P.50 

        When I checked back the next night, 3rdEyeOfHorus had replied within only a couple hours, with a mini- novel; of which I was further intrigued. We sent a few messages of equivalent length back and forth before concluding we obviously vibed inordinately well and exchanged cell numbers. I had my usual reservations about becoming potentially involved with any romantic expectations, but figured I wouldn’t get ahead of myself and should at least try talking to someone other than a therapist.

Only things went much differently than the norm I had expected;  I actually started caring about using my phone during the three allotted evening hours, during which we talked the entire three hours each night via text; things got intense very quickly, along with the whole finishing eachother’s sentences, feeling as though you’d known them for the longest time, and all of those other cliches that usually made me rather nauseous. We talked like this for just under a week, until one night he never replied.

          I waited- rather aware that I was being ignored, but figured there was a reason; I wasn’t angry, as in my life I had been forced to grow very, very good at waiting. But I wondered in a somehow tormented silence if I had somehow managed to say something wrong, despite that I had still been rather vague as to the true nature of my life. He knew I was in treatment but as usual I downplayed how bad things were. I worried in a manner so highly uncharacteristic of me- had I scared him away, did he think I was crazy, or what in the hell was the deal when we seemed to be getting along so supernaturally well.

I felt foolish and childish, I felt that I had grown already somehow attached to this person who was barely more than a stranger. What the hell was going on with me? I had always been so great at not minding anyone or being ignored; how could this person’s doing so hurt so much? Was I becoming obsessed? I usually didn’t even give a shit if people liked me. I had no idea what was going on with me. I felt mixed up since the first day we spoke; like my insides had been ripped out and set on fire, but in a way that simultaneously felt as wonderful as it did hellish; like everything was wrong and right at the same time.

         I heard from Jacob a bit over three days later, of which he said that he had needed some time alone to “think things over;” Things I wasn’t exactly sure what.  He said that he was confused because he was always one to be very careful and reserved to not get carried away in mere childish infatuation, but that he felt he was in love with me. At first I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t exactly know if what I felt was love, lust, a bit of both, or simply getting too caught up in a chemical cascade; but there was definitely an undeniably compelling  attraction- a thing I had never as much as felt before in my life. I was pretty sure I’d never even been “in love” before- much less one to prematurely assume such- but ventured to say that I loved him too. And that was when the fighting started.

….

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P.49

I woke up late, ignoring Marla’s final wake up call until she came in and in her small voice politely threatened me with taking my one allotted 6oz coffee. I dragged my ass into my gown, went through vitals, got my meds and scowl from Jacqueline, and stumbled blurry- eyed into the kitchen, seeking my one valued sustenance.

Lizzy and Sabrina stood by leaning over the island counter, drowning their coffee in creamer before heading out to the living room. I flipped off Fish and gave his flustered little self a few shakes of food. Andre was cooking up what smelled like sausage on the stove.

“Good morning Miss Banshee, sleep ok after the fact? I’m cooking your favorite…”

“Banshee? What?? Oh yay…” I scrunched up my face.

“What do you mean what? You don’t remember?”

“remember what???”

“Geez girl, what meds are you on? You woke up almost the entire house last night screaming.”

“I did? Oh.  Why were you even here that late?”

“It wasn’t that late. I was just prepping some things and I thought I heard something but then Melisa came in here to get me.”

” Why? Why didn’t Melisa just wake me? Where was Marla?”

“Smoking? Lunch break? I don’t know. Everyone else is in the end of the other wing with doors closed; Melisa said she was afraid and couldn’t wake you.

“I see. Yeah she is a bit soft spoken…”

“Yeah, but in fairness I had to give you a good shake to wake you up. But geez Kat- it sent a chill down even my spine, the way you were screaming. What in the hell were you dreaming about?”

“I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything…”

“Not even all the stupid stuff I said to keep you from falling back asleep? You were seriously freaked out when I woke you, you practically latched onto my arm and Then you asked me to not leave.”

Oh God…” I put my head down on the counter.

