Riiing! Riiing!

There were, for some reason, pills in her hand. A plastic cup of water occupied the other. An empty medication bottle sat on the desk nearby, devoid of nearly half a month's worth of strong sleeping pills. The small plastic container sat among piles of paper and envelopes. The bottle was the only thing solid and whole in the mess of crumpled letters and pages, the only thing that seemed real in the clutter of ripped and spilled-upon paper. Yes, the plastic bottle was there, structure and soundness among insanity similar to the medicine once held inside. But just like the pills, the container was transparent, only providing so much soundness in the madness that was her life. Within the continuous whir of awful memories and dreams, the medication provided sanity, but only in short bursts. Peace, for her, was nothing that really lasted.

Riiing!

The telephone blared again, insistent and almost frantic, as though the machine had seen what she was about to do and was trying to stop her.

That's wrong, she thought. I wasn't going to do anything. But the pills cupped in her palm spoke otherwise.

Riiing! Riiing!

"Damn phone," she muttered in a shaky, hoarse voice that didn't quite seem to be hers. "Always interrupting when I'm trying to do... some..." she trailed off as she stared at the phone through dull hazel eyes that were then drawn back to the pills. They weren't just sleeping pills, she realized. Among the little blue capsules were white tablets of an over-the-counter pain reliever, a large percentage of green-colored capsules which were a prescription for her headaches, and even a few large yellow pills. These were supposed to keep her mind "balanced," as the doctor had explained. All she knew for sure was that she hadn't taken them in a while. In all, there was approximately three weeks worth of medication in her hand.

Just how many pills can one person swallow? she thought with a touch of grim humor. But her concentration had been broken, and she set down the water in order to reach for the phone. Her hand seemed to take forever to get there.

"Hello?" she said. She was unaware of how flat and utterly lifeless her voice sounded, so the word came out as more of a statement than a greeting.

"Oh thank God... it's Jared; Ella told me she was worried about you, she's almost hysterical, she's with me now," the man on the other end spoke rapidly, not even pausing for breath. His voice seemed to spark something in her mind which triggered her stomach to do a flip once out of what seemed to be... guilt, of all things!

"—but I thought since you didn't answer right away, and you—"

"I'm fine." The words automatically left her mouth, though she hadn't thought to say them. He went silent, and she could almost feel his shock through the phone.

"You're... fine? We found your letter, for Christ's sake!"

"Letter? There must be some mistake." More words that simply poured from her mouth.

"There is no fucking mistake!" He was getting angry, and she could hear crying in the background. His tone—one she had never heard from him before—frightened her, and her stomach churned again. She could feel something, a strange sensation reminiscent of water beginning to trickle over the top of a dam, deep inside her mind.

"Now tell me what the hell is wrong with you! I'm sick being lied to! We want to help you, damn it!"

There was a pause that seemed to fill eternity. This was a moment she would always remember: the moment before the emotional flood finally spilled forth; the moment she finally cracked and let herself go to someone for the first time since that day two years ago... the day she had lost her family and everything else that mattered to her as her entire city turned to hell. She was not the only one, though others with similar experiences were few and far between. As a survivor of Raccoon City, she would carry the weight of a greedy company's mistake on her shoulders for the rest of her life. She was silent as everything came back to her. Every detail that she had tried so hard to repress—through therapy, through drugs, and through plain stubbornness—fought to the top of her confused, battered mind and let itself out.

On the other end of the line, Jared was nauseous with worry. This phone conversation was the worst in his life, and one he wouldn't forget. He thought she had actually gone through with her plan to take her own life, as detailed in a letter she would never remember writing.

"...Please," he whispered. "Please, still be there... I love you." He moaned the last bit of his sentence softly, sure that she was gone. Beside him, Ella had gone silent, her skin pale and her green eyes wide, shining with tears waiting to be spilled.

There was a small whimper, barely audible. But the sound soon grew into a mournful, choked sob.

"Jared, please, help me," she cried. "I'm so scared; I don't know what to do anymore... can't handle it... I... want..." Her sentence was broken by her gasping sobs.

Jared let out a deep breath, unaware of the tears which ran hot down his cheeks. "I'm coming over there. I'll be up in five minutes, don't you go anywhere, don't do... don't do anything... I'm coming!" he was shouting these last words even as he left the phone sitting on the bed. Ella picked up the receiver and listened, as if she was not ready to believe her friend was still on the other side. As soon as she was sure of this, she began to mutter soothing phrases into the phone, comforting both herself and the other girl at the same time.

In the tiny apartment on 26th Street, the girl sank to the floor. The pills fell around her, tapping quietly on the linoleum tiles. The phone dropped into her lap, and she cried.

At 6:53 P.M., Eastern Time, Gracelynn Rachel Boudette, age eighteen, was admitted to St. Mary's Clinic by her friend Jared Danellson.