Taylor sat alone in her little room meant for two. She looked over at the bed next to her with crumpled up sheets falling off the edge; that is where Natalie should be. Taylor tried to keep herself together. She paced the room, calling Natalie repeatedly, without any answer. Warm tears slid down her cheeks as she told herself that Natalie would be fine. Her phone probably died. She knew that she was overreacting but she couldn’t help but worry. The last time Natalie left without so much as a text message, she had tried hanging herself at the park. Taylor knew that it was irrational to worry this much every time Natalie left without telling her where she was, but what if she was lying about feeling better? What if Taylor were to voice her concerns and it would push Natalie over the edge again? Taylor wouldn’t be able to live with herself. She reluctantly settled onto her bed and looked at the textbooks scattered around her, even though she knew there was no way she was going to be able to focus until she knew if Natalie was alright. Suddenly, she heard the keys jingling outside her room. With relief coursing through her veins, she picked up a book to appear busy.

“Hey,” Natalie said casually. “What are you doing?”

“Not much,” Taylor replied, forcing a smile on her face, “I’ve just been studying.”

Natalie never needed to know how much Taylor still worried.

From the Writers’ Kitchen, 2017.