“I DON’T KNOW what to do anymore.”
The voice of the angel was shaky and exasperated. Her hand held her phone in a tight grip, trembling. With every word she spoke, more and more tears came to her eyes.
“I’ve tried everything,” she whispered over the phone, mostly likely calling the doctor once again. “He won't eat. He's shut himself in his room. He won't even come out anymore. Gundham's just… he's so very troubled.”
What the female didn't know was that her son was hiding behind the corner, listening to every word she said. Every sentence that escaped he'd mouth was like a knife to his stomach. The embedded themselves in his skin, twisting and turning, opening the wounds further. He stayed silent, listening as his angel of a mother cried over the phone.
“I… I think it's time,” she declared sadly. “We've done all we can do… I really don't want to have to do this to him.”
Gundham slid against the wall, sitting down on the ground. He held his head in his hands, ready to rip his hair out.
“He won't eat.”
Looking down at his stomach, he frowned in disdain. He wouldn't eat - he couldn't eat. The whole process was just revolting. The way it tasted in his mouth, practically lighting his tongue on fire. It made him want to vomit.
“Sometimes, he can't even stomach a snack.”
Often times after he was forced to eat, he'd lock himself in his bathroom. He wanted it out - didn't want to weight gain added to his body. The movement became as easy a breathing, but it didn't mean that it didn't hurt. Two fingers down the throat. That's all it took to get his meal to come up again.
“He's so frail and skinny… God, his ribs are probably poking through!”
All he saw was fat. He couldn't see past the illusions that his mind was making up, couldn't realize that he had become so unhealthy his stomach looked like it was caving in. All he could see was the fat. The mere sight of it made him nauseous.
There was a few minutes of silence from his mother. Who she was talking to was probably giving her advise. The woman nodded, a shaky sigh escaping her lips.
“I guess… I guess it's time,” the angel said with a sort of pathetic laugh. She ran a hand through her thinning hair, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. “He'll start next week. Maybe they can help him more than I ever can.”
* * *
“I will not be going to that cursed facility.”
“You have no say in the matter, Gundham.” His mother looked up at him, eyes watering. “You need this sweetheart. You need the help, a-and they're going to h-help y-”
He covered his ears childishly, leaning against the wall. “I am perfectly fine. There's absolutely nothing wrong with me. I will not be staying at a place filled with those kind of humans - I am fine!”
A cry escaped his mother's lips. “Honey, I know. I know you don't want to do this. I know you don't want to leave home. I know you think you're fine, but you're not. You need the help. You need to get better.”
She shook her head, wiping her tears away. “I've tried so hard to be a good mother. I-I thought I was doing the best for you! I guess… I guess I messed up somehow.”
Gundham gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut, trapping the tears that we're threatening to fall. “You didn't do anything wrong. It… I-... I messed everything up.”
Smiling sadly, his mother placed a pamphlet down on his bed. “I want you to look over this, hm? You'll be leaving tomorrow. You're going to get some help, sweetheart - help that I could never provide.”
Bidding him goodnight, she left the room, closing the door behind her.
The male in the room bit down on his bottom lip, eyeing the pamphlet in disgust. Tomorrow, he'd be shipped off to some rehabilitation center, and he'd become someone else's problem.
He was always the problem, wasn't he? There was always something wrong with him. He was never quite like the other kids. He was always… different.
In his case, being different wasn't good. It was a problem. He was a problem. He needed to be fixed - cured - but all of that seemed impossible.
Letting out a heavy sigh, he hesitantly grabbed the pamphlet. On the front were the words: “Hope’s Peak Rehabilitation Center! We look forward to meeting you!”
From what his mother had tried to explain through her tears was that it wasn't a traditional rehab center. Instead, it focused primarily on teenagers struggling with mental illnesses and addictions. The whole facility was like a school - they took online classes in the morning, had dorms on campus, and had study groups. However, it was the therapy schedules that really made it what it was.
God, it was practically a looney bin, wasn't it? Just another place for the psychos and the crazys - Gundham Tanaka was not crazy.
However, the place itself didn't seem half bad. You got your own dorm and got to choose what classes interested you, and you got a say in whether or not you wanted to participate in majority of the group activities.
Gundham was going to take a hard pass on those.
