Ghosts in Snow


I hated my therapist. Dr. Marlene Montgomery was a in her mid 40’s and smelled like cherry cough medicine. Dr. Montgomery didn’t have any kids or a husband. Sitting on her glass desk, facing towards the couch I sat on, was a picture of her and her two dogs. I never caught the names of them but whenever I didn’t want to talk, I’d just look at the picture. Every Time I went to see Dr. Montgomery I’d ignore her hand she stuck out for me to shake and head straight to the old leather loveseat and pull the ugly, itchy red afghan over my legs. I think her mother made it for her.

“Anything new you would like to tell me, Birdie?” She started.

“I met a boy. His name is Gerard and he’s 19.” I stated simply. I felt weird talking to Dr. M about gerard, like I wanted him to be a secret or something. “He’s nice you know? I never really dated anyone before?”

“You two are dating? He’s 19 while you’re 17, are your parents okay with that?” She asked. She sounded surprised, which it shouldn't have bothered me because she recently stopped asking if I had anyone romantically involved in my life because I always said no, but it hurt. Was I not loveable?

I nodded. “My parents don’t know...yet. I’m going to bring him home before I tell them his age, I want them to know who he is and how well he treats me before making assumptions due to his age. I know it’s fast but I don’t really care. I think that if you want something you should go for it. I never really wanted anything before and I wasn't the one to say something about our relationship; Gerard pursued me.”

“Does Gerard know about your eating disorder?”

I looked up, ”Of course, I suppose. We met in that community group for eating disorders, he’s new.” I didn’t want to say anything more about Gerard being in community because I didn’t see why he was in community to begin with. Yeah, he was bigger than me, he was chubby, but then again everyone is bigger than me.

“How long ago did he ask you out?”

“Well, he asked me about four days ago on Friday. We met the day before.”

“That’s very soon, Birdie. When is the next time you’ll see him?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged, tucking my feet under my butt. “Hopefully tomorrow or Thursday for community. He goes to the art college and tomorrow I’m going to Columbia with my parents but maybe I’ll take time by myself instead. I don’t care. Like I said, I think that you should go for what you want even if it seems a bit ridiculous, I learned that after the Lilah incident.”

“Has this past winter pushed you to strive for the things you want more?”

“Well, yeah. It showed just how easy things can fall apart or like how people are balloons. One moment we’re in the vice grip of life’s hand then the next we’re accidentally slipping away and we’re too far gone for anyone to actually save us.”

“Does Gerard know about Lilah?”

“No. Why should he?”

“Has he asked about Letchworth?”

“Yes, but I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want him to know about the Lilah incident just yet, I think he’ll run away.”

“Do you plan on telling him about Lilah and Letchworth?”


* * *

Instead of ‘taking time for myself’ I decided to go to Columbia, have a cup of coffee with my parents in the faculty kitchen before hailing a cab off to the art school. I knew it was weird to be going out of my way to see Gerard, but I couldn’t help it. It was like my heart and head were on autopilot as I strolled down the street. While we were up at Cafe 2, Gerard had been telling me about his class schedule, how Wednesdays he has early classes meaning he got out early and how I should come visit him sometime.

I probably looked shady as hell in huge black sunglasses, my hands shoved in my coat pockets as I leaned on the building, glaring across the street at the costume shop. Right in the window were brand new Repetto pointe shoes. I can remember the first spring when I was 8, my father took me to this exact store and I had spent two hours at least finding the right pointe shoes so I could be ready. I was finally allowed to dance pointe.

“I always wear the La Carlotta’ with a hard sole.” I spoke to Gerard who walked next to me just a moment before. I saw him walk out of the doors with a group of friends when he saw me and left them.

“Let’s go in…” he pulled me by my upper arm into the store. We were hit with the smell of new shoes and the view of rows upon rows of shoes and tulle, leotards and tutus. “You wear this shit, Sugar?”

I couldn’t help but laugh and push my glasses on my head. Every time he calls me sugar my heart beats a little too fast with moth babies fluttering in my stomach. “Yes, Gerard, I did and it was quite enjoyable. It made me feel like a princess, especially these long tulle tutus.” I murmured, ghosting my hands along the skirts thinking back to all the roles I played that made me wear them.

“Why?” I felt Gerard press against my back, his hands resting against my hips and his mouth was near my ear; it was driving me crazy.

“When you dance across stage or leap, turn, anything that causes the most movement, the tule it trails behind you like a cloud and yours eyes can’t help but watch after the fabric, always bringing you back to the dancer. I love how soft they are, too and they’re perfect for The Nutcracker...That was my first role, as a snowflake; we wore these, in an off white.”

“I bet you were beautiful, the prettiest snowflake there ever was.” I guided Gerard away from the tulle and into the the shoe section, a wide smile spreading on my face. “Jeez, it’s like Christmas for you ain’t it?”

“No, better!” I squealed, pulling his arm to walk with me to the Repetto’s. “This is my brand.” I told him, looking at him over my shoulder. When I turned around he slung his arm around my shoulder and kept asking questions I was more than happy to answer.

After boring Gerard with ballet for half an hour, he decided to ask me a scary, scary question. “Do you want to mee some of my friends and my brother? They’re at the Indian resturaunt on 26th.”

I hesitated, intertwining my thin fingers in his, grasping his pale hand. “Um...yeah, sure. I’d love to meet them…” Gerard kissed my cheek and whispered a thank you in my ear. We walked hand in hand to 26th Street and he lead me inside and straight to a table with three teenagers laughing and looking at menus.

“Look who showed up!’ One of them yelled, he had a nose ring and a bright smile. He sat across from a boy with big frizzy hair and next to the meek boy who was with Gerard and his mom. I assumed it was Mikey.

Gerard smiled wide at them. “I told you I would. Frank, Ray, Mikey, this is Birdie. Bird, the boys.” As he said their names he pointed to them, Frank being the one with the nose piercing and Ray the frizzy hair. I smiled nicely at them, sitting next to Gerard. They all kind of just started at me.

“So you’re real! Gerard talks about you nonstop, it’s almost like we were your best friends! I never knew anyone could be skinnier than Mikey! Wow! I mean, Gerard did tell us you were skinny, but man! You must weigh like 70 pounds, tops.” Frank laughed, sliding a menu in front of me.

“Shut up Frank.” Gerard hissed, shifting his eyes over at me. All I did was smile.

Frank looked between us, confused, “What?”

“It’s okay, Gee.” I reassured Gerard, “Yes, I am real." I ignored hsi weight comment even thought I wanted to scream, "The things you’ve heard about me, are they good?” I asked before scanning my eyes across the menu. I wanted to find something spicy so I could pretend to be normal for one second but punish myself at the same time. I sure was going to regret this later.

Frank was quick to pull Ray into the conversation of how much Gerard apparently talked about me, acting out the conversations they’ve had. We all ordered, Gerard looking at me with a worried expression after the waitress left but all I could do was look away. We busied ourselves with conversation on horror movies and comic books which brought Mikey out of his shell. When he smiled, I noticed, he looked like Gerard.

I felt Gerard’s hand slip onto my thigh, squeezing, as our food approached. He kept it there throughout the meal, occasionally rubbing my thigh up and down a few times. I cursed myself for thinking dirty thoughts while I was in front of his friends.
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