Hi everybody, thank you so much for the kind reviews. I'm back with more.
Ps: Thank you Immi for sticking to my sides and helping me getting this right.
I've been receiving extra attention from everyone in the lab for the past two weeks. I was the active participant of some incidents I don't even remember.
The way I remember it I was at a scene, I felt light headed and passed out, I remember having Catherine giving me an earful about it, then the next thing I remember is waking up at the hospital.
Apparently I inhaled something at a scene, which made me high and then I had one hell of a bad trip. The version of the story the guys gave me was that for about two hours I was like a hyperactive child or toddler, I ran everywhere, tried to eat my fist, actually ate some of my super expensive golden print powder before covering myself with it thinking it was some sort of magical thing, I was being amazed by everything.
They said it was rather funny until my inability to see danger and complete loss of reality became a serious problem. All they were willing to say was that I gave them the scare of their lives.
I've been hearing wild tales through the gossip radio, some so wild they are hardly believable. In some versions I went on the roof and jumped to see if I could fly; other versions have me hanging myself on the flag holder, another one has me trying to drink dangerous products and losing it.
Like I said, all wild tales. I guess I'll never know until the team lets me in on it, for now they are just still under shock so I can only guess that I did some really dangerous things.
All I have from that night are the traces I left behind and the visible marks I have. I have empty gold print powder pots, I have a torn jacket and a torn shirt, I have ripped jeans, a scratched knee, bruises, a cut on my back, a gash on one of my forearm, I even found chewed gum in my jean pocket. Oh and the wildest part of it? I wrote on a table of one of the break rooms, and on the floor, and on the wall; when I saw this it gave me the chills, seriously.
I don't know what I was on but one thing's for sure, it was strong.
I look up and see Catherine at the door of my office. "Hey, do you need me for something?" I immediately get into business.
"No… I… just wanted to see if you were alright."
I'm a bit taken aback but get over it quickly. "I'm alright, bored out of my mind with paperwork, but alright."
I'm almost certain I see the shadow of a grin on her lips as she nods before walking away. Catherine's behaviour is another clue about the fact that whatever happened when I was under influence was bad. I wouldn't say that things have changed but she has softened her strictly work related interaction, just a little bit. This is the fifth time she surprises me by checking up on me, and earlier she even gave me coffee.
It's nothing big and it might not last, but I like it for now. I'm in no position to ask for more or push, she's setting the pace and I follow, that's our new dynamic and it's fine by me.
My head snaps in the direction of Adam. I frown, I don't remember getting here. My lack of sleep aside I'm starting to fear that whatever I inhaled the other time might have negative effects on my memory.
"I can't sleep," I declare. I've never been a big sleeper but this is different. "I'm afraid to sleep," I specify.
It's like my unconscious mind was trying to push something to the surface and yet my conscious mind was too afraid to let that happen.
"I have this… I feel like if I so much as sleep something bad is going to happen. I lie down and close my eyes, then almost immediately I feel like I was suffocating. I'm afraid to sleep," I repeat.
"It terrifies me," just thinking about it makes my heart race.
I can't breathe, I feel my lungs working but no air is getting in. "Sara… you're having a panic attack, breathe in slowly… Sara!"
I see dark spots, I still can't breathe. Adam's face is close to mine, I briefly think that it's weird to see his face disturbed with panic because it's not like him at all, then everything fades away.
I stand up when I see Greg coming up the stairs, he stops for a second when he sees me then walks again. I've been waiting for him for the past 40 minutes, sitting next to the door of his apartment. I still have my own set of keys but I never let myself in unless he allows me to – not that there were much occasions for that to happen in months.
"I… I should have called," I say nervously rubbing my trembling hands on my thighs.
"Don't be silly, you never have to call," he replies with a small and vacant grin.
He opens the door of his apartment and lets me in first before following me, locking his door again. I stay in the living room not quite knowing what to do with myself. Greg simply takes off his jacket and goes into his kitchen.
Ever since the car accident I haven't been alone once with Greg. There was always someone, be it his family, co-worker or his physical therapist. Save for those occasions we wouldn't see each other either, I couldn't say if it was a conscious decision or just and unconscious one. All I know is that I had this sense of dread and panic at the idea to be alone with him which was odd because of all the people in my life he's one of the few who know me the best and that has always been a source of security.
It finally dawned on me that the reason why Greg and I were not talking properly anymore was because there was only one thing we needed to discuss and that neither of us was able to bring that topic on the table.
I haven't slept since I don't know when, and I don't think that passing out in Adam's office five days ago counts as resting. I know what has been at the core of all my crises, it's not that I had ever forgotten about it, but more like I still had the ability to pretend, I've lost that power now.
I have to close my eyes and steady myself when I feel bile suddenly rising in my throat. I look immediately at Greg who is opening and closing cupboards apparently without knowing what he's looking for.
