1. As I tiptoe around my room because my feet are bare and the floor is mostly dust, hair I’ve pulled, and pieces of food that other patients left behind, I remember crying about my mom in a park in France with my host family. I can still hear the shouts of the skaters on the other side of the shrubs behind us. Their four-year-old daughter does not understand the concept of cancer, so my host mother explains that she died of “a bad sickness.” Their daughter is thrown off for a few minutes, then says in French that we must build a rocket so we can go to the moon, get my mom back, and bring her down to earth. I like that idea.

2. I cannot, cannot, cannot go to residential, but as far as I’m concerned my mom (to clarify: she’s my guardian but I call her my mom a lot), has other ideas. I wouldn’t survive. I lay beneath the blinding fluorescent yellow of the light above my head and think about what it would be like—how much easier it would be—to live in the lavender fields of Bordeaux that I passed so frequently with my host family, spending my days among the purple stalks, my bare skin brushing against them in full bloom.

3. It is the summer of the fruit fly. I wonder what it would be like to be generally likeable and to be calm all the time and to not feel like a screw-up 24/7. In fact, I’ve wondered this for a while, maybe even years. Hmmm…

4. We get two five-minute phone calls twice a day; each time I call my mother. The last time we spoke, she talked about me going away to residential in a very matter-of-fact way and, in what felt like an out-of-body experience induced by a cocktail of sadness and rage, I hung up—the one thing that I shouldn’t have done. I raced to my room, sobbed underneath the thin white blanket, and then slept for hours. I’ve been too afraid to talk to her since. See what I mean about being a screw-up?

5. A depressive in a psych ward is a dime a dozen find and no one lets me forget it, to the point of feeling absolutely expendable. It’s ridiculous that mental health is such a competition for some but it’s the least of my worries so I push it aside.

6. I am very into the black and white etchings of tragic beauties of centuries past, especially since they always make me think of either Juliet Capulet or the Salem witch trials. All of these things come together in my mind, boiling down to this: I envy anyone who possesses the intriguing witchiness or delicate melancholy of any of the people I mention, even though what I’ve just said is based on a romanticized notion of all of the aforementioned situations. I am susceptible, and always have been despite quelling it in recent years, not only to being attracted to darkness and eeriness that makes me feel at least a little uneasy, but romanticizing it all. As someone who, at 16, is still awkward and seen as a sad girl who wears all black and often falls into mumbling or stuttering, and spends free periods on the quad behind school listening to a cassette player while reading or writing, I can’t help it. Not only do I feel like I’ve been a late bloomer in respect to growing into myself, so much of what I think and do and feel is brushed off as “teen angst,” which is the most cringe-worthy phrase ever. I am too wrapped up in this headache to explain how all of this is even connected and my hand is cramping up so this’ll have to do.

7. Things in this little room of mine: a heart-shaped box with “HOLE” across the top, a stripped bed next to mine, books, clothes shoved into a cubbyhole, journals, crossword puzzles, stale air. I miss freedom, I miss the late night walks in my neighborhood, and I miss friends. I miss feeling loved by someone other than family but this is something I’ve missed for much longer than my stay here. I hate anyone who has ever told me that things get better; fate is against me. ♦