Passive

I wanted to call it a thriller/horror but also with some romance. Couldn't find that category so other will have to do. I have high hopes for this story but please read and include as much critism as your heart desires. I promise not to be upset by it as long as you promise to be fair. I do not want any homophobic comments, if you don't like the subjects mentioned here, then don't read.

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20. A Friend

The shadows cast by the window bars were the only way to tell the time in the small room. At least trapped in the basement by Mother I could move around, here I was hopelessly restricted to the hospital bed. Sally had been right about one thing, I could definitely feel my leg now. Manoeuvring into the metal basin that had been specifically carted into my room to wash in was difficult and embarrassing. Having this woman see me naked was one thing, only Mother had ever seen me in that way but I was very aware of my body. Scars that would never fade stood proud against the pale tint of my skin and purple bruises remained from my fall. Sally just cast her eye over them but said nothing. She tried to keep up a flow of chatter but could see I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Nevertheless she ploughed on, bombarding me with useless information that I didn’t need to know. She’s got this position a few months ago and was still learning the ropes. Did I think she was doing okay so far? She lived with her parents but hoped to be moving out soon with my boyfriend. Did I have a boyfriend? A pretty girl like me must surely have one! She’d just brought a kitten and wanted a name for it. Did I have any ideas?

I just remained silent and waited for the shameful experience to be over. That had been two days ago. Nothing much had happened in between except meals had been brought to me, which I had half-hearted spooned into my mouth, not paying much attention to what I was eating. Sally was kind to me but she hadn’t been back since she bathed me. Other nurses with their familiar plastered on grins simply said hello before disappearing again. Mother and Bobby had been waiting everyday but I’d somehow always been able to stop them coming in, pretending to be asleep when a nurse came to check on me or complaining of sickness. No one would tell me if Wednesday or Rebecca had been back. I have not felt so alone and at mercy to my thoughts.

“This is a waste of time! We have other patients to attend to!”

The voice was angry and the sharp words suited the very proper looking woman that stood before me. Someone that it looked like Mother would certainly approve of. She wore a black suited outfit with a skirt to her knees and high heels that thundered loudly across the floor warning any unfortunate people near that they would soon meet her merciless wrath. The man she addressed sat in a plastic chair beside my bed and had been there for what felt like hours, but probably was closer to half an hour. He had started by asking me questions but when he realised I wouldn’t answer seemed quite happy to just survey me as I stared blankly at the white walls and out of the window. I’d almost forgotten they were there, the only noticeable sound being her shoe as she impatiently tapped it, her deep scowl leaving marks from where she glared into me. I turned to them now, eyes drifting past the woman, not daring to meet her eyes but instead resting on the doctor, who was still watching me, seeming fascinated but of what I didn’t know.

“Could you give us a moment please?” He spoke quietly to the woman who didn’t seem to need much encouragement to turn on her heel and slam the door behind her.

The doctor wore a frown which only outlined the many wrinkles covering his aged face. His glasses shifted on his nose and he carelessly hitched them up, his eyes never leaving mine. They were grey and fairly plain but they held kindness there, kindness that after so long alone I was glad to see. I hadn’t paid much attention to what he was wearing but now saw he wore a loose plain of plaid trousers and a checked shirt, quite unconventional for a doctor. He seemed to notice my eyes movements, though I had tried to be discrete and gave me a smile, easing out the lines on his forehead only a little.

“Yes. I’m sorry if you were expecting someone better dressed but I’ve never been one for suits.”

He reminded me of Mr Harrison in his relaxed nature and that made me like him even more.

“Can we talk now?” He asked kindly, giving me an easy smile that didn’t make me feel forced into anything but it was infectious and I gave him a small one back.

It felt strange on my face but nice. He cleared his throat.

“You’re Isabella, right?” I nodded at this, blushing at the use of my stupidly formal name.

“And you’re in here because …” His eyes travelled down to his scribbled notes and he clicked his tongue as he found what he was looking for in the jumble of carelessly printed letters.

