The following week, I did everything Joan told me to do. I stayed as far away from Harlie as possible. I kept to myself. I took my medicine without a fuss. I participated in group therapy. I took my meals alone. And I didn’t try to make any friends…until I met Rachel.
“So what’s your story?” A young woman with short hair asked me as she plopped down next to me at dinner. “I’m Rachel.” She held out her hand and I timidly shook it. “Isabel.” I replied. She took a big bite of food and asked again with her mouth full. “What’s your story?” I pushed my spoon around in my bowl then took a deep breath and spilled my guts. “My husband kept me locked in the bedroom with our son during the day while he was at work. I tried to tell someone…in hopes that she’d help us. Instead she got me sent here. Now I know better. I should’ve never trusted her. Pretty sure they’re having an affair and she wanted me out of the picture.” I sighed and blew my hair out of my face.” Rachel stopped chewing and stared at me. “Wow. That’s rough.” I smirked. “Tell me about it. And no one believes me.” I moaned and pushed my food away. “I do.” She shrugged and took another bite. “Well in that case, you seem to be the sanest person in this place then.” We both giggled.
After dinner, we played cards together and gossiped about the other patients. “What’s Harlie’s deal anyways?” I asked Rachel. “Stalker. Some kind of incident with a country music singer. Instead of jail, they sent her here. That was probably a mistake.” She snorted. “No kidding.” I mumbled. “We actually share a room. She’s not so bad. If you pretend she’s invisible.” Rachel laughed again. “Right. Tell that to my face.” I touched the bruise on my cheek. She gasped and gave me a look of pity. “She did that to you?” I nodded my head. “Well, it won’t ever happen again, Isabel.” She promised. “I’ve got your back.”