A cool breeze whispered through the trees of the clearing. Overhead, the lack of light pollution allowed for a brilliant night sky to shine down, dimly lighting the small secluded area with the faint glow of the stars. Crickets chirped and the ocean waves lapped against the shores in the distance, playing the gentle cadence of summer. Steven was usually one to sit back and notice each detail of Earth’s natural beauty, but tonight was different. Tonight, he had other things on his mind.
He glanced down at his phone for the millionth time, and for the millionth time there was just his lock screen. No messages, no notifications. Nothing. He sighed. Nobody needs you anymore, whispered a tiny little voice in his head. They’ve all moved on without you. They’re happier now.
“Shut up…” he snapped, seemingly unaware of the fact that it was not normal to argue with yourself.
Lately things were… tough. Change had happened before for him, sure, but it had usually been following some sort of long-reaching struggle or goal; the changes had been connected, served a purpose with a (mostly) foreseeable outcome. But these days, the changes seemed nonsensical, out of his control, unpredictable. And he was struggling to cope with it all.
He thought about all the sudden new developments with a heavy heart. All his friends were finding something new for themselves, something different.Things he never thought would happen were happening, and it left him feeling a bit nauseous and twisted up inside. His stomach rumbled. He was hungry for normalcy.
Lars, headed back into space. Guess all that bonding and emotional vulnerability were for nothing, taunted the voice. He didn’t argue with that one. Sometimes the voice was right.
Sadie, breaking up the Suspects, getting with Shep- he was reminded of his embarrassing outburst at the graduation, and winced at the memory. Yeah, that wasn’t your best moment, Steven. “No way, really?” he replied sarcastically.
His mind was quiet for a moment before retorting, Well, yeah. Yeah, really. You made a real clod out of yourself. Other people’s life choices and decisions are none of your business, and you endangered everyone that day because you still can’t control yourself. It seems like everyone’s growing up and reaching their goals- everyone but YOU. You might as well still be that stunted little kid who thought ice cream activated your gem powers.
This made Steven rather upset and he sat up on the hood of his car, running his hands through the messy tresses of his hair, trying to hold back the tears which threatened to escape. He furrowed his brow. “Okay, now that’s a bit harsh. I know I’ve been having a hard time handling everyone else changing, but I’m definitely not the same. I did a whole bunch of stuff before I even turned 16!” His eyes flashed pink and his fist clenched, as if he could somehow fight with his own mind. But this time the voice didn’t reply, and Steven suddenly felt very silly, sitting there in the middle of the woods all alone at midnight, arguing with himself.
“Ugh.” he muttered. He looked up at the brilliant sky above him, and usually the stars and the constellations filled him with a sense of joy and wonder- but not anymore. Now Steven was feeling very small, very stupid, and very sad.
“I can’t take feeling like this anymore,” he whispered. He curled up into a ball on the hood, burying his face in his knees as tears slowly streamed down his face. “I don’t want to feel like this anymore! I just want everything and everyone to- to- “ His voice broke off into a sob, and he couldn’t hold it back anymore. He let himself lay there, crying and shaking and hating his life for a good hour.
So what are you gonna do about it, Steven?
He sniffled and wiped his face on the sleeves of his pink jacket. “W-what? What do you mean?”
I meeean, how are you gonna handle this in the long run? Just gonna cry it out here every night until you grow up and get over it? Or are you gonna DO something, crybaby? God, look at you. You’re 17 years old and you’re losing your shit because you can’t control other people. Doesn’t sound so different from the woman you spent years trying to convince everyone you weren’t. Pathetic. Get up.
The comment about his mother sent a pang right into his heart. But as usual, he stuffed that pang deep into the recesses of his mind. It hurt too much.
He considered what the voice was saying, and he decided as mean as it was, it was right. He couldn’t just sit here and sulk and cry for the rest of his life. He did, in fact, need to find something to do. Something to take the pain away, to keep him distracted and to stop dwelling on things he couldn’t control.
Now that’s what I like to hear, said the voice in a pleased tone. ‘Wow,’ thought Steven. ‘It has nuance and tones now, huh. Should I be concerned?’
No. I’m just an extension of you- you have nuance and stuff so why shouldn’t I? Think of me as your conscience. Stick with me, Steven, and we’ll have a good time. Now. I want you to get in the Dondai, we’re going for a little ride.
Steven tried to think of a reason to not listen to the voice, but his mind was worn out and fuzzy from all the emotional turbulence of the past few weeks. He was simply too mentally exhausted to try and argue, and it’s not like he had anything better to do.
So he slid off the hood of his car and got into the driver’s seat. He didn’t buckle up, and gripped the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles turned white. “Okay. Where to, then?”
The voice chuckled. Think of me as your doctor. We’re going to get you something to take the pain away.