, trying to formulate a reply. “Why would they kick you out?”

“They found out about my girlfriend, and they didn’t take well to that. It was them, or my identity, and my identity isn’t something I can change, so the choice wasn’t in my hands.” She tensed, leaning away from him as if expecting him to turn on her.

“That’s terrible! How old were you when they kicked you out?”

She looked at him, slightly taken aback. “Uh, I was 17. You’re not mad at me?”

“Why would I be? You’re not at fault for your parent’s mistreatment, why would I be mad at you for being kicked out?” You screwed up, you really screwed up. You’ve gone and made her think you hate her. Look what you’ve done.

She seemed to calm a bit. “I’m not saying you’d be mad I got kicked out, I thought you’d be mad I was bi. A lot of people are. Most people I’ve dated have been.”

“I’m not mad. I don’t know why I would be, but I’m not.”

She sat up and started to list off things on her fingers. “I’m not straight. I’m ‘more prone to cheating, cause there’s more options’, whatever that means, I’m ‘greedy’ or ‘just trying to get attention’. There’s so many reasons people would be mad, that could make you mad.”

“Aren’t those all just dumb stereotypes? Other than the not straight part, which I also don’t see the bad part of.” She doesn’t believe you. She thinks you’re lying.

“Yeah, they all are just dumb stereotypes that people usually believe.” She settled back next to him. “You really don’t think any of that?”

He nodded. “Yeah, they seem kinda dumb things to think. I mean, maybe if my brain was being really negative, I’d worry about that, but that would be less me and more mental problems.”

She smiled. “It’s nice to have someone that doesn’t judge, now that I know someone like that.”

He kissed her on the forehead and handed her the box of noodles. “Here, now that we’ve discussed problems, you need to eat.”

She didn’t protest this time and accepted the box. “What about you, and your parents? You didn’t call them when you were in the hospital. Why?”

He sighed. “Well, I guess I just didn’t want them to see me at this level of low, and they also kinda live several states away, and I didn’t want to bother them. I should probably let them know what happened, now that you mention it.”

“Sounds like a great idea to me! Want a cake sample?” She offered him a tiny square. “This one’s got a fancy toothpick, with the colored plastic crap on the end.” 

He took it and offered her a cookie. “They’re dried out, cause they were in my bag for like forever, but they’ve got some fake jam in the middle that isn’t half bad.”

Angela accepted it, and then knocked it against the cake square. “To life, and picnics, and surviving!”

“To life!

Chapter 5: Human Again

“Heyy, how you doin’?” Angela’s voice rang through the phone.

“Pretty good! I mean, not really since I am currently really sad because I’m reading a book where a dog dies, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking, but the fact I’m emotional is good. I think the meds are finally kicking in!” Through the phone, the turn of a page could be heard.

“Awesome! After a month, it’s finally helping! Celebratory crappy free library coffee party? If you’re up for it of course, or whenever you’ve got the time.”

“Celebratory crappy free library coffee party offer accepted. Met you there in 5 minutes?” He closed the book and wiped his eyes. Well, well, well, the dog died, isn’t that a metaphor for life? How you’re eventually going to d— He pushed the thought to the side and grabbed his bag.

“See ya there! Last one to the library is a rotten egg!”

“No fair, your tent is literally in the park next to the library!” The call ended “That cheater.” He mumbled as he rushed out the door.