Chapter 1. Now
Staring at the white walls around me, I couldn’t help but wonder what had become of my life. It didn’t used to be like this. Or maybe it always had and I just never realized until a sad few years ago. The clock on the wall ticked as I waited for the psychiatrist to come and see me.
I didn’t mean to, I’d say to her. It was an accident. The chances of her believing my story for a second time wasn’t very likely, but it was worth a try. My head was pounding in my ears and my mouth tasted like vomit. I wondered when they’d let me brush my teeth.
The door to the room opened, and the nurse walked over to my bed. She had bright blonde hair and a bubbly smile on her face. “How are you feeling this morning, Brooke?”
I didn’t answer. One could imagine how I was feeling considering what I’d just done. I felt hopeless. Weak. Worthless. Like everything I ever tried to do with myself had gone down the drain faster than I could reach for it. Happiness was unattainable for me. That was the sad truth or the matter.
The nurse frowned. “The psychiatrist is running a little late today. Do you need to use the bathroom or anything?”
Actually, I had to go pretty bad. Number 2. “Yes,” I said, although it came out hoarse. My throat was probably rotting away from the acid in my vomit.
“I’ll be right back. Let me grab you a bucket.”
As the nurse walked off, I thought to myself, A bucket? Is she serious? There’s a bathroom right across from me. Has she lost her mind? When the nurse came back with a bucket, I shook my head. She frowned at me. “You changed your mind?”
I nodded. There was no way I was pooping in a bucket for her. Not gonna happen.
She walked over to me and said, “You know, sometimes a symptom of overdose is diarrhea. If you have to go, it’s best that you do.”
I just glared at her. As soon as she said it, I realized that was exactly what I needed to do. And there was no way in hell I was going to do that in a bucket, either. That was worse. But I needed to talk as little as possible. There was nothing to say anymore. Nothing that mattered. Even if it meant refusing a crap bucket.
There was a tap on the door, and the door opened to reveal the psychiatrist. She was a short, petite woman with short black hair and glasses that sat at the edge of her nose. She was wearing a hideous pink skirt and a white button up. “May I come in?”
“Of course,” the nurse said. She looked at me. “I’ll be back in a little while to get you some food.”
The psychiatrist’s badge said Allison. “Hello, Brooke. I’d say it’s nice to see you again, but unfortunately it’s not as pleasant of a meet as I’d have liked.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, betting that I looked like I just crawled out of the sewer. That was how I felt, anyway. Don’t talk. Just keep your mouth shut unless you need to defend yourself. There’s no way I’m going to let them keep me here.
She pulled out a rollie chair from the other side of the room and sat across from me, pulling out a pen to write on her clipboard. “We heard you had a pretty rough last twenty-four hours. Do you remember anything that happened?”
To be honest, I didn’t remember a thing. Well, except the occasional moment when I woke up to vomit all over the place. And the cold sweats. Instead of replying, I just shook my head.
“You had low electrolytes for the first twenty-four hours, but thankfully they were able to get that stabilized. Now tell me. What brings you here this time, Brooke? Why did you try to do this again?”
There were lots of things that I could list, but I couldn’t say any of them out loud. It would have just been a waste of time, and there was no way I could put myself through that. It was better to just not think about it. Since my plan didn’t work, I just needed to get out of here. I failed once. I failed twice. And I wouldn’t fail a third time.
Allison frowned at me. “You really should talk to me, Brooke. It’s not going to change whether we send you to the Institute of Psychiatry. I called over there earlier. They have a space for you to go in a few hours.”
My mouth almost dropped, but I kept it closed so tight my teeth started to hurt. They couldn’t. This was ridiculous. How could they lock me away to keep me from taking my own life? How was it their right to choose? It was my life. My health. My body. What did they care?
“So,” Allison said. “Do you have anything you want to say?”
I kept my lips sealed. Sighing, Allison left the room, letting me know that someone would be down to transport me over to the hospital later. This was not how it was supposed to go down. I should have died. I never meant to survive. And while all I wanted to do was go on my own, the hospital would be trying hard to keep me alive.
This was not going to be fun.
