“What are you searching?” I asked Bryant, as I walked into his room uninvited.
Bryant slammed his laptop shut and looked up at me with round eyes.
“Oh, Evan,” he said, chuckling “I didn’t know you’re back. How are you, buddy?”
“What were you watching?” I said grinning.
“Nothing. Nothing much,” he replied, pushing his glasses up his nose “How did your meeting go?”
“Okay,” I said, shrugging “But what were you watching?”
“I told you, nothing,” he replied, nervously.
“Oh, come on! Show me,” I cried, jumping forward and snatching his laptop “This might actually be proof that you’re not a total nerd.”
I excitedly opened his laptop and groaned. He had been reading an article on teen suicide.
“I’m not a nerd,” Bryant snapped, snatching the laptop back “I’m a doctor and your only friend. Be grateful to me.”
“A freeloader friend,” I mumbled, turning my back on him.
“Hey, hey! I am not a freeloader! I told you that I’m coming over for a long vacation.” He cried.
“You never mentioned that you lost your clinic.” I replied.
“Well….yes…but…I’ll leave soon. I just need to find a new clinic and maybe another house…and then I’ll be fine.”
“I can pay for a clinic, you know? I can get you a new clinic.”
“I want to do this on my own, Evan. Besides, you’ll just call me a freeloader again.”
“You’re my only pal, Bryant. I-”
“You also have a new problem in your hands.”
“Your ‘girl’ has been cutting herself.”
“Yes, Evan. Cutting. She cut and burnt her hands today.”
“What?” I screamed, turning around.
“You scared her too much and now she’s trying to hurt herself.” Bryant said, crossing his arms over his chest.
“How do I stop her?” I cried “I can’t let her die until I get the power plant! What do I do?”
“Well, according to this website,” Bryant said, nodding to his laptop “parental behavior is directly related to a teen’s behavior. Nobody knows the reason why they do this, but they do it whenever they are under stress.”
“So how do I stop it?” I said, impatiently.
“To stop a teen from hurting himself or herself,” he said, slowly “the parent must understand the reason why the child is stressed and resolve it with the teen. In this case, you’re both the parent and the cause of stress. But since you are a coldhearted, merciless and cruel terrorist, then I think I should solve this matter.”
“Fine,” I said “Do whatever has to be done!”
“Well,” Bryant said, walking up to me “she needs a few ointments and bandages for the injuries. I’ll write them down and you can arrange them one way or another. She also needs food, a lot of rest and a warm and cozy environment. So I guess you’ll have to mover her out of the basement.”
I groaned and then shook my head. I turned my back on Bryant and started to leave the room.
“Oh, and Evan?” Bryan called out.
“What?” I groaned, angrily.
“She also needs new clothes.” He replied.
“Good girl,” Bryant said, wrapping the bandage around her injury “You’re so brave. But you have to stay away from fire, okay? You could have been seriously hurt. Never do the again, you understand?”
The girl didn’t answer. She leaned her head against the cold wall of the basement and closed her eyes.
“There,” Bryant said, standing up and smiling. “You’re alright now.”
Then he turned to me.
“So,” he said, rubbing his hands together, “Where will she live?”
I shrugged in reply.
“I guess it’s back to my room. But this time you’re sleeping on the floor.” I said, glancing at the girl.
She sighed in reply and lowered her head.
“Are you okay, Ash?” Bryant asked, bending down to look at her carefully.
She nodded in reply and then nothing more.
“Come on,” I said, patting Bryant on the shoulder “Let’s go now.”
But for some reason Bryant didn’t move. He just stood there staring at the girl with sad eyes.
“What?” I said, “Don’t tell me she did something again.”
“No,” Bryant whispered “She…look at her…she’s so sad. She reminds me of my daughter.”
I stopped and looked down at her.
The girl sat there completely still for a while but after a while she raised her head to look at us.
Bryant bent down and stroked her hair. Then without stopping, he turned his back on her and ran out of the basement.
I turned to the girl again.
“What exactly do you do to him every time you look at him?” I asked her, confused.
She shrugged in reply but didn’t say anything.
Shaking my head, I walked to the doorway.
Before leaving, I glanced at her one more time.
“Tonight you’ll sleep by the fire in my room. But let’s just hope your dad gives up easily. That’d be a relief for both you and me.”
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