Chapter 29

Jeren and I had been friends ever since that first day in the relaxation room. She would respect my need for distance, not judging me when I wouldn’t play along with any of her games, and I would not be angry at her when she would not come out of her room some of the days, when at others I would practically have to shout at her to make her keep her distance. I never treated her as her bipolar disorder and she didn’t treat me like my illnesses. The whole array of them. I liked that arrangement.

There was a bad part about making friends in the treatment center, however: Friendships based on being in a similar situation were good as long as the situation lasted. But in the treatment center, they never did. Jeren once told me a statistic – though I am not sure if it’s true – that 60% are ‘fixed’ and go home and the other 40% kill themselves. My friend, although I hated to know she’d be gone, luckily belonged to the former group. It was about three months after that first day I had met Jeren, three months and two days to be exact. June. Outside the treatment center, people were fully enjoying their summer holidays, spending time at the beach, going out with friends, drinking and forgetting the world. Jeren would soon be one of them.

She was not ‘fixed’ though, she had whispered to me the day she told me she was leaving. She was simply patched up enough to start living again. She said that only living life can heal some of our wounds. She had then scribbled her phone number down underneath one of my drawings. ‘I will never forget you,’ she whispered to me and then she did something that I nor she had anticipated: she hugged me. For a moment, all I could do was stand in shock. Then I did something equally surprising. I hugged her back. We stood like this for what felt like hours, trying to convey all the words we were unable to say. And then she was gone.

It was a Tuesday. Four days after Jeren’s departure. It was almost time for breakfast, but I had no time to think about that. Rushing through the hallways, I imagined myself being a whirlwind of colors to the casual observer, too fast to be seen clearly.When I finally arrived at my destination, I knocked on the door loudly.

‘What are you doing here? You should be at breakfast!’ A voice suddenly said, the tone condescending.

I turned around to look at her. Red hair, a pair of big, purple glasses perched on her nose. It was the same nurse that had refused to let me go to Jeren. ‘I need to see Dr. Hurst.’

‘Dr. Hurst is a very busy man. Besides, you have to get your breakfast.’

‘I need to see Dr. Hurst,’ I repeated, trying to keep the irritation out of my voice. Without success of course.

‘Young lady, you’ve…-’

‘Let her in.’ A voice suddenly sounded from inside the room and I couldn’t help but smile smugly at the nurse before I entered the office. I mean, she kind of deserved it.

Walking into the all-too-familiar office, I sat myself down in one of the brown leather chairs at the desk. Crossing my arms in front of my chest, I cut straight to the chase; I had no time for pleasantries today. ‘Ever since Jeren went home, I.. I just feel like I..-’

‘I know Jeren’s departure has been hard on you, but you can’t let that set you back in your treatment.’

I shook my head, trying to put into words the feelings I was having. ‘I am ready to talk about it.’

He looked up, the vision as clear in his mind as it was in hers. Before he had time to analyze it, though, it was gone and his sister had started singing the alphabet – backwards. ‘What was that?’

She looked up innocently enough, her big eyes almost believable. ‘What do you mean, Edward?’

Fixing her with a glare, Edward knew that she would never be able to keep secrets for long. One moment or another she would forget to shield her thoughts and he would know what was going on. That might as well be now. ’You know what I mean, Alice.’

His love took that moment to look up from the book she was reading, looking at them with her warm, brown eyes. Although her mind was quiet, the look she gave him clearly asked for explanation.

Brushing a hand through her hair lovingly, he responded with a meaningful look of his own. “I’ll tell you later”, this one said. He stood from the couch, walking out onto the veranda. When Alice had followed, he closed the door behind her. Although the rain had stopped for the present being, the days were still cold and he didn’t want his love to catch a cold. ‘Who is she?’

The small pixie shook her head. ‘I don’t know Edward.’

‘Don’t you?’

