it’s a constant process of falling in the deep,
and telling myself everything will be okay
- Fiona Robinson
The following day.
I lean my back against the front entrance of the hospital building in a slightly distracted state. Arms crossed tightly against the late Autumn chill as my mind repeatedly attempts to analyze the last 48 hours, coming with only one disturbing conclusion. The more I tried to put some distance between me, and him, the closer somehow I ended up falling into his bright, alluring sphere. Like trying to defy the damn gravity or the laws of physics. An equally useless action. I think bitterly, then sigh, rubbing my face over and over again until I feel the judging stares prick my skin, stirring my blood. I look up at the people that pass me on the way in and shift, annoyed. What, you never saw straight-on crazy before? I feel like shouting into the cold air but then exhale slowly and unfold my arms. What’s the point, anyway, Eleonore? We’re all some levels of crazy here, no exceptions.
The only difference here was that she didn’t have a problem admitting it. And instead of moving from it, she preferred to cover herself in it like in a thick winter coat that soon she would need not to freeze in this hell hole that flamed her skin not with fires but with frost. Tiny ice shreds that never left her, and had nothing to do with the weather, that liked to kiss her bones with sticky tenderness, whispering softly of the things that were coming her way.
A little dramatic today, aren’t we now, love?
The words ring out in my head, and I flex my shoulders, trying to calm it all down. No need to bring even more negativity into the world. There was too much of it as it is. Still a bit triggered, I turn around towards the entry. Hesitating for a moment as visions of last night color my mind with swelling, chaotic feelings that vibrate through my muscles like the wrong kind of medicine. I felt so exposed and bare yesterday, so not used to someone seeing under my layers, exposing the bruises under the haggard and scarred tissue. It wasn’t meant for anyone to see. For anyone to touch. It was just hers, and there were so few things that she could say that about these days.
I shake my head and march into the building, heading for the third floor without looking back or stopping to see anything or anyone. Choosing the stairs and running up as fast as possible, and not letting myself think until I reach my destination. After a short moment, I navigate to the right corridor. And despite the blazing irrational state that I’m currently in, something still manages to attract my attention. Slowly, my eyes follow a guy with a deep frown and a displeased expression coming out of Morgan’s room. I lift my eyebrows, surprised. He fixes his glasses slightly and writes something down in a thick, leather-bound notebook. I watch him get distracted in his notes and check something on the calendar while I silently head to her room. For a moment, he catches my stare, and I hold it, not in any way intimidated, more curious what the guy was all about.
My eyes gradually take him in, the short but thick brown hair with the beginning of grays streaks showing on the sides, then the rather tall frame and the slim silhouette. He seems to be in his early forties from the look of it. Wearing dark blue jeans, a swede jacket in the shade of coffee. All questioningly pared with a vest underneath that was so multi-patterned that it made it nearly impossible to declare what color it was. Not that it mattered. Maybe he was going both for the professional and laid-back option, trying to be more approachable. Who knew.
My stare drifts back to his, and I nod politely. He does the same and gets back to his little scribbles. Mmm, there was something about him that rubbed me the wrong way. My eyes narrow a bit for a while, but then I leave it at rest; life was too short to waste on such things. I walk into the room and, for some reason, notice a similar frown on Morgan’s face. She groans, annoyed, crumpling pieces of paper laying on her bed with frustration, and then throws it down to the floor, coughing slightly. I try for the sudden worry not to slip into my bloodstream the way it wants to.
Hey, hey, calm down there. Whatever it is, it’s definitely not worth that kind of energy loss.
I come over and pick up the paper from the ground, smooth it out a bit and glance at it, but don’t really focus on it much.
It’s called “dealing with trauma” according to my parents.
I gaze at her questioningly and then put the documents on her nightstand. She glares at me and huffs under her breath.
Therapy. An upgrade of a guidance counselor and a lesser evil from a shrink option. I mean, what would my dad’s friends and associates think if his daughter went to a shrink, right? Can you imagine the horror and shame?
She shakes her head and sighs, not really waiting for a reply.
My mom solves problems. I’m the problem. And there is the solution; a high-notch overpaid therapist wannabe.
She points to the man still standing in the hallway and making some phone calls now. I gaze at him for a moment and then back at her. She just shrugs.
Well, that’s her opinion anyway. As if a better mood and a fake smile on my face could help the diseases go away.
I open my mouth to say something, but she stops me.
No, don’t. At least you can spare me the “positive attitude can solve all issues” crap.
I lift my hands in the air and shrug, not really bothered.
Hey, I’m just an innocent passerby here. Don’t blame me for the way, in which the world is constructed.
She groans but then nods.
Yeah, sorry. I know it’s not your fault.
My eyebrows shoot up, probably giving me a very comical expression.
Excuse me? Could you please repeat that? Because I don’t think I will have a chance to hear it again. But slowly, and focus on the pronunciation, I want to enjoy each mouthwatering, honey dripping syllable coming out of your mouth.
