So bored…but when aren't I?
This place is miserable. Except when Beck, Jade Tori and Andre come and visit. Oh, Robbie's parents too. They usually come at least once a week. At least I get to see them.
Suddenly people started running everywhere as the door opened.
Oh. It's just a nurse.
I swear, this place has too many nuts people. Any stranger comes in and everyone starts running.
So weird. I'm pretty sure I'm the most normal person here.
The nurse smiled as she slowly came walking to me, holding a bag.
This is weird. Ever since I've been in here they usually bring stuff to me individually.
"Here you go sweetheart." She smiled at me.
I swallowed, and took the bag from her.
Wait a minute…this isn't right. This has all of the stuff that I had on me in the mall.
My phone, the Credit Card, lipstick, a backup lighter and a whole bunch of other random stuff.
Why'd she give this to me?
I guess it's nice. It seems like forever since my days didn't consist of visits down a hallway to someone who told me that I need to talk to people like them about my stress.
I remember I screamed at one point "You're telling me that so I just come back and you make a lot of money!"
Then I was in my room for a while then more frequent visits by Beck and everyone, plus the stupid therapist.
Never the one person I do want to see though.
They have complete control of everything that gets to me. I remember the warden flipped out after Beck gave me a journal to write down everything that's going around here. Apparently they needed to make sure that he didn't sneak a love note into one of the pages.
A love note would be nice. Better than the whitewash of this miserable place.
Feeling very funny, I reached for my phone and pressed the home button, trying to goad it into turning on.
After a few moments the screen flashed the Pear logo and I found myself looking at my home screen, with raindrops as the background.
I'm pretty sure that wasn't what I left it as.
In fact, I'm 100 percent sure.
It was a picture of Robbie and me smiling.
Geez, what is this? China? It's not like if I see his face I'm going to fall back into insanity.
I was never insane in the first place. I just…
I don't even remember. I remember thinking how mad Robbie would be about the smoking, he and Laken getting it on and…
Next thing I knew, I was here.
The first few weeks I guess were nothing but therapy. I don't know the date or anything. I'm just guessing that it was few weeks. But anyway, once I did get to see Beck, Tori, Andre and Jade they explained that apparently my brain went into shutdown mode and I freaked, running into Christianson & Finch's. From there, I went to the dressing room and started muttering like a crazy person.
"You were saying…Laken won, Laken won." Jade said, looking fearfully at me. Beck and Andre looked on apprehensively, like they were half thinking about restraining me.
"Really? I don't even remember. Last thing I remember is shopping at Panda Mountain."
Which as I said earlier, is a lie. I…just don't want to worry them about the sudden stoppage of memory. The therapists call it "selective memory". Basically, when the brain goes into extra overdrive and stuff that has secretly been eating at you comes to the front of your mind.
Which doesn't make any sense, since I told them that I thought of Laken RIGHT before I snapped.
They called her "the trigger".
Cool name for an action movie. Maybe Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Which we never saw.
Phoo. It's probably on DVD now.
I scroll down to my messages and to inbox.
Ok, maybe they didn't go thru everything. Because the first message I see is: "Cat? You ok? You said you would be back and its 10 PM. Everything alright?"
Talk about selective censorship. Makes absolutely no sense. If you completely shut him off from me, and take him off my wallpaper why not delete everything from my inbox from him?
Taking that one step further, why not delete him from my contacts entirely? If this is really for "My own good."
As they have repeatedly told me over the time I've been here.
Sorry, I really don't mean to be so condescending and second guessing. It's just that I have no knowledge of anything that is going on in the outside world. So I'm a bit stir crazy.
Which is why I think China owns this place. All the censorship.
Things have certainly changed out there, I'm sure. I bet when I get out there'll be some amazing changes like "US invades Portugal!" or "Chevy invents new car that goes faster than speed of light. Name rumored to be Chevy Bolt."
That's not the only thing that has changed either. This place has gone thru staff like nothing I've ever seen. Seems like every other week there are a new set of nurses and staff members looking at us, eyes suspicious.
