Author:S. Walden

Erica nudged me. “But it is the truth.”


I was silent for a moment, aware of the emotional tumult building inside my chest.


“I miss him!” I blurted, then chugged the rest of my beer.


“I know.”


“I hate him.”


“We all do.”


“I’m still in love with him, Erica.”


“Only natural.”


“What am I supposed to do?” I asked. The tears sprang up. They always did when I drank in the afternoon. Don’t ask me why, but daytime drinking made me highly emotional. Erica knew it. I had no idea why she offered me another beer.


“You know I’ll take it because I’ve got no willpower,” I snapped. I wasn’t angry with her—just myself for being impossible. I dabbed the corners of my eyes. “You know I’ll have to sleep over or at least take a nap.”


“That’s cool. Or Noah can drive you home,” Erica called from the kitchen.


I snorted. “I love how you volunteer your husband for things. Is that a married couples rule?”


“Only if it’s the wife doing the volunteering,” she replied, plopping back down on the couch and handing me the beer. “Okay. Go ahead and let it all out.”


On cue, I burst into tears while I sipped my beer. I only spluttered and coughed a handful of times, dotting my shirt with dark brown liquid. Somehow I was able to squash OCD voice who worried that the stains wouldn’t come out in the wash.


“It’s so unfair!” I wailed.


“Honey, Brian was a bit of a jerk. I mean, obviously. He broke up with you. That’s jerkish,” Erica said soothingly.


The breakup was completely my fault, and Erica knew it. But that’s the great thing about girlfriends—they feed us bullshit lies about ourselves so that we can shirk responsibility for our actions. A girl can be a complete psycho in the relationship, and her best friend will find some excuse for blaming the guy. Not that I was a psycho, but my tics were a problem.


“I’m not talking about Brian!” I cried. I glimpsed Little Noah and Annie. I’d forgotten they were still at the kitchen table. They took absolutely no notice of me, still crunching their carrots and dipping in turn. “M-my con . . . dition!” I stuttered.


“Sweetie, look at yourself. You’re making great progress. You grabbed the door handle yesterday, Bailey! That’s amazing!”


I snorted disdainfully. “If I have to have a mental disorder, couldn’t I have gotten one that people actually take seriously?”


Erica sighed and muttered, “Here we go again.”


“I’m serious, Erica! I mean, bipolar? People take that shit seriously. They may walk on eggshells around you, but they take it seriously. And there are drugs to help manage it.”


Erica nodded automatically. She’d heard this a trillion times.


“Or schizophrenia? Um, hello? There are places where you can actually go and live and rest and have people take care of all fifteen of you twenty-four seven.”


Erica cracked a smile. “You wanna go live in a psych ward?”


“I’m just saying it’d be nice to have the option,” I replied. I tipped my beer and discovered all the contents had disappeared. “There are no places for people who have OCD to go. No medicine that really helps.”


“What about that anti-depressant you’ve been taking?”


I stared at my friend. “Seriously?”


“I thought it was helping some.”


“My tapping tic is back,” I confessed.


“Oh God. I thought you’d conquered that one,” Erica said.


I shifted on the couch. “I had. That was until I failed at opening the door early yesterday. My anxiety just exploded, and I found myself tapping my pens all day while I worked.”


“Did you just hear the way you said that?” Erica asked.




“‘I found myself tapping,’” she quoted.


I blinked at her.


“Passive, Bailey. Passive voice. You’re not taking responsibility—”


“Shutty,” I snapped.


“Hey, I’m not Dr. Gordon over here, but you told me to call you out when you start playing victim to your disorder,” Erica pointed out.


I scowled and nodded reluctantly.


“Aaaaand,” Erica went on, “you also told me to cut you off when you start comparing mental disorders.”


“I know,” I agreed. “But you don’t understand what I’m dealing with. It’s a joke. No one takes OCD seriously. Half the fucking world thinks it’s OCD. ‘OMG, I, like, have to eat all the yellow M&Ms first out of the bag. I’m so OCD.’ Yeah, no. You’re not OCD.”


Erica chuckled.


“They have no idea the self-hatred. They have no idea that most of the time we think something horrible will happen if we don’t perform a tic! We don’t wanna operate this way. It’s not funny, but everyone thinks it is. We’re weird and quirky. Laughable.”


“Your condition isn’t laughable to me,” Erica said softly.


We were silent for a moment. I traced the bottle rim with my forefinger and thought about Brian.