Today was the day.
After almost a year of wasting away in the treatment center, I would finally become a part of the real world again. If only for a week, I was free.
When I was throwing my stuff into a suitcase, I was surprised to see how little stuff I had actually had at the center: A very limited wardrobe, some drawings I had made here, books and a couple of CD’s I had actually never had the chance to listen to. The rest of my personal stuff would be waiting for me at the check-out desk. My phone, some pencils and shoe laces were among them. ‘Dangerous stuff’, they had been labelled.
I was not fixed. Dr. Hurst had even told me so when we had been discussing the topic of leaving the center. No, I definitely still had my issues, I just had been given tools to deal with them now. Relaxation exercises, medication and thought-challenging exercises were among them. I’d also had to promise to follow a weekly therapy session at the center. Just in case. I hadn’t really cared to be honest. I was getting out, that was all that mattered. And what was better, I had even gotten Dr. Hurst to allow me to visit Jeren for a week, before having to go to the orphanage. Being under-aged sucked – majorly.
Of course when I had called her, Jeren had been extatic about the news and had practically begged me to visit her in Seattle. Not that any of that was necessary, since I was more than happy to visit her, as well. Besides, the prospect of having to go to an orphanage wasn’t all that appealing, anyway.
I was currently waiting for Dr. Hurst to sign my release papers – of course with the official date one week from today – and simultaneously for the cab that was to take me to the airport. Just having been reunited with my ’highly dangerous’ phone, I decided to send Jeren a message, telling her everything was going well.
Adding her to my contact list, I opened a new draft. Everything’s going well, will be there tonight! Ps. This is Dalia. I shook my head, thinking about how weird it would have been, had I not added my name. I mean, Jeren might have given me her number, but when I called her to arrange the whole visit, I’d used the treatment center’s phone. She might as well have thought I was some sort of creepy stalker. Although, knowing Jeren, she probably would have just gone along with it. She was funny like that.
Waiting for a response, I aimlessly started looking through the small device. I didn’t really have a lot of contacts – since my social life had been rather non-existent – and this pretty much held for my collection of pictures as well. The only thing that I did have an excess of was music. I sighed, having gotten bored quickly, and opened another draft. When I was finished typing down the phone number, I realized my mistake. Almost instinctively, my fingers had filled in the number they knew so well. Edward. Only they couldn’t, for I had never used that number in reality.
It’s all in your head, I told myself sternly. Don’t let your fantasies run away with you, not now you’re so close to freedom. I quickly deleted the draft, putting the device in my pocket.
‘Your cab has arrived,’ Dr. Hurst announced softly, pulling me from my thoughts.
Standing from the chair, I grabbed my suitcase, trying not to let the emotions that were suddenly overwhelming me show. It was weird. I had been at the center for almost a year. And although it hadn’t exactly been the best time of my life, it had helped me and so it felt strange to leave. I looked at my caretaker. The man was in his mid-fifties, with dark hair and brown, friendly twinkling eyes. Without him I wouldn’t be here right now.
I breathed in and stepped up to him. ‘Thank you for everything.’
He smiled. ‘I have every bit of faith in you, Dalia.’
It took me all my will-power not to run to the little on-plane toilet when the airplane had reached altitude – finally. Although I had flown before, I had forgotten what the ascending did to my bladder. And so I hurried into the bathroom, trying to simultaneously put my pants and the toilet seat down. When the pressure was off, I let out a sigh of relief.
As I was washing my hands, I couldn’t help but stare at the reflection in the mirror. I had changed, I realized. When I had first awoken from my psychoses, I was looking almost ghostlike. Now, although I was still quite thin and pale, I at least looked alive again. My eyes weren’t hollow anymore. My cheeks not sunken. It was definitely an improvement.
Looking down at my bare arms and legs, I realized I’d have to change as soon as I landed in Seattle. Shirts and capris might have been more than enough for sunny California, it definitely wasn’t for Washington.
I studied the ugly scar that had formed on my left knee. It hadn’t been there before the incident, I was sure of that. But try as I might, I could not explain what had caused it to form. In the treatment center, my limps had been strapped to the bed to protect me from myself..
‘What were you thinking?!’ That was the same question I had been asking myself ever since I woke up in the hospital. Although I had told Edward that I would take care of things, I had quickly fainted after the whole ordeal, the adrenalin rush taking its toll on my energy level. I had been given my own room, despite my injuries being not as serious: some scraps and bruises, a sprained wrist – again – and an ugly looking wound on my left knee from God knew what. I suspected Dr. Cullen had had something to do with my rooming, though, if only to give his daughter the opportunity to pump me for information..
No, that couldn’t be it. Shaking my head, I looked at the mirror. Keep yourself together, I told my reflection.
‘You’re here!’ Engulfing me in a hug, she gave me no time to object and therefore, I decided to just let it be for now. When she finally let go of me, I had a good chance to look at her.
‘You’ve changed.’ And it was true. Jeren, like myself, looked healthier. She looked tanner – as far as the weather allowed that – and there was something about not seeing her in a hospital gown that brought a smile to my face. She was a real girl now.
‘So are you!’ She whistled at me, then winked. ‘I like it.’ As she took my suitcase from me and made her way inside the house, she kept talking. ‘I hadn’t expected you to be out of there so soon, though I am happy you are, of course. I mean, what moment better than the summer holiday to spend some time with my partner in crime and craziness.’
We entered a living room and I hesitated on the threshold, seeing that there were others. Somehow, when imagining visiting Jeren, I had never thought about the possibility of her having family. I was positively stupid.
My energetic friend turned around. ‘Come in, you idiot. My parents don’t bite, you know?’
One of the two, a woman who looked to be in her forties, shook her head. ‘I don’t know how you’ve managed to put up with her.’ She smiled. ‘I’m Jeren’s mother, Theresa, but feel free to call me Terry.’
The man beside her nodded curtly. ‘David.’
Jeren giggled. ‘They know that. I had to give them the whole story before I was allowed to let you visit. Something about psychos, or something..’
Shaking my head at my best friend, I was somewhat relieved when she pulled me towards the stairs. Although they seemed pretty nice, it was kind of weird to be around someone else’s parents. Especially when said parents know of my mental health.
‘So I was thinking, didn’t you say that place of your psychoses was named Forks?’
I nodded slowly, not really knowing what she was getting at.
‘Well, my brother’s girlfriend lives in Port Angeles and that’s only about a one-hour drive to Forks..’
She shrugged her shoulders. ‘I don’t know, I was just saying.’
‘Edward is suspecting something,’ Jasper said softly, making sure they were far enough from the house to prevent anyone from listening in on their conversation.
His wife dropped her head. ‘I know.. But I told him that I don’t know who she is.’
He nodded, thinking this over. Sometimes it was difficult to be together with someone who could see the future, who would tell you something was supposed to happen and you were just to trust her word. He could only hope she was right this time. ‘How long?’
‘A couple of days, I don’t know precisely.’ Alice sighed. ‘I just wish I knew why I’m seeing all these visions about her, that I knew why she’s so special. I wish I knew we were doing the right thing.’
Grabbing her hand with his, he squeezed it softly. ‘It will be alright.’