It’s been two weeks since they found Cas.
She was meant to be discharged yesterday but she’s been refusing to eat.
She hasn’t spoken either.
She doesn’t sleep. The doctors had to sedate her yesterday. She’s still sleeping now.
Her mums really worried. We all are.
Her mum stopped bringing her little brother with her when Casey stopped eating and talking. At first we thought he’d help with her condition, make her see sense and fight with the internal batter going on in her head but...it didn’t. It was just upsetting both of them.
The doctors did a pregnancy test for her too... it was negative. Casey didn’t even move. She had no reaction.
When she’s awake she’ll either be catatonic or crying.
When she did sleep on her own, she’d wake up from nightmares.
The stupid nurse turned off the light once, Cas screamed the whole hospital down. But the thing was... she was screaming for him...for ‘Damian’. Her doctor managed to calm her down, I hate that I wasn’t there.
I’ve been having counselling every two days. It’s helps a little but he makes me go over everything, yes, it’s not good to bury it all but to keep reliving it over and over isn’t helping.
Sure, I’ve had nightmares but I find some parts of the day where I don’t think about it.
I am okay.
But Casey’s not.
I really don’t know how to help her.
She told me what he did...I can’t hear it. I can’t even handle hearing it, but It happened to her.
They’ve put her on fluids and they say if she doesn’t eat today, they’ll have to put a tube in. She was already skin and bones when she came in, she’s like a skeleton now.
Her mums supposed to be here in two hours. She looks after Casey’s brother in the morning and comes in, in the afternoon to see Cas. I’ve gotten dad to drop me off here in the mornings until her mum gets here. I don’t want her to be on her own.
Casey stirs from her sleep “hey munchkin.” I smile at her. She looks at me and squeezes my hand which is in hers. She does this every time I see her. I think she’s checking I’m really here.
“You feeling hungry?”
“I think I can bribe the nurses to bring you waffles if you like.”
“Cas, please talk to me. Just say anything. Eat anything. Have you seen yourself? This isn’t good munchkin. I can’t keep seeing you like this” I plead with her on the brink of tears.
She moves. She looks down, down at her herself. Tears form in her eyes. She looks at his carving. She starts scratching it.
“No, Cas stop that! You’ll make it worse” I try to grab her hands in mine but she keeps going. “Casey stop!” It’s bleeding now and her nails are painted red.
I grab her and pull her into a hug, I don’t care if I get covered in blood.
She cries into my chest. I stroke her greasy hair and tell her it’s okay.
The last time she showered she made the water boiling hot and ended up with first degree burns on her back. That was a week ago.
I climb on the bed with her. The top of the bed is raised so she was sitting up, I lean against it and place her between my legs on her front with her head on my chest. I hug her tightly.
“It’s never going to be the same” she whispers, I barely heard it.
“What isn’t Cas?”
“Me.” She croaks “I’ll never be the same. Casey’s dead, this is all that’s left.”
What do you say to that?
How do I respond?
“No, you’ll always be you. You would have grown, adapted and changed anyway. We choose our future. We choose to let this control us. Our fate is our own. We can choose to let it rule over us or we can come out on top and change for the better. Everybody changes Casey, it’s a part of life, this won’t change you unless you let it. We choose case, we choose. The old you is still there. She will always be there, you’re just scared and traumatised, the you that’s here now, is you just trying to protect yourself from all the hurt. You think feeling nothing’s better but it’s not. It’s okay to be scared, vulnerable and to cry but it’s also okay to feel, to smile, laugh and have fun. It’s the same with grief. Would you tell someone who’s just lost their friend, mother or child, not to ever be happy again? No. It is and will be okay munchkin, it may not seem like it now but it will go back to normal, we will live our life’s happy and free.”
She didn’t talk for a while, I’m not even sure of what I said, I can’t remember what I said. I was just trying to make her feel better.
“I’m hungry” she whispers so quietly, like I’d tell her off for saying it.
“What do you fancy eating?”
“Waffles” I smile to myself and press the nurse’s button. No, hospitals are not like a restaurant, you don’t order food and they’ll make it but like I said, Cas hasn’t eaten for about a week, so they’d jump at the chance of her eating anything.
The nurse comes in and sorts out Casey’s bleeding chest and cleans her up before we ask for the food, minutes later, quite eagerly, a nurse comes through the door with three huge waffles on a plate with some fruit on the side.
Hospital food is disgusting but this looks okay. Perhaps a little soggy but it still looks edible. Anything I was ever given tasted like cardboard or, just in general, like shit.
She sits up still between my legs. She ends up eating one waffle and most of the fruit, it’s a start.
“Feeling a little better now?” I say as she leans back to my chest.
She doesn’t respond. Moments later Becks and the boys turn up.
“hey zombie boy! You hogging my girl?” To my surprise, Thomas shouts.
“I see that nicknames sticking” I glare at Becks who stared it.
“It fits” she shrugs.
“That’s what she said” Ben mutters but we all hear him. Becks slaps his arm.
They all notice the food on the table, they know she’s not been eating.
“Is that waffles? I thought it was scrambled egg or something. Why is hospital food so bad? How did it taste?” Thomas asks Casey carefully.
