Home > All the Rage(4)

All the Rage(4)
T.M. Frazier

That might work.

What Cody was suggesting sounded hard, but maybe it wasn’t completely impossible.

“Okay Doctor Delacroix, what about the other stuff?” I asked, interested to see what else he had in mind.

Cody’s character jumped up into the air and clutched his throat as he died. The game played a sad couple of notes as it sank to the bottom of the screen. My pink character came to life on screen, replacing his.

I didn’t feel much like playing anymore. I set my controller down on the floor and turned to face Cody who did the same. “The indifferent stuff.”

“You can fake that too,” Cody said, sounding a lot surer of himself than I was.

“How?” I asked.

“I’ll teach you,” Cody said, grabbing my hands in his. “When a dog dies in a movie, you are supposed to be sad so you make this face.” Cody frowned dramatically, which only made me giggle. “Or when the hero saves the princess at the end, you are supposed to be happy, so you make this face.” Cody smiled and batted his eyelashes like he was a princess being rescued.

“You’re being stupid,” I said, playfully punching him in the shoulder. The best medicine none of those doctors could ever prescribe was Cody.

“Yeah, I am,” he admitted. “But I’m being serious too. I’ll teach you how to fake it. We can do this.” His grip tightened around my wrists. My eyes snapped up to meet his. His smile straightened into a serious line. “We’ll keep a list of all the things that could help and we’ll cross them off if they don’t. We’ll carry it around always and every time you’re confused about something, all you have to do is read the list.” Cody really was serious. “We’ll do this together,” he promised. “Always.”

“Together,” I repeated, although with only a small fraction of his confidence.

“Good. I’m glad that’s settled.” Cody snatched up my controller and started clicking away on the buttons with his thumbs.

“But what about…?” I started to ask, the half question coming out as a whisper.

He paused his thumbs over the controller. He knew exactly what I was going to ask without me having to finish my question. “Just because you like to do something doesn’t mean you should do it,” he said, repeating the same sentence he always started with when this subject came up. “Is it getting worse?”

I tipped my chin down and gave Cody a single nod. He was staring at the TV, my pink character paused mid-jump. Cody shut his eyes tightly and sighed. He pressed his lips together. After another beat, he started the game up again like nothing ever happened. All traces of worry gone from his expression. Without looking over to me, he replied, “We’ll figure that out, too. Just promise me you won’t tell anyone else. ESPECIALLY your parents.” He finally looked over to me after my character’s life ended on the same hill his green one had. “Seriously. I mean it. If your parents ever found out about it, if ANYONE ever finds out, they won’t just take you to head shrinkers, they’ll…they’ll lock you away.”

“I know,” I said. Google had told me just as much.

Cody reached over, intertwining his fingers with mine. A sense of relief washed over me as comforting as aloe on a bad sunburn. “As long as I have you. I’ll be okay,” I said.

Cody nodded. “That’s right. I won’t ever let them take you from me, but you gotta promise that I’m the only person in the world who will ever know.” He squeezed my hand. “You gotta promise. You gotta say it.”

“Just you,” I agreed. “I promise.” The thought of being taken away didn’t bother me as much as the thought of being away from Cody did.

“Together,” Cody said again with another squeeze of my hand. He flashed one of his superhero kind of smiles before picking up his controller and continuing our game.

I didn’t know what love was, but I thought that how I felt about Cody might be as close as I could ever come to something like love. What I did know for sure was that I wasn’t going to let him down.

Maybe, if I did a really good job faking it, the worried look on my parents’ faces might finally turn back to the happy faces from the pictures lining the hallway.

Pictures from before I was born.

Mom and Dad had been putting their own lives on hold more and more in order to “deal” with their troubled daughter. The doctors’ appointments, the sleepless nights worrying over me, the shared glances at the dinner table they thought I never saw. But I did.

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