~Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.
W. Clement Stone.
“No, no, no, no,” I forced my eyes open as I shot out of bed, sweaty and distressed. My heart rate had elevated to the extent that it felt as though a drill had been driven through my chest. My stomach churned uncomfortably with the contents of my stomach making their way out at the horrifying graphics I’d had to endure. Wasting no time, I rushed to the bathroom and threw up.
Exhaustion took over me as I sat down on the floor of the bathroom with tears running down my face. The images were still roaming in my head and there was nothing I could do about it. . .I felt so helpless yet again.
“Get it out, get it out, get it out,” I whined, holding my head and pulling on my hair stressfully in an attempt to get those ghastly images out of my head. “Please get it out. . .” I hiccupped as I struggled like a mad woman to think of something else. Anything else. Just something to distract myself.
I needed to get out.
The walls of my bathroom seemed to trap me in, engulfing me as a whole and draining me of the energy I’d managed to build up over the years. I quickly pushed against one of them in attempt to get myself up and stumbled as I tried to maintain a grip on my footing. Once I was up, I rushed to get my keys and my phone that was lying on the desk nearby and made my way out to the place I knew would help me as much as it could.
Not even caring about the security cameras lining up in the hall, I shut the door behind me and rushed out as fast as possible, in desperate need of any sort of comfort.
The only thing that could be heard far off in the distance were the sounds of panicked footsteps urgently trying to make it to their destination and the sound of subdued sniffles that were trying to come out in the open-- loud and clear-- but were pushed down to make sure no one would be disturbed, at least not as much as I was.
Because no one wanted to see anyone in pain. I didn’t want to see anyone in pain. Then why was it always me? Why had I been suffering so much? Why did one silly mistake of my brother ruin several lives? Why couldn’t I just. . . live?
The word sounded so unfamiliar. A language I didn’t understand anymore. When did I last feel my heart really enjoying without the constant fear of having it demolished the next second?
I always wondered. . . what if I went home that day and really just found my brother. . .happy and alive? My life would’ve taken a complete 360 degrees from where it was now. I’d be in a different University-- one I’d been dreaming to be in since I was a kid. I’d have one of the happiest lives ever. I’d be with my brother. And I’d be playing football. Without fearing it.
Now it just seems like a childish dream a kid would have despite knowing it would never come true. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be normal. Maybe I really had done something worthy of so much pain and self-hate.
But why wasn’t I given a chance to redeem myself? Where was the second chance every other human being seemed to get?
Wasn’t I also human?
And those were the only thoughts going in my head as I finally came into the abandoned spot I didn’t visit for so long now.
And when I finally sat down on the cold floor that numbed me, I stared into the distance trying to figure out where I must’ve gone wrong in my life. Where I messed up so bad that I was being given a ruthless punishment.
But there was no one to give me my answer.
The frustration building up in me resulted in me finally letting it all out. I screamed my lungs out as I remembered some of the best moments in my life. The best moments with my brother. Just knowing that I wouldn’t have them given back. That they had vanished into thin air and out of my reach.
When my throat felt dry and hoarse, I stopped and sat still, once again resorting to staring into the pitch blackness of the room. However, it was only minutes after that I realized, that the place wasn’t doing much. It wasn’t helping me at all.
I wiped my tears and ran out to the field. The last place I could count on to rid me of my agony.
Without wasting a second, I set out to run. The only thing I concentrated on was running as fast as possible. I didn’t even start out with the light jog I usually did. I just wanted to stretch out my muscles as much as possible and focus on getting as many rounds as possible.
Time seemed to pass away and my breathing got more ragged with every step I took. My body ached for rest and my lungs screamed at me to get in the oxygen I was seriously missing out on. But I wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop.
Lost in my own world, I pushed myself even faster, probably setting in a new personal record of mine. At this point, I knew what I was doing was pushing my luck. Each and every stride I took was turning to be wobbly and I was losing my grip now. My feet had numbed down long back and I could feel a sharp pain in my chest that was robbing me of my air.
But my legs had a mind of their own. They kept going. I didn’t even have the willpower to tell them to stop anymore. My vision turned blurry as my sweat and tears mixed into one. And that was that as my legs finally gave out.
My eyes shut on its own accord and I tried to take deep breaths but to no avail. I was struggling. Not only physically but emotionally too. I was a definite mess. And then I shook my head. I wouldn’t want anyone to see me like this. I wouldn’t want anyone to start looking at me as though I were some drama queen that seeked for attention.
So I tried to get up. But alas, not one agreed with me.
Because I finally fell into a black pitch of darkness. One I could finally breathe in.
“Is she not awake already?”
“She’ll be fine, right?”
“She’s really dead, isn’t she?”
The bright light seeped into my eyelids and made its presence known, forcing my eyes to open up. I squinted at the direct exposure to the light before my eyes adjusted to the light. It was only then that I realized that I was sitting on those stretchers. And. . . I was in the nurse’s office. Great.
What did I do this time round?
