"Hey, are you okay?" he asked, eyeing me from across the table.
"Just peachy," I said dryly.
"C'mon, I'm serious. Answer me honestly, please," he said, raising his eyebrow in concern.
"I feel like crap, how do you expect me to feel?" I asked.
He sighed. "Well, at least it's over now."
I snorted. That's what he thought. It would be, wouldn't it? I didn't get any jail time. Self defense. So I was basically off the hook, right? Wrong. It doesn't just end like that. You can't just switch your mind off and forget all about what happened. Be real. I was a mess. I was a complete mess. I could barely sleep the nightmares were so bad. I was jumpy at loud noises because it reminded me of the gunshot that I had fired that ended his life. I don't want to look at men. Not even my dad, half the time. Because they scare me now, all of them. Each man I look at reminds me of what happened and what I did. Does that sound over to you at all? Absolutely not. When I closed my eyes the darkness sickened me to a point where I didn't want to be in dark rooms. I hated the night. Everything was just too much.
So when people tell me things like, "At least it's over," forgive me if I simply ignore their stupid remark. Forgive me if I get mad or I'm touchy about the subject. Forgive me if I want to slap the person. Because the statement is so far from the truth that it makes me want to die. How am I supposed to be okay? How am I supposed to move on? I sit alone in my room with all the lights on and I still feel like darkness is slowly creeping into me and taking a hold of me. The fear has a grip on me that's so strong that I'm not sure if I'll ever escape. I've lost myself. I'm stuck in some sort of no-man's-land between reality and the past. I have floated to a place where my mind doesn't think and my body doesn't move. You may see me in front of you, but I'm not actually there. I am living, but I am far from being alive. I trapped inside myself, trapped in what I did. When I am conscious of reality the pain is too intense, so I end up trying to retreat back into the painless, thoughtless place that is starting to become so familiar to me.
"You're doing it again," he said, yanking me out of my thoughts.
I continued to look at the window. "Doing what?" I asked, not really caring or listening.
"You're spacing out."
"Sorry," I said dryly.
He sighed. "Liz, please."
"Please, what, Travis? What do you want from me? To return back to 'normal'? Really? I don't even know what that is anymore." There were no tears on my cheeks. I no longer cried anymore. I was just angry, tired, and hurt. I was sick of the pity. I just wanted to be alone.
He sighed and looked down at the table. Reaching across the kitchen table, he took my hand in his. "I just want you back," he whispered.
"I don't know who I am anymore," I admmited quietly.
"I know who you are. You're Liz. You're not afraid of anything. You're loud and funny and hardly ever sad. You have the biggest heart and try to help everyone you can. You love kids. You hate broccoli. You laugh all the time."
I looked up with him, and he flinched at the depth of pain shown clearly in my eyes. "Does it look like I'm the same girl anymore?" I asked, my voice cracking.
"You can be."
I stood up and looked down at him. "I have to go, Trav. I'm sorry. I just...can't right now."
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I just want to help you, Liz."
"Travis, go home. Go and be with your other friends and spend time with your family. Don't worry about me."
He narrowed his eyes at me. "I'm not just going to forget you because you're not acting like yourself. You've been through a lot, Liz. I'm not going to dump you just because there are a couple bumps in the road."
"There's been more than just a couple."
"All the more reason to stay."
I sighed, giving up. "I'm tired, Trav. I'm going to go up to my room."
"I'll be here when you come back down."
I nodded. And as I climbed the stairs up to my room, I glanced back at Travis. He was sitting at our kitchen table, staring out the window. He had barely left my side since I had come home that day from the court case. He had been my rock. But sometimes a rock isn't enough. I smiled slightly, if only for a second. The smile was gone before it even got a chance to start. But still, it was a start.