A few days had passed since Mindy’s murder and no one had even asked about her. No one knew she was missing yet as she had a habit of disappearing for days at a time. I tried to figure out how and to whom I could drop a hint to that Mindy was dead without implicating myself, but I came up empty handed. No one would believe me anyway as I still had no evidence. I knew I had to do something, but what and how was the ultimate question? I had never felt more helpless and useless before in my life. Not being able to defend myself was one thing but I let someone die right next to me and I wasn’t even conscious to try and help her! I was just as useless as Josh said I was. ‘First Caleb, now Mindy, who’s next? Wait, Caleb’ I thought. ‘Josh shot him with his gun that I didn’t know he owned so if no one knows about the gun it must be illegal and his prints are all over them which means if I find the gun, I have evidence! Then I just need to find Caleb and I don’t know where he lives. Maybe Steve will give me a call and update me on the situation with Caleb, or maybe Caleb didn’t make it and that’s why Steve hasn’t called me again’. ‘Oh no, I’m not getting anywhere’ I said out loud. I thought I was on to something but it was a futile thought. But maybe looking for the gun may not be such a bad idea. I could turn it in to the police and he would get arrested for having an illegal fire arm. ‘Hah, that’s a start’ I thought and set out to look for the gun.
I scoured the house while Josh was at work but was unable to find anything. ‘Surely he can’t take the gun to work with him, he has to hide it somewhere’ I thought. ‘But where’? I was still in my train of thought when I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to find Chloe leaning against the wall. She looked different. Her hair was done up and she had a slinky outfit on. ‘Oh, it’s you’ I said and turned around and walked back into the house. ‘Yes it’s me’ she said. ‘I wanted to come by and apologize for earlier. I was a total bitch and you didn’t really deserve it’ she said. Her eyes were flitting through the house as if she was looking for something or someone. ‘Josh isn’t home yet’ I said as if I caught her out in something. ‘I know’ she said with a sigh. ‘Why so dressed up’? I asked motioning to her body. ‘I’ve got a date’ she said with a huge smile on her face. ‘Which reminds me, I’m going to be late. Gotta run’ she said and flew out the door. ‘That was strange’ I thought to myself but shrugged it off and went on with my day. I felt on edge ever since Mindy died and wished I could have done something to help her. Or maybe I should rather have died. And my dear Caleb, taking a bullet for me and I didn’t even know where he was or if he was even alive.
Sitting in the house the whole day out of fear of Josh didn’t make things any easier on me. I needed to get out and look for him and let someone know that Mindy was dead. I had to at least try something, anything to help them. I realized then, there was one place that I haven’t searched for the gun yet and that was in Josh’s desk drawer. I went over to the desk and opened the drawer. There were a few sheets of paper in the top and I took them out. I gasped when I saw all the pornography DVD’s in front of me. I never scratched in Josh’s stuff so I was unaware that he watched porn. ‘I guess I shouldn’t be surprised’ I thought and continued rifling through the drawer. I came across a cd labeled only with a date and wanted to know what was on it. I got out my laptop and put the cd in. I felt my stomach drop at what I saw on the screen. Josh filmed himself having sex with Mindy while he was choking her. Mindy was protesting and gasping for air while he was thrusting himself into her violently, his hands wrapped around her throat. So maybe he didn’t kill her intentionally, maybe his choking game went a bit too far. I took the cd out and put it back where I found it. Josh filmed Mindy and me too, so maybe he filmed himself killing her! I looked at all the dates, of which there were many and realized just how sick he was. Then I saw a date that I knew Mindy wasn’t with him and wondered what was on the disc. I put it in the laptop and it started playing. Chloe’s face popped up on my screen and I felt sick. She was enjoying being choked and handled roughly by Josh! ‘What the hell’ I said out loud to myself. Chloe is having sex with Josh! My best friend is having sex with my husband! How could she betray me like this? ‘I understand now why she keeps taking his side over mine each time I tell her something’. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks in the face, ‘I told Chloe everything about what Josh did to Mindy and to Caleb, which means she must have told Josh and he is going to punish me or kill me for opening my mouth! Oh no, what have I done’ I thought and started to panic and bile rose in my throat and my head started pounding. ‘No, not now’ I thought to myself and tried calming myself down. I was still alone at home and had to put everything back where I found it. ‘Passing out with all the evidence out in the open will just make things worse for me’ I thought. I looked at a few of the other discs but felt too sick to look at any of them. I was looking for a specific date but didn’t find it and thought that Josh must have hidden it with his gun. I closed the drawer and went to put away my laptop when I heard Josh pull up. Luckily I was done scratching for the day.
