As with life, all good things must come to an end. I've had fun with this story. To think that what sprang from boredom, frustration, and a really wicked DXM trip turned into something that has solidified the notion of me writing on a professional level as well as becoming a piece that I couldn't be prouder of. The cocky part of me likes to think I've brought a certain darkness and originality to FF. (I'll let you decide.) It's going to be weird not writing this, even if I do have the sequel. It becomes almost a part of you, in a way. I know that sounds sappy, but I'm in a sappy mood.
As was mentioned, and has been a million times, there is a sequel.
Lithium Crash: Like. Love. Miss. Kill. I've already cracked.
I think the mini summary sort of connotes what's going to go down, but I won't spoil you. All I can say is this: Jude has changed. I'm toying with a lot of POV writing interspersing it with 3rd person stuff. It may seem jumbled and crazy at times, but think of what I'm writing and it'll make perfect sense.
This finale was hell to write. I wrote it once a few minutes after I posted chapter 30, but quickly knew there was so much more that needed to be said. I'm not really tying up a lot of loose ends, leaving the door open for that later on. This chapter is what it is. As chapter 29 was draining, I've found myself drawing upon a lot of things. In a way, this final chapter is like facing demons; you never know if you've actually won. Not to mention the fact that I kept Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" on repeat for this and that was, at one point, my anthem.
I want to thank everyone for their comments. I never knew this would be so well received and knowing that there are actual fans of my work amazes me. Yeah, yeah... Shut up Bri!
I'm going to stop before I go all psycho on people and scare you away for good.
Enjoy the final show...
Chapter 31 / The Wall
Jude woke up three days later.
She blearily looked around the small hospital room, taking in the sterility and stark nature that seemed to drape on everything. She felt heavy, trying to process the sight of her body covered with tubing and wiring. Everything seemed too quiet, nothing but a humming in the background and the white noise that filled her head. She knew her surroundings, having seen them when her grandmother was in the hospital all of those years ago, but it filled her with a sense of dread. She wasn't dead.
She wrestled with her body and the hardware that encased her in to a sitting position, still trying to figure out things. The last thing she remembered was sliding down the bathroom wall, everything closing in around her. Her hand went instinctively to her throat, her skin hot to the touch. She shook her head to her silent thoughts, absently wondering where everyone was. Her spirits dampened, wondering if they were all sad she wasn't gone.
As if by mental manifestation, Tommy appeared from the corner, dragging his mauve sack cloth chair behind him. He moved in close, leaning on his elbows into the bed. His eyes were shadowed in a red shimmer, something that seemed so surprising to her.
"You're finally awake."
"Yeah... how'd I get here?" The sound of her own voice frightened her, burnt and dry. His hands instinctively found hers, wrapping the frailty in his strength. "I mean, I thought..."
"No. I found you, Jude... hanging."
Jude tried to focus in on The Day and the quick actions she'd made; the bath tub that seemed to love her body, the fighting, the ripped up sheet, the darkness. It all seemed so far away yet close enough for her to catch and rework.
"Only I could fuck up death." Her chin quivered, her eyes moving from Tommy's softened face to the patchwork drop ceiling. She mindlessly counted the squares in the light fixture, willing herself not to cry in self-pity. "I knew it would happen. I bet the tabloids love me right now."
Tommy interrupted the monologue she threatened to start, his grip on her hand intensifying, kissing their union.
"You shouldn't say that, Jude. You scared everyone... ME. I don't know what I would have done if..."
"If I would have died?" She finished the sentence he couldn't seem to. "I should have. Dead people are easy to forget."
"It was all so much. I just couldn't take it anymore."
"I would have helped you." His face became sadder, his eyes lined in thick tears that wanted so desperately to run from their captor.
"You can't!" Her outburst stunned him, every emotion she was feeling cascading down on top of her in a torrent instant. To feel so broken, her thoughts came to her in crystalline waves. "I saw how you tried, and all I could do was... I feel like I've let you down so much. I never wanted you to see me like this and... I know it hurts you to know I did what I did. I guess the fucked up part is... I still want to. I still want to die."
"Is that why you did it? Because you thought you let me down? You haven't..."
She closed her eyes and squeezed them together tightly. She wondered how she could express her feelings without them getting jumbled in particulars or truths. She exhaled loudly, opening her eyes to stare down at him.
