Chapter 7: Saturday Aftermath
Lily's habit of staying recluse in her room didn't end after her first call to Hope to Cope, but she did make the effort to have proper hygiene and eat all her meals at the kitchen table. Lily was so sure that the display would convince her mother she was fine soon enough and furthermore would drop the requirement of Lily needing to call Hope to Cope.
It had been two days since Lily's first call to Hope to Cope. If she was to keep up her promise to her mother to call three times a week, she figured the easiest schedule to keep was every other day until she met the quota during a seven-day time span. The only thing that gave Lily a sense of comfort was the possibility of being able to talk to Tyler again. Their chat following the first hang up and a boring beginning, actually turned into a pleasant conversation. They had promised each other to keep the conversation light and generic, but somehow it felt so deep to her. There was a connection there that Lily could not place the name of as to what to call it.
Lily sat on her bed, pondering when she should call the hot line. She and Tyler never discussed if and when they would chat again. She assumed it would make sense for her to stick with him as her supporter on the other end of the telephone since they already had ground rules. Dwelling on this almost natural teenage dilemma of calling a boy was a welcomed reprieve from the darkness Lily was isolated in lately. She would never admit this to her mother, but she enjoyed talking to someone. She hoped she was not a bad person for having something that made her a little happy so soon after her dad died. It was for that reason she wanted the requirement to call to be done away with, then she could return to the around the clock sadness as she deserved.
Lily called Hope to Cope. She wanted in anticipation as the phone rang in her ear.
"Hello this is Frank from Hope to Cope, helping those who have lost ones they have loved. Please dial the number one on your phone now if you wish to disguise your voice." Frank again? She asked herself. Luck was not on her side today. She dialed one and then politely asked Frank to route her to Tyler. She was surprised by his response.
"Sorry, miss. Tyler does not work today." Lily grew sad upon hearing this. She remembered it was a Saturday, so it made sense Tyler would have a weekend day off. Also, he had no expectation to believe she would call him today either. She politely inquired with Frank when his next shift was.
"I don't know if we are allowed to give that out. This is not a personalized hotline, you know? You get who you get." Frank sounded slightly irritated to Lily. She had to smooth this over.
"I understand." Lily began to channel at will the "I am about to cry" voice that she became well acquainted with lately. "It is just…he was so helpful when we talked last and I thought it would be easy to talk to him again since I already shared so much." Lily released some whimpers from her mouth. She hoped he was eating this up. She did feel guilty, but at the same time she felt she was doing what was best for her. And that was talking to Tyler again and not Frank.
"Okay, okay. Please don't cry. I am sorry for being inconsiderate of how you feel. Let me check the schedule." Frank's frantic apology pleased Lily. She couldn't let him off so easily yet though.
Silenced hummed on the phone. The silence quickly came to an end when Frank's flustered voice was back on the phone. "He only works weekdays, 9am to 3pm."
"Thank you so much. Tyler was so helpful, and I just need it to be him I talk to. Please forgive me," Lily choked out. She noted her performance to get what she wanted was quite masterful. She almost even bought it herself.
"Of course. Very sorry for upsetting you in the beginning. We are all working here to support you." Frank's voice was honest and sincere. Lily decided it was time to let him off the hook.
"And you are doing just a fine job of that. Thank you, sincerely. Good bye." Lily hoped her closing remarks helped him feel better. Today was only Saturday; she hoped Monday would arrive soon.
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James woke up past noon on Saturday morning. He was in bliss. He forgot about how much he missed sleeping the morning away even though he had last done so on Wednesday. He was in no rush to start the day since he was not meeting with his mates until that evening. Despite having time to laze away, James felt something gnawing at him in the back of his head. He was trying to place what the feeling was as he walked to his bathroom.
The bathroom was as unsightly as you could imagine for a bathroom only occupied by a boy. The off-white marble countertop in the bathroom was clear aside from a razor, unused hair gel and bar soap. However, a clear countertop does not mean a clean countertop. Grime was building on the countertop from lack of cleaning; the counter's original color was white. A pristine white that is observed the first day after someone whitens their teeth a shade too far to hint that it is unnatural. The countertop, despite its grime, could earn a gold star for being "clean" compared to the countertop sink. The grime in there was gooey from constantly being dampened by water and was littered with small fine black hair. It was disgusting sight to any one aside from James.
In the middle of his shower, James figured it out. Guilt. He felt guilt. After his first Hope to Cope conversation with Amy, James dealt with five more grieving teens over Thursday and Friday. Everyone after Amy was more difficult to serve. They all needed real support, and he did his best to listen and offer comfort phrases from the training manual. He was not sure if he was helpful to any one of them. But Amy…he felt the most guilt towards her. Everyone else after her was able to share their grief and unburden themselves with him. Amy had not. She had not even said who had passed away that meant so much to her. He recalled her first mentioning she was being forced to call the hotline by her mother. James wondered why that was. Everyone else seemed to call of their own volition. His guilt, he believed, stemmed from not being able to do more for her and by causing her to hang up on him. He didn't understand why this was eating away at him now though. Two days had passed since they had spoken.
When James completed his shower, he had finally removed thoughts of Amy from his brain. He was reset. He dried off with a clean towel he suspected his mother had dropped on the towel rack for him this morning. His mum was always looking after him like that despite her chastising him she would not step another foot into his bathroom until he cleaned the sink. He chuckled to himself. His chuckle soon died in his throat when he thought of Wesley.
Wesley was the third caller James received at Hope to Cope. Wesley's mother was killed in the crossfire of a raid by Lord Voldemort's followers a month ago. Wesley hadn't talked long with James, but he had shared he was struggling with his grief and picking up tasks his mom normally did. Wesley's father had fallen apart and had not left his bedroom since his wife died. Wesley was taking care of his three younger siblings and trying to keep afloat in his grief. In particular, Wesley admitted he broke down when cleaning the shared bathroom of him and his siblings because he missed how his mum sang while cleaning. Wesley shared he had felt stupid for breaking down over such a small thing. James hadn't said much to Wesley but felt that was not what Wesley wanted anyways. Wesley poured out his feelings over the phone, thanked James for listening, and shared with James that he was going to finish cleaning up the bathroom after he got off the phone.
It was such a small thing and James felt he could understand missing all the small things his own mother had done for him. James took in the appearance of his bathroom again and decided it needed to be cleaned up. He took out the cleaning supplies his mother always reminded him were under the sink and got to work.
Author's Note: I am really excited to post chapter 8 after I make edits. It is a lengthy and deep one