I was busy in the kitchen when Josh came in, slamming the door behind him. He walked straight up to me and said ‘we need to talk’. I felt panicked but I knew if he saw it, it would make matters worse for me so I followed him to the bedroom but remained standing. He motioned for me to sit on the bed but I kept seeing Mindy’s lifeless body, her eyes staring blankly up to the ceiling. I shook my head no and he forced me to sit. I felt extremely uncomfortable and sat as if I had lava under me. Josh had a strange look on his face which I could not read, as with many of his facial expressions. I sat there in silence until Josh initiated the conversation. He asked in a soft tone of voice ‘what did you tell Chloe’? My eyes went wide as I knew that yet again, she had stabbed me in the back. ‘I told her everything’ I said. ‘And what’s that’? He asked softly. ‘About Caleb and Mindy’ I said with my eyes averted. ‘Why did you do that’ he asked and I could clearly hear him trying to control his voice tone. ‘I needed someone to talk to and it felt as if I was going crazy’ I said softly, fiddling with my fingers. ‘Well, maybe you are’ he said and I frowned at him. ‘Who else did you tell’? He asked. I barely looked at him and he repeated himself. ‘No one’ I said, barely audible and I saw him smirk, clearly feeling relieved. It felt as if I was hit in the stomach at that moment, feeling afraid that he would do something horrible to me. Instead he got up and left the house. He left me sitting alone on the bed, feeling confused about what just happened. ‘What is going on with him’ I thought to myself. ‘Josh is acting completely out of character but I guess murdering someone will do that to you’.
The next day when Josh came home, Chloe was with him and I thought to myself; ’here we go again. She came in alone and asked me to sit down. My immediate thought was that someone had found Mindy’s corpse but instead she kneeled down in front of me and said ‘honey, Josh and I are worried about you. Your mental state has decreased so much over the past few months and we feel afraid of you and think you need help’. I was taken aback, feeling shocked at her allegations. I flew up out of my seat ‘What’! I almost shouted. ‘What do you mean my mental state? There’s nothing wrong with me’ I said. ‘You told me that Josh shot Caleb and killed Mindy! No one even knows a Caleb and Mindy is travelling overseas somewhere. We don’t understand why you would say such things. You are confusing reality with fantasy.’ She said as if she felt sorry for me. My world was spinning and I tried to defend myself by saying ‘but it’s true, he did those things. He recorded himself having sex with her the night he killed her. He is the one with the problem’! My tone was loud but I also knew trying to convince someone that Josh is sleeping with was useless. ‘And where is the supposed recording’? She asked sarcastically. ‘In his desk drawer next to his recording of you and him’ I snapped. Her face went pale and her eyes wide. She clearly didn’t know that I knew about them. ‘Show me’ she said and I walked over to the desk and opened the drawer. It was empty! ‘There’s nothing in here’ I said in a panicked tone. ‘It was here yesterday, I had it in my hand’! I said with each word growing louder. Chloe took me by the shoulders as if I was fragile and said ‘We will get you the help you need’ and called for Josh to come in. ‘But I’m not crazy’ I protested.
Josh walked in with two men and a woman behind him. He looked somber and acted like he cared. He came and stood in front of me and said ‘these nice people are here to help you’. The lady looked somewhere in her fifties and the men looked to be in their thirties. She smiled at me and introduced herself as Dawn. ‘What’s going on’? I asked feeling even more confused than before. ‘We are here to help you’ Dawn said and took a step towards me as if she thought I had a mental illness. I shot a panicked look at Josh who was now standing at Chloe’s side. She was holding his hand as if she was supporting him and he looked as though he was trying not to cry. ‘Gold star for acting’ I thought to myself when I felt a hand on my arm. I looked up in surprise to find Dawn right in front of me. ‘You need to come with us darling’ she said in a caring tone, but I wasn’t buying what she was selling. I ripped my arm out of hers and told her that I was not crazy. She softened her face some more and said ‘I know you feel confused right now but we will take good care of you’ and tried to take me by the arm again.
I decided that it was a fight or flight moment, but my flight path was blocked by two fat guys in ice cream suits. Panic flooded me as I saw I had no way out and Dawn caught on to my plan immediately. She had obviously done this a few times. I saw her motioning to one of the fat guys behind her and he pulled out a syringe from his pocket. ‘You’re not sticking me with that thing’! I yelled at her trying to make my escape. I knocked Dawn off of her feet and bolted for the door. One of the fat guys threw his arms up to try and catch me but I side stepped him. Just one guy left between me and the door. I saw the guy I just side stepped behind me signaling the one in front of me but I wasn’t waiting around to see what they wanted to do. I kicked the guy in front of me on his shin so hard that I hurt my foot, but he didn’t even flinch so I punched him in the face, but he didn’t budge. ‘Guess that’s why they use fat guys’ I thought to myself. I was concentrating so hard on getting past the guy in front of me that I reacted too late when the guy behind me grabbed me. He restricted my arms in what felt like one move and the guy in front of me stuck the needle he had in my neck, emptying the fluid into my veins. I felt myself slipping away almost immediately but still tried to fight. ‘Well played’ I slurred at Josh and faintly heard Dawn say to Josh ‘don’t worry; we’ll take very good care of her’. Then darkness engulfed me and I was left unconscious at the mercy of Dawn and her two minions.