Sure, Hope’s Peak looked nice, but it didn't mean he wanted to go there. There was nothing wrong with him… right?
Frowning, he balled up the pamphlet, throwing it halfway across the room. Frustrated tears came to his eyes. He exhaled sharply before turning off the lights. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.
* * *
The entire car ride was spent in silence. Gundham hadn't said one word to his mother all morning. He was livid. Why was she sending her only child far, far away? Did she not love him?
All his bags were packed, tucked away neatly in the trunk. He hadn't brought much. What was there to bring? Honestly, all his earthly possession seemed to hold bad memories.
He glanced out the window, frowning as the huge campus came into view. Hope’s Peak Rehabilitation Center wasn't even trying to be discreet - it was smack dab in the middle of the city. The building seemed to loom over him as his mother pulled up to the entrance.
“This seems like a nice place, hm?” His mother hummed, parking the car.
Gundham shrugged. It was rather too big for his liking. He thought he'd get lost in the maze of school - scratch that - rehab center .
The two got out of the car, heading to the entrance. There, in front of the school, was an orange-haired woman. She smiled brightly at the two, waving at them politely.
“Ah, you must be the Tanakas!” The woman exclaimed loudly. “It is certainly a pleasure to meet the both of you! Welcome to Hope’s Peak!”
Not even five minutes here, and Gundham wanted to die. He practically cringed at her bright and cheery tone, and this did not go unnoticed by the woman. Instead, her features relaxed, and she continued in a much softer voice.
“My name is Chisa Yukizome,” she said, shaking the hand of Ms Tanaka. “I’ll be Gundham’s homeroom teacher this year. Now, if you would be so kind as to follow me, I'll give you a tour of the school.”
They headed inside of the huge school, walking from room to room. However, Gundham barely paid any mind to it all. He was too busy internally panicking. He didn't want to be here. It was nothing at all like his home. For too big. It was certainly a labyrinth designed to trap him here forever.
“Anyways, the rest of your class is in a group study session right now,” Chisa explained after they had passed her classroom. “We hold them every week. It's required, but more often than not, our students realize it's more of a chance to learn about their peers than studying itself.
“We hold online classes Monday through Friday, starting at eight and ending at three. This is to accommodate with a few of our slower learners or those with social anxiety. The class heads down to the computer labs for this after attendance. After classes, you are free to roam around the campus and hang out in one of our many labs.
“Breakfast is at seven, and lunch is at noon. These two are optional, but we require you to eat with your class at dinner, which starts at six.”
Gundham's mother sent a stern look his way after she mentioned this. It was pretty much her way of saying, “You're going to have to eat either way.” His heart felt like it was going to leap out of his chest at the thought.
Chisa then led them to the dorms. “Here are the dorms. There's a common room attached for you to hang with your classmates. You can head to the kitchen at any time. But there is a couple of rules you have to follow.
“Students are not allowed to be out of the dorms between ten at night to seven in the morning. We ask that during school nights, you do not reside in each other's rooms. However, on weekends, sometimes the class likes to throw slumber parties, but those are completely optional. You are not allowed to go off campus without permission from a staff member, and you must take a classmate with you. And the final thing is that we don't allow our students knives straight off the bat. Due to the history of some of the students here, knife privileges are earned by good behavior. I think that's it. Any questions?”
Gundham stared blankly at her, resisting the urge to lash out. This was all so stupid. He felt like some sort of caged animal.
“Well, I should be going,” his mother announced with a sad smile and a sigh. She pulled her son in for a hug. “Take care, Gundham. I love you.”
If you love me, why must you do this to me? He thought to himself. Despite this, he hugged his mother back. Then he watched her leave the building with a sinking feeling in his chest.
Chisa clapped her hands together. “I'm sure you are going to have a good time here. The first week will be rough, but it will be fine in the end. You're free to do what you wish for the rest of the evening, Gundham. I'll see you tomorrow.”
She placed her hand on his shoulder with a kind smile before walking away. With a heavy sigh, Gundham entered his dorm and started unpacking.
He already hated this place.
Suddenly, there was movement in his scarf. He looked down to see his fearless hamsters crawling out of it in order to comfort him. His Dark Devas of Destruction always knew what to do.
With a sad laugh, he held them in his hands, not even trying to stop the tears that began to fall. He had them. Maybe things would turn out okay.