“Ah. Yes. There was an incident with the stairs, is that correct?” I just nodded, not daring to open my mouth in fear of what I would say; be it angry or defensive, I would say something that would drive this kindly man away.

“You threw yourself down?” A flash of anger bubbled inside me but I quickly grew calm when I realised he was asking a question. Something which no one else here had done. I shook my head quickly so as to maybe clear my head of some of the thoughts which clouded my mind. I had to be careful so as not to say too much. Why? Why should I protect her after all she’d done to me? Because Bobby still loved her. Because despite everything I knew I deserved to be punished. Because any decent parent would have done the same to a child like me. Why should Mother be punished further by having her only lovable child taken off her? Because she was evil and sick and twisted and vile. Because she relished in seeing me in pain. Because she had hit Bobby. That was the big one. Despite how much she loved him and how much he loved her, she had still done the unspeakable and hit him. Despite all my protection, she’d done it anyway. To punish me maybe, punish me for ending up in here. Because in here I was safe and I could quite easier tell this kind man what she did to me. And then she would get taken away, she would get locked up in a place like this. Somewhere deep inside me, I felt pity. I wouldn’t put anyone in here.

“Were you pushed?” I blinked rapidly at the doctor before shaking my head.

“Then how?” He asked, not demanding but simply curious. He seemed to be taking everything I had said so far to be truthful, never doubting me for a second when surely he encountered people who lied or told warped versions of the truth every day. Yet still he leaned forward, giving me an honest smile that I believed instantly.

“I sort of panicked. Then I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I was choking one second and then drowning again in the next!” I struggled to say more but couldn’t think how else to explain the strange sensation that had come over me.

“Have you ever felt like this before?” I shook my head, tracing the skin surrounding the tube which was still hanging loosely from my skin. It was sore to touch but I knew that at some point my new pain medication would kick in and for that I would be thankful.

“I suppose you could have had a panic attack.” He nodded as if thinking it over in his head.

“Yes. Yes, that seems quite likely.” He wrote something down into his notepad.

“The only question now of course, is why you panicked?” He continued to write in his unreadable scrawl, eyes never leaving the paper. But this was something I couldn’t answer.

He seemed to sense me tensing and moved his rough hand to grip mine. I squeezed back, liking how nice it felt to know someone cared.

“You can tell me anything, you know that. And for the most part it can stay between us.”

“And Mother…” I breathed out, feeling my eyes widen as I realised what I had said. I bit my lip and felt my cheeks darken, praying he hadn’t heard.

“It’s not that hard to guess what’s going on here.” I breathed hard out my nose and in through my mouth, remembering the consequences of not doing so. I wanted him to go now while he still thought of me as a small child who needed to be protected, before he saw me for what I was.

“But it needs to come from your mouth. You need to tell me, Isabella.”

I shook my head fiercely at this and shut my eyes, welcoming the darkness and feeling a shiver. This was my way of blocking out the world, of getting some time out and it worked just the trick.

“You can’t hide forever.” I was surprised to hear the voice through the black. Usually I could blank out my outside surroundings in order to stay calm but his voice bleed through the darkness, a bright light shining through. And I have to admit that it was quite nice. I opened my eyes to see his smiling face, the person who had pulled me so easily out of the dark.

“You know your Mother didn’t want you to see me today.” This didn’t particularly surprise me. She had no idea what was going through my mind or whether I had decided I was safe enough to reveal her for what she really was. I would never be safe with her around though. And Bobby would never be safe. I tried to keep my face straight at his words so as to reveal nothing but still winced as I thought of Bobby and his poor bruised eye.

“Why did you fall down the stairs?” I let tears stream steadily down my face, tired of being strong. I’d had enough of everyone.

“I can’t tell you.” He visibly sank in his chair and my face crumpled. When would I stop hurting others? Why was it in my personality to hurt people? Genes, I suppose.

