Updated August 17th, 2013
.:.:: Two Years Later ::.:.
When I think of mental institutions I think of concrete blocks with high iron fences and gray, dreary hallways. Great Bay's Clearwater Psychiatric Hospital, however, is the complete opposite of that. The ivory building is of a modern design with circular shapes and roofed bridges that connect the four sections together. Enormous windows line the top floors to give a perfect view of sailboats and yachts cruising in the deep blue ocean under a dazzling sun. Manicured emerald fields and perfectly trimmed hedges surround the establishment like a grassy moat. The sky is a warm baby blue and the air is clean. In all of Zelda's letters she never gave enough credit to the beauty of the place. She constantly wrote about her view of the water, but never about the exotic birds that fly past me as I walk to the front door, or about the elegant, marble water fountain in the lobby. Though I've missed her dearly for the past two years, at least she hasn't been suffering from food poisoning or dreary surroundings.
I check in at the front desk with a polite woman who happens to know sign language, making my long day of traveling that much better. She has me wait for a minute or two, and then a man in a casual dark brown suit strolls in from one of the many sunlit hallways and walks right up to me.
"You must be Link," he greets with a friendly smile. His eyes are dark and intelligent and his black hair is neatly trimmed closed to his scalp. "I'm C.C., one of Zelda's doctors. She has told me so much about you, and I know she'll be happy to see you today."
We waste no time (which I like) and immediately begin walking down a sleek, hallway with windows so clear I wonder if they're even there. The bright sunlight reflects off C.C.'s glasses and he walks with long, purposeful strides. The gardens are spread out before us like a painting, but he gets to see this exquisite site everyday, so he continues to talk as if it's not even there.
"Zelda has been doing very well these past two years, and I think you'll notice the improvement," he explains with slight hand movements and perfectly articulated words. "It has been two weeks since her last switch, and three months since Sheik has appeared.
"Unfortunately, I won't be able to give you two complete privacy since it is the hospital's policy that a doctor always be present with a patient when he or she is outside of their room, but I'll be out of earshot. If you need anything just come get me, but I am confident Zelda will be fine."
I nod as we walk farther and farther into the building, turning so many corners that I have no chance of ever finding my way back without help. We eventually reach the end of a particularly wide hallway where two, wall-sized glass doors lead out to a round courtyard. CC unlocks the door and slides it open. With a smile, he gestures for me to go and I eagerly do so. I walk through the animal shaped hedges, palm trees, and tropical flowers as my heart beats wildly in my chest and the August sun heats my skin. A bird chirps from above. I move past a lumpy, rose covered bush and then –
She's sitting on a stone bench in the shade of a golden rain tree, its yellow flowers swaying in the breeze, as she reads through a thick book. Her simple white dress makes her smooth, healthy skin glow, and her shiny blonde hair falls gracefully around her shoulders. I'm so mesmerized that I can't move. She crosses her tanned legs. She blinks. She turns the page. She blinks again. She glances up. She goes back to reading. She looks up again. Her eyes widen. She grins.
"Link?" she calls out with a mix of confusion and restrained hope. Discarding her book, she stands up and takes a curious step forward, a smile slowly breaking out across her face.
The sound of her voice saying my name sends a surge of energy through my body, and without thinking about it I rush forward and hug her. She returns it with an equal amount of desperate, overjoyed force and the way she giggles when I twirl us around is better than any song. I had worried that after our time apart things would be awkward, but I already know it's not. Though we haven't even exchanged words we are the same as we ever were, except much healthier.
"What are you doing here?" she asks cheerfully, stepping back to look at me.
"To see you of course," I sign and she laughs with pure delight.
"You came all the way to Great Bay to see me?" she clarifies, grinning madly.
"Yes," I respond. "And to move in to my dorm, but I could not go to college without seeing you first."
Her mouth falls open.
"Wait, you didn't tell me you were going to school here," she says slowly, and though she tries to act serious her mouth is turning back up into a smile like it's stuck there. "Which one are you going to?"
"GBU. It is only a twenty minute bus ride away, and so I will visit you every day I can."
She laughs again and then throws her arms around me. I hold her tightly, breathing in her warm scent and running my hands through her soft hair. The last time I saw her she was crying and unstable, but now her eyes are clear and she's in control.
Although I hate letting her go, I pull back in order to sign. With quick, excited movements, I ask, "So how are you doing?"
"Much better," she replies with a beaming smile. "The doctors are really amazing here. C.C., the one you met, is so dedicated to his job that I think he's keener on curing me than I am at times. I feel much, much better…though I did miss you."
"I missed you, too," I sign as she steps closer to me.
"But enough about me, what about you? Sounds like you've been keeping some important information out of your letters, Link. First you surprise me with a visit, and now you're going to school here? What else is there?"
"You really want to know?" I tease, and she playfully rolls my eyes at my cheeky grin.
"Yes I really want to know," she replies as she sits back down on the bench.
Plopping down beside her, I begin to fill her in on what she's been missing for the past two years. I mention Grandma's shenanigans, Aryll's first year of college at Castletown U., and my ever-exciting job as a landscape architect. The conversation quickly turns to what happened right after she left, however, and I start with the sentencing.
