Spencer stopped coming in so regularly. There was no need for him to be in there anyway, I didn't move, I didn't speak and I didn't eat. I just slept all day. I had to be woken up regularly to take my pills and an energy drink to keep me going but aside from that I only found comfort in my dreams.
When I slept Freddie greeted me into his arms and we went on perfect dates. Everything about him was perfect as it always had been. The best thing about my dreams was that I didn't have to worry about being hurt or taken away by Spencer.
“Hey Cassie.” Freddie said, guitar in hand as I found him on the beach sitting up a tartan blanket. It was a cool summer evening, the waves rolled sleepily and the stars shone bright. In my dreams I was still Cassie, I had been told that neither Alice or Cassie was my name so I just went by Cassie, it was simple and using Alice made it seem less real as Freddie had never known me as Alice, even if it was just a dream.
“Hey.” I said slowly. Everything about me had slowed down. I blinked slowly, moved slowly, spoke slowly. I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. Freddie patted the ground beside him and I crouched down beside him. He pulled me into his arms. With my head on his leg I stared at the satin night sky, dazed by the beauty of the stars.
“I miss you.” said Freddie, his tone hushed.
“Me too.” I sighed, looking at his face. He crouched down and gave me a soft kiss. I breathed in his scent, immersing myself in the mixed aroma of saltiness, coffee and sugar.
“You're wasting away.” He said seriously. I opened my eyes to him, he looked directly into my eyes. I stared back. His eyes were so beautiful I wanted to look at them for eternity. “If you don't eat you're going to die.”
“If I die, I’ll get to spend the rest of my life with you in my dreams.” I mused. For once I didn't care about living any more. My dreams were much better than my life. In my dreams I was free, the scenes were beautiful and I had Freddie by my side. He went silent for a moment.
I was shaken awake and given my pills. Without a word I swallowed them quickly. Spencer stared at me, I returned his glare until my eyes were too tired to even stay open. I turned to go back to sleep.
“Alice?” I didn't speak. Spencer sighed. “you're allowing yourself to waste away. The doctor thinks you've got depression.” I stared at the wall.
I wonder why I thought closing my eyes and letting sleep whisk me away to dreamland.
Freddie's beautiful music filled my ears as I slipped back too him. His voice sent shivers down my spine and goosebumps up my skin. Every word he sang touched my heart. The guitar was breathtaking I let my mind dance as I watched the stars. They too danced in front of my eyes, spinning, soaring and flying like little fairies.
The music stopped abruptly. The stars stopped dancing and the shivers paused. I turned to Freddie and he returned my look with a smile. “Come on.” He whispered. I sat up, confused. Freddie smiled broadly and pulled me to my feet. “Come on.” He laughed.
“Freddie,” I moaned. “I'm too tired.”
“You can sleep when you're dead.” He said, pausing once he realized what he'd said. I gulped. “If you won't walk, I’ll have to..” His speech slowed as he scooped me into his arms and ran with me into the sea. I screamed and giggled as the freezing water soaked through my clothes. Freddie dropped me in the water and I let it wash over me. It was like ice but refreshing. I broke from the surface of the water and screamed loudly. The both of us burst into laughter so hard it hurt. I couldn't even remember the last time I had laughed. It felt good letting everything go with every giggle.
“It's nice to see you happy.” Freddie whispered in my ear as he pulled me close to him. His encircled my waist as I pushed my hands through his hair. I kissed him slowly before pulling away and pushing his head under the water. He burst from my grip and we stared at each other for a second before his hands were on my shoulders, the both of us diving into the cold sea water.
Something hit my head, making me wake. My gaze fell to my shoulder where whatever had hit me had fallen. It was a book. A book I’d never seen before. I looked lazily to Spencer who sat on the chair beaming. I narrowed my eyes and pushed the book to floor, eager to get back to my dream and back to Freddie. I turned in my covers and closed my eyes.
“Ah ah ah.” Said Spencer, moving quickly he grabbed the book and settled on the end of my bed. I glared at him before pulling the covers up and over my head. He yanked them away fro me and I groaned. “I don't want to read Spencer.” I said, my voice hoarse and unfamiliar, I hadn't spoken in the real life for quite some time.
“We've made progress if your talking to me.”
“How much do I have to read for you to leave me alone?”
“First two chapters.”
“Fine.” I pulled the covers down and took the book off of him. He gave me a satisfied smile, I didn't return. Reading meant nothing. I had missed it a little though.
“Lord of the Flies.” I said dryly, a questioning look on my face. Spencer pulled it from my fingers and fave it a found look. “Its a personal favorite.”
I sighed loudly and turned to the page.
Reading was a struggle. The words swam in front of my eyes but I was vigilant. I wanted to prove to Spencer that I could read and that I wasn't depressed or as he had said 'wasting away'. Every now and then he'd correct me on my pronunciation. It was odd reading aloud, my voice grew grainy as I talked and I had to keep coughing. I read through the first two chapters quickly but the book was like pure gold. The words were so well written that every image the author wrote was painted in my head. Around halfway through Spencer left me to myself, but I carried on reading, flicking through page after page, completely separated from the outside world. A nurse returned to give me my dinner and pills. I ate slowly, taking small mouthfuls, as I carried on reading. It was the first time I had kept food down in a while. I smiled satisfied as I put the cutlery on the empty plate. I only allowed myself to sleep when I had finished the book.