"It's you…" I murmur not loud enough to be heard.
That fruity smell that has been triggering some of my latest crises was coming from him. I walk to a stool on the other side of his island and sit down feeling my chest being constricted again.
The sound of something breaking startles me, I look and see that Greg broke an egg in a bowl, but he used too much force also half of the shell is in the bowl and half of the egg is out of it. He takes out the shell off the bowl and takes another egg.
Once again the egg explodes in his hand "Damn it!" he curses. He closes his eyes, his jaw is clenched when he sighs in frustration. He pushes the bowl violently into the sink and uses a rag to clean his sticky hand.
Greg is not one to lose his temper, at least he wasn't. He has changed ever since we broke up, we both did, but he used to have a bright personality, all that is gone now or at least it's not as radiant. What's more is that ever since our car accident it's like a dark cloud was constantly over him.
We used to be so good at talking to one another, and right now it's like we were strangers, slowly decaying in our corners and pretending that everything is alright.
Things aren't alright, they haven't been for years. The reason everything has been falling apart for months on my side is because of us, of Greg and I, because at one point we fell apart.
"I hope you don't mind cereals for breakfast," he declares with an emotionless voice.
"Do you know what day it is today?" I ask, ignoring his words.
He stops moving at once, looking at me. "I do."
The change in the atmosphere is radical, it feels like the temperature has dropped to subzero.
"Did you go see her?" I ask after a long silence.
"Yes," he nods. "There hasn't been a day I didn't go."
"I don't know how you do it…" I mumble looking at my hands.
"I could say the same about you," he replies with a small shake of his head. "Two years, Moon," he stresses out. "You haven't been there once, have you?"
I feel anger immediately pick up. "Don't you judge me," I reprimand him. I stand up and walk back into the living room turning my back to him. "I'm not like you, I can't… I'm not like you," I shake my head. "You can't possibly fathom what I've been through," I spit bitterly.
"What did you just say?"
"You heard me," I'm in no mood to play games right now.
I'm surprised when I feel his hand wrapping around my wrist forcing me to turn around. "Say that again," he demands. "You look at me straight in the eyes and say that again," his voice is steady and even but I pick up immediately on the fact that he's angry.
"Let go," I order instantly, I don't think he's even realizing how strong and painful his grip is.
He lets go of my wrist immediately. He opens and closes his mouth several times, never saying a word. "I can't possibly fathom what you've been through?" he repeats the words with disbelief. "What was I? A bystander?"
I stare back at him not finding any words to reply. He blinks slowly waiting for an answer from me but doesn't get any. "How dare you coming here and belittling what I'm feeling?" he asks. "How dare you act like you somehow had the monopole of pain?"
There's a long silence, for the first time I feel completely disconnected from what's happening. I want to say something and yet it's like I was watching myself and Greg from afar.
"You think you're the only one who suffers?" he goes on. "I died as well two years ago Sara," he whispers. "You didn't lose a child," he speaks slowly. "We lost a child, we lost our daughter," he marks every word.
The brown of his eyes is so dark that it chills me to the bone. "You remember that? Do you even remember her? What she looked like, what she sounded like? Do you remember anything at all about her?" his voice isn't louder than a whisper yet he could have shouted that it wouldn't have made a difference.
"You've spent the last two years pretending that she was never there to begin with, that she has never existed," he frowns. "Frankly, I don't know how you do it because I can't think of anything else."
He shakes his head. "Every time I wake up I wish I could die rather than having to do through one more day of the torture of being there when she's not."
A tear rolls on one of his cheek. "I didn't think it could get worse, but to have you come here and treat me like I lost my goldfish, today of all day, just proved me wrong."
He swallows audibly and comes closer to me. "Get the hell out of here and don't ever come back," his voice is algid. "You're dead to me," he adds seriously before walking away from me.
I've been anxiously watching the hours tick by, Sara called once but she should have called again an hour ago and she hasn't.
I had to make a call, and I've decided to give her another hour to give me a sign of life, failure to do so will have me going to her place.
Today is a sensitive day, I do know that. Unconsciously Sara knows it too. The only reason I'm not looking for her right now is because I chose to believe that she still has enough good sense left to push the alarm button on her own.
The mind is a powerful thing, every moment of life is recorded and stored in there. Some moments will come to you with disconcerting clarity no matter how old the memory they belong to, others will seem forever forgotten, most of the time because they are insignificant.
The mind is the first device of survival instinct and self preservation. Your mind will block the access to the memories that are too hard for you to handle: traumatic events, embarrassing moments, emotionally devastating episodes of your life. Once those moments were lived your mind will lock them up and block the access just so your conscious self can try and function properly.
If you're lucky, those Pandora's boxes won't ever be opened again. I don't think anyone is ever that lucky.
There's a catch, your memories have a life of their own and they will come unexpectedly to the surface through any stratagems possible: dreams, feelings of déjà-vu, slip of tongue or – like in Sara's case – crises.
