G et up. Get up.

Get.

Up.

Laylee’s eyes fluttered open. She glanced at her watch, a dull panic thrumming in her heart when she saw the time. The girls are in school. It’s Tuesday…. No… Yesterday was Tuesday. Today is… Monday? Her body ached as she climbed out of bed. Spin day. Today is spin day with Shayna. It’s not Monday… it’s the day that comes after Tuesday. She wondered why her muscles ached. She stumbled toward the bathroom and found her pale-blue eyes in the mirror. Puffy, lined. Abhorrent.

Nothing some RoC overnight eye treatment can’t fix. Moisturizer. Primer. Copious foundation, eyeliner, creamy shadow, lash curler, mascara… The task suddenly seemed overwhelming. She sat down hard on the antique dressing chair, and reached for her mascara, observed her hand shaking with a sort of detached horror. Or I can just leave my eyes the way they are right now. Bloodshot, with large purple bags. She let the mascara drop onto the marble. It rolled onto the floor.

She ambled over to her closet, fingered a row of weekday dresses, then caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She stood very still. Don’t you dare leave the house with a face like that, Laylee. The voice sounded like her mother’s. And her own.

She crawled back into bed, the taste of defeat mitigated by the embrace of her still-warm sheets.



“Did she get up?” Gavi asked, walking into the kitchen. He knew the answer, dreaded it still. He’d spent the past three days being kind, empathetic, understanding, supportive. He’d listened. Commiserated. Refilled the tissue box. But by day four… She has to move on.

“Unclear. I thought I heard her earlier, but Cassandra knocked when Shayna came to pick her up and she was asleep,” Sarah said, cutting an apple at the counter.

“So she’s in bed.”

“Presumably. Want me to take up something for her to eat before I go to class?”

Gavi stood very still. That’s how it starts. You want them to eat, so you bring food up to the bedroom, and then… Why leave the room if you don’t have to? Why get up at all? Why smile or laugh or talk when you can just… lay in bed all day? It starts with the food and it ends with complete…

No. We’re not going down that road.

“Bedrooms aren’t meant for eating in,” he mumbled to Sarah as he walked over to the coffee machine.

“Really. No kidding.”

He filled a mug for Laylee and left it on the table, then went upstairs.

Opening the door, he found her in the high-back chair near the window, her face pale.

“There’s coffee for you downstairs. On the table cooling off, the way you like it.” He continued, “I heard Bergenowitz came by to pick you up for your bicycle class. Sure you don’t want to meet her? You can probably still make it….”

She turned to him, then looked away. “I’m good.”

“Good! Good… good is good.”

There was an awkward moment of silence; the room trembled under the weight of all the make believe.