“It’s true, I saw all of it. I thought it was adorable though, you hugged him and wouldn’t let go for a while,” Melisa began softly, who apparently had been standing silently in the doorway behind me, sipping an enormous blue mug with only a few ounces of coffee.

“Yeah, tough Kat has a soft side!” Andre teased as though he were going to use it as ammo in the future.

I shook my head and put it back down on the counter. “You know I was asleep and didn’t even know what I was doing right? I swear I didn’t mean anything weird by it…please don’t tell Shawna about the incident at all, please? The last thing I need added to my chart is ‘”panther…'”

There was a strict no- touching policy between all residents and especially staff.

“You spoke pretty lucidly for someone who was asleep. But It’s fine.” he said, turning his attention back to his cooking. “There are a lot of things around here Shawna doesn’t need to know about.”

“Like how Amberlyn has been sneaking granola bars every night at midnight? Or how Sabrina hides bits of food in her big coat pockets?” Melisa volunteered delicately. “Or how Leo drinks a bunch of water in the morning before weigh-in?”

Andre laughed, “Yeah, things like that.”

I gulped down my coffee black in two sips, wondering what else I didn’t remember.

P.48

I ascended the flight of steps and rung the doorbell, to which Tom answered, obviously very surprised to find me there- as we were strictly disallowed to ever be in the front yard unsupervised. He actually looked surprisingly angry, which was out of sorts for him, usually being one of the more timid and reserved day staff members. Tom was a quiet man of likely 60 years of age, of whom most of the residents didn’t particularly like, for reasons difficult to specify; perhaps he simply didn’t know how to deal with most of us, or was overly careful with his words- but he tended to unintentionally get walked all over around here. He turned out to be one of the most sensitive of the staff- in a good way- but we never really got around to talking much at all until the very end of my stay. I guess he was trying to put his foot down with me or something, but he did not believe my story about the owl and the raccoon, thinking that I was trying to play him and avoid consequence- of which I urged him to go look for himself. I stood in the lobby for a few minutes, so as to not drip water all over the house while I watched Tom go out the back door, and then quickly come back in the house, with an “oh” look on his face. “That’s a big raccoon,” he admitted. Apparently this bitchy racoon was having at the lemon tree, and made a show of charging at Tom as well. I felt a bit foolish for being chased off by a raccoon, but I’d seen what one had done to my dog as a kid.

Leaving an adequate rain puddle in the middle of the foyer, I went into the living room to watch the five of them crowd around the window seat, trying to find the raccoon as though it were some terribly interesting spectacle. The TV was still terribly loud, and the movie was then in the middle of the part the company wakes in Lothlorien and Frodo is speaking with Galadriel.

              “I give you the light of Eärendil,” she said.Our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

I realized then that I was a nerd with too much free time as a kid when I could quote most of her speech; but that line in particular had long stood out to me.

I decided to take another quick look on the computer at the message I had previously received, and I guess because the power had gone out so suddenly, I hadn’t noticed another few messages. I sorted through a handful more, but was particularly intrigued by the profile of one by the username “3rdEyeofHorus”.

“Black isn’t your natural hair color is it?”

Ok, so it wasn’t exactly the most brilliant starter line, but it was sure more decent than most of the others; but most notably, the length and inordinately intricate nature of his profile self- summary and question/answers showed that this was a deep- thinker and a highly-detailed individual; lots of esoteric references, a decent mention of God; A late- August Virgo- like the last 5 or 6 people I had met up with from the site- with long jet black hair and an apparent penchant for writing and music. I figured what the hell, worst case scenario I could ghost him and disappear like I usually do with anyone I talk to, so I ventured sending him a quick reply, and a simple question or two about his hobbies; then logged off for the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.47

        It was an outing day, which evidently excited almost everyone, but attendance wasn’t optional, so Nice Mom accompanied the six of us to a Target store some cities away. All dressed in black, we probably looked like some kind of Gothic Breakfast Club. 

