“Hello, it’s nice to finally meet you, Jessica.”
I look around Victoria’s office and see all the little things I miss about being free. The plush chair that isn’t bolted to the floor, warm lighting that doesn’t hum loudly and of course the little bowl of M&Ms sitting on her desk. I smile, trying to give off an air of sanity.
“So what’s the fastest path to recovery?” I inquire as I sit down. I’ve learned that asking about escape only leads to more time.
“What do you think would help you?”
“Medicine,” I respond immediately, because it’s the only solution anyone ever has.
She sighs because that’s not what she wants to hear. I’ve been through enough therapists to know they want to hear a sob story of some sort abuse. Those are a lot easier to fix. I wish my problems were tangible rather than inside my head. It’s quiet for a moment and she just stares at me, as though a secret is within my freckles.
“So what have you heard? Do you have any questions for me?” I suppose she wants me to steer the conversation, which is one of my bigger weaknesses.
“Do you have any siblings?”
“Yes, my brother Zayn. He’s seven, eight in November.”
“Does he annoy you?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in a year.”
“Does that bother you?”
This question catches me off guard due to its stupidity. I see the look on her face, one that tells me she thinks she’s cracked the case and it make me want to smack her. I take a deep breath and collect myself, any anger here is a sign that I need more time.
“Yes, I would like to see him again.”
“What led to this separation?”
“My parents don’t want to see me and I don’t want to see them not want to see me.” I look at her and she gives me a sympathetic look, the one I know my chart says not to give. I can’t tell if she’s poking the bear or daft. It’s irrelevant what motivated her though; I’m officially annoyed now. “I’ll see them for Christmas though.”
“So is your family normal?”
I cringe at the word normal; it makes my mind spin. She definitely didn’t read my file.
“Yep, except for me, obviously.” I grin. I’d rather not go into how I’ve totally wrecked my family’s life.
She writes something down and I can’t see it. My previous therapist knew that I liked it read aloud, but I haven’t told Victoria yet. She hits it with finality and tells me my session is up. I stand up to go; I want some M&Ms but I lost the opportunity to ask. I guess I’ll have a chance tomorrow.
As soon as I open the door, the buzzing of florescent lighting hits my ears. I walk down the long hallway, trying to keep my eyes forward no matter what I hear. This is where the real nutcases lie. They scream to block out the voices and claw at their skin to release the bugs. The first time I saw them I thought they were horrible monsters. Now I realize they are people. This frightens me much more.
I reach the main room where Remember the Titan plays for the hundredth time. Tony watches as the boys kiss and his laughter fills the room. He can be a nuisance, but a child’s laughter brightens up my day, at least a little. I go to sit with Ian, but he doesn’t seem in the mood. I instead go to the corner and begin drawing with a crayon.
The teens sit at another table playing Uno. Most of them are here for drug use, and their social standings seem to be the only thing occupying their minds. They’re nice enough, but we simply have nothing in common. Every now and again, they’ll invite me over to play and start questioning me. None of them know why I’m here and they’re curious. I choose to answer them monosyllabically to remain mysterious, but usually they just get annoyed. After a round, I leave.
“Lunch time!” says the interns that seem close to insanity themselves. We walk in a line and it would seem that Cassie and Bryan are mad at each other. Last night I heard them in the room next to me. They seemed to be having a good time; a few hours can really make a difference here.
The lunchroom is serving burritos, one of my least favorite meals. I grab a banana and a milk then prepare to return to the main room. Everyone seems to be debating the ethics of naming your film Suicide Squad, and Tony seems like he’s about to piss himself if he can’t make his point.
“What do you think, Tony?”
Everyone gives a sideways glance at me but continue talking. Tony begins talking about how everyone is too sensitive and need to man-up. I nod along and listen until I hear someone say my name. I smile to Tony in agreement and he wraps up, glad that someone is on his side. Kaitlyn is crying because she doesn’t want to be here anymore; my name was brought up due to the length of my stay. I sigh, glad that it wasn’t really anything.