Sara's mind has been keeping a tight lid on her most traumatic memory, and this is the reason why Sara made it so far, it was a protective necessary measure. Only that memory has been pushing its way to the surface and I think she's close to breaking point.
Time doesn't heal, dealing with things heal. The only way for traumatic events not to hurt you anymore is to face them, deal with them and learn to live with them. It is a painful process and the longer you've waited for the confrontation the harder it is.
Sara has still refused to be confronted with what haunts and hurts her the most, and now that it's torturing her the most she's not anymore ready than she was before or any better prepared; seeing how fragile she is at the moment, my worry is justified.
I'm on my feet in the second I hear knocks on my door. I don't breathe out in relief when I see Sara though. The first thing I notice is the blood covering her left hand that seems to be dripping from her forearm. She's pale and I can immediately tell that something is off.
"I think he uses it as an aftershave…" she declares softly. "I don't feel anything…"
I reach out a hand slowly so as not to scare her, I pull her inside and she doesn't resist. I guide her to the couch and force her to sit down.
"The baby lotion… raspberry and vanilla… he uses it…" she's delivering every word with detachment, staring blankly in front of her.
The moment I was dreading has happened, she has snapped; the fact that she can name the smell that has been setting her off lets me know that her memory made it through.
As I'm shading her jacket I think about the fact that I gave her too much room today, I knew the risk and I should have tighten my watch on her. I made a bad judgement call, it's by sheer damn luck that her last ounce of rationality brought her to my office right now. It's nothing short of a miracle considering how divorced from reality she appears to be at the moment.
"I don't feel anything…" she repeats.
The sleeve of her once white shirt is soaked with blood, the iron smell is strong and nauseating. Sara is not moving she's just staring ahead of her, talking with a monotone voice. I call her several times, try to communicate but she's unresponsive. Whatever happens to make her connect the dots put her in shock, her mind is stuck on the same information: the origin of the smell that made her sick, the use of the product and her absence of feelings.
I act quickly but hold back a curse when I uncover her left forearm. I leave Sara two minutes to get my medical bag, when I return she hasn't moved or stopped her monochord declarations.
She doesn't react when I clean her wounds, I had feared that she would need stitches but as it turned out, deep as the cuts were bandages were enough.
I spend the next hours waiting patiently, debating inwardly about my next course of action. The solution of admitting Sara into a facility is weighting heavily on the scale. I do not like this idea because it may do more damages to her than good, but if the state she's in does not change it might be my only option.
"… it's the baby lotion… you know… I think he uses it as an aftershave…" Sara's voice resounds again. "Raspberry and…" Sara interrupts herself abruptly.
After five hours this is the first 'glitch' in her state. I lean in slowly in my armchair, not making any noise, just waiting for a full reaction.
I only have to wait another minute to get it.
"She's dead…" Sara blinks slowly. "I don't feel anything…"
Small, barely perceptible changes are visible on Sara's face, little ticks, the way she blinks her eyes; her shocked emotionless expression is slowly morphing into one of incommensurable pain.
"My daughter's dead…" she has a small frown. "I don't feel anything…"
Two years ago when she told me what had happened she never used the word 'dead' even then her mind refused to wrap itself around the concept.
That day she had started our session by telling me about a story she had written about hope, the story was about a train travelling in the fog and she had set me off my footing by explaining that she was nowhere in the train but rather on the tracks in the path of the train.
I had never expected what came next, but that day she broke down and that day I crossed the line between us for the first time. I held her hand silently while she cried her eyes out.
She has been mentally out of this room for the past hours but she's slowly gaining consciousness, as her own words ring out in the room. She blinks several times, panic creeps on her face distorting her features then for the first time her eyes set on me, her breathing quickens.
"Reese is dead…I don't…" the rest of her sentence is swallowed in the violent sob that shakes her.
Her face is briefly frozen with an expression of pain, a painful cry erupts from her throat as she starts crying violently letting indescribable pain pour out of her.
This time I don't even bother arguing with myself, debating about what I should do. I simply stand up and go to sit next to her on the couch, wrapping my arms protectively around her, she leans in and holds on to me to dear life.
"She's dead… she's dead," she wallow over and over again.
"I know," I reply softly, tenderly rocking her back and forth. "I know."
I know, I know… you're probably thinking that this came out of nowhere.
However, I've had this scene in mind back when I was writing chap 29 of 'What do you shrink?', in fact that very scene is the one that gave ground to my decision to write a sequel.
All of 'What do you shrink?' from chap 29 on has been written around the chap you've just read. And like I said back then I had left a lot of blanks to fill, the first one of them is now filled.
Now, don't go anywhere this is still a C/S story, but you know me, I don't do nice and easy and I warned you from the get go that Greg wouldn't fall off a cliff, so you'll just have to trust me.
Thanks for reading.