Plus, they made me change my hair back to brown.
And when I say 'made', I mean they threatened to cut off visitors for a week. I did it, but told Beck and Jade the next time I saw them. Never saw that lady again. Usually the staff rotates, never the same. She's the only one that never repeated.
I get to my feet and make my way back to my room, and collapse on the cold sheets.
I glance back at my wallpaper, and let out a sigh.
The sad thing is…
I don't really remember what he looks or sounds like.
If that was the goal of all this censorship, it worked like a charm. I realized I was forgetting stuff early on, and fought so hard to write down everything I could think of to remember him, but it didn't really work.
I remember the day that I forgot the last bit. It was him telling me "What's up sunshine?"
Doesn't seem like much, but it was so special to me. A sign of what was.
That day was full of therapy and me keeping myself awake. I went back to my room after the sun went down. Every time I had to myself I replayed "What's up sunshine?" until I ate, then until I fell asleep.
I collapsed onto the sheets and…
I'm not going to lie, I panicked. I frantically started going thru everything, trying to remember what he sounded like.
Nothing. I had lost him. Then most of the memories, then what he looked like…but not his voice. But I finally lost that too.
I didn't eat that night. I just cried. All night.
That was probably the worst part. I had lost my goal. I lost my desire to get out of here.
It took a while, but now…I have everything back. My purse, phone…lighter, lipstick…
"Cat? Hello? –Jade"
Oh my god. I can talk to her.
I can talk to everyone.
"Hi! Jade! They JUST gave me back my phone! –Cat"
"Cat? You there? –Beck"
This is AWESOME!
Now my phone is blowing up. Talk about comedy.
"Cat! Hey girl! –Tori"
"Hey! I just got back to my phone back! –Cat"
I sent that one to Tori and Beck.
"Yeah, they just called me. Did they say you're getting out? –Jade"
I'm getting out.
Goodbye prison, hello world outside!
I let out a giggle and replied "No, am I getting out? Is that what the call was about?"
"Awesome! Good to hear from you without being in some creepy room lol :) –Beck"
"Yeah! Get your stuff! I'll be there in 10 minutes! –Jade"
I quickly hopped off my bed and grabbed my bag, and started taking my meticulously folded clothes and quickly piling them back inside the bag.
I don't really care about if stuff gets wrinkled, I can do laundry at home.
On my own time. As opposed to the twice weekly laundry time.
I think I skipped a big step.
I haven't paid any bills or done anything since I got in here. I don't know how I could have. But I never paid.
So my apartment is gone.
And everything inside. To pay the bills.
Talk about change.
I continue to pack my stuff up, but at a slower place.
Here, everything is certain, regimented, routine.
Outside, in the real world…it's on you. Nobody except family and friends will help you out.
I look up from my purse, which is about half full and see everything is inside. There's nothing left to pack.
I started to lie down on the bed when the door opened to a friendly looking nurse.
She smiled and looked ready to laugh. "Looks like you heard. C'mon, let's get you out of here."
The entire way to the front desk, she told me how proud everyone was of me, and how they didn't think I'd be back anytime soon.
If they're trying to get me to donate to keep this place running they might actually be the insane ones.
Finally, we reached the front desk, where Jade was signing…something. Suddenly she gave the clipboard back and the nurse that had her hand on me guided me out the door then let go.
I turned to see where she went only to find a closed door behind me.
What felt like 50 people suddenly tackled me into a hug, and refused to let me go.
"EEP! Ahh! Can't breathe!" I managed to get out, then they suddenly let go.
I barely saw Tori, Beck , Jade and Robbie's parents standing in front of me, smiling happily, then Jade suddenly tackled me into a hug and started crying.
Everyone just stood back as she just cried and whispered "It's so good to see you…" into my ear.
Pretty soon, everyone else had hugged me and whispered how happy they were to see me out of that terrible place.
And we were just standing there.
"Excuse me, Ms. West? This is a hospital, not a reunion hall, I have to ask you to leave." The lady behind the desk asked, not sounding pleased.