I explain to her how we had to hold an assembly in front of the entire school and then read our apologies aloud (someone read for me, of course), which was rather awkward since most of the school still hated us, but it was necessary for us to do. I mention that we all got our diplomas, except for Talo who is still in jail, and then I begin describing the community service. At the time cleaning the lake wasn't such a big deal because my body was so sore and wet from having to lug pieces of shriveled, algae-covered wood out of the water that I couldn't do much thinking. Everybody else felt the same way and, thankfully, nobody talked for the whole week we were there. We worked in absolute silence and listened to the crunching of wood and the splash of water as if nature was telling a story. It wasn't until the tower had been cleared away by some tree-removing crew and the wood and litter was all picked up did I feel any sense of significant change. The noon-high sun reflected off the placid surface that was so clear it created a mirror image of the tall stalks of grass. A soft breeze sent a tiny wave across the water. The leaves rustled. Sore and hungry, we left the site of so much trouble with relief of knowing we'd never have to go back there again and that nobody else would be permanently scarred from the lake's horrors.
I go on to explain that I rarely ever see the rest of the team anymore, and when I do it's just by chance. I deleted all of them from my phone contacts and unfriended them on Facebook, except for Colin, of course. She smiles at that because she knows how we've been doing from my letters. As months passed Colin and I have only become better friends and him and Aryll have never been happier. He's about to go into his second year at Ordon College, which is just a half hour drive from Kakariko.
And speaking of Colin, I inform her of the final verdict of his family's lawsuit against the school. Though Colin didn't prosecute any members of the soccer team, he did decide to sue the school for not preventing hazing when they knew it was happening. They won and got some serious amount of money for it. Enough to make all those medical bills look like petty fines.
By the time I am finished explaining everything the sun is about ready to set and my window to move in to my dorm has grown shorter and shorter.
"You'll be leaving now, then?" she asks, and the disappointment in her voice makes me seriously consider ditching college, but then I regain some logic and force myself to nod.
"Yes, but I will be back tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next – "
"Okay, okay," she cuts me off with an amused smile. "If you keep that up they'll probably admit you to the hospital."
"That would not be so bad, would it?" I sign as we stand up and begin to slowly walk back to the entrance.
"It is very beautiful here," she agrees. "Though the mental illness and what not kind of detracts from the overall experience."
I nod and then step in front of her. She stops and cocks an eyebrow at my smug expression.
"I have one more surprise," I sign.
Pursuing her lips in thought, she guesses, "Puppy?"
"Am I even close?"
"Okay, what is it then?"
I can't help but grin because this really is a surprise, and I just know she'll be stunned. I swallow, wet my lips, contract my throat muscles, breathe in deeply, push my tongue against my bottom row of teeth, open my mouth, and say in a hoarse, quiet voice,
Her mouth falls open and her eyes widen like an owl's. She's the picture of complete and utter shock with her body completely rigid and her face so still she might be stuck like that.
"Did you just…" she gasps, unable to form the rest of the words.
"Yep," I say in a gravely whisper, and I can't fight my grin any longer. "Six months ago my muscles finally healed enough for me to start voice therapy. The doctors say I'm very lucky that everything lined up correctly again, and though I can't speak much right now, I'm getting better."
Even now as I speak my throat feels raw, like I drank sand, but I fight through it to produce sound. It's a weak, rough sound, but a sound nevertheless. A sound that makes Zelda sway with shock and then smile with joy. It's a sound of redemption and recovery.
It's the sound of hope.
Wow I wrote this chapter literally in an hour and so it's very sloppy but sweet and short and to the point. Despite how rushed these last few chapters have been you guys continue to support and encourage me and I can't tell you how much I needed that to keep me chugging at this rocket pace. I'm going to respond to all of your reviews, I promise, it just might be a few days or so because I have to respond to the reviews from the last two chapters as well. Thank you everybody who has read/reviewed/favorited/alerted this story. I never expected it to become so popular and I am amazed at all your love and the review/visitor count for this story. I'm not good with numbers, but that's cool.
And now some acknowledgements. Of course I have to give a huge thanks to Canada Cowboy, for this story would be much different without his help. He did a lot of work for this story even when I didn't ask for it – he even reread the entire story once (I rarely reread my stories after I post them because I am never pleased with my own work). He was so important that I even did a cameo for him (the doctor, C.C. – sorry it wasn't a bigger role), and I have never ever done a cameo before because I usually don't like them, but I made the exception. So really, huge thanks for Canada Cowboy!
And a big old thanks to all those who reviewed last chapter! Thank you NefasSegador, R. Recollect, richardbg2, Squeeb100, SnowyDawn17, melvintheminion, Canada Cowboy, PotterAllTheWay64, radishesandspectraspects, The Supreme, Angelic Paradox91, sslamajama97, Kamil the Awesome, jogman74, ScarlettAlexandra, Oblivion Star Seeker, MasterShortPantsx3, Yanner12, Waffleface, Darkblaze40, FwooshEye, david Davidson, WolfRunner326, Generala, KaChan84, and ShadowNinja1011! I am leaving for college tomorrow so my responses will be delayed, but don't let that stop you from dropping a review! You know how much I love feedback :)
For additionally information, go check out the tumblr page. I will be posting my pages from my journal now that the story is over so you can see how much planning and editing went into this. Feel free to ask questions too! Just go t : / wavewood. tumblr. Com (delete spaces)
Thanks so much again guys. Really. I loved writing this more than you enjoyed reading it.
Wow it's going to be so weird changing this from in-progress to complete ahahaha