By Haya Barakat
Melanie hadn't more yellow-pink after that.
The meeting with Dr. Codey ended quickly after that last question, and Melanie was just able to catch Roya at their treehouse after she had gone up to her room and snuck out the window. She ran ten minutes into the forest, and she could hear Roya quietly humming a sweet song in the treehouse, waiting for Melanie. Melanie wanted to just stand there; listening to Roya hum. Her voice was soft and flowing water. It was the scent of flowers and a calm breeze on a warm spring day. It was white and pink-green, yet held so much blue in it at the same time. Melanie loved it.
But she climbed up the ladder to their treehouse anyways. She and Roya found this place about a year ago, when they met for the first time. Melanie had gotten in trouble, and not for drawing all over her older cousin's walls. Her mother got red-black. Her voice and expressions were filled with purple-black, and Melanie couldn't stand it. She ran. She ran so quickly and so far, she'd thought she had run away from her house for good. But when she turned back, she bumped into Roya. They walked and talked for a bit, and Melanie felt an instant connection to her. It was as if she understood everything that Melanie was going through, and when they found the treehouse- abandoned and blue-black- they had taken it for themselves. It had been their run-away spot for months after that. It was the place where they could go when they needed something to look forward to, when they felt alone and blue-black.
All of this raced through Melanie's mind as she climbed the ladder to the treehouse. Once she was inside, she immediately spotted Roya, sitting in her usual corner in the back, a small silver object in her hand. Roya heard the creak of wood and flicked her sky blue eyes up to meet Melanie's. She smiled brightly at Melanie, her posture immediately straightening at the sight of her best friend.
"I thought you weren't going to come," she said, smiling still as Melanie sat down in front of her. Melanie sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
"I thought I wasn't going to make it. I had a meeting with Dr. Codey," Melanie responded, and the yellow-pink smile on Roya's face immediately dropped. Her eyes darkened to a sapphire blue and amethyst purple. She bit her bottom lip and looked down at the object in her hand. With a closer look at it, Melanie could see that it was a small pocket knife. She looked back up at Roya, who shrugged her shoulders and slipped the blade into her light red sweater pocket.
"We'll need it for something."
Melanie didn't question what that meant; she honestly, kind of didn't want to know.
So she just nodded her head and looked around their treehouse. It was yellow-purple; just a light brown wood and a few dents and peeling wood here and there. It wasn't anything incredible, but it was so red to Melanie at the same time. She felt a deep connection with the treehouse and had since the first time she laid her eyes on it. It was different. It was...special, as normal people would say.
"Well, he's not any worse than Dr. Harris," Melanie pointed out, and Roya groaned.
"God, she was the worst. All she did was give you sleeping pills and lollipops," Roya added, and Melanie laughed, though knew that that was true. Dr. Harris didn't do much for Melanie. She would listen to her talk, but never encourage her to keep thinking deeply unlike Dr. Codey did. And Melanie liked that. She loved thinking deeply into different things. It was one of those things that kept her going. She was always thinking about different possibilities, or 'What ifs'. It was all too familiar for her.
"Dr. Codey's probably my favorite so far," Melanie said, and Roya shrugged.
"He's okay. I'm just not very fond of therapists." her voice turned bitter and cold at the last sentence. Melanie stayed silent. She had never asked Roya if she had ever gone to see a therapist before, but Melanie knew that it wasn't Roya's little therapy sessions that angered her with therapists. It was the worst therapist Melanie had. She still had nightmares about it whenever she was able to fall asleep, and that wasn't very often, thankfully.
"Dr. Brady," Melanie whispered quietly, her voice slightly shaky. Roya slowly nodded her head, and her eyes at that point were a navy blue; they were a dark storm of royal blue and lightning. They were wild, like a hungry tiger's. They were flecked with ash and tornadoes, like she was ready to destroy something. She got red-black just by his name being spoken. His purple-black name. His purple-black face popped into Melanie's mind, and she felt like vomiting all over her yellow-purple treehouse.
But she held the urge. Instead, she tried to change the subject.
"So, what are we doing here exactly?" She asked Roya. They usually only met at their treehouse when one of them wanted something, or they felt like talking, and Melanie was ready for both at all times when in their treehouse.
Roya snapped out of her red-black storm, her eyes changing back to the polite, calm skies. Her eyes were like beach waves, Melanie thought. Calm and collected at first, but could quickly change to deadly storms within seconds.
"I want you to tell me how you feel," Roya finally told Melanie, and her green-red-orange peaked. She had just come back from a therapy session, and then Roya wanted her to spill all her feelings again?
"Like...Like in therapy?" Melanie asked, and Roya shook her head, chuckling.
"God no. Just...in general, what do you feel?" Roya repeated. Melanie thought for a second before answering. That was an easy question.