"Fine. We'll leave. Don't expect any big donations!" She said as the others guided me out the door and into the blinding sunlight.
"Here, thought you might need these." Robbie's dad said, handing me some sunglasses I bought a while back.
Actually, I didn't buy them. Robbie did.
"Thank you." I said, putting them on and following Tori and Beck, who seemed to be bouncing around.
"Where are Andre and Robbie?" I asked, breaking the silence that had fallen.
Suddenly Tori and Robbie's mom gave each other a look and Beck said "I think you should ride in Jade's car."
That was NOT what I asked!
I begrudgingly climbed into the front seat of Jade's car.
"Where are we going?" I asked once she climbed in and started the car.
"Pepper's." She said with a smile. "You've lost some weight and we were thinking that you could use some unhealthy food."
"I have?" I asked, suddenly scared.
I hope it isn't noticeable. I want to look nice.
"Yeah, but look at it this way. You can have burgers and milkshakes until you explode!" She said happily, laughing at the end.
That sounds amazing. The hospital food was terrible. I won't eat them until I explode though. I don't think so at least.
"Thank you." I said, smiling at the end.
"No problem, it's a special day!" She said, practically yelling the last part.
It is. The best day in…a long time.
"What is today?"
"Like the date?" She replied, looking at me weird.
"May 3rd. You didn't know that?" She asked, looking stunned.
"No. I didn't even know how long I was there."
"A long time." Jade said.
I missed Christmas. New Years. A whole semester of school.
I disappeared for 5 entire months.
"Oh. How was CTC?" I asked.
I better get to know how things were out here with her, along with Tori and Beck.
Andre, Robbie's parents…
"Didn't go. None of us did. Your doctor when all of this started recommended that you be in the most stable environment for you, which meant us staying with you. Tori, Andre and I have all been doing album stuff and spinning our wheels. Beck has been doing some modeling and working at ironically, Christianson & Finch's."
"Where are they?" I asked, still processing all the stuff she just told me.
"Andre and Robbie."
We stopped at a stop light and Jade ran her hand thru her hair.
"I'm prefacing what I'm about to say that we're all ecstatic you are out. Ok? But of all the days for you to get out, for both of them, today was the worst one. They're down in Santa Barbara talking to IMG about Andre's work. He could drop a mix tape and album in a month. He's really close."
He's so far away..
Not that far away. It's just terrible luck that out of all the days for me to get out TODAY was the day and they had to go to Santa Barbara.
"Have you talked to him?" I asked.
Jade smirked and glanced at me. "No, he said he had to turn his phone off during the meeting. He'll turn it back on when they start heading back here."
"They aren't getting a hotel?" I asked, suddenly worried.
"Nah. One of them will drive until they get tired, then switch off and drive the rest of the way back."
Beck's working at Christianson & Finch's. How ironic.
"Don't worry, you'll see Robbie tomorrow." Jade glanced at me, smirking.
Yay! We're here!
I hopped out of the car and waited for Beck to stop next to me, then I yanked open his door and hugged him.
"Hey…" He said, hugging me back.
"Thanks for waiting for me…" I said, unable to prevent a couple of tears from seeping out.
"Sure…what do you mean?" He asked, letting me go and looking at me weird.
"CTC. Jade said everyone worked since I went to the hospital."
"Oh. No problem. Anything for you, you know that." He smiled, hugging me again.
Finally, we let go and went inside, got a table and stared at the menu.
"Hungry Cat?" Robbie's dad asked, smiling at me.
"Very." I replied. I'm going to follow Jade's suggestion and start on the path to explosion. Burger, Fries and a milkshake.
Everyone was silent for a moment, glancing either at the surrounding tables or the menu.
"Can I ask a few things?" I croak out, betraying how nervous I actually am. I want to know everything that's been going on and can't wait any longer.
"Shoot." Tori smiled.
"Beck, Jade said you were working at Christianson & Finch?"
He laughed and put his menu aside. "Yeah, gotta start somewhere."
"How's that going?"
"Ok I guess, I could take you by tonight if you want. Nothing really special." He shrugged.