I drifted back to consciousness and my head was spinning. I heard faint, far off noises that sounded unfamiliar. I tried opening my eyes but they would not budge, they refused to do what I wanted. My ears were ringing and I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while before I was able to open my eyes completely. My eyelids fluttered as I struggled to keep them open. My vision blurred and I couldn’t see anything. My head spun so violently I felt nauseous and for some reason I was unable to move. My thoughts were in a jumble and I couldn’t earth myself to grab on to one thought. It was as though I was drifting through space with nothing to hold on to. After much fighting I finally managed to focus my eyes, even though my lids kept betraying me. I did not recognize the place I was laying in and it reminded me a lot of a hospital. I flicked my eyes around the room but my thoughts were incoherent and nothing made sense. I managed to lift my head and looked down to see why I was unable to move. I lifted my arm as far as I could against the strain and saw that I was tied to the bed. My arms and my legs were tied, rendering me useless. I felt panicked but my body felt too heavy to really react to try and get myself loose so I dropped my head back and tried to latch on to just one thought. Everything felt so jumbled which made me feel frustrated. I frowned at myself as everything in my head just felt like white noise. I couldn’t remember anything of what had happened and how I got to where I found myself at the moment. I tried my best but came up empty.
I heard a lock turn in the door and heard someone walking in. I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep when the voice said ‘I know you are awake, Liz. We have cameras in your room’. That voice sounded so familiar and I opened my eyes. There was a lady standing beside the bed looking at me with kindness in her eyes. ‘Where am I’? I managed asking in a rough tone. She smiled and said ‘You’re new home, at least, for a while anyway’. I lifted up my arms and looked at them and then at her. ‘We will untie you as soon as you are fully awake’ she said. ‘But they hurt’ I said trying to sound as heart sore as possible. ‘I know dear, but they are for your own good. I will be back shortly and we will untie you’. She turned on her heel and walked out. For such a friendly lady she sure did stomp. My body was feeling irritated from being strapped down and unable to move for such a long time so I made another attempt at freeing myself. I looked like I was throwing a tantrum as I kicked my legs and flung my arms around as far as possible. I was also shaking my head from side to side in frustration and let out an irritated scream. I only achieved leaving myself breathless and feeling like a train wreck and I’m sure that to the people on the other side of the camera, I was just confirming my mental state everyone was going on about.
I gave up my effort as I was getting nowhere fast and seeing as I had nothing else to do I closed my eyes and concentrated as hard as I possibly could, trying to latch on to a memory. After much strain and bulging veins, I was finally able to piece my thoughts together and remembered what had happened. Dawn walked in as I was thinking and I thought that she had very inconvenient timing. ‘I am going to untie you now’ Dawn said while reaching for the straps. She froze with her face so close to mine I could see her mustache and she said ‘don’t try anything funny now’ and smiled at me. I just looked at her as she untied me. She helped me to sit up and asked me how I was feeling. ‘Like shit’ I thought to myself but thought the better of it telling her that. ‘I’m fine’ I said, unsure of what would happen to me next. She took a seat in front of me on the bed and asked ‘Do you remember what happened’? I looked at her and thought maybe if I worked with her she would let me out of wherever I was. ‘Some of it’ I answered. She looked at me as if she was expecting me to elaborate so I continued. ‘I remember you wrestling me and drugging me at the house’. She gave a half smile and said ‘Well, you did try to injure my orderly’. ‘The fat guy in the ice cream suit’ I thought to myself. The word orderly sounded familiar and I asked ‘Am I in a nut house’? ‘You are in an institution that cares for the mentally ill’ she said. ‘So I’m a madhouse’ I said. ‘If you would like to call it that, it is fine. The place is called Green Meadows’. she said all too kindly for my linking. ‘But there’s nothing wrong with me’ I said to her, and she answered, ‘well if that is the case, Doctor Marshall will have no problem clearing you to go home’. ‘Who’s that’? I asked and she just gave me a warm smile. ‘Enough for today’ she said. ‘Well speak again tomorrow’.
She got up and walked out, locking the door behind her. I was left sitting in a stark white room all by myself wearing a hospital robe, with nothing to do and no window to look out of. I pulled my legs up to my chest and knew that I was in some serious trouble. ‘I wonder how these people expect their inmates to act like normal people in a place that looks like this’? I thought and then I heard footsteps outside my door and the lock of my door opening. The fat guy I tried wrestling came in with a tray of food that he set down on a hospital tray. ‘You have thirty minutes’ he barked and turned to walk out. I stood up and asked him if I could get a book to read. He stopped to look at me and said in a sarcastic tone ‘Like you’ll be awake to read it’ and he walked out. I frowned at his comment and walked over to the food. It didn’t smell horrible and I realized that I was hungry. The mash looked unappetizing but right now I didn’t really care. I ate the food without complaining. The orderly returned a short while later to collect the tray and I saw that he had something else in his hand. He shoved the plastic holder in my hand and said ‘drink’ in a harsh tone. ‘What is it’? I asked. ‘Drink it or you get another injection’ he said. I took it from his hand and swallowed the two tablets that were in the holder. He gave me so little water to swallow the tablets down with that they got stuck in my throat and I started choking. I felt a hard knock on my back as the orderly tried to help me, although it felt more like he was trying to break my ribs than stop me from choking. The pills came flying out of my throat and I gasped for air. The orderly picked the pills up and put them in my hand and said, ‘drink’. I frowned at him and asked him for more water in a raspy voice as my throat felt extremely scratchy. He went into the hall and returned with another small holder with water. I told him it’s impossible for me to swallow the tablets with so little water and he just rolled his eyes at me. ‘Chew it’ he said. He made me feel like I was in some kind of trouble so I did what he said. It tasted horrible and I pulled my face like I was part of a horror film. I washed my mouth out with the water and swallowed it. I opened my mouth so he could see it was empty and he turned around and stomped out of the room. I’ve watched enough movies to know how those types of things worked. It didn’t take long for the medicine to kick in and make me tired. Suddenly the uninviting, stark white bed didn’t look so bad right then and i dropped down on it. I fell asleep before I knew what hit me. My sleep was dreamless and black, like I was dropped into a black hole. It felt like I closed my eyes for a second before I woke up again, feeling even worse than when they drugged me the first time.
