From Opposite Sides

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Chapter 28

The wait is long and agonising. I want to know how my mother is doing, but the staff are not telling me anything. I’m forced to remain seated until someone calls us. I don’t know where they’ve taken her or what they are doing to her.

Will she be in trouble when they find out she overdosed? What then? Will she be taken away? Will the police be involved?

Maggie and Rory arrived shortly after I did and I’m grateful that they are here to keep me sane. Rory hasn’t said much, but he doesn’t have to. His company is enough.

Maggie tells us she’s going to have a cigarette, leaving me and Rory in the waiting area alone.

I fill the silence by saying, “If I hadn’t gone to the party, she wouldn’t have taken those pills.”

I watch Rory’s attention shift to me. “Skye, it’s not your fault. Your mother might have done this whether you were there or not.”

“I know, but we haven’t been speaking lately. It could have led her to overdose. That would make it my fault.”

“Your mum might have had another reason. It could have even been an accident.” I get that he’s only trying to reassure me, but I don’t think it was done accidentally.

The pills were out in plain sight and the evidence was there. But if she did attempt to kill herself, where would that have left me? Was she planning on leaving me behind? Was it that easy?

“I can’t believe she would do this to herself... to me,” I admit, getting tearful again.

Rory rests a hand on my shoulder and I don’t resist. I just need to be held.

He shuffles closer, so our knees are almost touching. The heat from his skin radiates against mine and I’m tempted to lean against his shoulder, but I don’t.

He fiddles with the ring on his index finger, lifting it on and off.

His eyes travel down to my parted lips and back into my eyes, where they remain. Then he leans back in the chair and the moment passes.

Rory’s hand envelopes mine briefly, before he extracts it. “I shouldn’t have punched Nick at the party. It was a stupid move.”

“It’s fine. He kind of deserved it.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He said that you’re bad news - that you’re only using me to get what you want and that you bring loads of girls to the skate park.”

“That son of a—” he stops himself, “Please don’t take anything he said seriously. He did this to spite me. It had nothing to do with you.”

“What’s his problem anyway?”

Rory’s eyes meet mine, hardened this time. “We have history. A couple of years ago, I was involved in something. Nick ended up taking it too far and someone could have been seriously injured because of his actions.”

“What happened?”

His face grows hard with determination, as he tries to explain. “One of the pastor’s caught us vandalizing the church. He threatened to call the police. Nick panicked and attacked him.”

This must be what Nick meant when he said that Rory had a dark past. He’s made mistakes, just like we all have. But he’s owning up to them and that takes a lot of courage. I can’t judge him for what he’s done. I can only support him, just as he’s supported me.

“Was the pastor okay?” I ask.

“He was fine, but oddly enough he didn’t even file a report against us.”

“That is strange,” I agree.

“I’ve changed my ways since then and Nick doesn’t like that I chose to leave him behind. That’s why he’s constantly trying to rile me up the wrong way.”

He stands up and I gather that he’s done with this conversation. “Anyway, I’m going to get a bottle of water. Do you want anything?”

“No, I’m fine.”

Nick was clearly a bad influence. I’m just glad that Rory is no longer involved in his dangerous games.

|||

Mum is lying in the hospital bed, tubes surrounding her. I’m sitting in the visitor’s chair by the window, elbows balanced on my knees. Her eyes are clamped shut, the heart monitor beeping at its regular pace.

She looks so young and innocent lying there. I can’t stop thinking that if I’d been a few seconds later or decided to stay out longer, I could have come home to find her dead.

The doctors confirmed that she had taken a large dosage of sleeping pills and that she could have died if I hadn’t found her when I did. The underlying reality is, this could have resulted in mum losing her life, leaving me behind in the process.

The unbearable part is that she was willing to go all the way. She was willing to leave me, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to cope with her not being there. We’re supposed to be a unit, no matter what happens.

Now I’m angry.

I clench my fists together and they start to turn white. How could she do this?

My jaw clenches and stays rooted, as Maggie opens the door. She’s on her own. “Where’s Rory?” I assume he would have left by now. It’s three in the morning.

Maggie approaches the bed, glancing at mum briefly, before looking at me. “He said he had to go home. But he will be back to visit later.”

I’m happy to hear that he’s coming back, although if I’m on the receiving end of his sympathy, I don’t want it.

Maggie sighs heavily, letting out some of the tension she’s feeling. “Whenever I went over to your house to visit, your mum always seemed so chirpy and happy, as if she was getting better. I guess, you never know how anyone is feeling under the surface, until they decide to do something like this. It’s so tragic.”

I turn to look out the window where life is whipping by. Somewhere out there, another person has probably just tried to end their life and maybe they were successful.

Mum is lucky she’s still alive and that she’s been given another chance. Although, I don’t think this piece of information will make any difference to her when she comes around.

Nobody understands what it’s like to live with mental health issues, until it happens to them. Otherwise, they act like it doesn’t exist or that people are over exaggerating.

The brain is a powerful tool that can be used for many things. It sends signals to the arms and legs to start functioning. It displays memories that can replay themselves in movie-like form. It controls just about everything we do.

Because the brain is so powerful, we should have no trouble believing that mentally, it can cause some problems.

The thoughts can be destructive and persuading, to the point where a person might consider putting an end to their misery, stopping the thought cycles from continuing. They can no longer deal with the constant pain that they desperately want to forget.

In mum’s defence, she has been deeply hurt and she hasn’t released this hurt in the best way. That feeling of adrenaline never lasts. It doesn’t carry you into the next day or lift your burdens. It drags you under, until you’re faced with a million other issues that you can’t resolve.