        I felt like shit as usual, and my ass had practically been dragged out to this Target, so I decided to just sit and try to write or people watch in the Starbucks therein while I waited for everyone to finish their shopping. I was strongly tempted to get up and run while I had the chance, but my legs were too heavy and my chest already too tight; I had to be put on some medication anyways that made me dizzy and nauseous as hell. Writing had already become like drawing blood from a turnip, especially without any cognitive enhancing substances. I was more bitchy, tired, sedate, and frustrated with being forced to eat a diet that didn’t seem to work for my body- particularly with severe blood sugar regulation issues. I already wanted to go home, but that would have only been going back to doing what wasn’t working for me, and I wasn’t currently welcome there; but I felt too exhausted to do anything else- much less treatment. I was already beginning to feel that I wasn’t getting the things I needed physically, and was at my patience’s end with Jacqueline ‘s continual “testing” of it. 

Nice Mom did take us to the gas station afterwards however to get  cigarettes, and on the regular- which smoking was still the highlight of most everyone’s days and nights. I always thought it was ironic, an RN taking us for smokes; but she was nonjudgmental and bought a blowtorch lighter she would for the future enjoy nearly burning our faces off with every light. 

      Weeks began to pass in this normal blur of a routine. Some days I couldn’t bring myself to do anything but refuse to leave my room because my mind continued to feel inexplicably dark and terrified. The proper diet and rest were surprisingly not helping at all with regulating my severe moods or physical pain and exhaustion.  The spells of confusion and dissociation that had first begun with the seizure continued, but I was told that it and the physical pain and exhaustion were in my head. I confessed to Shawna to stealing some painkillers from the nurse station, to which I received only a room search and severe chiding from Jacqueline and Brendan; as well as a locksmith in the next morning to change all the locks. Through some irrelevant means, I inadvertantly got Andre in trouble. More than once. I was legitimately remorseful and ashamed- I’d never felt so guilty as when it involved Andre- but I was also angry and weary of running to stay in place everyday. I didn’t think I could be helped because I didn’t believe they truly even understood or believed my situation; I didn’t even know if I wanted help anymore. I was tired of wasting everyone’s time and good intentions ; and I was beginning to figure out that this place wasn’t helping me, only draining me, and I began to really question why I needed to be there, and putting up an unconscious resistance to treatment which became more evident to everyone. 

        It had been raining heavily for the last couple days, which was a welcome change from the hell that summer always seemed; so while everyone was watching a movie- Sabrina had chosen the first Lord of the Rings and it was at an uncomfortably loud volume to me- so I slipped out into the rain to sit beneath the lemon tree, veiled by darkness in the far corner. I had taken to sitting there each day at some point, usually when I was upset- which was confessedly most of the time. Though he did not meet me on this dark, rainy evening; I had befriended a baby hummingbird that I named Highlighter- because his bright red chest sparkled with a surreal brilliance than I had never seen. But each day when I would go out and sit or lie beside the lemon tree, Highlighter would buzz up a moment later, perch in the lemon tree, and sit with me until I left- however long or short that was, as I usually went out there to be alone to think, pray, or often confessedly to simply weep. 

I laid down on the brick lining of the lemon tree’s raised planter, blinking up into the rain and sighed heavily.

           “God, what the hell am I doing here? Why do I need to be here? This is stupid. You know full well that they can’t help me. They don’t get it. They don’t understand that I’m not just getting up in the morning and choosing to feel like a miserable 75-year old lady; And the many problems I may have with eating or anything else really won’t matter when I feel like there’s really something wrong with my brain; I don’t feel right in the head, and I don’t know what’s going on but it’s scaring the shit out of me. I try so goddamn hard but I really can’t control whatever the hell these episodes are. One minute I’m angry enough to break shit, the next I can’t even leave my room I’m so depressed, the next I’m climbing the walls- literally suffocating, and then I’m fucking asleep; in a nearly endless loop. I need to go home. I need to go back to hiding, there’s no point in people seeing me. Therapists and shit may act like they like me but what’s it matter, no one in the real world would love me.”

I finally shut my mouth and waited for a reply. 

     “You’re right. This isn’t about helping you.” I could have sworn I heard the voice in my mind say.

“So what, am I supposed to be helping someone? How?? I’m apparently doing the worst of the six of us.”