“Oh my god, Sam, my darling! You’re okay!” Brad pushed everyone aside and hugged me. “I really thought you were dead. Genuinely. But I’m glad you’re not! Gosh Sam. Don’t make me cry now! I was scared sh*tless when I saw you sprawled across the field like that! Who scares a person at six in the morning because of that?!”
“I-- I’m sorry.”
“The only thing you should be sorry for is my absolutely fantastic muscles that tired out while carrying out here. Except. . .my muscles don’t mind. They’d do it any day. All jokes apart, are you okay?” he asked sincerely.
“I’m okay. And I’m sorry about your mus--” I was interrupted by a tight hug by Cecilia.
“You had me worried sick! I knew something was wrong and--” she paused as felt my forehead. “Now you’re actually sick! Why is your forehead heating up so much?!”
The nurse pushed her aside as she brought out a thermometer and shoved it up my mouth wordlessly. Okay then. . .
Only an eyebrow lift from the nurse’s side side only confirmed Cecilia’s thoughts as she left me alone for a second to fetch in the medicines from the cabinet behind her.
Cool. Medicines. My favorite, right?
I awkwardly stared at the white tiles not knowing what to say anymore. That was when Mason burst into the room with Alex right behind him.
“Are you okay?” the both exclaimed at the same time.
I let out a small, tired chuckle. “Yeah. Don’t worry about me. Just got a little sick. It’s all good. I mean, I think the nurse went to get in the medicine. I should be fine in no time.”
“That’s good. I just got Ceci’s message and Mason was with me so we both rushed in to see how you were doing.”
“Well, I’m fine. Now go attend your classes,” I shooed them off.
“We were skipping anyway,” Alex waved me off.
“Yeah. We were only going to practice some football, in fact,” Mason agreed.
“Then don’t let me disturb you. You guys too,” I averted my eyes to Ceci and Brad, “don’t miss out because of me.”
“Are you kidding me? That’s what we’re here for. ‘Not missing out’ and all, you know?” Brad winked.
“Stop worrying and rest, Sam. You don’t look too good right now,” Ceci informed me.
“Okay,” I agreed in a small voice, too drained out to argue. I laid back down and shut my eyes automatically, the lack of sleep and nightmares getting to me, when the nurse came back in with the medicines and a vaccination. “Oh no,” I shook my head as I gulped. “Um. . .is that necessary?” I meekly asked the nurse who only gave me an uncaring shrug in return thereby telling me that it probably was.
Where is the other nurse I could have my way with? Why was she taking an off today out of all days? The vaccination was probably going to kill me. Its sharp pointy edge had always managed to instill a fear in me that even I couldn’t remove. But then again, it wasn’t the first fear I had that worked that way.
And it definitely wasn’t the last.
As she brought it closer to me, my body moved away from it in an instinct. I paled even more if it were possible as I glared at the needle that was going to cost me my life. “Won’t medicines work just the same?” I attempted yet again as I cowered away from the incoming injection.
She just glared at me. Jeez, someone’s having a tough morning.
I guess we have different ways to deal with tough mornings, nurse.
I’m talking in my head again. Wow, Sam. This is going perfect, isn’t it?
“Um. . . just take a deep breath, Sam. Don’t worry. It’s just a needle,” Ceci tried to calm me down sensing my fear. I forced a smile and nodded my head, trying to agree with her. The needle is scary though! my mind retorted.
“Those antibodies are going to kill your fever in a jiffy after this. It only lasts a second!” Brad promised as he gave it his shot to make me feel better in his own lame humor.
Mason just stood and gave me an encouraging nod while Alex came forward and took my hand in his. “I’ve heard, you know? If you squeeze another person’s hand while taking an injection, you won’t even feel any needles on you ski--”
That was all he needed to say and I was already gripping his hand way too tightly. The horrifyingly, disturbing needle was still inching towards me and I gulped again as it touched my skin. I glared accusingly at Alex, who was hand was turning into a pale shade of white, at his logic failing.
But when I looked away all I felt was a prick and that was that.
The world’s most torturous form of a medicine was finally done with. The nurse, seemingly satisfied, gave me another tablet and told me to swallow it down with the water she had handed me. I obliged, only then realizing that I had squeezed Alex’s hand so much that it was probably going numb.
My expression turned into one that resembled a kid getting caught doing something wrong, and immediately dropped his hand. “Oops?” I sort of asked.
He took in the state of his hand and nodded slowly, stretching out his cramped fingers in the process. “Sure, anytime.”
“Make sure she gets complete bed rest for two days, please,” the nurse finally speaks and turns to Ceci. “Also, any sorts of physical activity would not be recommended for the week or so as she really did overdrive herself.” She turns to me. “Don’t be running for a minimum of a week. Also, physically pushing yourself out of your limit to that extent in any type of an exercise is dangerous for you and can cause serious health issues the next time. Refrain from doing that ever again. I’ve prescribed some medicines for your fever. Just sign on the register I have laid out while you’re on your way.”
I wordlessly nodded, aware of my actions. I was never to lose control of myself like that again. That was just a big, fat no.
