The Imaginary (LakeView Series, Book Two)

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I take my pill, down it with water, and beg my mind to be normal. Taking deep breaths I try to ground myself, a light strumming of guitar strings drifts into the bathroom where I hide.

After the fire had dwindled to embers everyone dispersed to their own mini gatherings, Grayson had driven my sister, Theo, and me to our house. Salem and Theo had snuck away to her room, and now he seems to be serenading her to a stupor. I find myself unable to move, my feet rooted to the spot. Numbly, I stare at my eyes in the mirror.

Is that me in the mirror?

I’m so afraid of my mind, it’s stronger than my sense of reality, and I don’t know what I trust. Every bad thing that I’ve been afraid of, has been something that I’ve made up.

I take my pill, down it with water, and beg my mind to be normal.

Grayson waits for me, patient as always. If I had to take a guess, I’d say he’s sitting patiently in the chair that sits by my bookshelf. He’s probably reading the book titles, passing time while I grapple with reality down the hall.

Why am I like this?

There’s a light knock on the door, jolting me from my spiral. I look around, down at my hands that still hold my pill bottle and my water. How long have I been standing here? Contemplating.

“Sage?” It’s Grayson, I guess I’d been wrong; he wasn’t waiting patiently. He was at the bathroom door, wondering why I’ve been in here so long. I clear my throat and put my medication into the cabinet.

“Hi,” I say breathlessly, opening the bathroom door and facing him. His eyes are worried, it fills me with remorse. Grayson is the sun and deserves better than someone who’s struggling with delusions.

“You ok?” I just nod, forcing a smile. No, I’m not ok. I’m struggling to understand the difference between my coma and real-life. Several times I have seen things or heard things, that I experienced in my coma. I feel like it’s real, but it’s clearly not. I feel like I’m losing my mind, and I just want to be ok.

“Yeah, I’m good. You?” Grayson smiles, he doesn’t look fake and forced. For that, I’m thankful.

“I’m great, wanna watch trashy youtube?” Yes, a million times yes. Relaxing together and watching videos feels normal, and I need that. He follows me to my room and we plop down on top of my comforter, nuzzling easily into a comfortable position. It’s strange, how easy existing near him is.

Life is complex, my mind is crumbling, but Grayson is stone. With everything that happens, with every scary thing I see, Grayson is always there reminding me of sanity. He puts on a video of old Vines, the way to my heart. Black tea, and mint. His scent will be burned in my mind forever. I can’t focus on the video, not with his heartbeat below my ear.

His stray hand plays with a strand of my hair, and I allow myself to be calm at this moment. He chuckles at the video, the deepness rumbling in his chest. A small smile plays on my lips, I feel safe.

I hear a small whistling noise, it’s low and piercing at the same time. For a moment I believe it’s in the video, but then I realize it’s continuing even after the vines switch. I raise my head, looking around I try to find the source of the noise.

From my window I see a light fog gathering, thickening around the pane and leaking in through the small opening. It comes in swiftly, pouring in through the window and covering my floor in a fine mist.

“Gray…” I whisper before I can stop myself before I can even comprehend that he won’t see it. He doesn’t hear me, my voice silenced by the vines. It’s the mist from the asylum, the fog that ate up my dead friends. I need to stay calm, it’s not real. It encases the room, I squeeze Grayson’s arm. It’s like he wakes up, suddenly noticing my fear.

“Sage-?” Then he jumps, his arm encasing around me quickly. “What the hell!” He sees it, he comes alive and pulls us both off the bed; guiding us away from the thick smoke that grows larger.

“You can see it?” I ask dumbly, words tumbling out of my mouth in shock. But it doesn’t matter, that’s not what’s important. What matters, is getting out of this alive.

“What the hell, what is that?” He asks, still confused about the thick smoke that takes up most of my room now. It’s threatening, sizing us up, encasing the floor to ceiling. Somehow smoke manages to be terrifying, it threatens to devour us.

It lunges, whipping out at us cowering. Gray hides me, the smoke licks his body; causing him to let out an agonizing scream.

“No!” I scream, my terror ripping at my throat. He pushes me back against the wall and lets the smoke steal him from my grasp. His yells echo in my head, and a mix of the smoke and my tears blind me from being able to see him.

My stone, he is not here.

It’s real, it’s always been real. If I had just owned that, he wouldn’t have been taken from me. I take my pill, down it with water, and beg my mind to be normal. Sedation didn’t save me. I let out another scream, I can’t see Grayson anymore and his screams of anguish come to a stop. He’s gone, he’s gone. I squeeze my eyes shut, and drop to my knees.

“Take me!” I scream at the smoke, but it hovers just before me. “Take me!” I scream again, I don’t want to live in a world without him.

“Sage? Honey? I’m here.” Grayson.

I open my eyes and everything is normal again.

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