"Usually it's just gray-brown. But when I'm here or with you, it's yellow-pink," Melanie answered honestly. Roya shook her head again, slipping the small pocket knife out of her pocket and held it out for Melanie to grab. Melanie slowly took the knife from Roya's hand. It was smooth and cold, yet rough and warm at the same time. Melanie traced her thumb across the surface. She kind of liked having it in her hand. Not that she'd ever use it, but no wonder Roya always carried it around.
"Write it. And...use a real word."
Melanie couldn't believe her ears. Roya, the only one who understood her in colors, wanted her to use a regular, real word to describe what Melanie felt in general?
She didn't question it, though. She flipped open the pocket knife and held the tip to the wood floor of their treehouse. She thought for a few moments. A real word.
She started carving. It was a weird sound. A knife cutting into wood. It was the crackling of fire and the crash of waves. Melanie thought of Roya as she wrote the single word down. The crackling of fire and the crash of waves. Roya's hair- her red cloud hair- and beach wave eyes.
When Melanie was finally finished with her carving, she lifted the knife from the wood and switched the blade back in. She placed the pocket knife on the ground next to her carved word. Roya looked at the word and read it out loud. A real word, a real expression or emotion, or whatever it was, that Melanie constantly felt, with Roya and their treehouse as an exception, of course.
"T-R-A-P-P-E-D," Roya read. Melanie slowly nodded her head. She felt like moving. She felt like walking around the woods or climbing a tree. Maybe just pacing the treehouse.
"Why?" Roya asked, her voice less flowing water and more a rapid river of poison. She sounded green-red, yet black at the same time. Melanie knew that Roya hated seeing her in any sort of pain, mental or physical.
"I...It's just that, I'm trapped, I guess. Everyone except you trap me in places I don't want to be in, like my house, or school, or therapy. I'm confined in the places people force me to be in. It's mental, too, I guess. Like my mom and my dad trying to convince me that you're not real, or trying to get rid of my depression and anxiety with therapy. I just want to live my life the way I want to without anyone trapping me in the walls of my own life. My name sounds more like 'Melanie Walls' than 'Melanie Woods' sometimes, and I really hate it."
Roya stayed silent the whole time, seeming to ponder Melanie's words, taking in every breath Melanie took and examining every move she made.
"You may be trapped between different walls, but you're not alone in them. I'm here, too. You're not alone," Roya replied, her smile blue-gray and comforting.
"But...everyone else thinks I am." Melanie's voice was quiet and shaky. It was almost blue-black.
They all thought the same thing. They all thought that Roya wasn't real. That she was fake. That she was just a figment of Melanie's imagination. That she was just a ghost in the wind, a voice in her head. No one would believe her.
And what if they're right, and you're wrong? No one but you has been able to prove that she's real. That same voice was back, still slightly louder than before. Then, it was rocks falling in a deep, bottomless ocean. It was an evergreen tree on fire. It was a spark of hate and maybe truth.
"What if they're right?" Melanie questioned quietly. The moment she said it, she automatically wished she could take it back. Roya froze in place, her beach wave eyes dark and hurt. Her violin-lips were thin.
"Melanie...don't listen to them. They don't know what they're talking about. I'm real. I'm real," Roya told Melanie, her voice staticky and hurricanes at the last two words. I'm real. Melanie wanted to nod her head, but she also wanted to shake it. Yes or no?
"If I'm not real, then what's this?" Roya inquired, gesturing her smooth marble hand to the treehouse, to her lips speaking real words. "How can you hear me, talk to me? How can you understand me? I'm real, Melanie."
She wanted to believe her. Melanie wanted to believe her so badly it almost hurt. But if it was true, if Roya wasn't actually real, then what was Melanie? Where was she? How would she go on? How would she go through every purple-black, gray-brown day of school? How would she go through every stupid, useless therapy session, or gray family reunions, or her family talking to her about her feelings? Where would her emotions and colors go? Where would her deep thinking and strolls through the woods go? Where would their treehouse go?
Would Melanie be blue-black again?
But if Roya was real? Everything could go back to normal. Melanie could possibly feel yellow-pink again. Her whole life would probably be complete despite being trapped. She could have her best and only friend. Her entire family's words and her stupid therapy sessions could finally be false. She could be right. She could have the pink-white truth, not the purple-black one she despised.
"Melanie, if I'm not real..." Roya stopped for a moment, then reached her smooth, fair marble hand to Melanie. She grabbed Melanie's soft, beige hand and held it in hers. Roya's hands were cold. Melanie didn't care.
"Does this feel fake to you, Melanie?" Roya asked Melanie, who quickly shook her head no. It didn't feel fake. It didn't feel fake at all. Melanie could feel every touch; every smooth marble skin of her best friend's hand, every cold movement. She could see her, feel her. How could she possibly be fake if Melanie could do all that?
My best friend is real. And you're not, Melanie spoke to the voice in her head. The falling-rock, burning-trees, spark of hate voice inside her head. The purple-black voice in her head.
And for once, it didn't speak back.