Ceci grabbed my medicines and helped me out of the bed while Brad filled in the other details listed in the register in the meanwhile. “Thank you,” I smiled gratefully at the cousins as I signed in my name into the register and took off to the room.
My hands trembled as we walked towards my dorm.
Not there, my mind whispered to me. Please, not there.
But this time, I ignored it.
Once we came to it, my hands wandered around in my pockets before a panic moment came to me as I found them empty. “My phone and keys?”
“Right here,” Ceci took out from her pocket and waved it in front of me.
Relief set its place into my heart and I let out the breath I had been holding in. “Thanks,” I smiled in gratitude. “But seriously. . .go. I know for a fact that you have cheerleading practice along with Economics today. I cannot let you miss those subjects. Not only are they your favorite but you know you can’t miss it due to those tests coming up soon. And you and I both know you want to do well in those this time around.”
She looked at me uneasily as though uncomfortable with the idea of leaving me alone at this time and was about to shake her head to say no when I sent her a firm look. ”Go,” I stated. She looked down to the ground as if trying to get away with this, but gave up in front of my stubbornness and finally nodded.
“And the rest of you,” I turned to everyone. “You’ve even dropped me to the dorm. I’ll be fine now! Go wrap up the rest of your day.”
“Listen, Sam--” Alex began
“Practice at 9:30 in the morning today. Don’t think I forgot,” I looked at him pointedly. “Go.”
“It’s just one day. . .and coach would understand--”
“You guys. . . don’t make me feel bad,” I looked at all of them including Brad.
“Okay, okay. We’re on our way then. Are you sure you’ll be fine?” Alex asked.
I just smiled at him and our progression in terms of friendship. His concern was unnerving yet overwhelming as I was only used to the mean side of him. “I will.”
“Alright. See you later, I suppose.”
“Bye,” I bid as they all took their leave with Brad waving off to me with both his hands in the air. I laughed. Brad and his stupid antics may as well be lame but they truly did always manage to make my day.
Once I was in, I took a deep breath and threw myself lazily on the bed. Propping myself up, I grabbed my phone and quickly downloaded some games to entertain myself in the meanwhile. But my mind wasn’t in that.
As I lost various rounds due to my lack of focus, I frustratedly shut the game down and deleted it. The gruesome images were still circulating in my head and not letting me have a moment of peace.
Turning my phone on yet again, I quickly dialed my parents’ numbers. “Hello, mom?” I greeted when the line came back alive.
“Sweetie! We were just about to call you this evening! You know. . . we thought we should give you some time after the therapist and bug you about it later, but the sooner you called, the better, I mean--”
“Yeah,” I cut her off, trying not to think about my failed attempt at the therapist’s and how I cowered away.
“Sam, is everything okay?” my mom immediately asked.
“Yeah, mom. Everything is,” I ran my hands down my face. “I’m just a little sick apparently.”
“Are you? My sweet, little darling! By the way, your medicines are in the corner of your bag. Don’t forget to take them.”
“Don’t worry about that. I went to the nurse and she gave me--”
“You went to the nurse?! Willingly? Sam, are you really that sick? Do you want me to come over--”
“Mom, it was because of Ceci--”
“Bless that child. See? She knows how to bring you on the right track.”
“I guess,” I sighed. “Um. . . mom. . . I actually called for something else. . .”
“Go on,” she urged. “I’m listening.”
“I sort of made a mistake yesterday.”
“What sort of a mistake?”
“I ran out of the therapist’s office,” I groaned at my stupidity.
She held a minute of silence. “Sam, that’s not a mistake. It’s okay, darling. It happens.”
“I know, mom. But I just ran. Why isn’t his death easy to talk about? It’s not the first time. Why is it still hard?”
She stayed silent as though her wounds had been exposed yet again. I shut my eyes tightly as I reprimanded myself internally for bringing that up. She was a mother who lost her son too. I wasn’t going through this alone.
“I’m sorry, mom,” I hung my head down in shame.
“No, Sam. It’s okay. I guess. . .I guess it’s just how it works.”
“Yeah. . .”
“Yup,” she repeated as we suffered through a long period of awkward silence, each one of us not knowing where to take the conversation ahead from that point.
“Mom, actually. . .that was not the point. I know its kiddish of me. I know its childish that I have to call you despite you being across the city for this. But will you please call in the therapist today and ask her if I could visit again?”
“Sam,” she gasped, taken aback. Never had I seemed so desperate to go to a therapist.
But this time the situation forced it right into my hands.
“Please, mom. Please. . . I’ll tell her everything this time. I won’t run out. Just. . .please,” I begged.
“Of course, Sam,” she breathed out. “I’ll do it right away.”
“Thank you, mom,” I sighed in relief.
This time it wasn’t about what I wished for. It wasn’t about how much I hated to be in that place.
But it was about getting better and getting myself out of the uncontrollable mental torture I had to endure on a daily basis.
It was for everyone close to me who got affected by seeing me like this.
And most importantly, it was for Seb. Who probably always wanted to see me try.
I will try, Seb.