One of the orderlies came in shortly after I awoke and told me to go with him. He looked and sounded like a blur as I could hardly focus or keep my balance. He took me by the arm and led me down the hallway and it felt like I was just floating along. I felt like I was in a space movie as the hall was filled with overhead lights as far as I looked. I wasn’t sure if it were the lights flickering or if it was my eyes, but something wasn’t right with those lights. My legs felt like they had lead in them and were protesting as far as I was being dragged. We finally came to a left turn in the hallway and we stopped in front of a door. ‘The door looks so shiny’ I thought to myself and smirked. The orderly knocked twice and I vaguely heard someone say ‘enter’. ‘A magic door with an alien inside’ I mumbled and giggled at myself. The orderly walked me up to a table with two chairs and let me sit in one. The chair felt like I was sitting on a block of ice which sent my train of thought in a whole different direction. I thought of something out of the movie frozen and giggled at how amusing I found myself. The orderly shook his head and turned around and silently walked out.
There was a woman at the other end of the table who said ‘I’m Doctor Marshall’ while flipping through a file. ‘Good for you, impersonal woman’ I said and narrowed my eyes at her while leaning on the table. ‘I am your psychologist for the duration of your stay’ she continued. ‘We are going to start off with a few light questions and then we will take it from there’. She saw me frowning at her and softened her expression. ‘You are safe here’ she said. ‘Why am I here? Is this an interrogation room’? I asked. ‘Do you know what your name is’? She asked which just deepened my frown. She shrugged off my response and scribbled something down. ‘Do you know your age’? She asked. ‘Twenty two’ I answered, rolling my eyes at her as if she was dumb. She continued with ridiculous questions like those which I refused to answer. I felt like I was in grade school and was just waiting for her to give me some of her paper so I could show her that I could write too. ‘Is there something on your mind’? She asked looking like a teacher. ‘Yeah, the fact that you are asking me pre-school questions are annoying’ I snapped, barely able to hold on to any thoughts for too long. ‘You have a lot of hostility toward me’ she said. ‘Finally something I can answer’ I thought to myself. ‘Yes I am’ I replied. ‘And why is that’ she asked and for some reason my head went blank and I was unable to remember what we were talking about. ‘What’? I asked feeling a bit confused. I frowned and hit my head with the palm of my hand trying to remember what I wanted to say to this woman. I looked up to the ceiling as if the answers would magically come falling out of the sky but there was nothing. ‘What were we talking about’? I asked her and she smiled gently. ‘We’ll pick this up again tomorrow’ she said softly and all I could think was ‘pick what up’? The orderly came in and took me back to my room.
I couldn’t help but feel mesmerized by all the pretty lights above my head as I was floating back to my cell. I went directly to my bed and lay down as my head felt pulled in a million directions. It was torture not being able to focus on anything no matter how hard I tried. I was given more tablets to chew and gross food to eat day after day. I saw doctor Marshall daily although I couldn’t recall half of our sessions. My actions became almost robotic after a while and it was as though my mind was completely slipping. I had this empty routine of waking up, staring at the ceiling, unable to focus, eating breakfast, chewing tablets, going to sessions with doctor Marshall, coming back to my cell, eat, drink tablets and sleep. Time felt irrelevant as I never knew which day it was or how long I have been in here. All I knew was that the pills I was given were pretty strong and they prevented me from thinking straight. I was in a constant state of wandering, hardly existing even to myself. I have been made into an empty vessel.
One morning I was dragged to doctor Marshall’s office for yet another useless, routine session some time later. She had picture cards for me to play with today. I slumped in my chair as I did every session, feeling distant and unable to focus. She held up a card and asked me what I saw. It was a paper with a black blotch on it. I stared at the paper and said ‘a blotch’. ‘Please try and concentrate Liz, this is very important’ she said. ‘Look at the picture and tell me what you see’. I pulled myself up using the table for support and leaned forward. I narrowed my eyes and tried really hard to concentrate. ‘A blotch’ I said after some time looking at the paper. She then took another paper with a different looking blotch on it and asked me what I saw on that one. Again I did my best to concentrate and gave her the same answer again. ‘Ok, you can relax’ she said and started writing something down. I lost myself again as my thoughts started bouncing all over the place. Doctor Marshall signaled for the orderly to return me to my room. I went straight to bed again as the black hole swallowed me whole, the same as what happened most of my days there. I vaguely heard the orderly come in and felt him wake me up. ‘Your new meds’ he said and I just stared up at him. ‘Come, drink’ he said while I was just staring blankly. I closed my eyes again and I was out cold.
