Chapter 10: Time is the Best Healer
Lily was prepared, or so she thought. It was the day before she was leaving for her last year at Hogwarts. She was supposed to call in to the Hope to Cope hotline very soon according to the planned call schedule. She and Tyler had yet to discuss what happened after school began. They both knew each other were in school, but all the magical schools started that same day so you could not whittle down an accurate guess to which one they attended. She didn't know what year he was in either. She assumed he was her age, but it was a possibility he could be younger. All she had to go on was his voice, which at this point she was sure she could pick out anywhere. Regardless if it was true that he was younger, she couldn't deny the feelings that rose up in her when she talked to him. It was frightening to her.
Lily had written several drafts of her plan of action for talking with Tyler next. They were now all in the waste basket in her room. She thought they were rubbish. Lily struggled to put on paper the right things she wanted to say. Lily felt discouraged. She could do so well writing ridiculously long essays for her classes at Hogwarts, but she could not draft simple talking points for her next conversation with Tyler. She normally had no need for directions to converse easily with Tyler. They had a rather easy relationship over the phone. What Lily struggled with was her wanting to suggest they keep talking when school began and how they would do it. She felt flustered thinking about it. There was no ulterior motive despite her possible tiny crush on Tyler. She liked the idea of continuing to have a normal conversation with someone who knew she lost someone she loved, and they did not have to talk about it. At Hogwarts, she was inclined to not let anyone know about her father passing away. That however guaranteed opportunities for people to say triggering things because they didn't know her dad died. She just wanted to get through her seventh year. Once it was over, she could come to terms with letting others know.
Lily wasted the precious time she had left driving herself crazy with her failed draft proposals. It was time to call Tyler. She was never late to their assigned conversation time. This one time, she thought it would be okay. She scribbled out one last idea that popped into her mind before picking up the phone.
After the usual Hope to Cope intro, Tyler greeted Lily warmly after she confirmed herself for their call. She was slowly beginning to resent he only knew her as Amy. She wanted to hear her name off his lips in the speaker of the phone.
"Hi." Lily's greeting was shy. It was off. She hadn't been that way with Tyler ever. She knew it and she knew he knew it as well.
"Everything okay?" Tyler asked her. She appreciated his concern. Lily could never tell if it was because of his job or if he was really concerned for her. Lily told herself she needed to snap out of it.
"Yes, sorry I was just distracted for a moment." She felt bad for lying. She really strived to not lie to Tyler. Instead she just preferred to omit information. "So...we both know we are heading back to school tomorrow."
"We are..." Tyler was not making this easy on Lily. He was not giving her more to go off of. She questioned if he would find it burdensome to continue their conversations during the school year. He probably never intended for his job to continue past the summer. Lily was talking herself out of even mentioning it now. She decided she did not want to pressure or guilt him to continue talking to her past today.
"Are you excited?" Lily asked with a giggle. She decided to not ask what she wanted to after all.
Tyler's laugh was music to Lily's ears. "Definitely not. But it will be great to be back with my mates." Lily heard the happiness in his voice always when he talked about his friends. "What about for you, Amy?" She should have known he would turn the question back on her. He meant it innocently. He didn't know what her true answer would be. For once, she felt like giving it to him.
"Honestly, I don't know. Maybe the distraction will be welcomed." Lily gave a serious response that acknowledged the reality of her grief when talking with Tyler. Lily noted Tyler was quiet for longer than usual before he responded. She wondered what he would say.
"Time can pass faster with distractions. Does it help?" Tyler's question was thoughtful and sneaky. He asked her in such a way that it gave her an opportunity to open up more but without him being direct.
"I have been told time is the best healer. But a long amount of time. I wish I could speed up to when the healing is supposed to begin. That's not how it works though, right? Well enough depressing stuff. I am excited to finish my last year definitely though." Lily shocked herself with the last sentence that fell from her mouth. She NEVER meant to reveal what year she was in to Tyler. It was too late. The deed had been done.
James was in his chair at Hope to Cope staring at his phone. Frank and Shamus had been fielding the calls the last 10 minutes, so he was available for Amy's call. James was nervous. Today was the last day for them to talk before he finished his service at Hope to Cope. Amy was the only dedicated caller he continued to converse with after the initial call. All the other callers were just isolated events of needing someone to listen. James wondered how Amy was doing. She never talked about her loss. James still had no idea who had died. It wasn't her mother, that's all James had picked up on. He was not allowed to press for more details either. He longed to help Amy. His ability to be a good counselor for the hotline had progressed a lot since their first conversation. It was not what Amy wanted though and he had to respect that.