       There was a “secret” whiteboard in the staff office, sectioned off into one for each of us. Leo had the night before peaked through a slit in the covered window and read off to all of us what ours said; everyone was quickly third level in privileges and I had been stuck at  second,not even being the only one to misbehave. Mine was the only one with a new big red “hazard” and the old “suicide watch” written  underneath. They hadn’t even seen a fucking hazard yet. 

       I was still waiting for another reply, when a massive white owl swooped down of the Cyprus overhead, talons outstretched for my leg, which was crossed up over the other. I kicked out to change its trajectory less than a mere foot away from me.

    “What the hell???” 

     I figured it was a rogue event and went to refocus my attention to listening. The owl swooped down a second time, I kicked at it again, then jumping up and making my way across the patio to the lamp by the door; when a raccoon came charging  out of the brush straight at me, between me and the back door. I didn’t want to mess with a raccoon; So I turned right back around, ran around the house, and over the fence to the front yard. In the light of the waxing moon in Aquarius I found myself beneath that great oak, which was accompanied by a few smaller oaks. I saw that one of the oak trees had fallen and now laid across the brick walkway. It’s trunk remained in the ground, but it had been broken in two a bit more than halfway down, seemingly by a great force of which I could not account for. The break had had revealed a large hollow section in the middle of the tree, and upon closer examination of the break, I couldn’t help but imagine it having been struck by lightning, though I hadn’t heard anything so that was perhaps foolish. But I was also struck by an undeniable sense of deja vu standing beside this broken oak. But I got an idea- one I would likely not use for years- but I stored it away in my mind for the proper time. 

P.46

I remained in my room for some time, contemplating the message, and the odds of its having been sent within hours of my writing that whiny long-ass prayer that night in Alhambra. I only wished that I had the journal to look back and see exactly what I had said; because from what I remembered conceptually, most of what the stranger wrote could very well fit the theme of what I asked in that black journal, now lost in the abyss of a notorious psych ward.

I was reminded of the red journal, so I scanned back through it. Though I would still be waiting for the other unfulfilled requests; I decided to write another very simple petition.

“Dear God, please let me remember exactly what it was I said that night when I was again so pitifully drunk on sorrow.” I scrawled, again sealing the last three words with drops of blood; then turning over to an early sleep.

Dreams that night were short, I remembered  walking down the middle of a dark hallway, precariously on a thin balance beam between two bottomless chasms on each side. When I got to the end of the curved winding hallway, I came to a circular room, of which the minimal light revealed the vague outlines of  thousands and thousands of books stacked to the ceilings all around- as though it were all the knowledge in the world. but before I could touch a single one, I was grabbed from behind by a dark entity, dragged and held to the ground; as had been customary for many, many years. I awoke bolting  upright in bed, quickly muffling the beginning of a scream before it woke Melisa.

In the glow of the moonlit window, I saw a parcel of mail by my bedside. I guessed that it had somehow been overlooked on the porch the day before, of whom perhaps Andre put it there late last night, because anyone else would have put it in the office for clearance. It was from Alhambra. I bit though the grey plastic bag to find my black journal inside. “Holy Hell”, I muttered in disbelief. Well those awful people had just redeemed themselves. I opened it to look back at the two red letter entries. And there was my whiny long-ass prayer.  Written just under three hours before the stranger’s message, It read:

