14: Warned and Conditioned
I try to sit up but am quickly pushed down; I look into Zac’s troubled eyes. I quickly look away, remembering Tyler and I’s conversation. Zac doesn’t trust me...
“What happened?” I groan as I lie down again.
“You fainted at school, Tyler brought you here.” I stay silent at Zac’s words. Tyler...
My mum rushes into the room and Zac stands up instinctively, they watch each other attentively.
“Oh sweetie.” My mum rushes over and takes me in her arms. It’s a bit confronting at first but I finally realise that my mum was here for me. She is actually here. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be here sooner, I was at work and there was an argument with one of my colleagues.” And it’s gone...
“It’s okay mum.” I lie, “I know you couldn’t help it.” Another lie.
“So who’s this? I don’t think I’ve met him before.” I turn to Zac as mum sits down in his old seat. He’s all the way across the room.
“This is a friend I met a little while ago.” So many lies. “Zac is kind of my boyfriend.” Zac’s face lights up and he makes his way to my bed. My mum smiles at him, but I could see she was hiding her true feelings from him. But not from me.
“Well, that’s great.” Probably choked out... “Now sweetie you need to tell me exactly what happened, there have been some rumours that you were confronted.” Damn it! Zac looks at me with protective curiosity. No not protective, mistrust.
“It’s nothing; I just got nervous with everyone looking at me.” I state. My mum takes a deep breath,
“Why were they looking at you sweetie?” My mum obviously already knew, so why was I trying to hide it from her?
“I fell off my chair at lunch.” My mum nods, clearly not believing a word I say and leaves me alone with Zac. I try to settle back into sleep, but Zac pipes up.
“You didn’t fall off your chair.” I open one of my eyes.
“No but it’s not like she’s knows otherwise.” I dismiss.
“But I care.” Zac states and I smile sweetly. “Thank you by the way.” I look at him suspiciously.
“For what?” Zac grins,
“For calling me your boyfriend.” He teases.
“Well its true isn’t it?” I ask curiously.
Zac hesitates and I swear I heard my heart break. “Yeah, Yeah I guess.” He finally answers. Tears threaten to break through my barriers.
“No, no,” Zac tries to protest. “No, you hesitated.” I can hear the heart monitor speed up and a jolt of something goes through me. “I can’t believe you!” I start to feel drowsy and my words come out slurred. The fucking doctors fixed my machine to inject me!
All sense leaves me as the drugs pull me into an induced sleep, but I can’t stop saying the same thing over and over. “I don’t want to see you again, I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to see you, I don’t want you.” Zac turns and leaves with what looks like tears in his eyes.
The drugs finally have me and I give up fighting and lie down.
Someone is clicking in my face, a doctor. They’re asking for me to respond to them, I don’t want to. Zac doesn’t want me, he doesn’t trust me. I won’t fight any more; I just want to die already. I can hear my mum crying in the corner, I close my eyes to go to sleep again. Sleep is my happy place. My mind gives me the most enjoyable places, like wonderlands where you feel like you’re on air.
I’m enjoying my fantasies when a man’s voice interrupts my mind. “You’re not giving up yet Tess, you can make it.” The doctor tells me. Am I dying? Is that why he’s telling me this? Either way he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I want to give up. Just like Zac did to us. I don’t want to live in a world without happiness, my mind gives me happiness. What’s the point of me anyway? I’m just going to die in the end, so why put it off. Maybe it will be good to just let go and let myself drift away into memories.
My mind gives me another fantasy, but this is a nightmare. I can’t breathe, because I’m under water. There is clear sand under my feet and the water is crystal clear but I’m the only one here. My hands are chained together by this black chain connected to a metal ball. I need to breathe; I can imagine the monitors going blank, no heartbeat. Am I imagining it? I try swimming but the ball is too heavy.