"That sounds fun." I smiled.
Gives me something to do.
And prevents me from taking Jade's car and driving toward Santa Barbara.
"What else?" Tori asked, looking interested.
"How is work coming Mr. Shapiro?"
"It's ok. Economy looks like it's on a permanent upswing, which makes my job a lot more fun."
"Ok…I'm not like being intrusive or anything am I?" I asked, worried I was asking too many questions.
"No sweetheart, you're fine. I bet you've been going nuts in that place, not knowing anything. Ask whatever you want." Robbie's mom smiled at me.
"What can I get everyone?" The waitress suddenly appeared, handing us our drinks and pulling out a notepad.
She took everyone's orders and left soon afterward.
"What after this? I don't have—" I began, but Robbie's dad cut me off.
"What don't you have?"
"Well, I never paid the bills on anything. I think everything is gone."
All Mr. Shapiro did was look VERY confused at me.
Then Beck laughed. Everyone else joined in and Mr. Shapiro even chuckled.
"Cat, everything is where you left it. Apartment, SUV, everything was taken care of." He reassured me, rubbing my shoulder.
Tori smirked. "Who do you think took care of it?"
"You?" I turned to Mr. Shapiro.
"Nope. I did the hospital bills."
"Robbie did." Jade said suddenly, sipping her tea.
Why am I not surprised.
But…wow. 6 months of payments on the SUV, and apartment. Not counting utilities.
I owe him now more than ever.
One night together and you won't owe him anymore.
Too soon. I haven't even been out two hours.
He might be with Laken. He might be with some girl he met.
6 months is a long time you know.
I swallow my question, the one I'm DYING to know the answer to and sip my milkshake placidly.
"You're taking that well, we were expecting you to be worried about him paying all that stuff." Beck said, glancing at me.
"I'll talk to him later on. No need to worry about it though. I'm relieved it's there though."
"Well, look at the alternative. That isn't an option. We knew you were going to get out, but not when. We decided to put school off for Jadelynn and everyone and play things by ear until you got out. Now that today has come, we can move forward." Robbie's dad told me.
To his left, Jade went a light pink and Beck hugged her.
Are they going out again?
Please say yes.
That's what we need. More love in the world after all that has happened.
"Thanks…" I said, overjoyed for Beck and Jade and at how everyone stepped up for me.
"Of course. Now—"
"Who has the burger, fries and milkshake?" The waitress asked, suddenly reappearing. I raised my hand and she placed it in front of me.
The others got their food and started eating.
"Cat, what are you waiting for?" Tori asked, mouth half full.
"I was just thinking when I start I'm going to eat until everything is gone."
"Well what are you waiting for then?" Beck asked.
"Bye." I said quickly, grabbing some fries and devouring them.
Everyone started laughing and eating as well.
I leaned the seat back and let out a huge yawn.
C'mon Andre…it's not THAT hard to pay for gas…
"You can be my it girl…"
OH YEAH! That's my freaking SONG right now!
"Oooh, Oooh. Let me play it live…"
I completely forget that I'm parked by a gas pump in Santa Barbara, Cali after eating dinner and must look like a complete idiot, in the car by myself.
But who really cares right?
"Let me say it live, let me sing it live…"
The song ended just as Andre emerged from the gas station, talking to an attractive girl. She waved and—
"Bye Alicia!" He said, shutting the door and handing me a drink.
"Sorry about that, she just started talking me up and then I saw how hot she was and…" He apologized as I began making my way back towards the highway.
"I get it. She was cute." I admit.
"Thanks man, knew you'd understand. I'm going to catch some z's ok?" He smiled, reaching into the back seat for his headphones.
"Sounds good." I said, as he put on the headphones and the car went quiet.
Better turn my phone on before I hit the highway. Once I'm there I won't have time.
I dig in the compartment separating Andre and I, finally find my phone, press the button to turn it on and put it in the cup holder.
This car is so fancy there's a phone holder ON the steering wheel. I never use it though, I try not to text and drive.