"I did. I've let everyone down. I tried so hard to be good, to be right, to be what was needed. And all of these things in my head... They scare me. They said that I would die; that you would die and... I didn't want you dead, Tommy. I had to protect you and I thought that dying would be my redemption. That I'd fight the good fucking fight and go out like a good girl." Jude broke down at her confession, the familiar emptiness and pain refilling her chest. "I just wanted to be good..."
"But you are." He snorted back his lines of tears, gulping down the anguish in his voice. "You mean everything to me. You're my life, girl."
"You shouldn't pin your life on me. I'll only fuck up again and I'll take you with me."
She ran her fingers through his hair, feeling bad for the sobbing man sitting next to her. It was hard swallowing, knowing she'd hurt him more than she'd ever wanted. She thought about her family, wondering if they were this tore up. She fleetingly thought of Kat and Jaime and how they took it. What about Georgia? EJ? Kwest? Were they this messed up over her failed attempt? In a flawed, but rationalized, act to make everything right, she'd hurt so many people. She felt so far from the good she hoped of being.
"I'm so sorry, Jude."
"It isn't your fault. I did this." She plastered on a crumbling façade, half-smiling in his direction. "When do I get to go home?"
Tommy quickly straightened up, quickly realizing that she didn't know of her predetermined institutionalization. He tried to smile, hoping it would ease the blow he was about to deliver.
"You're going into the hospital." She looked at him quizzically, him quickly adding in the bit about it being Brice, a mental hospital.
She sat in stunned silence. It's like when you're a kid and you're swinging really high and another kid dares you to jump because that's what the cool kids do, only to hit the ground and have not even the energy to breathe. She felt like someone had come at her from behind and pushed her out of her swing and all she could see was herself scattered amongst the dead leaves and wet sand. She let out a sharp, muffled cry.
"I'm being locked away."
Tommy leaned forward, tracing his fingers along her jaw and down over the scarlet welt that tarnished her skin. The picture of her in that gown, that bed, and hooked up to every machine she could be attached too would be forever engrained in his memory.
"It isn't like that." His words came to her as a plea, begging her to understand the unmentioned reasons why she was being locked up in that cage they called Brice. She couldn't handle his revelation, recalling the jokes and stories people would tell about the place. She felt a thousand things at once, every one muting her even further. "Jude, say something. Are you ok?"
"No!" She again began to cry, the world shifting positions and her shoulders shaking. "I'm pissed and I'm tired and I'm sore and I'm hurt and I really don't want to be here, but I did this. I did everything. And you're telling me that I'm going to be sent away. You can't let them do this to me! Take me from this wreck I've made... I know I know... I shouldn't ask but, please! Don't throw me out. Don't put me with those crazy people. I'm... I'm..."
His face contorted into a state of torment, taking into his reverie the mess of a girl who begged for him to do the one thing he'd always wanted to do. All he could manage for a shake of his head and a cracked voice.
"You need this, baby. The doctors said that you... had a nervous breakdown."
She couldn't help but weep at her misfortunes and fate. What began as a relatively simple life had become something she wanted to escape from. It'd led her no where but to a padded room and being doped up.
"You don't understand, Tommy."
"Tell me. Make me understand."
"You'll go away. Everyone will go away. I'll be alone." She choked on her nouns and verbs, stinging saline collecting in the back of her throat. "It hurts to be alone. More than being bad."
"You aren't bad, Jude, and I won't ever leave you. I promise. You just... you need to go."
She was at an impasse and a loss for words. In everything she did, he was there as her guiding light. A part of her feared it would turn into a bad plea – 'Say it Jude... Say it.' – while some part of her felt what he said was right, that he was really only looking out for her. She nodded almost undetectably, putting faith in what he said, not knowing if it'd turn out like everyone planned on it to. He leaned in and kissed her forehead, sealing their "pact".
"You better keep your word, Quincy or there will be hell to pay and my taxes are steep." She sheepishly smiled at him, even that a rarity in the days of late. "I love you, Tommy. Really."
He returned her smile, the wattage putting her at east for the first time in a long while.
"I love you too, Jude." He kissed her forehead again, looking down into the once completely lifeless aquamarine eyes of hers. "Really."
In just over a year, she went from top of the world to Hell. Things got so twisted so fast; the thoughts of death took her by the hands and led her into darkness. It was an injustice that would never make sense, but there were brief glimpses of hope coming into her view. Maybe there finally was going to be some good returning to her, returning to destroy the wall.