Emma meets Dr. Abernathy, confiding in her that if anything happened to Sam, she would kill herself.
"Don't you think Sam would want you to keep living without him?"
"I couldn't live without him. He thinks I could, but I can't. He's been a part of me too long. If he died, I'd die too."
"You're very young to have that fatalistic an attitude."
"I was even younger when my father started raping me, Dr. Abernathy. Every time, the only thing that got me through it was knowing I had Sammy. If I lost him, my stability would be gone."
"Is he just your stability?"
"Sam is the air I breathe. He's my nourishment. He's the blood in my veins. He is everything I want to be and can't be yet."
"How do you mean? Why can't you be?"
"I'm not as strong as Sam. I may never be."
"I think you're wrong, Emma. He's endured a lot, that's true. But look at what you've done with your life."
"Aside from the drinking, drugs and dozens of unknown men?"
"I'm not talking about what you did to run away from it. I mean what you did to fight it."
"Nothing. I did nothing to fight it. I gave in! It's my fault!"
"No, honey. It's not your fault. It's your father's fault. You endured, you lived, you didn't back down, but kept speaking up."
"For all the good it did."
"You're not to blame that no one listened."
Emma had never considered that before. Put in that perspective, she had to agree. She had tried to speak out. She'd defied her father's commands to stay silent. No one believed her but Sam.
"He believes me," Emma whispered. "Sam always believes me."
Dr. Abernathy smiled. "Do you know how rare that is? I know grown men who aren't as mature as Sam."
They ended their session soon after. Emma went back to the bathroom only to find that Carlos had finished her job for her. She thanked him with a kiss.
"Least I can do, little sister. You okay?"
"I've been better, but a hell of a lot worse."
"Baby," he took her hands. "You are loved. Not just by Sam, but by all of us. People come and go here, but in the last month, I've made friends for life. I know if I ever need any of you, you'll come running. And I will do the same. That's a very special thing."
"I feel the same way." She sighed, hugging herself. "I don't want to leave here. I feel safe, secure—like I can take on any problem and laugh it off. I'm so scared of being on the outside again."
"You and me both, baby." He put his arms around her, pulling her close.
Emma put her head on his shoulder, hugging him.
"It's gonna be okay, Emma. You have to believe that. I tell myself that every minute of every day. I'm almost to the point where I believe it."
"You're a good man, Carlos. And I love you to bits."
He laughed. "I wish you loved me like you do Sam, but I don't see that happening any time soon. But I'll settle for this."
They walked out of the bathroom together and headed to the broom closet to put their supplies away. Sam was coming down the hall when they came out.
"I'm going to Abernathy's office?" He gestured questioningly.
"I got this," Carlos said. "See you in the kitchen," he told Emma.
She wasn't sure why he wanted to talk to Sam alone, but she nodded. Kissing Sam, she headed to the kitchen. The men went in the opposite direction. Carlos leaned close, his mouth near Sam's ear.
"She suspect anything?" Sam asked.
"No. It's cool," Carlos replied.
"Good. I feel like I have scorpions on my back. This is making me crazy."
"Me too. Here's Dr. Abernathy's office. Come to the kitchen if you get out before lunch."
"Will do. Thanks."
©2020 Dellani Oakes