The door was open, but she swung it much wider when she stumbled in.
“I’m scared,” she sobs. Scared of what, sweet girl with the frail face? “I’m just so, scared.” Shaking and swaying, standing in a room full of friends, what scares you?
Countless questions, suspended mid-air, make everyone’s stomach spin. Only a few answers are apparent. Her cheeks are wet, her mind is overwhelmed, and although she may be scared, she is unafraid to share her soul with a room full of strangers.
I see this girl. Tuesdays and Thursdays, in a writing class mandated by our university. It’s an introductory. The university is introducing us to itself. This girl is beyond the class; she’s beyond introductions. The university has already taken her in, and enveloped her.
In our writing class we’re reading a memoir by an alcoholic. After swallowing my shock, I slide off the bed and embrace this scared girl, who no one in the room really knows, but who stands before us begging for unspoken understanding. I feel her breath, and it stings. The irony, the understanding. It stings.
“I’m scared of being sober,” she stutters. “I’m scared to be sober.”
My eyes travel to the paper cup, stained with alcohol, in her hand. I gently pry it from her, and as we talk her down the cup finds the trashcan. I’ve taken it away, but in my heart it’s obvious that too many things have already been taken from this scared girl. She needs to be given something. I just don’t know what.
The door was open, but she swung it much wider.