Kurt returned from the hospital to find the house dark and eerily quiet. The entire time he was at the hospital he kept watching the emergency doors, terrified Jordan would be coming through on a gurney any moment. When that hadn’t happened, he was gripped with fear that he would come home to find a coroner’s van in his driveway. He walked down the hall to their bedroom and peeked in the open door.
Nona’s tablet was laying on the side table, covering the sister’s in a blue glow. He was relieved to see Jordan sleeping soundly, some of the food on the tray eaten. He crept quietly closer and pulled the blankets up around the two. Pausing for a moment, he stared at Jordan. She looked so relaxed, serene and beautiful. This was the woman he loved, knew loved him back. He decided to chance a quick kiss to her forehead, breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t stir.
“I love you so much,” he whispered to her. “I would die for you, love. Why can’t you live for me?” He turned off the tablet and headed to the guest room, leaving the doors open in case he had to quickly come to their aid.
Once she heard the footsteps retreating, Jordan’s eyes popped open. Her beloved’s words rang in her ears. Why can’t you live for me? She wanted to; wanted to commit to a life with Kurt full of love and laughter. But how could she with the dark shadow of her past horrors lurking over her shoulder? She needed resolution and she had thought that would come from death. “Death is freedom” had become her new motto. She could see now that while death would free her, it would only imprison her family in grief and confusion, wondering endlessly how they could have saved her. Hot tears rolled down her cheeks as she buried her face deeper into Nona’s chest.
“S’okay…” Her sister mumbled in her sleep, ever the comfort. She pulled Jordan in tighter. “You’re okay… I got you.” Jordan closed her eyes again, listening to the steady beat of her sister’s heart, her other half.
“I guess I forgot…” She whispered in response. In the dark, she couldn’t see it, but there was a smile on her sleeping sister’s face. Jordan finally got it.
The next morning was tense and quiet. Jordan had made it through the night and they were all grateful for that. However, none of them were sure if any progress had been made and Kurt feared that Dr. Buckler might not be convinced either. Nona helped Jordan dress that morning in leggings and a loose top since her back had begun bothering her again. She pulled her big sister’s raven locks back into a smooth ponytail.
Jordan looked as worn out as she felt but there was a sparkle in her eyes that made Kurt’s heart swell. She ate minimally that morning but had at least been able to keep it all down. On the way to the hospital, neither of them spoke. Jordan did, however, allow him to hold her hand as they walked through the hallways of the now too familiar hospital. When they entered Dr. Buckler’s office, he placed a small kiss on her knuckles, then cheek.
“Just call me when you’re done love…” He told her, staring into her eyes for that glimmer of hope. It was still there, so he prepared to leave, giving her a gentle smile, which she gratefully returned. He was relieved when the doctor didn’t insist he stay. He wasn’t sure if he could handle the terrifying thoughts weaving their way through his lover’s self-conscious. After he had gone, Dr. Buckler wasted no time in beginning her evaluation.
“How are you feeling today Jordan?”
“Tired, sore…” Her two most used adjectives these days.
“How are you feeling emotionally?”
So much had transpired in the last day. It was as if she’d had twelve short hours to muddle through months of emotional conflict. She knew she wasn’t better but she honestly felt like she could be. Yesterday when her emotions were spinning out of control she was able to express herself quite eloquently, if not disturbingly. Now it seemed she couldn’t knit two words together. The doctor picked up on her unease and decided to prompt her further.
“How did your family feel when they found out how upset you’ve been? The kinds of thoughts you’ve been having?” These questions were easier to answer.
“They were … hurt, angry. My sister was so angry. She’s always been there for me. The fact that I didn’t tell her, about… how I was feeling; it really hurt her.”
“I see. And your fiancée, how did Kurt feel about it? “
“He felt like I didn’t trust him. But I do! It’s just… I’ve put him through A LOT these pasts few months and I didn’t want to add to his stress. I know he loves me and I love him. I just didn’t know how I could move forward with our life together, with the possibility of his return hanging over my head.”
“But there are still things you keep hidden, aren’t there?”