Frantically my hands start shaking, trying to move the ball. I scream only to be stifled by ocean. Death is painful. I let it engulf me, falling to the bottom lying there. This place is beautiful, clear sand, crystal waters. This is a great place to die.
I gulp as fresh air meets my lungs; gloved hands push me onto my bed and adjust it so I can breathe easier. My mum rushes over to me crying, I concentrate on breathing as she sobs on my arms.
“Mum,” My voice comes out ragged, “I’m okay.” She looks at me and the look I see on her face is so filled with love, I’ll never forget.
“You were dead. You’re heart stopped beating.” She goes into a frenzy of sobs and the doctor pulls her away from me so I can have a better time breathing. Everyone leaves the room and for a few minutes I’m alone. Every now and then my body forces me to take a deep breath, at some points my breathing is unbearably hard and I start wheezing.
The doctor comes in feeds me some more oxygen. I smile at them and they look at me sympathetically. She stands with me for a while, watching me react to the oxygen. When I’m breathing normally she puts a tube around my head and in my nose.
“Now, do you think I can speak to you for a minute?” The doctor asks, I just nod, not trusting my voice. “You’ve experienced extreme trauma on multiple occasions during the past month, is this true?” I nod again, “You show signs of malnutrition, sweetie,” The doctor gets down on my level, “Have you been eating properly?” I think of all the times where I purposely forgot to eat and shake my head.
The doctor writes it down on a clip board. “You are going to be taken to a room and you will need to be in hospital for a couple of weeks to days. We’ve discussed this all to your mother and she agrees.” I try to focus on what she’s saying, knowing it’s important but I find it increasingly difficult. “You will be going to regular sessions with a counsellor to monitor your possible anxiety and eating disorder.” I finally find the words.
“I have anxiety and an eating disorder?” Every syllable scratches my throat. The doctors eyes glaze over practiced for breaking news.
“You could be diagnosed.” I fall back into my bed. The doctor prepares to leave,
“My mum says that my heart stopped beating,” I hesitate as the doctor turns to face me. “Was I dead?” I whisper.
The doctor has her hand on the door, “You did have irregular heart activity.” She quickly leaves so I’m alone again.
I focus on my breathing but my mind still wanders. Trauma... Anxiety... Eating disorder... Death... the four things I suffered in the last... few days? I wonder how long I’ve been in this limbo for. I’ve lost all track of time while I was a hostage in my own world, life can be tortuous but you can’t escape your own body. I’m learning that more than ever now. I’ve used Zac to keep me safe, to keep me alive. He was my reason I’m so determined and without him, I’m lost.
A few hours later I get put into a wheel chair and transported to a separate room. The doctor comes back – Doctor Mason.
“Would you like visitors at this present time?” She asks me wearily.
“Sure but only close family and friends please.” The doctor nods.
“In the meantime make sure you keep drinking that drink,” She gestures to the slightly green liquid in my hands, “It’ll help your throat recover.” She leaves the room promptly and I wait.
I haven’t told anyone about my time unconscious, whenever I do my throat clogs up and I can’t breathe again. The counsellor – Randy – that everyone insists I go to knows something happened because my monitors pick it up.
The door opening interrupts my thoughts. My mum rushes in and hugs me, but not for long.
“Sorry, I probably shouldn’t do that for your, you know.” She sits down uncomfortably.
“It’s okay mum.” I dismiss.
She holds her hand to her heart, “Why didn’t you tell me this was happening?” She rushes out,
I shrug, “It’s not like I knew this was coming.” I reason with her, her face softens.
“Of course, but why didn’t you tell me girls at school were giving you a hard time? Or that you were starving yourself?” I shrug but she looks like she won’t give it up. “You want me to be honest?” She nods hopefully. “I thought you wouldn’t listen or care.” My mum stifles a small gasp. She reaches for my hand,
“Thank you for telling me the truth.” She stands up and kisses me on the forehead before leaving the room painfully slow.
