There were days when she couldn't bring herself to do anything but stare into space for hours at a time, sitting in the silence of her own thoughts. These days were the ones that worried Lisa most – the days when Ally didn't speak to her or James, the days she didn't get dressed or help with Amara, the days when she just sat, wrapped in a too-big sweatshirt and pyjama pants staring out the window or at nothing. Absent. Cut off.
On those days, she knew she wasn't okay. Not just in terms of health, where her not-wellness was self-evident. She didn't function anymore. She'd forgotten how. She became a shell.
There were still days when she was fine, days when she tried. When she played with Amara and ate her food without complaint, joking with James and Lisa, and they could find the light that was still inside her, somewhere.
Most of the time she just existed somewhere in-between, wherever that was, somewhere between reality and her thought processes.
Amara grew, began to walk, began to talk. Grew long, curly black hair and had bright blue eyes that could get her anything. They could even get Ally to eat, sometimes.
"Mum?" The question caught Ally off-guard. She jumped, startled out of her thoughts as she looked at her daughter across the table.
"Yes, love?" Ally sipped her coffee, smiling.
"May we go to the park? It's sunny." Amara's eyes pleaded with her.
"I don't see why not." Ally laughed. "Let's see what Mommy thinks." She held her hand out to the little girl, who grabbed it readily, practically dragging Ally into the living room.
"Mommy? Mommy?" she called excitedly. Lisa looked up from the paper, as did James.
"Mum says we can go to the park if you say its okay. Can we go please?" The child was basically jumping up and down.
Lisa nodded with mock sternness. "I think so." She grinned at her daughter. "Do you want to take a picnic?"
Amara nodded with a barely contained smile. "Can Uncle James help me make it?" she asked, looking sideways at him.
"I would be honoured." James stood up from his seat. "So long as the mothers don't mind?" he raised eyebrows at the two of them.
"They don't mind." Amara informed him, taking his hand. Lisa chuckled and shooed them towards the kitchen. James swept the girl up in his arms and they made their way into the kitchen, Amara giggling happily.
Ally sat and curled up into Lisa's side, laying her head in her lap. Lisa stroked her hair tenderly. "How are you today?" she asked quietly.
"Alright." Ally rolled onto her back and smiled up at her girlfriend. "I ate breakfast."
Ally nodded. "Yeah." Her answer was ambiguous. Lisa chose not to press the subject.
"Well, if we're going to the park, we'd better get showered." She pointed out.
Ally rolled off the sofa and reached out a hand to Lisa, who took it and stood. Tears still came to her eyes as Ally undressed to expose ribs showing through her skin. It was something she could avoid thinking about when Ally was wrapped in layers of clothing. Ally turned and saw the expression on her face. "Lis?" She usually showered separately from the older woman for precisely this reason. Tears spilled over. Ally quickly pulled a sweatshirt back on. "Lis?" she asked again, approaching her girlfriend and wrapping her arms around her. Lisa started sobbing onto her shoulder. "Shhh." Ally whispered. "It's alright."
"No!" Lisa burst out. "It's not alright, Ally!" she looked up, glaring. Ally backed away slowly, afraid. "You're killing yourself." Tears spilled over again. "And you're killing me by doing it" She spoke bitterly.
Ally wrapped her arms around herself silently and sunk to the floor.
"Can't you say something?" Lisa questioned violently. "Don't just murmur 'I'm fine' when you obviously aren't. For God's sake, scream if it will make you better. Talk to me! Tell me what's wrong" she demanded.
Ally stayed quiet for a moment. Then: "I don't know" she whispered. She looked up at Lisa, afraid. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't understand me. I don't know why I'm like this. Maybe that's why I can't fix it." She leaned her head into her arms.
"Maybe you should go back into the hospital. Go on an NG tube." Lisa suggested dully.
Ally looked up at her sadly. "Is that what you want? Do you want me to go?"
Lisa shook her head. "But I don't know how to help you."
"No-one does." Ally sighed and stood up, pulling on her pants. "I'll be in the bedroom. Call me when you're done showering." She turned to leave.
Lisa's hand on her shoulder stopped her. "Shower with me." She requested.
Ally smiled. "Thanks." They undressed and got in. Ally's body relaxed under the hot water, long brown hair streaming down her back. She smiled up at Lisa.
Lisa tried very hard to smile back.
Under several layers of clothes and a coat, Ally looked almost normal as they walked through the park, Amara tearing ahead in the lead, aiming for the swings. Ally went after her, sitting on the swing next to her daughter and laughing as they began to swing. They didn't see her fall. "MUMMY!" It was Amara's frantic screaming that brought them. "MUM!" They ran towards the swings to find her crouched over Ally, who was evidently unconscious. James pulled out his cell as they ran, calling 911. Amara saw them. "Mommy! Something happened!" she screamed, sobbing over Ally.
Lisa reached them moments later, immediately putting her fingers to Ally's neck, feeling for a pulse. It was there, but she wasn't breathing. Tilting Ally's head back, she pinched her nose and blew into her mouth, watching as her chest rose. "She's not breathing!" She called to Wilson, pinching Ally's nose and preparing to blow again. The second time Ally's chest fell down she breathed in sharply, coughing. "Ally?" Tears were streaming down Lisa's face.
Ally's eyes fluttered open. "What happened?" she asked croakily. Lisa started sobbing, climbing over Ally to hold Amara to her.
"Thank God." She whispered, clutching the pale faced child. "Thank God for you."
James came over, checking Ally's pulse and putting his coat under her head. "An ambulance is on its way. Does anything hurt?"
Amara pulled away from Lisa to go back to kneel beside Ally. "Mummy?"
Ally reached up a hand and ran it through Amara's hair. "I love you." She murmured.
"Are you okay Mummy?" Amara's lip trembled. She was still incredibly pale.
"I will be thanks to you." Ally told her seriously. Amara buried her face into Ally's neck. Lisa was sitting a few feet away, apparently in shock. "Lis?" Ally questioned quietly. Lisa turned to face her with a tear-stained face. "I'll go on the NG tube."
Lisa smiled wanly and nodded.
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later and took them to PPTH at Lisa's request. James followed with the car. A full body X-ray determined that Ally had a fractured wrist and two broken ribs. They thought she had suffered a minor heart attack.
"Do you want to be admitted to the psychiatric ward here?" Lisa asked her gently, Amara asleep on her lap, sucking her thumb. "At least it would be familiar. People could visit. I'll be here. James will be here. Amara's in the day care."
Ally nodded. "I don't want to go back to Smithbrooke."
"Okay." Lisa smiled briefly. "I'm glad you're trying again."
"I have to." Ally swallowed.