She doesn’t speak until...
“like flour...doused in sugar.”
"Ew" Becks squirms “if you want waffles you should have asked me! I know this place down the road. They do THE BEST waffles ever and they are HUGE. The best” she exaggerates.
“Can they really be that bad? I thought it would be impossible to mess up waffles” Ben eyes the food, Cas leans up and hands him the fork. He takes a bite “oh my god! What did they do to it!? Piss in the mixture?” He spits out the bite he took in the bin and we all laugh.
Except for Cas. But she does smile, a little tiny smile, barely noticeable but we notice.
“Right! That’s it! Move off. I want a cuddle” again, to my surprise, Ben demands. I raise my brows at him before Cas speaks up.
“I’d like a shower...can you get someone to help?” She’s not allowed to be on her own since last time. Both boys back away unconsciously.
“Idiots...I’ll get a nurse” Becks scolds them and walks out the room. Did they think she was asking them to bath her?
Becks comes back with a nurse, Cas and her walk out the room leaving us all together.
“How is she doing?” Becks asks immediately.
“Well, that’s the first thing she’s eaten for a week, she asked for it too.”
“That’s good right?”
“I guess” I shrug.
“She spoke too. Tried to joke about the food. She’s not spoken in 2 weeks, right?” I nod at Thomas’s comment and question.
“She’s worried about things going back to ‘normal’. She said the old her is dead, I think she just needs time to get her head around what happened.”
"We still don’t know what happened, I mean, how are you Oliver, what happened to you? All we know is that you were both kidnapped by Mr-” I cut Becks off.
“DON’T...say his name. And don’t let Casey hear you say it, ever.”
“Sorry... How are you?” She asks again.
“I will hit you” she warns pointing at me “never reply with ′fine’. No one’s ever ′fine′ when they say ′fine‘. So, I’ll ask again, how are you? And don’t you dare say ’fine’.”
“What’s wrong with ‘fine’?” I ask and she looks to Thomas.
“Simple. Fine stands for fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional. ′Fine′ is never fine. Use a better word” Thomas says as a matter-of-factly.
“Okay. I’m okay. I’m doing well. Going to therapy, all that crap.”
“But what happened?” Becks asks again.
I take a deep breath and point at them “you do not say a word of this to Casey and, don’t you dare act any different around her.”
Another breath as they all nod in unison ”he, he took me...beat me up and tried to kill me. I woke up in the woods and got hit by a car. Casey...Casey’s been going through hell with him pretty much since she started the school.
He had an obsession with her. He took me because she loves me and I love her. He took her and... I can’t tell you what happened in detail because it’s not for me to tell but you honestly don’t want to know. He’s left scars on her. Emotionally and physically.”
They look at me stunned.
“He tried to kill you!” Becks shouts, I had to cover my ears from her high-pitched voice as she screeched like a banshee.
“He did worse to her” I comment. I think they understand.
Cas comes back in with the nurse supporting her. Her hairs wet and she’s in a change of clothes. Her own pjs.
I thought they’d act differently towards her, I hoped they wouldn’t. They didn’t.
Ben fast walked to the bed and sat on it holding his hands out to Cas as she walked slowly over to it.
“No fair” Thomas mumbles and Ben sticks his tongue out at him.
“I’m going to tie up your hair, you’ve been hiding your pretty face behind it for too long” Ben grabs the hairbrush, I’ve never seen Ben like this.
Minutes later Casey’s mum walks into the room. A smile finds her face. In front of her is Cas sat up in bed with a genuine smile on her face.
Ben has begun brushing and putting up her hair, Becks is doing her toenails and Thomas, very badly, doing her nails.
I’m setting up my laptop to watch a Disney film...
“Hey baby” mum calls with a smile.
“Hi” I say, just, above a whisper.
“Hi Miss Nickels.”
“Hi Casey’s mum.”
Becks and the boys say in unison.
“Thomas! What the hell are you doing!? You’re supposed to be painting nails! Not fingers!” Becks scolds. I look down at my hand and sure enough, pretty much up to the second knuckle is nail varnish.
I giggle. It looks terrible.
“All done” Ben says as he tightens my ponytail. I look behind me and smile.
“Not bad Ben, not bad” Becks nods in approval.
I lean back against him as he hugs me from behind. I’ve never been this close to Ben before. Same with Thomas now I think of it. We never really hugged before...
Sure, Becks hugged me all the time, like, whenever she seen me. I hugged the boys on my birthday. Ben hugged me when I lied and told him I was upset about my dad when it was in fact, him. Thomas hugged me when they told me Oliver went missing but, not like this.
I like it.
I feel closer to them despite the fact that I had been ignoring them before.
I feel like I have true friends, for life.
Maybe things can be okay...
“So baby, the doctors say if you eat dinner today then, they can discharge you tomorrow on the promise that you’ll eat at home and on time.”
I won’t let what happened change me.
Oliver was right.
I will not let my past determine my future...because it’s my future. I decided what happens. I decide. Me.
I refuse to let it change me, I refuse to give in.
The past isn’t what makes us.
We make us.
We become who we are.
No one else.
Change for the better, the worse or not at all. We choose.