The pillow flies my way at an impressive speed, but I manage it catch it in the last moment before it gets too familiar with my face, though, stagger a bit in the process.
Whoa, easy. Hospital property here, and I don’t plan on being charged by it. Mmm, well then. You ever considered playing professional football? Because we could definitely use you on the national playoffs.
She shakes her head but manages to produce a real smile for me.
Yet, you still tolerate me somehow.
I smile back at her but then touch my forehead, feeling my head spin a bit, legs going slightly weaker in the knees. I throw her a quick glance to see if she caught it, but thankfully she’s already occupied, making sure the stuff she got was torn into neat, smaller, and smaller pieces of white paper snow.
Feeling in a confetti mood?
I ask, amused but then try not to notice how my voice quivers a bit, putting hands in the pockets of my jeans as they start to tremble. This really was a sickness, no matter how much I went out of my way to pretend otherwise. And it was heading for the kill.
Yeah, something like that. Maybe I will make a snow globe and give it to my therapist as an early Christmas gift.
She says in a dark tone, and I smile again, despite feeling my fragile state increase with each moment.
That’s my girl. I’m proud of you. Uhm... hey, Morgan?
She looks at me from her entertaining activity and lifts an eyebrow.
I think I will go look for the nurse man, so he doesn’t send a search party after me consisting of the Baskerville hounds and his noble attitude. And then come back here. Okay?
Do as you please. Just remember you’re behind on the product line.
She points to a plastic box filled with colorful paper and the things I already made for her, and the ones we have made together. There are roses there, tulips, and flowers made from multiple layers, resembling big balls of perfectly shaped petals. I must say, there weren’t many times when I could actually use the word perfect in any sentence that related to me personally but here, it was cutting it close. I focus even more on the box and smile at the sight of a few origami birds. I didn’t possess many positive memories from childhood, so this one I held specifically tight to my chest, remembering the time spent with my mom. I look back at her and nod.
It shall be done.
I smile faintly and walk out into the hallway, feeling my throat tighten as I try to swallow, beads of sweat appearing on my forehead. Why was my health declining so fast lately? Was my body giving up and shutting down completely, running its final course? I try to swallow again. Perhaps, I didn’t really have answers to those questions but knew that the pain and different symptoms came in waves. At times drowning me mercilessly and at others letting me simply drift on the surface. Carried with the current and giving me the allowance of a few temporary sun rays and the kindest form of warmth. I shake my head, annoyed a bit. Don’t let yourself get melodramatic again, Eleonore. Nobody really likes the sad sappy types too much. Slowly, I head forward and try to push away any dark thoughts that were pressing themselves onto me, a familiar buzz under the skull waking up and welcoming the voices. I hear them and feel the venom start to spread into my bloodstream, but don’t allow them to turn into words. Instead, shut my eyes closed for a moment, humming to myself soft melodies and drowning out the world around me.
If there is a lot of noise in the room and you blur out the actual conversations, focusing only on the sound itself... then you are left in a space full of bees. And as much as it sounds crazy, it actually not only works but can even have a soothing effect as well.
I shift forward with difficulty but somehow am able to harness a bit of the chaos that kept on attacking my mind. Detach yourself, love. It’s the only way to quiet them down. I feel the sweat drip down the lower of my back, and my jaw clenches tighter. They say you can get used to the pain, but they are wrong, very wrong. Because when it grows, it becomes a whole new Hellgate to cross under your freshly bleeding feet. I think with barely any remains of a clear mind just before my knees buckle under me, hands hitting the floor in a weak attempt to break the fall. I curse and groan through my teeth, my body rolling into a tight ball constructed of wires and iron strings. Not here, not now. Please. Not here where everyone could see. The thoughts scream at me as I have less and less energy to think straight or even try to get up to save myself from public view. Though I still try. But the sweaty hands slip against the smooth linoleum, my forehead bumping against the floor. Shit, shit, shit. Come one, get up. You can do this. You have to. The hall was still empty.
Excuse me, miss? What’s wrong, are you feeling nauseous? Let me help you.
Or apparently not. I groan again and look up as an unfamiliar voice asks, my eyes watching someone get closer with every step. Their silhouette, seeming to move towards me in almost slow motion, my perception of reality altered and distorted somehow. Time and sounds, blending and changing their pace as they pleased. As if trying to breathe underwater and stumbling through an unrehearsed nightmare. I squint my eyes and moan in frustration, not being able to usher any coherent words. It’s the guy that I saw before. The therapist. This is not good.
I mumble, silently feeling like a winner for even finding scraps of my voice through all the mayhem that was controlling my neuron system and clawing its way deeper and deeper under and shredding me from the inside out. I make myself focus slightly more and somehow manage to move up to some kind of a sitting position, balancing myself on the hands and breathing with effort. But it’s clearing just a bit. I’m able to make out more of my surroundings, but I’m also all too aware that it’s not over, just a pre-show, and it will get worse before it can get better. It comes and goes in waves. It always does.
