Watching

Standard

“Hey, you must be Cat?” the man asks. He has honest eyes, steely blue and he smiles kindly.

“Hmm…”

“I understand you’ve been feeling down lately?”

An image of driving a needle into my arm enters my mind and I flinch. “I…guess you could say that.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll be able to make you feel better,” he tells me certainly. “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

You’re not the first one to try and convince me, buddy. I just grimace and let them wheel me off into a cubicle enclosed by curtains. I’m already hating this place, and I wish to god that I had kept my mouth shut. Then Lolly wouldn’t have admitted me.

Daniel gives my hand a squeeze and I can only look at him helplessly. Personally, I’m about to implode, but all I can think about is how horrible he must be feeling, watching me lie on a hospital bed, crying for no reason. I keep smiling and telling him it’s okay, but the tears may be a bit of a contradiction, as he reminds me. Still, I’m glad he’s with me.

I go in to see the psychologist and her friend Tig the nurse. “I’ve got a brother called Tig,” I tell him. I leave out the fact that he’s a thieving little shit who causes my mother to have emotional breakdowns.

After millions of questions which I’m lacking in energy to answer, they tell me their recommendation; I should stay in this hospital for a night or two and undergo a mental assessment.

Three hours later, I’m thinking Fuck this place.

The thing with hospitals is that people are used to pain. It’s nothing for them to see a teenager with tears streaming down her face huddled in a ball on the bed. And they ignore it, because there’s worse people than you right now. I get it, I really do. It doesn’t stop it from hurting though.

Nurse Priscilla comes in and tells me of the situation. The Mowa Ward, where they wanted to take me, is full at the moment, meaning I could be here for a few hours. She also offered me antidepressants to take the edge off what I was feeling. Remembering the effects of the St Johns Wort, I declined, and watched her give me a funny look.

They let me call people here, but I can’t use Internet. So I call the only two numbers on my iPad worth keeping. Papa Willis doesn’t answer, but Flash does. When I tell him I’m in hospital, his mind leaps to the worst scenario, and he asks me what I did to myself. I quickly reassure him that I’m okay, I’m just there for observation, and he calms down. He tells me that he’s so happy I’m okay, and for that moment, I felt a peacefulness that had been absent since I first entered hospital.

Then the fucking phone disconnected and the nurse took it off me. Bitchface. Never trust anyone named Tig.

I talk to another nurse for a while. I actually like her. She knows how horrible I feel, and she seems to hate hospitals as much as I do. She offers to bring me some ‘gourmet’ food, and I agree, remembering too late that food in this hospital is incompatible with my picky eating habits.

“Want a sandwich?” I hold the plate of cheese and salad sandwiches out to Daniel. He just raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, me neither.”

“When was the last time you ate?” he questions suspiciously.

“That would be lunchtime.”

“You didn’t have lunch.”

“Wait, I bought a chocolate before I caught the train,” I pointed out. “So it was after lunchtime. And I had a cup of tea.”

He doesn’t look impressed. “I’m not eating the sandwiches.” I fold my arms.

“I’m not making you,” he replies. “The nurses however…”

“They can’t force me to eat. I’m not anorexic.”

“You are suicidal.”

“That’s not the correct term, but whatever. It’s not a matter of not wanting to eat, it’s the fact that there’s nothing good to eat. I’ll prove it.” I begin drinking the apple juice. “See? I’m consuming sugars. This gets converted into glucose. Glucose gives me energy to have more nervous breakdowns. It also helps me stay alive, which I am now proving that I want to do.”

“I never took you for a picky eater.”

“Didn’t you?”

“I always thought that you were someone who took what you got and dealt with it.”

I just stick my tongue out at him. “Want the list?”

“Sure, why not?”

This conversation is somehow distracting me from bursting into tears, so I continue. “With me, I’m fine with anything as long as it’s warm. Toasted sandwiches are fine. The only cold sandwiches I’ll eat are peanut butter ones.”

He laughs at that. “Peanut butter?”

“Don’t diss peanut butter!” I pretend to be outraged. “Peanut butter was my childhood, I’ll have you know.”

“Very well, very well. So cold food is off the table.”

“Well, cold meats. I hate cold ham and cheese. It turns my stomach.”

“What about vegetables?”

“I prefer them cooked, but I’ll force down some salads. But I love roast vegetables. Carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkin. And hot broccoli and cauliflower is wonderful. Like I said, if it’s hot, I’m usually happy to eat it.” I wrinkle my nose. “Avocado is off the table. But there’s a legitimate reason for that; I’m allergic.”

“Really?”

“Yeah…I get violently ill if I eat it. My brother once gave it to me on pizza, and I vomited on him.”

“Sure that wasn’t on purpose?”

“The projection of the vomit was. Actual urge to vomit was not.”

“So that’s it?”

“Well, there’s sweet food as well,” I told him with a grimace. “I hate very sweet food, like donuts. I despise alcohol in Ether; not only is it very potent, but it’s horribly sweet.”

