Josie walked in front of the mirror and put their hands on the edge of the sink.

Marigold was another person in the system who had a winding, complicated relationship with Josie. She was a far newer patient than them, but she quickly ran into them on her first week there. They were in the middle of one of their worst breakdowns, and she had tried to help – they didn’t really like this memory, but it kicked around in the back of their head every time they interacted with her.

They were fast friends, but their friendship was… a mess. Within the next few weeks of them meeting, they immediately began to follow her around like a lost duckling, asking for help with all kinds of basic tasks – and asking plenty of invasive personal questions, too.

After a few months of this, Marigold blew up hard: she emphasized that she was not their mom, that she would never be their mom or their dad or their doctor or their therapist, that she was her own person with her own shit to figure out, that she didn’t have the time to play babysitter to someone who was just as old as she was, and that if they kept this up she wasn’t going to be their friend either.

As they relived this memory, the thing emerged from the shower drain and walked up next to them, gazing at them through the mirror. “And then what did you do next?

“Then I started crying,” they whispered, looking down at their hands and trying to avoid the creature’s eyes. “I cried until she told me that my crying was manipulative.”

That’s right.” It moved itself until Josie was forced to look at it again. “When you’re uncomfortable, you cry until other people fix it for you.

Josie walked to the shower and turned it on. Running water was the only thing that drowned out the hurtful words.