The doctor eyed her suspiciously. Of course she could tell that Jordan was holding back. She was trained to detect deception, weed out the lies people never wanted to reveal. She must have known all this time that even when Jordan was being truthful, it was not the whole truth.
“There will always be things I can’t share, I suppose…” Jordan was trying to be diplomatic and not arouse the doctor’s suspicion further. It seemed to work as the older woman pushed forward with her questioning.
“And after telling your family all this, being brutally honest with them, how do you feel now? Do you still want to die?”
Jordan paused again, mulling over the questions. How am I feeling now? She waited for the dark voice to chime in and it did not fail her. Death is freedom! It hissed again. No! She had worked this all out last night. She would be free but her family would be trapped in a never-ending cycle of grief and confusion, wondering what they missed, how they had failed her.
“Those feelings are still there, I don’t think they’ll go away overnight. Maybe they’ll never go away but I know now that while it would be an escape for me, I couldn’t do that to my family; To Kurt, our daughter, my father and my sister. She looks up to me; they all expect so much from me and for a while I was buckling under the pressure…”
“Could it be that some of that pressure was internal? You’ve often spoken about wanting to be the best example, the need to achieve. How do you think you can manage those feelings going forward? When things go awry, how will you handle the disappointment?”
Jordan frowned at the implication that all of this was simply because things had not gone according to plan. Her whole life had fallen apart in a matter of days and nearly a year later, when she was just starting to put the pieces back together, things were once again on the verge of collapse. She had been able to move forward as far as she had on the assumption that the force that nearly destroyed her was no longer a threat. To find that fragile belief was untrue, her whole recovery had imploded. How would she move forward now?
“I know now I can’t please everyone and neglect myself. And I know if things feel like they’re crumbling that I don’t have to face it alone… I guess I forgot that. But I’d rather let my family help me than take my own life…”
“What about your assailant? Anymore developments on his supposed return?”
“No.” She responded quietly. “The police are still working on it. I can’t do anything about it now. I need to focus on my recovery… for my family.” Dr. Buckler laced her hands together and leaned back in her chair observing Jordan quietly.
“It seems as if you’ve had an eventful night and I’m sorry the police haven’t found any leads about your assailant.” Jordan nodded, took a deep breath and waited for the older woman to continue. “ I’m relieved to see that you made it through the night without any incidents of self-harm. It’s also good that you recognize that your recovery won’t be easy. I’m releasing you to the custody of your family and I want you to start taking an anti-depressant.”
Jordan nodded absentmindedly, relieved that she wouldn’t be dragged off in a straight jacket for the next 48 hours. It seemed the doctor was being overly generous but all she really wanted was to go home and be with her family so she kept her opinions to herself. The doctor finished the appointment by going over the instructions for her prescription as well as her new and improved therapy schedule.
Kurt picked her up from the office and deposited her back in bed as soon as they arrived home. Nona had gone to retrieve Hendrix from her parents as he had insisted that he needed to be with his Ti-Ti because she was sick.
Jordan sat in bed quietly wondering what she was going to do now that she was home and still technically under house arrest. She was sure by now that Kurt had informed her father she’d had a setback and most likely called the fire station to inform them she would be absent until released by a physician. He had surprisingly left her alone in their room most likely figuring she was too doped up to try anything. Her new anti-depressant boasted several side affects including marked drowsiness.
She felt a warm tingle spread through her limbs and allowed a few small flames to build in her upturned palms. With a little more concentration, the flames leapt lightly from one hand to the other. It felt good to use her abilities, even in such a small way. Her father had told her on more than one occasion that she and her powers were one and denying them would be like denying part of herself. She saw yesterday how true his words had been. It still worried her; she had always been so at ease with her powers but lately the thought of using them was terrifying. It had felt much safer to push them down, pretend they weren’t there. There was a knock on the doorframe. She glanced up to see Kurt standing there watching her intently. He looked handsome as ever, even unshaven in cargo shorts and an old CU hoodie. The sight of him made her heart jump just a little.
“It’s good to see you using them again…” He spoke lightly, tilting his head toward the small flame in her hand. “You can’t deny who you are, love.”