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Casey’s POV

        “Voices? Pills? What is your mom talking about Casey?” 

        I froze, my entire body going rigid. Crap, what do I say? How am I supposed to answer him without telling him about my disorder? 

        “Uhmm.. I uh…” I stammered out, my mind burdened with incomprehensible thoughts. “It was a, uhm.. prank. My mom is just texting me random things, she gets like that sometimes. She’s just a weirdo that’s all, a complete nut. It’s actually kind of annoying sometimes. Oh, wait, she’s not annoying, I mean I still love her, nuttiness and all. But uh, wait, no—“ I cut myself off by burying my face in my hands. 

        Was my face on fire? Most definitely.

        “What are you talking about? Casey, what did your mom mean?” Dakota asked persistently. 

        I sighed, sitting in a nearby desk, leaning back into the chair.

        “Okay, look..” I began, seeing no other way out of this. “I.. I have schizophrenia,” I admitted, my voice no louder than a mere whisper. 

        “You have what?” 

        “Schizophrenia,” I repeated, a little louder this time. Oh god, I felt as if I was going to cry again. I didn’t want Dakota’s attitude towards me change, but it always does. After someone learns of what I have, they either paste a fake smile on and pretend that everything is normal, or they straight out pity you. I didn’t want Dakota doing either of those, I didn’t want anyone doing that to me.  “It’s a disorder where—“

        “I know what it is,” Dakota interjected, waving my explanation off. “But I can’t believe that you have it. You’re so.. so…” Dakota stared at the wall behind me, one hand on hip as he ran the other through his blonde hair. 

        “Weird? Quiet?” I tried to supply for him, but he just shook his head at each one. 

        “No, that’s not it. It was something similar to normal and cool but I forget what the word was. Anyways, why didn’t you tell me before?” Now his eyes were on mine, and my pulse quickened. 

        “I.. er.. uh..” My words weren’t coming out properly, but it wasn’t like I wanted to answer him anyways. 

        Dakota stepped closer. 

        “Casey?” His voice had quieted dramatically. “We… we are friends, right?” He sounded extremely nervous, as if I was going to refute the idea. 

        Instead I nodded my head, some strands of hair bouncing onto my face. “Of course we are! In fact..” I gave a hushed chuckle. “You’re one of the only friends I’ve had for a long, long time.” My face was awash with a brighter shade of red, and I tilted my head so that my hair covered part of my face. No need for him to see how shy I was about this stuff. 

        “Really?” he asked. “Is just us?” 

        I nodded once more, knowing exactly who he was referring to. The only people I ever talk to aside from family. 

        “Oh my god, Casey.. I’m so sorry.. It must’ve been so lonely. Is it because of the schizophrenia?”

        The words sorry and lonely really got to me. Paired with the reason behind all of this, I felt myself crumbling. 

        It was very lonely, more so than you can imagine. More so than I want to admit, but yes Dakota, I had no one for the longest time. But please don’t pity me, I silently begged before I gave one more nod, trying to stifle a hiccupped sob. “Y-yeah,” I said, ever so quietly, trying to keep my despair from seeping into my words. 

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