It’s been five weeks since we escaped. Isa is making me go to group counseling. It’s as lame as it sounds. I mean, I get that talking about what happened is supposed to help but I don’t want to. I don’t’ want to talk about what they did to me there. I don’t want to talk about Evangeline. I just don’t want to.
So this is the alternative. Dr. Ling says if I won’t talk about my feelings then I have to write them down. I don’t see how this is any better except she says I don’t have to share it with nobody unless I want to. I don’t want to.
I used to believe in the cause…I still do…at least, I believe in my friends. I believe in the trinity. But I don’t believe in my grandmother. Not anymore. I don’t know if I can ever look at my uncle the same again. Not after what he did. How many more pieces of myself will I have to give to the resistance before it’s enough? Before I’m enough? Before my grandmother sees me as anything more than a soldier? An attack dog? Would my grandmother even mourn my death or would she celebrate it? Use it as a way to further her own agenda?
This feels weird. Like writing a letter to somebody who’ll never read it. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing. I’m basically talking to myself. Isn’t that what crazy people do? I thought they were sending me to therapy to be less crazy but maybe it’s the opposite, maybe they want me crazy. Maybe they need all of us to be crazy so we don’t see that taking down the Grove is impossible. Ask Wren. Ask Harlow. Ask Evengeline. Ask the five hundred and seventy-three other wolves that died. The ones whose names my grandmother will never bother to learn.
Harlow goes with me to group. Sometimes Malachi will go too. I think Malachi only goes because he spent so much time in the psych ward he doesn’t know what to do now that he’s out. But Harlow, she’s broken like me. So broke I don’t know if anybody could piece her back together…just like me. She spends more time talking to people who aren’t there then she does talking to the pack. But she’ll talk to me. She’ll look at me. She sees me.
I see her too. I see her trying to rebuild herself with paper animals. I see her chasing away the voices in her head as she folds those tiny scraps of brightly colored paper. I see her soothing herself in the way she creases the folds perfectly. I see that small fleeting smile as she slots each one into place and sets it with the others.
Harlow tries to put herself back together by building her origami army but just like me she knows it will never work. She knows her paper animals can’t protect her. She knows paper is fragile and it takes almost nothing to make it disappear…just like us.
My grandmother has her paper animals too. The shifters. My father. My family. Me. She lines us up to protect the trinity and sets us out to fight battles we can’t win. Each time we fight, somebody dies; set on fire, crumpled up, trampled underfoot, sometimes just swept away. My grandmother doesn’t mourn her paper animals; she doesn’t weep for us. She simply picks up another piece of paper, folding and creasing, creating a new soldier to take their place while the rest of us wait our turn to die.