I woke up to the sound of voices around me. Mysterious whispers filling the air like a snow white movie. I groaned as I felt like the hole that kept swallowing me had left a mark on me, hurting my body in some way. My whole body felt like led, rendering me unable to move or even turn my head. I tried opening my eyes or talking but it was like someone was sitting on my chest, choking me. I heard a voice beside me that sounded calm, but worried and all I could get out was another groan before the darkness overwhelmed me again. Through the darkness I heard a beeping sound, beckoning me to walk toward it. I was lost in an abyss of darkness, unable to see where I was supposed to be going. I walked endlessly, searching for the beeping sound when all of a sudden I was jolted out of the darkness and into a stark white room. I was unable to open my eyes as the light was too bright and then I heard it again, the beeping sound, it was right next to me, beeping in my ear. I was able to force my eyes open a bit and saw shadows lurking over me with white light behind them. It took a while for my eyes to focus on the faces staring down at me with their lips moving, trying to say something. The sounds slowly started clearing up and I heard two people talking to me and one talking to someone else. My throat felt constricted and I was unable to talk which made me panic.
‘Welcome back’ I heard one of the faces looking down at me say. ‘Thought we lost you there’ he said. I flicked my eyes over to the person next to him and heard her say, pulse is steadying, but her heart rate is still too high. ‘You need to calm down for us ok’? ‘You are going to be just fine’ a male said and I frowned at him and he smiled at me. ‘You are in the hospital, we are taking good care of you’ he said. I’ve heard those words so many times since I’ve been here and I really stopped believing them from the moment I opened my eyes there. ‘Do you remember anything’? I heard someone ask and I just groaned, barely shaking my head no. I closed my eyes again as the strain of keeping them open was just too much for me at that moment. I was sucked back into the black hole that loved me so much and I remained there until I felt something in my throat. It felt like I was going to throw up and heard a female voice calmly say ‘I’m just taking the tube out of your throat, you are ok’. I groaned again and it was over. The tube was out but my throat and mouth was dry and had a burning sensation.
I drifted in and out of consciousness for two days before I was able to wake up completely. I woke up on day three and felt uncomfortable as if someone was staring at me. I was barely able to lift my head but I tried as I wanted to see if there was anyone else with me. I saw a girl leaning on her elbow on the bed next to me with a huge smile on her face. She had short blonde hair and striking blue eyes. ‘Finally’ she said. ‘I thought you were going to sleep forever’! I smiled back at her with a frown on my face and she took it as her queue to continue talking. ‘You have been pretty out of it’ she said. ‘Thought you were a goner for sure, glad to see you made it’. ‘Um thanks’ I said, feeling as though I had sand paper in my throat. She got up and walked over to my bedside and poured some water in a glass. ‘Here, let me help you’ she said. She pulled a lever on the side of the bed that lifted it up into a sitting position. She held the water up to my face and I tried to take a sip. It felt like the water wouldn’t go down and I swallowed as hard as I could, trying to force it down. ‘Take it easy’ she said. ‘You almost died, don’t force it’. She went back to her bed and sat down. ‘I almost what’? I asked in a raspy voice laying back on the bed she propped up for me. ‘Your heart stopped’ she said. The doctors were all over you trying to get your heart to beat again. They shocked you back to life.’ she said making motions with her hands, demonstrating how it looked to her. ‘It was the most excitement happening in here since I got here’ she said. I couldn’t help but feel amused by her and just smiled. I had a hard time wrapping my head around what just happened to me as my thoughts weren’t quite cleared up yet.
I was more lucid now than I had been in weeks and I welcomed the change. ‘Do you know why my heart stopped’? I asked her hoping that she knew. ‘I heard them say something about poison’ she said shrugging her shoulders at me. It made me feel confused as I was unsure of how I had been poisoned but decided that I would wait until I saw the doctor to find out. ‘I’m Ann’ the girl on the bed said. ‘Liz’ I said and she smiled. ‘What ya in for’? She asked. ‘I’d have to kill you if I tell you’ I answered. ‘A girl with a sense of humor, I like you already’ she said. ‘What you in for’? I asked her and she started laughing. ‘Nah ah, doesn’t work like that! I’ll tell if you tell’. ‘That’s fair’ I said and chuckled. Everything hurt trying to laugh, especially my chest. Ann and I were engaged in conversation when the doctor walked in. ‘I’m doctor Yang’ she said. I waved at her and just said hi. ‘Do you remember anything’ she asked me. ‘I sure get asked that question a lot’ I replied. ‘What happened to me’? I asked her. ‘You ingested poison that slows the heart and eventually stops it from beating sending a patient into cardiac arrest’ she answered. ‘Oh’ I said and she continued. ‘We were able to neutralize the poison and jumpstart your heart. You will be up and out in a few days’. She then checked my eyes and blood pressure. ‘Try and eat something’ she said before she left. ‘How had I been poisoned’ I thought to myself. I only took what the fat orderly gave me and nothing else. ‘But why would he want to poison me? Maybe because I kicked him’ my thoughts continued. The food came in as she was walking out and it didn’t look much better than the food I had the first day I was admitted. I struggled to get the food down with my sore throat and Ann cracking jokes constantly. I spat my food out a few times which made her laugh even louder. Some nurses came in to change my drip and check my blood pressure again and left looking satisfied. ‘Almost lights out’ one said ticking her watch. ‘Ma’am, yes ma’am’ Ann said, saluting the nurse. I couldn’t help but giggle as the nurse gave her a dirty look. ‘Oh they’ll get over it’ she said and closed her eyes. Another nurse came in and injected Ann and came over to me. The nurse told me to turn on my side as she was going to inject me in my butt. The lights went off a short while later and I drifted off to what I was expecting to be another black hole of dreamless sleep.