We get back to the main room and everyone goes silent–here is a kid spilling a lot of blood. I turn around and go into my room. Food isn’t allowed in there, so I leave my banana and milk outside. I sit on my bed and stare out the window. The sun is bright and the leaves a vibrant green. Its contrast is a cruel joke.
The alarms are loud, but I can hear Kaitlyn’s screams over it. The poorly equipped interns try to find a place for all breathing patients.
How could you not have noticed Ian’s absence?
The nurses begin running down the hallway. I regret my choice to hide. I was trying to avoid causing more issues, but now I’m going nuts. I’m insane.
This is your fault. If you had just noticed instead of drawing! What is wrong with you, you are completely useless. Everyone hates you. You’re a parasite! All you do is take and you never give. You should kill yourself, but you can’t even do that right.
These thoughts keep coming and I’m powerless to stop them. I just lie there and breathe.
How selfish can you be to be focusing on yourself instead of the kid literally dying in the next room over? You are one of the worst people in the world. You are garba-
“Jessica?” a voice shouts from outside my room.
“Hello?” my voice sounds shaky; I guess I’ve been crying.
Victoria comes into my room, holding my milk and banana. I sit up instantly and wipe my face. I desperately want her to leave; she’s the last person I need right now. She goes in for a hug. I want to be held, but reject her.
“Are you okay?” she asks, her voice filled with fake concern.
I nod. I want her to go, but I’m also in need of human compassion. It’s hard to convey that in a shake of the head, so she goes and I’m alone again.
Ian was an asshole, to be honest. He came here a few weeks after I did and quickly pushed everyone away. I guess I was desperate for human contact and he was too. We became friends, or as friendly as you could be here. We’d talk every now and then, but mostly we’d just be in close proximity to each other. It was nice, but I guess it’s over now.
I get up, open the door, and watch as the medical professionals walk by. They seem worried but not hopeless. I want him to be alive, but I’d also rather be surprised than disappointed. The other patients have congregated in Cassie’s room and are talking about what they just saw. Their tone sounds like it’s last night’s episode of The Bachelor. I guess they only said twenty words to him their entire stay, but I’m still offended.
Tony is isolated in his room because he’s young and therefore not cool enough to hang around. He is right near his door staring blankly at the air in front of him. I can’t imagine how this is affecting him. At age six he made a plan to murder his parents and might have attempted it; he never really clarified. That scene wasn’t that gory, but the amount of blood can’t be good for Tony’s psyche.
Georgia is keeping watch, but she’s looking at her phone, probably on Facebook. She’s one of the interns that could not care less about us. I could easily sneak out and see Ian, but then what? He looked dead when I saw him or at least unconscious. Maybe it would be comfort him if he were to wake up.
He definitely doesn’t want to see you when he wakes up. He’d probably think he was in hell.
I confidently stride down the hallway. I don’t care what happens; anything is better than being stuck in my room. Georgia looks up, then shrugs. I go down the nutcases’ hallway and into the doctor’s office. There are four people in there (not including Ian), and it was obviously made for two. There is no breathing room and it is uncomfortable. I get a glance at Ian’s left arm, which now contains a thin red line. It looks so small; it’s hard to believe it can end a life. The bleeding has stopped, which means he missed the radial artery. The doctor is already stitching him up; there’s no point in stitching up a dead body, so I guess he’s alive.
I don’t know how to feel about this development. On one hand, I won’t be alone. On the other hand, he must have wanted to die pretty bad to use an earring. It glistens on a bit of cotton over by the door. I leave; I suppose I’ve gotten what I needed. There’s a pencil that I want to take, but everyone is on high alert.
I return to my room and eat my banana. I turn out the lights and lie down; sleep is calling me. Georgia says it’s time for phone calls. I wish I could talk to someone about all this, but there’s no one.
I close my eyes. Tomorrow I can get some M&Ms.