Something in him shifts as he’s talking to Raffael, his patient, the one with an arm in a cast and some broken ribs to match. Thankfully, he was feeling better with each day, though a full recovery would still take at least a few more months. He smiles at him, but his mind is distracted, a strange itch forming under the muscles, his body tensing. What was that sensation, that feeling? He couldn’t really explain it or the source of it, but he knew something was wrong. Helplessly, he looks to the sides and into the hallway but doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
The 17-year-old looks up at him, stopping in the middle of a little story he wanted to share with him, as he was rather bored in his room. Not really having that many opportunities to talk to anyone as there weren’t that many people visiting him on a daily basis. He lifts his eyebrows.
You will have to tell me the rest later; I just remembered I forgot about something important that needs my immediate attention. So sorry.
The boy looks at him a bit surprised as he knows this isn’t usual behavior for Charlie but then just nods, understanding.
Sure, you’re the one at work here, man. I’m just on an inventorially vacation here. And I think this place is way overrated, I wouldn’t recommend it to friends. Two stars at most, and that’s if I get my jellos more regularly. Otherwise, this place is going down any day now.
He says in a light tone and grins. Charlie smiles as well but then swiftly turns around, trying not to break into a run as he gets out of the room, more tension building up in his muscles. It seems to penetrate the bones. What the hell? He wasn’t even sure what brought the state he was in right now or what direction to head. No logical explanation in sight. Yet he doesn’t ignore or disregard it, something inside pushing him forward with force. He passes the hallway and turns in the opposite direction that the reception was. Making a few turns on his way. Soon enough, he walks past the room of that girl that Nora likes to hang out with and catches his breath. His entire form, freezing for just one second, both his heart rate and the world around him, seeming to stop at exactly the same moment. He hears her pained groan and instantly breaks out of the stillness.
He moves up to her and blocks Dr. Sorenstine’s view. Bending and holding her wrist as if checking the pulse, good energy spreading through her veins gradually, like a warm compress on sore muscles. Her mind appears to relax a bit, and she gazes up at him. She looks pale, and there is sweat covering her skin. She seems to be drained, but a shy smile appears on her tired face as the body still trembles a little. Charlie smiles back as relief takes over, soothing his tensed frame. Gently, he helps her shift and stand up slowly, giving her a reassuring stare. Then he straightens his back and turns around to the doctor, his whole attitude changing and growing professional, reserved; something in him taking the shape of a stone.
She should be fine now.
From what I just experienced, she did not seem fine.
The man speaks coldly, his dark eyes inspecting his facial expression and body language. Damn psychologists, always watching you like a specimen in the worst possible moment. The doctors for the mind. Though he wasn’t that phased by it, his reactions were composed and calculated. They had to be; too much was at stake.
She’s handling a difficult illness, making her body more weak and unstable. Plus, on top of it, a post-traumatic syndrome that as you, doctor, of course, know can be very overwhelming.
And grief, that leaves a mark.
His head snaps back to her as she continues in a hushed tone, not looking directly at neither of them.
My doctor says it’s a long process. The physical issues are not helping either, it’s a constant struggle to stay afloat. But I’m trying. I think that counts for something.
He gazes at her, surprised. Not sure if she is speaking the truth or just making stuff up like he was. He stares closely at her face but can’t really read it. Nora’s eyes meet his, holding the stare and not looking away, her expression seeming calm and confident. She must be pretending; he would sense something otherwise. He breathes out just as the doctor decides to slip into the awkward silence.
I am sorry for your loss...
He gives her a quick nod.
Yes, Eleonore. Are you sure that you feel better? Maybe Mr. Evans should take you to the emergency room or at least examine you more thoroughly?
There is a slightly patronizing tone in the therapist’s words. But he decides to play dumb and ignore it.
That might be a good option, doctor. Come on, Nora. I will help you get there. You need to be checked; you know what happens when you don’t take your medication on time.
They walk away while James Sorenstine watches them, not in any way convinced by explanations that he just heard. What was this entire show about? He saw the symptoms and how her body reacted, all the vitals being out of order. And then just calming down almost as soon as that over helpful staff guy was near her. No one is that good. She should have not, get better so quickly. He looks as Evans walks her off, fingers still wrapped around the young woman’s wrists as he does anything in his power to block her out of view. Something was off here, and his mind would stay alert until he would find out some answers. But no rush. Shadows always catch up with us, one way or another. The doors to the elevator open, and they disappear in it. He definitely had to look more into this case. The whole situation felt rather surreal, something unexplainable still lingering in the air even after they leave. He couldn’t quite touch it yet, but it was just a matter of time before he would.
All he had to do was dig deep enough.
*The Hound of the Baskervilles, one of the best known of the Sherlock Holmes novels, written by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1901.
https://theprose.com/post/230936/with-all-my-senses ( the beginning )
Previous chapters :