4.9 Hysteria


“Well doctor? Can you tell what is wrong with her?”

I saw her hands flutter in my periphery. My scrutiny was firmly fixed on the doctor’s shoes.

The doctor- I had already forgotten his name- sighed deeply at Aunt Vega’s anxious inquiry and wiped his glasses on his pants. “Yes, I know what’s wrong with her, and it is unfortunately all too common in growing girls,” replied the doctor. 

Hope. I lifted my gaze to the doctor’s knees, drawing in a breath of anticipation.

“Hysteria. The girl is clearly hysterical.”

My gaze sank back to his shoes. How reflective they were.

Aunt Vega’s voice hardened with indignation. “Hysteria? That’s all you can come up with?”

“Well, growing girls at their age are quite emotional… Surely you know…”

“What is that supposed to mean, doctor?”

“Just that- surely you must have been through-”

“I think I have heard enough.” 

“Miss Winter-”

“Come, Deneb, let’s go.” Having cut him off three whole times, Aunt Vega added insult to injury by marching straight out of the office. Her strides were so wide and fast I could barely keep up.

“Wait,” I panted. “Sh- shouldn’t we hear what he has to say?”

“And waste more time?” Her pace did not slow. “You are unwell, Deneb, and all that leech of a hack can come up with is hysteria. The audacity!”

“I think he might be right,” I admitted.

At last she stopped. “Don’t be ridiculous Deneb, why would you say that?”

So I told her everything. It was too late to hide it now, everyone could clearly see how unhinged I was. I laid out all the ugly truths I never wanted to admit to anyone, her least of all. My selfishness. My jealousy. And she listened, without saying a word.

“What is it about Gem that wants you to be him?” she asked when my confession was done.

“I… I don’t know. All of him, I guess.”

“Lay it out for me. What consists of ‘all of him’?”

“His… personality. How being good just comes naturally to him. How he doesn’t have to struggle to think of something to say to people.”

“Anything else?”

“He got to be a boy. If I were a boy I wouldn’t be expected to wear dresses at garden parties. I don’t like how my body is so uncomfortable and awkward all the time.”

“Is that all?”

No, there was one more, and it stung most of all. “If I were Gem… Mother wouldn’t hate me so much.”

Aunt Vega inhaled sharply, her lips going white as her mouth tightened. “Oh Deneb, your mother is a fool! It has nothing to do with how you are. The problem is not with you, but with her.”

“She isn’t like that with anyone else, so it must be because of me! I know she isn’t the most f-friendly with everyone else, and s-she does hate other people, but it’s… it’s not the same, h-how can she hate me, she’s my MOTHER.”

Damn the tears.

Aunt Vega grabbed my face with an intensity that startled me. “No,” she said, “No. Your mother’s reasons have nothing to do with you. You hear? Nothing. She never even bothered to look past her own nose long enough to get to know you. So don’t you try to change for her. 

“Deneb, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better. To be the best you can be. Don’t let anyone stop you from living your best life. But you must do that as yourself. Not as someone else.”

“Aunt Vega, I described Gem both inside and out. There is no bit of me that I want to keep.”

“Who else will fix all the machines in the house without you, hmm? You understand them in a way we never will. You find ways to make better everything you touch. You love everything so fiercely. There is so much that is special about you, and we’ll be here to tell you, until you know it for yourself.”

Her words, and Alistair’s words, combined to pull me with a force greater than gravity. So what could I do? I decided to believe her.

And foolishly, I allowed myself to feel happy.

4 thoughts on “4.9 Hysteria

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s