Last time I regularly did…well…
Soft snores start to fill the car as I breeze thru a few stoplights, but unfortunately not getting the LAST one before I hit the highway.
Oh well…might as well check my phone.
Whoa. 13 new messages.
Hope everything is alright.
I pressed inbox and new messages.
Hey, I have GREAT NEWS. Just got a call from Methodist. Cat's getting out today. -Jade
What? The ONE day in MONTHS I'm out of town and unavailable?
That's just great.
The rest of the messages had a similar tone.
Cat's out of Methodist. For good.
I guess I'm kind of in…shock? It's good I mean, obviously…but I haven't thought about her in a few months.
Sounds terrible, but hear me out. You try thinking about someone that you are not allowed to have any kind of contact on a daily basis.
Tougher than you think.
I hit the gas and am on the way home in minutes.
Back to LA.
Back to Cat.
More like…back to reality.
I mean, the last 5 months have been surreal. Everything I had been working towards shut down in an instant. It took me a few days to comprehend the severity of what happened.
Cat had a COMPLETE mental breakdown. She could be a completely different person.
I'm not going to lie, I was not myself for like a week. Probably would have been longer if Methodist hadn't let the others see her.
And I heard she was still…Cat. A bit down, but still the happy young woman we all know and love.
But I still couldn't talk to her.
I got close. I worked for weeks trying to get around Methodist's strict policies. At one point I had an appointment with Cat. But someone high above looking at the situation called the day I was supposed to see her and said "Yeah, you're not seeing her."
After that…Laken asked me out. I accepted. And I got into kind of a groove. Working for my dad…going out with Laken, and waiting.
Laken and I ended up breaking it off after a few weeks. We didn't want to get to a point that it would be awkward since things weren't going amazingly.
The time's really flew, and now things are finally falling back into a sense of normal.
What am I going to do?
I haven't even thought about it honestly. No point in thinking about something that might come in a few months.
Never thought it would come in a few weeks. Or days even.
I really wish the stupid hospital would have given us a warning before discharging her. Now I'm out of town and not there when she begins to get acclimated to life again.
Los Angeles 95 miles.
What if she doesn't want to see me? For all I know that stupid place brainwashed her into thinking that she hates me!
Yeah, sounds crazy right? This is what I avoided by not thinking about her.
I literally know NOTHING. I know she left the night before she went off and I gave her my credit card the day of reckoning, hugged her and…
Press pause for 5 months.
I had to get a new credit card because the STUPID hospital wouldn't give me it back. Yeah, it has my name on it but they said "It was in her belongings, so it stays here."
Yeah, in other news, screw you Methodist.
If you got firebombed tomorrow, no skin off my back. I got Cat back; you may now go straight to hell.
"Hey dude." Andre said suddenly, tapping my arm.
"Yeah man, what's up?" I asked, refocusing on the road.
"Did you see Jade's text? Apparently Cat got out today." He said, sounding happy.
"Yeah, I saw." I said dismissively.
"You ok? You sound unhappy."
"I'm cool, I'm really glad she's out." I deflected.
"Me too. You just don't sound happy." He pressed.
"I…what if she hates me or something?" I asked. "What then?"
"Dude, I don't think that's going to be a problem. What you need to ask yourself is what are you going to do that is going to help her out the most. That's what you need to concentrate on. This is bigger than you, me and everyone else. She's always been a bit wild, but we loved her for that. Now it's up to us to get her back to where she wants to be."
"Yeah, but that does leave out one big thing. What am I going to do right now to make that happen? I sent her to that damn place!" I exclaimed, hitting the steering wheel.
"Dude, as bad as it sounds, I can't help you. You really can't either. Cat was afraid of losing you to Laken. She was apparently right, since you guys did go out for a bit. But you guys have some major issues you need to work out."
"I know." I admitted, trying to focus on the road.
Beck pulled into the mall and killed the ignition. I pressed the unlock button and climbed out and shutting the door. Beck did the same to my right.
This has a creepy sense of déjà vu to it.
I can SEE Panda Mountain. I was there 5 months ago.
