Mental by Justice Serai
Publication date: April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Hope is an illusion meant to convince the broken to keep on living. That’s me. Broken.
My father pays heaps of money for doctors at the Norfolk Psychiatric Center to fix me. I’ve spent six months of my prime teenage years at this residential facility – a place for teenagers who’ve gone mental.
That’s me. Mental.
Just when I begin to feel myself fade away, a boy with a wolfish smile and mischievous eyes reels me in. Julian is broken too, but he believes in me enough for the both of us. Through him, I begin to experience this thing called hope. Doctors can’t fix me, my parents can’t either, but maybe it’s not me who needs fixing.
After all, mental is only a state of mind. It all depends on who’s doing the thinking.
“Aren’t you scared of me?”
“No. Why?” His lips curve into a smile. “No offense, but you’re kinda small.”
I ignore the remark. I’ve gotten skinny since coming here, but food prepared by strangers gives me the creeps. Erica advised me toonly eat packaged food, and the center allowed it when I threatened to go on a hunger strike.
“You’re not allied with them?” I gesture toward the other patients playing videogames.
His brow arches. “What is this? World War Three?” He chuckles then sets his big eyes on me, blinking innocently, and I’m reminded of how Red Riding Hood fell so easily for the Big
Bad Wolf. “I promise you I have no allies yet.”
I nod because that’s the only thing I can think to do.
“Why do you ask?”
Swallowing hard, I manage to say, “They hate me.”
He laughs again. “Why would anyone hate you?”
“Probably because they think I’m crazy.”
Placing the crayon carefully on the table, he looks me in the eye. “That’s a strange reason to hate someone.” There’s honesty in his expression. Something I haven’t seen in a long time.
It’s quiet for a moment before he asks, “So, are you crazy?”
I hold my breath and wait for him to walk away. Part of me wants him to go. Life is less complicated when you don’t have friends. But there’s another part of me that’s so unbelievably lonely, I actually miss the company of the voices. Sometimes I lay awake at night and picture myself slowly sinking into the bed, disappearing from the world one centimeter at a time. The Amazing Vanishing Girl. Would anybody miss me?
The boy purses his lips as he nods solemnly. “Well, now that we got that out of the way… I’m Julian.” He sticks out his hand.
What? He’s not leaving? I stutter stupidly for a moment then ask, “Why?”
“Because that’s what my mother named me.”
“No.” I ignore his outstretched hand and he puts it down. “I mean, why are you talking to
Then he smiles – a perfectly imperfect smile that makes me feel like I’d happily agree to anything that comes out of his beautiful mouth.What big teeth you have, Mr. Wolf,I think.
“Because you’re pretty,” he says, and I think my heart literally stops.
A moment later, I inhale a deep breath and try to recover. Somehow, I know this boy will change me, irrevocably, irreversibly.
“So’s the devil,” I say, breathless.
He leans in, eyes sparkling. “So what’s your name, pretty devil?”
My mouth moves before I realize I’m speaking. “Lucy.”
If my name weren't enough to doom me to nerdville, my love of all things dark and weird would. Inspired by stories of hope and perseverance throughout history, in my own life, and in the lives of people I know, I strive to write authentic YA fiction for the oddball in all of us.
I want to make people think deeply, feel wholly, and laugh and cry, just as I have.
I'm no stranger to tricky topics such as LGBTQ issues, adoption, disabilities, and mental illness, and I hope you come to love my characters as much as I do.