“(Dear God)
Do you truly even see or feel the depths of the terror, desperation, and anguish within me? I thought that perhaps You had heard me that morning on the end of the bed, that perhaps You would in the near future consider my plea. I’ve been well past my breaking point and I grow increasingly terrified of losing my precarious grip on sanity as I continue to experience an exponentially deepening darkness and constant sense of an inexplicable doom and dread. I am with people but I feel alone. I feel abandoned and that you don’t care for me anymore. I speak so simply now and I can’t get these words to form the proper feeling or meaning; as I can’t speak concisely or eloquently for emotions that are so very un-containable. I feel that I’m slipping farther away everyday from everything and everyone. I can no longer breathe, nor sense Your presence. I need Your peace, for I’ve none of my own anymore. I wish to die, and You know that my words are no show, that I indeed have sought death for all this time. Why do I still draw breath? I never could have though that anything could hurt so much, or that I would ever feel so trapped and desperate, or so much as though suffocating in small increments. Where are you when I cry out, afraid? My strength has all dried up, my will to live dissipated, and my hope is gone. what purpose could my life possibly hold from here on? Please take my life! Do you even hear me? Have you stopped caring about me, as I’m afraid everyone else will- who has not already? I’m sick and tired of myself. Are You too? The only one I speak plainly to? I have been reduced to such an elementary, insecure, and convoluted being and I am filled with so crushing of a shame and embarrassment. Please let me know that You’re still there and there is still compassion left somewhere that I can find within myself. Forgive me for taking the fleeting moments of peace or happiness my life had known, for granted. Forgive me for not being able to appreciate the times and the life that are now gone, even more than I already did. I’m sorry for failing any purpose You may have had for my life, for I’m not strong enough to carry on any further in any semblance of normalcy; and everyone will soon see what I have become when I can no longer hide behind the lie. Have I disappointed You? Please bring my life to a close, I beg. Please bring the pain, fear, torment, and hopelessness to an end.”

“Well that was a lot whinier than I remembered…”I laughed to myself. Oh well, I guess it got the job done.

 

P.45 the Last Letters

   “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “It’s easier to listen than to respond. When I begin to speak I realize that I have too much to say- which bothers me- so I stop before I get to where I mean to be going…”

      “That makes sense. I’d like to listen though, if you ever feel so inclined. Who do you usually talk to?”

“No one in any kind of depth or regularity. It’s so hard reconnecting or restarting with anyone, or Keeping any relationships at all, because I fear so much that I’ll disappear or fail them all over again, and waste their time. Because so often I just can’t feel anything but absolutely impenetrable and hopeless misery. I’d rather they remember me the way I was before. At times I so dearly want or need to reach out or reconnect but I stop myself or once I’m there, it’s impossible for me to maintain, for a myriad of reasons. There’s this weight, unease, and out of placeness that seems I may be better off alone regardless; or maybe it’s better for them that they simply believe that I don’t care.”

       I never forgot her words. 

       “I think I understand.” I said.   But actually I completely understood, because I’d lived that way my entire life. 

But the gentleness and agony of her spirit I knew would remain in my thoughts and in my heart for many years to come. And it did. 

***

          I gained cell phone and internet privilege that evening as well, of which the only remotely relevant part to me was being able to listen to music again; of which YouTube or other music streaming sites had been my company every evening for years. Everyone was out in the living room lounging about in pajamas; skyping, texting, chatting, socializing shit, etc. Sitting down to the computer in the small nook right  past the kitchen, I suddenly felt the random inclination to check the online dating site I had been so foolish to bother using some time ago; as I had any business nor intention of a serious relationship. With a few guesses at my  password, I skipped over a few sleazy pick up lines before my attention fell to an abnormally lengthy message from a “HereOnMyLunch” username, sent at 5:54, just under a week ago, one of the last evenings I was in Alhambra. It read:

     So when I pulled up your profile, instead of messaging you about flirting or common interest, I felt that the Holy Spirit wanted me to send you a word of encouragement. 

I feel like God is really proud of you- where you’re going and where you came from. He’s also proud of you exactly where you’re at. The thing/things you’ve had to deal with haven’t been easy; but you’ve chosen to follow Him regardless. I feel that you often get judged because of your appearance, and potentially because of your attitude, but in your heart you follow God regardless. I just felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that God has in you; that He is blessed to know you as His daughter and that there’s nothing higher, taller, bigger, or longer than His love for you. 

He has only good plans for you. You are the “background picture on His phone,” the “wallpaper on His computer;” He had made you fearfully and wonderfully and is FULLY pleased in who you are. He has imparted to you all authority under heaven and Earth, for it is Christ who lives in you.”

        I put my head down on the keyboard and veiled my face behind pitch- black locks to hide that I had begun to cry, for the first time since checking into Alhambra; for I hadn’t allowed myself to think about or feel anything. Now everything about the life I was failing to run from came crashing down upon me in all its usual violence. The moment that rogue tear fell to the keyboard, the lights flickered out. 