Beck didn't mention the Christianson & Finch he works in is the one I flipped out in.
I tried taking in my surroundings, seeing the lights, excitement and atmosphere of the real world for the first time in a long time.
Suddenly Beck grabbed my hand. "You're fine. Nothing is going to happen. Do you know why you're here?"
I shook my head and we walked into the mall and headed towards Great Canadian Cookie.
"You need to exercise your demons from here. This is a bad memory for you. I chose this location to work at because of what happened. You need to get over this, and what night is better than tonight?"
I sighed, and snuggled closer to him.
"You want one? I'm in the mood for gingerbread…" Beck mused, running his thumb over my hand and causing me to shiver.
"Yeah…I'll have chocolate chip." I said quietly. Beck quickly stepped forward, acquires the cookies and paid the kind gentleman and made his way back to me.
Hold up. He's not in uniform for work…he's wearing normal…Beck clothes.
"Beck? Why aren't you wearing a uniform or anything?" I asked, munching on my cookie.
He laughed. "Actually, I am. Look at the jeans."
Christianson & Finch.
"You have to wear their stuff to work?"
"Yeah, kind of like a human mannequin." He smiled and led me into the store.
"Oliver! You're early…and…" his boss called out, looking at me.
"I can explain, C'mere…" He pulled his boss aside and winked at me.
Beck and his boss quickly started talking.
I guess I can walk around…
Geez, I guess there's a reason why Robbie doesn't shop here. This place is PRICY. The shirts are nice and soft though.
Where's the girls section?
I start walking towards the escalator and the cologne section.
Hold on…that can't be right…
Robbie doesn't shop here.
But there's his cologne. His staple that he uses when going out to a restaurant or something. The bottle has a little eagle on it.
I make my way over to where it is displayed, grabbing a bottle and spraying my wrist.
That's it alright. It's like…
He's standing right next to me. He just hugged me, and is smiling happily.
"Cat?" Beck said happily. I turned around to see him walking towards me, smiling.
"C'mon, we're good. I want to show you something." He grabbed my hand again and started back towards the front, but took a turn towards the dressing rooms.
Where the paramedics found me.
"Beck…" I said, unsure of what he was doing.
"It's ok…" Beck said, opening a stall and ushering me in.
It's empty…white, with a couple of places to put your hangers.
"This is where they found you. Right here in fact." He pointed to the corner closest to me.
"Why…why are you telling me this?" I asked quietly.
I'm scared. I don't want to go back. I don't know why…but I don't feel right.
"Does anything seem different to you?"
"Everything is different. Everything has changed." I said bluntly.
"I meant the dressing room."
"Oh. It's just another dressing room. Nothing weird or anything."
"That's' actually the point. And you're wrong by the way. Nothing has changed. Yeah, material things have changed. So what? Everyone is still here Cat. Nobody is going anywhere. We all want to do what is best for you. We want you to say something if you feel stressed. Especially about a guy. And even if it is Robbie. Because we want you to be happy ok? This dressing room is completely normal, and so are you. Don't go around living in fear that you might collapse again. You are stronger than that and we all know that. We're here for you ok? Anytime, we're a call or text away. Ok? Now…" He started digging in his pocket.
"You want to drive back to your place by yourself? Or you want to hang around and wait for Jade and Tori to come with you?" He asked, extending my keys to me.
Right in front of me. On a keychain.
But…I don't think I'm ready yet. I don't want to go home to an empty, dusty apartment alone.
"Can I wait for Jade and Tori?" I asked quietly, taking the keys.
"Sure. Don't want to go home alone?" He smirked, biting his cookie.
"Can't blame you." He said, pulling his phone out of his other pocket. "I wouldn't want to go home to a empty place either."
"Thanks for the cookie Beck." I said as he typed something out on his phone as he had his cookie between his teeth.
"Anytime. Promise me something though?" He asked, giving me a serious look.
He doesn't do that often.
"Ok." I squeaked out, and he pulled me into a hug.
"Don't mope around. Find something to do. Whatever you do end up doing, don't live in fear ok?