There was a gentle tap on the door and Sally stuck her blond head around it, smiling broadly even when she spotted my tear stained face. Though her voice, her dyed hair, the writing on her uniform, all these things frustrated me so much, it was still lovely to see her. The doctor stood up as if to leave but Sally quickly moved into the room, gesturing for him to remain seated.

“Oh, it’s alright doctor! I just came to see how you were doing, if that’s okay? I’ll admit that I’ve taken quite a shine to this one!” Though this was news to me, I still gave her, what I hoped, was a meaningful smile.

“Well, I’d like to see her again. If that’s alright with you, of course?”

I nodded at him, realising that despite the pain and worry his questions caused me, he did care about what the answers would be. And that felt good.

“Now it’s probably about time for your dinner, if my watch is right?” He stood up and shuffled his notes into some form of a pile in order to see his silver wristwatch.

“Well actually, someone has been waiting to see Isabella all day and I thought she could do with a bit of cheering up!”

My breathing stopped and an image of a pale, thin hand came into my mind, grasping an iron and wielding it frantically towards me. I had to use my arm to hold me up and focus on breathing in order to stop the room spinning.

“I think, for the time being … Her Mother shouldn’t be allowed in to see her.” I fixed my eyes on the doctor who was giving the nurse a meaningful look. She simply nodded, knowing not to ask anymore.

“I’ll talk to the other nurses,” She smiled graciously, “But actually it’s not her Mother that’s come to see her.”

Wednesday. A clean minty smell. Dirty blond locks of hair that sprang from her head and fell on strong taut shoulders. Thin but strong arms leading to small hands with an assorted memory of colours on each delicate nail. Her neck covered with necklaces that didn’t quite draw all attention away with her chest. Her stomach flat, giving way to her shorts which clung to her perfectly, allowing the eyes to wander over her curves. Her strong legs, smooth pale skin leading over her curvy, wondrously shaped legs. Her shoes, big on her feet but the contrast from her skin made them suit her. Her eyes, deep indigo pools filled with so much emotion and love that it seemed to flow from her, like she wanted to make everyone around her feel the same as she did. Her giggle which reminded me of tinkling bells, so strange when compared to her beautifully deep, rich voice that seemed to fill you up and drift over you to soothing waves. The blazer that was too big for her, which seemed to swamp her if you came up close. The hitched up cuffs of her sleeves so that she could display her nails, just a small way of showing her beautiful personality to everyone in this dull world. The loosening plastic of her trainers which she played with when bored or nervous. The way she bit her lip when she was unsure about something. When she looked out the window instead of listening to the teacher. Her eyes as they carefully studied whatever she was drawing, her tongue as she concentrated hard. The way she said my name. The feel of her chest against my back when she hugged from behind. Her hand of mine, her hand tracing my scratches, gently pulling my bag onto my back. Her warm, delicate tongue against my neck. Her hands deliberately rested in the back of her pockets. All these things I had picked up on just from being with her, little memories that had stayed with me. It just made me think of how many more memories we could have. It made me think of how much I loved her.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, nurse. As long as Isabella is feeling up for visitors?”

They both glanced anxiously at my happily flushed face but I just smiled at them both and nodded so much I was afraid my head would fall off!

“Well I’ll leave you alone then,” The doctor left with a cheerful wave and the nurse followed just behind him.

“I’ll just go and get her,” Sally smiled at my obvious enthusiasm and shut the door quietly.

I immediately moved to run my fingers through my already flat hair and smooth my hospital gown. I pulled my hair to the front so that it hung forwards, wondering if it made it look longer. But then it covered my chest (what chest?). I flipped it back but then wondered about my ears. Did they look big? And how about my eyes? Did they look as sleep deprived as I felt? I didn’t have any more time to fuss as the door opened wide. I sat up straighter to see her come in, wanting to instantly fold my arms around her and bury my face into her hair, smell her minty scent.

Rebecca looked hesitantly in and I couldn’t help my face from falling.

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