August 21, 2016
I could feel the fabric of actual clothing against my skin. Skinny jeans, a faded ‘Metallica’ t-shirt that once belonged to me. It felt like a lifetime ago. It had my old scent on it. I didn’t even smell that way anymore, I smelled like alcohol, and medicine now. The asylum was a part of me. Most of the time I could barely recall my own name, let alone remember my childhood. All I could recall is that my mother had left me here, three years ago. My memories were hazy now, as though they didn’t exist, and I remembered so little of the person I was before I came here.
Christabella is a fleeting memory. I can’t even remember her face, or the reasons why I had claimed to love her. Dr. Markov had taken everything from me, my memories, my sanity. I couldn’t count the number of times I had been strapped to a table, and shocked until I couldn’t stand up for hours after. I sometimes couldn’t even form words together to create coherent sentences. I needed help dressing myself some mornings, and I found I was so drugged up that even making it to the toilet in my room was an actual miracle some days.
The other patients had ignored me. Left me alone, because none of them wanted to share my fate. None of them wanted to wind up like me. I was alone in here. I hadn’t seen my sister, she was kept from me, and I hadn’t even seen my mother. She still didn’t give a fuck about me.
“Are you ready to go, Gabriel?” Though I hadn’t been given a sedative this morning—because I am going home—the medicine was beginning to wear off, and the haze was beginning to lift, but I still felt as though the last three years were null, and void.
Filled with so much pain, and intentional horrors that I couldn’t even describe, or remember if I wanted to.
“Yes, Dr. Markov.” I heard myself say as though from inside a hollow can.
“I told you I would cure you when we first met, didn’t I?” She had a wheelchair in front of me, and I stood, before settling down into it.
“Yes. You did.” I responded in an almost monotone voice.
“Are you still in love with your sister, Gabriel?” She asked me.
“No.” I breathed out. And it was the truth. I barely remembered her at all.
Since I was almost twenty—in two weeks—and I didn’t have a job I was forced to return to my mother’s house. She picked me up from the institution in her own SUV. I had been allowed outside whilst I was in the asylum, but most of the time I was so drugged up that I could only manage to stare blankly around. I never actually noticed the fresh air, or the birds that flew overhead. Not even the breeze that blew through my hair. I could have been staring at one of the white walls of my room for all it had mattered to me. Now on the transference from the wheelchair into the car I had actually heard the birds, and the wind began to pull me back down to Earth. I felt alive, and FREE.
I kept the window down the entire way home—it was nearly an hour from where we lived—and I allowed the warm summer air to drift across my face. I didn’t want to talk to my mother, she was after all the reason that I had been caged up like an animal in the first place. I found the breeze to be agreeable, and even though I wished she wouldn’t, my mother broke the silence between us.
“I wasn’t the one that called the police, Gabe.” Her blue orbs shifted towards me, for an instant before flicking back towards the road.
“Bullshit.” Is all I managed to say through the heavy cloud that still engulfed the majority of my mind. I wasn’t in the mood to argue with her, nor did I really have the energy to do so. She was my mother, and I had to live with her, but that didn’t mean I had to like her, or even like the person that she was.
She looked as though she wanted to say something, but seemed to think better of it, and kept her silence. I wished she would have kept her silence all through the rest of the journey home, but that was more of a delusion than a hope.
“It’s Christabella’s birthday, she is nineteen.” It was the last thing I had been expecting, and it took me off guard. Was it really her birthday? I couldn’t remember her well enough. I couldn’t remember the things we had said to each other, or all we had meant. It was like I was detached from the person I was before. I was broken, and lost. Time, and memories had lost all meaning in there.
“Oh.” Was all I managed to say in response, “That’s nice.”
My response seemed to trouble her, because a strange look passed across her face, but she didn’t say anything more to my relief. The rest of the hour long car ride was dead silent. My eyes settled on the trees, and wildlife we passed. I couldn’t remember the last time that I had actually seen an animal. I assumed it must have been right before I went in, but I couldn’t remember what animal I might have seen.
“Does Christabella still live with you?” I found myself asking as the car was turned off in front of our house. The sound of the waves crashing ashore on the beach behind our house were loud, and clear. I had missed that sound. It was something I remembered listening to my whole life, something that had once calmed me.
“Yes. She is taking online courses now, and works as a waitress down at Big John’s. Do you remember that place?”
“No.” I unlocked my seatbelt, the hour drive, had allowed the last bit of that nasty medicine to have almost completely worn off, and my head was no longer so fuzzy as it had been when I left the Asylum, but it was no longer the reason I couldn’t recall things. The shock treatments I had been forcibly administered for the last three years had been enough to erase memories from my mind. Taking precious things I might once have held, but now no longer do, and the constant string of sedatives, and other mind-numbing medications wouldn’t allow for me to exercise my brain enough to even try to remember what I forgot.
I pulled open the door to mom’s car, and slammed it shut behind me. Mom still hadn’t killed the engine, and she wasn’t getting out of the car either. I turned back to stare at her.
“You coming in?” I finally asked, and she shook her head.
“Have to go back to the office.”
I wasn’t the least bit surprised, and said the only thing that came to mind. “Okay.”
She waved to me, and backed out of the driveway, and I watched as she sped down the street. It was exactly the kind of homecoming I had pictured myself having. Deciding that it was high time I actually went into the house, I headed up the sidewalk, staring around at the few kids toys—balls, and skipping rope—that littered the lawn. It was so foreign to me. I barely even recognized the place, even the basketball hoop that was still attached to the garage in the driveway was not even a distant memory I still held.
Lifting my hand I knocked slowly on the door. It didn’t seem right to just walk on in. I heard footsteps, and lots of giggling, and running. Then all at once the door swung open, and there she was. Christabella. Her face so unfamiliar, rounded green orbs staring widely back at me, and straightened blond hair nearly waist-length. Then there were the children. Four of them all staring up at me with gaping eyes.
“Eli…” A breath, and then silence.