“How on earth do you survive in our world?” he asks incredulously.

“Immortality. And rat steak. Lots of rat steak.” It’s actually not bad, once you get around the idea of eating rats. Plus they’re a lot larger in Delirium than in Reality. The meat’s softer and more bitter than beef steak, but it smells really good when cooked properly.

“Kaya used to try catch rats in Delirium,” Daniel remembers. “She had more success with fish though. Rats were harder to kill without them rotting immediately.”

“Didn’t you have a go a hunting?”

“At the time, I pretty out of it. I’d just been broken out by a giant dragon and I had no idea where I was. I just ate what I was given.”

“Fair enough. I wish we could eat fish…”

“Fish is Helevian food,” Daniel points out, rolling his eyes. “Christan hasn’t even seen one, let alone eaten one.”

“True…but still. Fish hasn’t changed too much from Reality. I think I’d prefer it to rat steak. Plus it would probably be better for me.”

I’m vaguely aware of the nurses watching me as I have this conversation with my imaginary friend. But it’s the only thing keeping me in Reality, these conversations. They almost manage to convince me that things can go back to normal after this nightmare.

Nurse Priscilla comes back and takes my blood pressure. Again, she offers me medication. I deny again. I don’t trust myself to judge whether or not I need sedation, nor do I have any idea of what they’re going to do to me head-wise. What if they get rid of Daniel? Then I’d really be alone…

This makes me start crying again. I just want my friends, to be around people I love. I’m banned from Delirium, and I’m locked away from everyone I care about in Reality. I wish I’d never come here. I want to go home, wherever the hell that is.

Advertisements

You Are Not Allowed To Kill Me

Standard

It’s happened again.

Ironic isn’t it? After a couple of weeks of positive thinking and telling myself that I’ll be okay, I’m now in that dark pit again where I feel as if nothing is going to make me feel better and that I might as well die.

I’m going to blame Robin Williams. He’s the one who got me started on thinking about depression and mental illness after all.

Long story short, I’m in hospital.

But it’s okay. I haven’t hurt myself. And Daniel’s going to stop me from doing anything.

I wish he didn’t have to see me like this. That’s why I didn’t tell him how I was feeling to begin with. I didn’t want him to think I was weak; at the time, I thought it was nothing, just another burst of depression over absolutely nothing.

Except by the end of the day, I was sobbing uncontrollably, and whenever I looked around the room, I could easily imagine all the ways I could kill myself. Maybe I’d stab myself with a sewing needle, or instead, use it to cut through the fly screen on my window and leap out onto the ground below. I never did anything of those things, but I could see them so vividly, I may as well have been doing them.

On Tuesday, I met up with Flash and I told him how much I wanted to die. Little did I know that he was watching. The same one who killed Kaya was waiting for me to give him the order to finish me off too. And I must’ve given him that order at some point, because I soon felt that sinking feeling that I had become accustomed to so much in my other Reality. I apologised to Flash for doing this, and I remember him crying softly as I died once again.

I arrived in the bright white space that was Limbo. It wasn’t Kaya who met me here though. Just the man who murdered her. “Take me back,” I ordered him.

“Whatever do you mean?”

“Take me back!” I snarled. “How dare you try pull the same thing on me! Wasn’t Kaya and Nereida enough for you?”

He merely smiled. “You wanted this,” he reminded me. “I was there when were crying out ‘I want it to be over! I just want to die!‘ Don’t tell me you didn’t mean it.”

I lunged at him and grabbed his throat. He laughed as I clawed at his face, tried to beat him senseless. “You think that’s going to take you back? You can’t reverse death, stupid bitch. Don’t you know that?”

“I didn’t want you to kill me! It’s not fair!”

Another dark laugh, and he threw me off him. I landed on my back, willing myself not to dissolve into tears. “Why on earth would you think such I thing? After everything you’ve seen, what reason do you have to think that anyone would want to help you?

“Since the age of fifteen, you’ve been dragged into the pits of hell itself, for no reason other than to be kicked and beaten like a dog. Your dear friend ended her life in front of your eyes, and you could do nothing to stop it. How many times have you been betrayed by those you’ve trusted? I’m not only speaking of my world. Those you love in Reality have always failed you in the end, haven’t they?”

I didn’t let myself say anything. “Your parents were destroying you bit by bit by the way they treated you, your schoolmates whispered about you behind your back, just for being different. You didn’t deserve any of that. But like I pointed out, it happened.

“You have no right to beg me to return your future. For you have none, Cat Madigan.” He turned away from me. “I’ll leave you to your own madness.”

A ball of fire blocked his exit.

“No,” I said.

He turned at me with his evil white eye and I could feel his presence in the back of my mind. Oh don’t be like that, my dear, his voice sneered. It doesn’t have to be like this, you know. Isn’t it so much easier to give in?