Turning around, she threw him a heated glare. ‘I don’t. If I knew who she was, I would have tracked her down by now, wouldn’t I?’ She sighed, a very humanly thing to do. He’d noticed that she’d picked up these small human habits over the past half a year, but had decided to think nothing of it. Perhaps spending some time with Bella had caused the difference in his sister. ‘She’s been popping up in visions for some time now. Nothing really happens most of the time. I just see her sitting in her room, or drawing. I didn’t want you to worry about it.’

Edward nodded. ‘She looks familiar, doesn’t she?’ He thought back on the vision. Her ginger locks were tied up in a messy bun, some stray strands of hair falling down the frame of her face as she was bend over a drawing. Her grey eyes were narrowed, fixed on the masterwork that was beginning to take shape beneath her fingers. Her skin was pale, even paler than Bella’s and almost matching with his. She was thin and fragile looking, but there was something in her eyes that made him rethink that description. She had passion, fire in her soul. And that fact made him realize that she couldn’t be familiar. She was too special to be forgotten.

‘Like from a dream.’

‘Are you sure you are ready?’ I nodded. Now that I was here, knowing that I would soon have to talk about the things that haunted me until deep in the night, I suddenly didn’t feel as certain of my decision anymore. Yet, I also knew that I would have to face my demons one day.

He gave me an encouraging smile. ‘Just know that you may stop whenever it becomes too much.’

Taking a deep breath, I wrapped my arms around my body – a habit I seemed to have formed for whenever I got into a stressing or anxiety-evoking situation. ‘I clearly remember the day. It was a warm Saturday and we had agreed to go out for a dinner and then a movie to end the holiday properly. At first, I hadn’t really enjoyed the idea of spending the evening with them, since Veronica and I had gotten into a fight..’ I trailed off, thinking about how much I wanted to redo that day.

‘What was the fight about?’

‘Something trivial. It always was,’ I smiled sadly. ‘We’d agreed to act normal towards each other, though – if only to appease Mom and Dad. Anyways, we were on our way back to the car after the movie when they.. when it happened.’ I stopped there, suddenly overcome by a wave of emotions. Just thinking about what had happened both frightened me and made me feel ashamed. Having to say it out loud.. Even at that moment, their screams still rang in my head, their voices still begged, prayed. I wanted to help them, but I couldn’t.

‘Dalia? Are you still there? Do you want to stop?’

‘No, it’s fine. I just.. It’s difficult. I can still hear them, especially at night. Regret keeps me up, the guilt eating away at me. They scream at me, they beg me to..-’

‘Return to that evening, Dalia. You were walking to the car, what happened then?’

’We went through an alley. Suddenly there were these guys.. men. They had knives. They told us to give them our money. My Dad gave them his wallet. They touched Mom’s face, calling her “darling” and told her to hand over her wallet as well. My Dad got angry and told them to step away from my Mom. They stabbed him. First in his shoulder, then a second time in his chest. Mom screamed, prayed them to stop, then tried calling for help. They went for her next. Pushing her down on the ground, she begged them for mercy. Then they killed her. Veronica tried escaping with me, but I couldn’t move. I could only stand there and look at the lifeless bodies of my parents. If I had only gone with her, we might have.. She might have still..’

I closed my eyes, flashbacks crashing over me like a wave, threatening to pull me under. Tears were freely making their way down my cheeks, but I knew I had to keep going. ‘The one with the knife caught her against the wall and I wanted to tear him away from her, to scream, to cry. But I couldn’t. I could just stare. It felt like I was someone outside the situation. Like I was only watching a movie, but wasn’t part of it. I only snapped out of it when I felt his hands on my hips. The other man, he’d pushed me against the opposite wall, a few feet away from Veronica. I tried to push him away, but he was too strong. Then everything went black and the first thing I remember from thereon is arriving in Forks.’

‘You say you were a bit removed from where the others were. However, when the police found you, you were lying curled up, next to your parents. Do you have any idea what might have happened?’

An image flashed through my mind. ’When it was.. when he was done, I crawled back to them. I wanted to die like them. I can still feel their blood on my hands. On my face. I wished it was mine.’

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