I yawn as all the drugs that had been pumped into my body previously started to have the opposite effect as they leave my system. Tyler walks in slowly and sits down, he looks at me not saying anything.
“Hey.” I murmur. Tyler grabs my hand and uses his thumb to massage it.
“Do you know when you’re getting out?” I laugh at Tyler’s blatantness.
“They’re just monitoring me until there are no more signs of anxiety, apparently I had an anxiety attack and it’s affected my breathing or whatever.” I summarise.
“So a few days then?” I nod.
“Yeah so I’ll be back in a little bit but I’ll still have to see Randy.” We stay silent. “Have you heard anything from that school?” Tyler shakes his head.
“I won’t hear anything for a few months, but like I said I may not even get in.” He states.
“And like I said, they’d be lucky to have you.” I grin. Tyler laughs and looks up at me,
“Has Zac come to see you?” Sadness fills me and threatens to rip me apart.
“We kind of had an argument.” Tyler tries to understand, “It’s just that, when I finally said that we were together... he hesitated. I mean what? And with everything that just happened you guys were my rock and the thought of Zac using me again... I lost it. And the conversation we had about him not trusting me...” Tyler stops me,
“That conversation wasn’t like that.” Tyler concludes.
“No, I said that protectiveness could lead to mistrust, but what I didn’t mention but clearly should’ve, was that he doesn’t seem like that.” I try to lift up but as soon as I do my chest heaves.
“Well thanks for clearing that up.” Tyler smiles.
“So what are you going to tell him?” He asks still smiling.
“Not that I thought he didn’t trust me, that’s for sure. I just hope he’ll forgive me, by what I saw he was pretty crushed.” I look into Tyler’s eyes and he takes both his hands in one of mine.
“Okay.” We smile with each other. “Well I’m off; I’ll tell Zac to get his ass over here tomorrow morning okay?” I nod and he leaves me alone to sleep.
The next morning while I’m eating my breakfast Doctor Mason comes in.
“How are you feeling? You eating your food?” I nod as I push my tray away.
“I’m fine.” Doctor Mason walks over and pushes my tray back to me. We eye each other for a while, mine begging her not to make me eat the shitty hospital food and hers demanding I eat it. She wins.
“You have a visitor, he’s not family but he looks important by his behaviour.” I almost spit out my food.
“What did Zac do?” Doctor Mason smiles at me,
“You don’t want to know. Shall I send him in?” I nod and she leaves me to eat my food once again. I keep drinking the green stuff for my throat, it’s pretty addictive. I might keep drinking it when I leave. It definitely helps.
Zac walks in hesitantly and sits down. I adjust my bed so I’m sitting up. Doctor Mason taught me how to use the remote this morning.
“Hey.” I try to start some talking but Zac stays silent, I will him to look at me. “I’m sorry. I know how I treated you was unfair.”
“That doesn’t cut it Tess.” Zac’s harsh words don’t affect me, I’m prepared.
“I’m sorry for everything, right up until our first Year. I never really gave you another chance after the first time and I’m sorry. I was really insecure and selfish, it wasn’t fair to you.” I caress his cheek and he finally looks at me.
“Tyler told me why you spazzed out.” I remove my hand.
“That ass!” We both laugh,
“It’s not that I don’t trust you.” He rushes. “It’s that for once I let myself feel so much for one person that they can break me within a few seconds, and that’s, that’s scary.” The room suddenly gets very emotional.
I try to find the words but my mouth just opens and closes like a fish, I know there’s something I can say but I just can’t figure it out.
“I’m coming home soon, probably tomorrow if I do really well today.” I try to cheer him up. Zac smiles.
“That’s good, I miss spending the nights with you.” He stands over me, “So when you get home,” He murmurs, and kisses me passionately. I feel him tug my lip a little as we separate. “There’ll be more of that.” I giggle, feeling giddy and ignoring my terrible breathing. “I love you Tess.” I smile as he leaves the room and me to me.
Zac loves me...