For that moment, I felt a wave of peace and calm wash over me, and I stumbled slightly. There you go… he said in what was meant to be a soothing voice. Now just go down…deeper still…

I was aware of him coming up behind me, his hand resting on my head, pushing me down into oblivion. It’s alright…it’s alright to just give in…

No.

I swung around and bit into his upper arm like an animal. Surprise crossed his face, something that I had never seen of him before. I could taste the rotting flesh of his arm, but I willed myself not to let go of him. He tried to rip himself away, but by doing so, my teeth sunk even deeper into his body and with a single clench of my jaw, I managed to crush the bone completely in half.

I spat the bloody limb out, and I looked at the expression on his face in sadistic satisfaction. “No,” I repeated. “You’re not going to kill me. You’ve taken everything from me, and I owe you absolutely nothing. My life is not yours to take. Now Neekah….”

This time when I lunge at him, there’s fear in his eyes. “Yes, I know exactly who you are,” I told him. “And I know whatyou are too. And you no longer terrify me. Now. LET ME OUT!

I gasped for air when I woke up suddenly. Flash and the sickbay attendant were there, watching me. “Oh…”

“Cat!” Flash’s face had tears streaming down it, and I couldn’t help but break down in his arms, just relieved that I was alive, that I could stop my own mind from killing me. I apologised over and over that day. I was the most selfish human being in the world, and nothing would ever convince me otherwise.

Apparently after I blacked out, Kaya came out, and the two of them managed to get me to school before Kaya couldn’t carry me anymore. Flash joked that she had finally done something besides snapping at people, but the relief in his face was clearly there.

I felt better the next day. I had a minor breakdown in Literature, but I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Then the next day, it happened again.

The coordinator for the youth reference group that I was apart of was attending my session with Lolly. She told me that because I was in the beginning of my ‘mental health journey’, I wouldn’t be as useful to the group as the others, who had apparently ‘finished’ theirs. In other words, they didn’t want me there.

I ran out of the room and bolted myself in the bathroom. I didn’t want her to see me cry. Crying was something only certain people were allowed to see. After about ten minutes of pleading, Lolly managed to convince me to come back, after said coordinator left.

“I’m sorry,” she said awkwardly. “But if it’s any consolation, she said that once you’re on the road to recovery, you can come back to the group.”

I just looked at her. “I’m not going to survive this though,” I told her hollowly. “So what good is it to tell me that?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you think I mean?”

“Are you planning to kill yourself?”

“Not at the moment,” I said. “I’d give myself a year. But…” I inhaled, trying to hold back tears. “Everything is building up. How long do you think I’ll have before my luck runs out and I snap, and no one’s there to stop me?”

“By snap, you mean…”

I raised an eyebrow. I didn’t care how rude I was being. Lolly knew exactly what I meant by ‘snap’.

“Right…if you went home, what would you do?”

“I’d try and talk to friends,” I said. “Or I’d go to Delirium and stay there for a while.”

“I’d prefer that you not to go into Delirium,” she told me.

And I’d prefer that my life wasn’t a complete shit heap.

“But,” she said. “If you can’t get ahold of your friends, what do you think you could do to distract yourself from those sort of thoughts?”

“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I guess I’d do what I did on Monday and Tuesday.”

“Which is?”

“Cry into a pillow.”

“On Monday…did you fantasise about killing yourself?”

I explained how on Monday, all I could see were death instruments all around me. “It’s not something I would act on. But I easily imagine it, and that scares me, to be honest.”

She was silent. “Would…would you be willing to go to hospital?”

I thought about it for a moment, but I already knew that I didn’t have a choice in the matter. “I can’t tell you what I would do,” I said. “I never know what I’m going to do. On Monday, I thought I was going to be fine, but then I broke down in the evening, unable to think of anything but wanting to die. I’d like to say that I wouldn’t hurt myself…but I can’t tell you that without lying.”

“Then you’re going to have to come in.”

“…okay.”

She went out, and Daniel came barging in then. He immediately grabbed me up in his arms and held me close to him. “It’s alright,” he repeated over and over. I think he was trying to convince himself, rather than me. “You’re getting help now. It’ll be okay.”

“Will I?” I croaked.

“Look…” Daniel stroked my hair softly. “I know it’s going to be tempting…but I want you to stay in Reality for your stay in hospital. I’ll bring Ray and Noah in to see you, but I want you to stay there until you’re better.”

“Thommand will want me there,” I said. “He’s going to want me to be on the frontline again. He won’t care about me getting better.”

“Well I do. He’s not going to send you out into war without my say so. And in your condition, you wouldn’t be strong enough anyway.”

“Do you think you can stop him?”

“He won’t have a choice,” he ensured me. “Christan is a lot of things, but he won’t force you to go out into battle when you’re in hospital. He’d want you healed, and he’ll command Thommand to let you recover.”

I could only nod. At this point, it hurt too much to try and feel anything.