I found myself seeing flashes of a woman lying on a bed somewhere and heard loud noises like a gun firing. I walked towards the gun fire and saw a man falling to the floor. I looked to my left and saw a hand holding a gun and I turned around to run away and I ran into a bed with the woman lying on it again. It felt like I was running in circles, running from one horror scene into the next and I started screaming as I was running, unable to escape the vicious cycle unfolding in front of me. I felt unsure of whom I saw in the flashes, but I was terrified and knew I had to get out of there somehow. It felt like I was in the middle of a war zone and I was the target. The images had gotten so bad that I was screaming out loud until Ann shook me awake. I gasped for air as I woke up and flew into a sitting position. Ann’s eyes were enormous as she was holding on to my shoulders. ‘It’s just a dream’ she said sounding out of breath. It took me a moment to realize where I was and that I was safe. I was finally able to focus on Ann’s voice and tried to calm myself down. My whole body was shaking and I felt unsure of what I saw. I burst out in tears as my dream left me feeling deathly afraid and Ann wrapped her arms around me. ‘It was that bad huh’ she said into my ear. ‘You are safe now, I promise’ she reassured me. ‘I, I’ I stammered and she shushed me, trying to calm me down. She got on the bed next to me and held me while I lay with my head on her shoulder. I fell asleep a short while later and the dreams were more peaceful. I hadn’t dreamt in a long time and it felt almost unreal.
I woke up the next morning feeling better than the night before when I had my nightmare. I looked over to Ann’s bed and found it empty. There was a nurse standing next to me that smiled and said ‘good morning’. I smiled back and asked her where Ann was. She told me that Ann was healthy enough to go back to her room and that I would be able to see her again shortly. I spent the next two days in the hospital recovering from my ordeal. My night terrors came every time I closed my eyes and it left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I hated that Ann was no longer there with me as she had comforted me so much the first night the dreams began. She made me feel safe, as if nothing bad was able to touch me when she was around. I missed her so much and wondered if I would see her again. Early on the third morning an orderly came to escort me to doctor Marshall’s office. I hadn’t seen her at all while I was in the hospital. She greeted me with cheer in her voice and said that she was happy to see me up and about again. She started our session by asking me how I felt to which I answered that I felt like I had been hit by a train a few times. She smiled and said ‘Yes that happens when you have been poisoned’. ‘Do you remember what happened in the days leading up to the poisoning’? She asked me in all seriousness. ‘I’m not sure’ I replied. ‘The last I remember was the orderly bringing me pills that I was forced to chew because he wouldn’t give me enough water to swallow it down with. From there I felt worse with each preceding day up to the point where I felt so bad that I could no longer get up out of bed or form a coherent thought’. She was taking notes as I spoke and nodded along. ‘Do you remember which orderly it was’ she asked and all I could recall was that he was fat. My mind was blotchy and there were pieces missing, things I couldn’t remember.
‘Can I ask you a question’ I asked doctor Marshall and she looked up looking quite surprised and just nodded. ‘Do you know what happened to me? I mean, I saw you every day, did you not notice something going wrong’? I asked. She had a look of guilt on her face and sighed. ‘I thought the medicine I gave you was too strong and that was what caused you to react the way you did’ she replied. ‘I cannot disclose any more information unfortunately’ she said and looked as though she wanted to say more. ‘Ann told me that you had a nightmare in hospital. Care to tell me about it’? She asked. I tried to explain to her in as much detail as I possibly could the images I saw in my dream. ‘Do you know why you were admitted’? She asked and I thought that we were finally making some progress in the right direction. ‘Because I saw my husband doing something bad’ I said as I couldn’t quite recall the exact details. ‘Your dreams could be your mind’s way of recalling what had happened’ she said. ‘It would seem that you are experiencing memory loss from your ordeal. We will be working on unlocking your memory so that we can deal with whatever surfaces’. ‘Are you going to drug me in the meantime’? I asked her with a frown on my face as I did not trust her. ‘You have to take your medicine but it will not make you feel as sleepy as the previous lot did. You will also be moved in with Ann on the ground floor’ she said. ‘Great’ I thought to myself. ‘Seems it would take me getting poisoned to get a room with a view’ I said to the doctor. ‘I see that you have been getting along quite well and I encourage interaction between patients’ she said. She signaled for the orderly to come in and take me to my new room.