       “Really…” I heard Andre exclaim exasperatedly from the kitchen, probably using some ridiculously large knife. 

“Hey Andre, can you try flipping the breaker? The power is out.” I heard Shawna yell from the staff office. 

       “Oh I hadn’t noticed the pitch- blackness Shawna...” I heard him mutter, somehow still sounding polite as always.

The electricity came back on of its own accord only a few moments later. I flew by Andre without a word, flipping off Fish as I passed through the kitchen. Lizzy had moved him back so Andre would have company. 

      “Where’s the rush Sunshine?” he called after me. 

I turned around and flipped him off with a weak fake smile. 

      “Oh. I’ll let you be.” he crossed his arms in an X in return, flipping me off with both. 

P.44

         After breakfast, I moved my things to the back room. It was a continuation of the red brick, with tall arching ceilings, and echoed terribly- likely a conversation in here could be heard all the way out to the lobby. It was the biggest room in the house, but the least in it with three small beds, two dressers, an empty fireplace below a thin mirror, and a large window seat with a perfect view of the lemon tree I only now saw. I was just unpacking my few possessions of black attire, two books on quantum physics, a handful of crystal quartz, the two journals. and a red pen- as Melisa walked in, setting a black miniature notepad on her neatly made, white bedding. She stood there for a moment with her hands clasped together, head bent slightly to the ground, as though she didn’t know what to say. 

“It’s OK Melisa, you don’t have to pretend to be happy or friendly for me.” I continued to fold my clothes in vain, before deciding to just shove them all in the bottom drawer “I get it- you probably don’t want to be here any more than I do.” 

“Yeah not really,” she said so quietly I had to guess from her lips. 

       She sat down on her bed, with the same rigid and uncomfortable posture; looking how I felt. I sat cross-legged on the edge of my bed. 

      “Where are you from?” I ventured an easy one. 

    “Washington.” she said a bit more clearly. Her voice was just as soft and beautiful as her appearance. 

“May I ask who’s the girl in the picture?” she had one single tiny, golden picture frame on the end of her bedframe. 

“My sister Tisa. She’s in treatment right now too.” she paused, looking out at nothing in particular. “Heroin.  Always.” she sounded again lost in some far away place. 

     “I’m sorry. I know, it seems to get even the best of them. But I’ve still always wondered what it’s like, you know? What the appeal is.”

“I asked Lizzy that when I first got here. we were roommates before Shawna so suddenly moved me in here yesterday.” 

“Hm.”  I guess she still didn’t trust me to be by myself. “Why, did Lizzy do heroin?”

   “Yes. Please don’t tell her I said anything, I would feel terrible. She had been in treatment for nearly a year now, before getting here. They make sure you are clean and through detox before transferring  here.” she was beginning to sound a bit less self-conscious as she spoke, though still faintly.

  “What did she say it felt like?”

            “She said heroin is like love.”

  “Seriously? Where’d she get that from, a hallmark card?” I rolled my eyes. 

       “Like that feeling when you’re just holding someone you really, really care about, and everything feels OK for just that single moment. That’s what she said.”

 “Laaame…. I was hoping for something more…relatable.” I mocked childishly.

    “Right?” she laughed quietly.

“So why did you come here all the way from Washington? Aren’t there plenty of treatment centers?”

“I needed to get far, far away. From home. From everything. I simply can’t watch it anymore.”

     “Watch what?”

“My mother. She’s been sick for a long time, but that doesn’t give her the right to treat me the way she does. Between Tisa and her- I can’t take the blunt of everyone’s anger forever- like I’m the only adult.” her countenance subtly changed again. “She has stage four lung cancer and she’ll be dead in a year.” 

    “I’m so sorry, can’t imagine Melisa…”

“But she never did anything to try and help herself, just depending on me- acting completely helpless.” I was beginning to see the anger I had suspected, lashing out from behind her steely blue eyes. “I’m terribly sorry. I don’t mean to bring you into all of this…” her eyes again shone tragic.

…