I don’t know what was running through her head, when she attempted the suicide. But I can imagine it was persuading enough for her to go through with it. And I can imagine that she would have felt afraid and alone.

I want to be angry at her. I am angry with her. But I can’t stay angry. She can’t help what’s happening and she is suffering silently. It makes me question whether she’s tried something like this before, or had thought about it.

I edge myself closer to the bed, desperately wanting to touch her hand, but I don’t. I sit with her until the sun comes up, listening to her heartbeat in the monitor and her heavy breathing.

I fall asleep in the crook of the armchair, neck bent over in such a way, that when I awake, I’m faced with intense muscle pain.

Mum hasn’t stirred and I slump back down, exasperated. I wish I had worn something less clingy to the party last night. I need to use the toilet, but I’m worried about what I’m going to find when I look in the mirror.

I know I’m hideous and in urgent need of fresh makeup, toothpaste and clean clothes. My phone is dead and I obviously didn’t have time to fetch a charger with me, so I can’t contact anyone.

Ignoring my incessant need to urinate is no longer an option. I sprint to the nearest cubicle down the corridor. On my way, I bump into someone and almost topple over. I’m met with the ugliest pair of shoes I’ve ever seen. They have little puppy faces all over them. I know they can only belong to one person.

Harper is standing there, shocked to see me. I’m not imagining things, despite feeling a bit loopy. “Hey Skye!”

“Hey. What are you doing here?” I ask, short of breath.

“My mum works at the clinic. I’m dropping something off to her,” she says. “Are you alright?”

I want to ask her if it looks like I’m alright, but I bite my tongue and say, “My mother was rushed into hospital yesterday.”

Harper places a hand to her mouth. “Oh my gosh, Skye I’m so sorry! Is she going to be okay?”

“I’m not sure.”

“I’ll be praying for you,” she says.

Nobody has ever said that they’d pray for me before. I don’t know how I feel about it.

By the time I return to the ward, mum isn’t short of company. The Cher lookalike is sitting with her when I walk in. I recognize the jet black curls instantly. I’m worried that this is going to be beyond awkward.

Slowly, I take small steps towards the bed. She smiles when I join her and immediately comes over to hug me. When she pulls back, the air finds its way back into my lungs again.

“It’s nice to finally meet you Skye. My name is Michelle. I’m sorry about what happened. That must have been so awful for you.”

I let out a sigh. “It was. I honestly thought that she was gone at one point.”

Michelle is nodding, eyes sympathetic and for once, I’m not too bothered about someone feeling sorry for me. “I was going to meet your mother today for our morning coffee and when I swung by the house, your next door neighbour told me that she’d been admitted. I came straight away.”

“Well thank you for coming, I know my mum would appreciate it.” I search for something else to say so it doesn’t get awkward. “How long have you two been friends?”

“I started working at the cafe a few weeks ago and your mother was very welcoming. We got along instantly and I think the world of her, I really do.”

It’s nice to hear someone talk so fondly of my mother. She doesn’t have many friends and most people gossip about her behind her back. But this woman isn’t like them. There is nothing fake about her and I can see she genuinely cares.

“Do you mind if I pray for your mum, right now?”

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to answer that. Still, I puff out my cheeks and exhale. “Go ahead. I’m not going to stop you.”

Michelle walks to the other side of the bed and grabs my mother’s hand. She grips onto it and closes her eyes. “Lord, I bring Collette to you now. You know her wants, needs, fears and worries before she has even voiced them. You know what she’s been struggling with and the things that have been eating away at her. I pray that you will help Collette get better Lord, so she can thrive and grow with you. I pray that you will renew her mind and rebuke her thoughts. Change her heart Lord, so she can become more like you.”

I listen to Michelle speak and try not to giggle. It’s awkward watching this woman speak to thin air. “Lord I also want to pray for healing, not just for Collette but also for her daughter Skye. You love them both so much Lord.”

Hang on, why have I been brought into this? She’s not supposed to be praying for me. I don’t need help.

“Guide them on their journey Lord,” she continues. “Your timing is so perfect. Thank you for always knowing what’s best and for taking the situation into your own hands. In Jesus name I pray, amen.”

Am I supposed to say amen back?

I’ve never been to chapel before, but I remember we used to say the Lord’s prayer in school and it always ended with us closing in ‘amen’ together. We also used to sing this song called ‘Shine Jesus shine’ in assembly, which was the only hymn the teachers seemed to know back then.

I’d always imagined that the church is a super religious place, with rules and regulations to follow. And something about the church in general is scary to me.

Michelle and Harper give off this happy demeanour, as if nothing can touch them. What’s their secret? Is God really out there, waiting for us to come to him? Is there really a timing for everything or is it based entirely on coincidence?

“You look exhausted love,” Michelle is saying. “Why don’t you pop home and get some sleep? I’ll stay with your mum until you get back.”

“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that.” As much as I need a bath and a sleep in my own bed, I can’t leave this room or mum’s side.

Not now.

Michelle must sense my hesitation. “Honestly, she’ll be fine. I’ll watch over her. If there are any changes, I’ll call.”

My eyelids are struggling to stay open and I need to change out of this cat costume. It stinks of alcohol and smoke and judging by my mother’s lack of improvement, it’s looking like I’m going to be sleeping at the hospital for a while. I realize that I have to go home. In order to look after my mum, I’ve got to keep my own strength up.

“I won’t be gone long.”

“Take as much time as you need.”

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