The trip there went slow as I was walking slowly as my body still felt sore. As we came up to the cubicle I saw Ann before she saw me. She was sitting on her bed with her legs up, reading a book. The cubicle had two beds and two night stands with a low wall around it. As I walked into the cubicle to my new bed she looked up and leapt up from her bed to come over to me. She looked over joyed to see me and threw her arms around me. The orderly told her not to touch me and she put her hands up in surrender. I was helped to the bed where I sat down feeling out of breath. Ann plopped down next to me and gave the orderly a dirty look. She turned to me and told me how happy she was that I was there with her. ‘I have never had any friends in here’ she said sounding all excited. ‘You have one now’ I said and took her hand in mine. ‘I missed you’ I said which rewarded me with a huge smile from her. ‘Are you able to walk’ she asked, already on her feet. ‘Sure, with a little help I can do anything’ I said. She helped me up and hooked her arm in mine to help support me. ‘I want to show you around’ she said. We walked over to the window and she showed me the lawn outside where we got to go every Sunday. She wanted to show me the other rooms too but I was happy standing there seeing the grass and the trees outside, even if it was through what looked like a piece of mesh on the window. I missed being outside and doing as I pleased. Ann was jabbering next to me like she had never spoken to anyone before in her life and I found it amusing and let her talk as much as she liked. Although she was an over the top person with a very bubbly personality I found her calming. The orderly came around with our medicine and to my amazement he gave me a bit more water than the previous one did. I could actually swallow my pills instead of chewing them. The doctor had kept her word with the pills as they did not make me feel sleepy at all. They did however make me feel calm and relaxed, a feeling I didn’t mind at all. Ann and I found our favorite spot in the institution which was in the sun room. We sat on a bench in front of the window and just stared outside. Neither her, nor I spoke much after drinking our meds but the silence was peaceful.
I lay my head on her shoulder and took her hand in mine. We sat like that until the dinner bell rang where we were all ushered into a hall where we sat in rows receiving our dinner. I couldn’t help but think how much the place resembled a prison. We ate our food in silence when there was an unexpected commotion. One of the patients was yelling and screaming at her food. I looked around and Ann put her hand on my leg telling me not to look. I frowned at her just before I heard the patient jump up. She was throwing her food and hitting her head with the plate. Luckily the plate was plastic so she couldn’t do much harm to herself. Every time I turned my head to look, Ann would tell me not to. I felt confused at this as I couldn’t understand what was so bad about this woman throwing a tantrum. I then heard two orderlies running up to restrain the woman and s he bolted and ran for the door. I heard something that sounded like electricity and whipped my head around to see. One of the orderlies had a taser gun in his hand which he used to shock the woman with. Ann threw her hand over my eyes, covering them so I wouldn’t see anything. Then I heard a gurgling sound and I realized that the woman was choking on something. My body went cold and my thoughts froze.
I saw a flash of Josh choking me, looking at me with hatred in his eyes. I grabbed on to Ann’s hand and ripped it away from my face. I looked at her with fear in my eyes and she looked at me with empathy. ‘It’s ok’ she reassured me and I shook my head at her. ‘No, it’s not that’ I said. ‘I, I saw something’ I said. ‘A memory’? she asked and I shrugged and shook my head, unsure of what I had seen. We finished dinner and was told to return to our beds, which suited me just fine. I sat on my bed in a daze and just stared at the floor, lost in my own thoughts. I kept seeing the hatred in Josh’s face while he was strangling me. Ann tried to talk to me a few times but I hardly heard her and she finally gave up and went to sleep. I spent the remainder of the night lying awake lost in thought as I was trying to piece together what I saw.
Morning came all too soon as I had not slept at all. My session with doctor Marshall was coming up and I couldn’t wait to talk to her about my vision. I sat waiting for the orderly and almost jumped up when he finally came. He had to keep up with me as I walked to her office and he ordered me to slow down a few times. ‘Eat less and exercise more, then maybe you’ll be able to keep up’ I snapped at him, not in the mood for his nonsense today. I walked into the doctor’s office without knocking and closed the door in the orderlies face. The doctor was already seated and I saw her holding up her hand at the orderly signaling him to stand down. ‘Liz, nice to see you so eager to talk today’ she said and I got straight into it. ‘I had a vision of my husband strangling me’ I blurted out and looked at her as if she must draw a conclusion. ‘Start at the beginning’ she said calmly. ‘Tell me from the start what happened that led up to you having your vision’. I told her about the woman in the mess hall choking and how everything went dark and all I could see was Josh’s face hovering over mine with his hands around my throat.