Besides James wanting to comfort Amy if she would just open up, he also knew he would miss their intimate chats. It was different conversing with a girl then his mates. He could share things his friends would just make fun of him for. James hoped the call would be a nice parting for both of them. He knew Amy was talking to him out of obligation and that obligation ended after today before they both returned to school.
James looked at the clock across the room. It was five minutes passed their scheduled call time. Amy never called in late. She was impressively always on time. James grew anxious believing something was wrong. Before his thoughts could lead down a treacherous path, his phone began to ring. He looked over to Frank and Shamus and gave them a thumbs up. They had developed a solid friendship in the few short weeks together. James was grateful for their help when he requested to be free during the times Amy would call.
James picked up the phone. After the standard intro was over, he heard Amy greet him. It was a timid greeting. She did not sound like her confident self. She was also late to call James. He was nervous something happened to her.
"Everything okay?" James asked her concernedly. He never heard weakness in Amy's voice. It honestly scared him. Is she showing me her grief finally or is it something else that is really wrong? James wondered to himself. He was impatient to know what troubled Amy.
"Yes, sorry I was just distracted for a moment." Amy's response was not what James expected. He did not feel relieved upon hearing it. He felt even more concerned she couldn't share what was really on her mind. "So...we both know we are heading back to school tomorrow."
James was caught off guard with the random shift in conversation. I guess it is not too random. We do both head off to school after all. We both know that. We haven't really veered on that conversation topic for a while now. Where is she going with it? James tried not to let his internal questions take time away from him needing to respond to Amy. "We are..." James was trying to buy himself time for what he wanted to follow that up with. Before he could continue, Amy spoke first.
"Are you excited?" Amy giggled when she asked her question. James was really weirded out. Something was off with her. Her personality shifts were too off to not pry into. But he knew better then to ask her anything about it directly.
James decided to play along for the time being. He laughed before he honestly answered, "Definitely not. But it will be great to be back with my mates. What about for you, Amy?" James knew he could have not asked, but he felt it was a sneaky segway to get something out of Amy.
"Honestly, I don't know. Maybe the distraction will be welcomed." The sadness in her voice…it was minor, but it was there if you listened for it. James heard it. He did not want to blow this opportunity of Amy opening up to him, so he took his time before responding. He did not want to botch his response. It could affect the outcome of her being willing to share more with him in the future.
"Time can pass faster with distractions. Does it help?" James pulled that out of his ass, but it seemed like an appropriate response. He felt a lot more pressure being there for Amy then the usual callers on the hotline. James felt like a lot more weight was on him to do it right.
"I have been told time is the best healer. But a long amount of time. I wish I could speed up to when the healing is supposed to begin. That's not how it works though, right? Well enough depressing stuff. I am excited to finish my last year definitely though." Amy was so honest. James was happy. Almost so happy that she opened up to him that he nearly missed that she revealed she was about to start her last year of school. Just like him. They were the same age. He felt even happier, but he didn't know why her age mattered to him. He was just counseling her after all.
The fact this was their last conversation suddenly hit James like a ton of bricks. He had been aware of this for the last couple of days. In this moment, he understood his job with Amy was only beginning. She finally shared a small piece of her grief with James. It was the first time in weeks. After hours of conversation, he just now only got a small glimpse into the sadness held in Amy's heart. He knew if he let this be their last conversation, there was a good chance Amy would never open up to anyone. She would keep it all it herself, and maybe collapse in like a star like she once joked about with him when the grief consumed her.
James did not have real experience of grief over losing a loved one, but he listened to enough teen grievers to understand if Amy never talked about it, that her grief could eat her up. He did not want this smart and witty girl to slowly degrade into a hollow person. He wanted to be there for her, and he could be patient enough to allow her to open up in her own time like she showed him today. Eventually, her walls would come down and James could really save her.
"Me too. Hey…I really enjoy our conversations. I don't want to stop talking to you once we start school. I can come in on Saturdays and we could set a time to talk each week. What do you think?" James held his breath while he waited for her to respond. He had no idea how she would receive his suggestion. She was supposed to be finished with the calling requirements by her mother after today. She might tell him off and say today is the last day, but James had to take a chance.
"I am game." A smile crept on James lips at Amy's response. "Let's say Saturday's at 9 am. Unless that is too early for you?" James did like sleeping into noon, but knew adjusting his schedule for Amy was well worth it.
"9 am sounds perfect."
The rest of the conversation resumed like a typical James and Amy chat. The call ended with James feeling in a much better mood than he had been before it took place.