It wasn’t long before they came to get me. It was a young male nurse in his late twenties, with buff arms and a little dark scruffle on his face. He smiled at me and said, “Alright, Brooke. It’s time to go. Are you ready?”
Yeah, like I actually had a choice. For only the second time since I arrived, I spoke. “Not really. But I’m assuming if I don’t go voluntarily, you’ll make me go involuntarily, right?”
He actually smiled sadly. “I’m afraid so. Come on. We can do this either the easy way or the hard way. Your choice. But I’d prefer the easy way.” He patted the wheelchair seat, and reluctantly I moved to sit in it. I felt like a little old woman. This was stupid.
Taking me out into the hallway, we went passed a bunch of nurses and doctors. Once outside, the sun shined brightly onto my face, and I squinted my eyes. I felt like a freaking vampire. The nurse laughed and said, “The sun too bright for you?”
“The sun’s too bright for anything that actually needs to see,” I replied coldly.
He actually laughed again. I wanted to hit him. “It’s okay. We’ll only be out here for a minute. The hospital is right across the street.”
Sure enough, it only took about two minutes to get to the main building of the Institute. We went up the elevator to the teen floor, and when we waked out of the elevator and into the office, a woman checked us in. The nurse waved goodbye to me as the woman from the office window helped me out of the wheelchair and led me into the unit.
I wanted to throw up when I saw it.
Paintings from patients were lined up along the wall, which would have been nice if they weren’t so horrible. As we walked down the long hallway, I heard a guy screaming from his room and the sound of something breaking. Two nurses ran passed us into the room, and I tried my best not to imagine what probably just happened. I was led into a large living room style area with two couches, a bunch of chairs lined together by the window, and a TV. There was a few tables off to the side, where three teens were drawing, laughing, and having a good time.
They were actually enjoying themselves. What kind of place had I just walked into?
I also noticed that a majority of the staff was young. Had to be in their late twenties, early thirties, and they all looked like they just walked out of Grey’s Anatomy. I didn’t know that people actually looked this good in hospitals. Making sure to keep my resting bitch face in place, I was led over to another male nurse, with short chopped blonde hair and sky blue eyes. He wasn’t as built as the other nurse, but he was still good looking. He smiled. “You must be Brooke. We have to evaluate you and ask you a bunch of questions you’ve probably already heard. Then we’re going to get you changed out of those scrubs and into some of the clothes your parents dropped off. Is that okay with you?”
“My choices are limited,” was all I managed to say.
“Don’t worry,” the nurse said. “My name’s Andrew. I’m here every day during the day shift. Come with me. Vanessa will get you all checked out.”
I followed him into a back room that looked like a doctor’s office. Andrew came other to check my vitals, and when he finished, he said, “Vanessa will be here in a moment. She’s handling a situation right now. Sometimes things can get a little crazy up here.”
Right. Like this was where I wanted to be.
A woman stepped into the room dressed in scrubs. She had long, chestnut hair and big brown eyes. Her olive-toned skin made her even more gorgeous. “Hello, Brooke. I’m Vanessa. Andrew, did you do her vitals?”
“All checked in,” he said, washing his hands in the sink. “She’s pretty healthy, considering.”
I knew what he meant—we all did—but Vanessa disregarded his comment. She smiled at me and asked, “How are you feeling?”
“Like I just crawled out of hell,” I said. “Are you guys sure I didn’t die for a few minutes?”
Vanessa didn’t laugh at my joke. Neither did Andrew. Suddenly I felt very uncomfortable. These weren’t my friends. They were here to keep me alive. Something I truly didn’t want. Despite my inappropriate comment, Andrew smiled at me and said, “Vanessa will just needs to do a search on you and you’re good to go. We’ll be here for a few more hours before the new team comes for the evening shift.”
I nodded and he left the room, making me feel even worse. He was really nice. It’s been so long, I thought.
“Brooke, please take off your scrubs. You don’t have to take off your underwear. We just have to make sure you weren’t able to bring anything in from the emergency room.”
“What, you mean like air?” I asked sarcastically. “That’s about all I got over there.”
Vanessa just gave me a sad stare. She knew. They all knew. And I was utterly ashamed to be standing there alive.