Her answer completely threw me and I was left feeling dumb. ‘It often happens that having a vision in times of seeing something traumatic is your brain’s way of coping with what the eyes are seeing. We put ourselves in the other person’s position and imagine it happening to us’. ‘No, it was real’ I said. ‘I saw Josh choking me’ I protested. ‘You have been here for a while and missing your spouse and seeing his face in different situations are quite normal’ she said. ‘What you are experiencing is simply your mind’s way of coping with what you saw and what you have been through with the poisoning’ she said. ‘But you said the other day that it could be memories’ I said with annoyance in my voice. ‘Yes, it could have been, but given the circumstances and what you have been through, the most likely conclusion for now is that your mind is trying to find a coping mechanism’ she said. I was starting to feel quite normal but hearing her say such things made me doubt myself and my sanity. The fact that my memory was still blotchy didn’t help my case much either. With a few more questions the doctor concluded our session and I was sent back to my bed where I found Ann. She looked concerned and unsure if she must speak to me or not. ‘She thinks I’m crazy’ I said to her and saw her usual bright smile. ‘Aren’t we all’ she replied, clearly relieved that I was talking to her. ‘Sorry about earlier’ I said. ‘I keep having flashed of things I think is real and it scares me’. ‘Nah, its ok’ she said. ‘I also had that happen to me, but the good doctor made them go away. It’s just your mind telling you how crazy you are’. I wasn’t sure if it made me feel better or worse hearing her say that.
We spent the rest of our day medicated and spending time together. We attempted a board game or two but ended up failing at it and laughing more than we were playing. It felt to me as though Ann helped me a lot more than the doctor did as we had become good friends. My sessions over the next few weeks consisted of doctor Marshall telling me that everything I thought I remembered were my mind creating illusions and confusing fantasy with reality. I started believing her and knew that nothing I saw was real except for what was right in front of me. My memory was betraying me and I needed to take control.
Ann came to me and said that she was getting released. It felt like my heart sank into my shoes as I had come to rely heavily on her. ‘This isn’t the last time you will be seeing me’ she said hugging me tightly. ‘We live close to each other, remember. I will be waiting for you when you get out’. Her smile was radiant and I started crying because I didn’t know how I would cope without her. The orderly told her it was time to go and led her out by her arm. I stood by the window and watched my best friend leave and wished with everything in me that I could join her. She looked back and waved at me before getting in a car that drove her away. I stood at the window with my hands against the glass for a few minutes before the orderly told me to move. I went to the sun room and sat where she always did and pulled my legs up to my chest. I wrapped my arms around my legs and cried uncontrollably, feeling abandoned and alone. To my utter surprise doctor Marshall came and sat next to me. She never came to visit patients as she always saw them in her office. She put her hand on my back and I looked at her, feeling utterly helpless. ‘I thought you may need a friend’ she said. I hadn’t seen her as my friend at all but I didn’t mind the company. I put my head on her shoulder the way I used to do with Ann and she wrapped her arm around me. She told the orderly to close the door to the sunroom and wait outside. I was half expecting her to start asking me questions as were customary with our sessions but she caught me completely off guard with what she said. ‘I know it has been hard for you in here and things haven’t looked very positive but you have taken strides and leaps in our sessions. I have been watching you and the way you act and I believe that you are almost ready to go home’. I pulled my head away from her shoulder and looked her in the eyes. I sniffed loudly and she offered me a tissue which I gladly took. ‘You mean I’m not crazy anymore’? I asked her in all sincerity. ‘You were never crazy’ she said stroking my hair away from my face. ‘Your mind was just betraying you’. I blew my nose quite audibly and the doctor wiped my tears from my face. She brought her face close to mine and said ‘I have grown quite fond of you and will be sad to see you leave. One more session and you will be free to go’. She leaned in and planted a soft kiss on my lips before getting up and walking out of the room. My head spun as I felt unsure of what exactly just happened but I was one hundred percent sure that it was unprofessional.
‘Maybe it was her way of saying goodbye’ I thought to myself and decided not to make too much of it. The next day came and I had my last session with doctor Marshall who was her professional self again. I walked in feeling very unsure of what to expect but she was business as usual. Her questions centered on what I will be doing once I leave and she asked me to repeat what I had learned in my time there. ‘Nothing I saw was real. Josh is a good husband that will never and has never hurt me’ I said. ‘He did not hurt Mindy and there is no mystery guy. I was confusing fantasy with reality. I have a very happy marriage and a best friend that loves me. I also have a new friend that loves me too.’ The doctor looked pleased and signed my release forms. ‘Your husband will pick you up at the gate in an hour’ she said. ‘Go change and say your goodbyes’ she ordered. I thanked her for all she has done and told her that I will never be able to forget her at which she just smiled. The orderly led me away and gave me my clothes I went there with. They were washed and folded and I almost cried when I saw them ‘Oh how I have missed these’ I said to the orderly but he couldn’t be bothered by me at all. ‘Change in there’ he said and pointed to the bathroom. I changed into my clothes and felt fresh and ready to take on the rest of my life now that I was no longer a nut case. I waltzed out of the bathroom and into the waiting area as I had no one to say goodbye to.
I saw a car drive up and Josh got out of the driver side and I leapt to my feet running to the gate. As soon as the gate was opened I jumped into Josh’s arms and told him how much I had missed him. I stood in his arms for a moment just soaking him in. I realized how much I had missed him, his smell and the touch of his skin against mine, just everything about him. I looked back at the building and saw doctor Marshall standing at one of the windows. I waved at her with a huge smile on my face and she picked her hand up slowly and dropped it again. She had a paining look on her face and looked sad for some reason. Maybe she meant it when she said that she had grown fond of me. I blew her a kiss with over the top antics and saw her give a small smile then I turned around and got in the car with Josh, looking forward to getting home.