For a moment, after finishing the book, I just stared at the ceiling unable to move. I blinked slowly recalling the book over and over in my head. My mind had literally imploded, it was that amazing. A part of me was deeply saddened that I had finished the book so quickly. I wanted to read it over and over, savoring every line. I think the fact that I hadn't read for so long contributed to my reaction to the book. I didn't want to sleep that night, I wanted more books. I craved the smell of a new book, the regimented lines of the page and the feel of the paper on my fingers but there were no books for me to read. I closed my eyes, my head filled with the imagery of the book.
“You were gone a long time.” Said Freddie.
“Sorry. I was reading.” I muttered. We had returned to the beach, our clothes soaked. With our hands entwined we both lay staring at the beautiful stars.
“Lord of the Flies”
“Really?” He laughed. “I love that book.”
“Me too.” There was silence for a moment and I let myself listen to the careful purr of the ocean as it kissed the shore goodnight.
“Earlier you said about wanting to die to spend time with me.”
My brows furrowed. “yeah.”
“Well... that's really stupid.” He mumbled.
“Stupid? Why is it stupid?” I said, trying not to act as though it had bothered me even though it had. It wasn’t stupid.
“Well you don't dream when your dead, do you. And why would you wanna die anyway?” Said Freddie, moving so his head was directly over mine. I blinked quickly not liking the way he looked at me, as if I was a stupid or a baby.
“Because my life isn't worth living any more. All I do is sleep and stay in bed, that's not a life and the only way out of it is my dreams or death and trust me... I would take death over it.”
“But when you die i'll never get to see you again. Not really.” I touched his face as a tear slid down my cheek. “We'll be together like we are now.”
He looked crestfallen. “This isn't real though.” I sat up, pushing him away from me.
“It's as real as it'll ever be. You're not real. All of it was in my head Freddie. I never ran away, I never met you. It was just a lie. A delusion.” I stared at the sea, trying to keep my tears in.
“Don't say that.” Freddie cried, touching my shoulder. I pushed him off.
“Why. It's true isn't it, you're just a fantasy. You're my escape. I'm just a crazy little girl stuck in her own imagination and because of that I’m stuck in a mental hospital.” Taking me by surprise, Freddie grabbed my shoulder and pulled me around to face him. I stared at him confused, what was he doing. His eyes lingered on my forehead. I touched it self consciously there was nothing there.
“What?”I murmured. He held my hand softly and guided it the skin just below my hairline. His fingers guided mine over the thin piece of protruding skin. My eyes widened. A hint of a smile formed on his lips as his hand graced my cheek, my fingers followed to a small scab on my cheek.
“If none of it was real then how come you have that cut, fresh from when you reopened it on the beach. And if you weren't chased through the woods how did you get these cuts. If that's not enough look at your legs.” It was enough but I still had to look. Thin mostly healed scratches covered my legs. How hadn't I noticed that. I lifted my foot up and looked on the ball of it, there was still a slice in the skin. It was real, all of it.
“But you didn't know about those cuts.”
Freddie cocked his head to the side. “I'm not real, I’m just a memory of the real Freddie. He's still in the village waiting for you to come back to him, like you promised.”
I looked down thinking. “It was real?”
“All of it.” Freddie touched my cheeks with both hands and kissed my forehead tenderly. “Everything, the time we kissed, the time you passed out, the time Noah punched Flynn, the time Vespa was shot. Everything.”
I melted into him. “I wish the part about Vespa wasn't true.” I murmured.
“She was right though, about the Darlington Pileup, you were all stolen from the wreckage.” I pulled away from him.
“How could you know that.”
“Because, I’m a figment of your imagination so my thoughts come from yours and you know,” He tapped my head. “up there, that she was right. You've seen the memories.”
“I'm not mad then?”
“No.. how could someone so amazing be mad.”
“Ok,” I laughed. “I can't take that compliment because it's coming from my own head.”
Freddie smiled. “It's something I would say though, isn't it?”
I blushed. “uh huh.”
I pulled from his grasp and slumped on the floor, a dark cloud hanging over my mind.
“What's the matter?”
“How am I going to get out of there. Knowing it's real makes it worse because I’m never going to go back there and the real Freddie is waiting for me.” I cried burrowing my head in my knees.
Freddie sat beside me and threw an arm around my shoulder.
“You did escape once, didn't you.” He murmured in my ear. I turned to him. “Go on, i'm waiting for you.” He said before leaning forward and kissing me. His arms encircled me and dissolved into his body, taking his words in my heart to the reality.
I woke with a start. Spencer looked up from the book he held in his hand. I stared at him cautiously.
“Why are you looking at me like that.”
“Do you ever feel guilty?” He looked up at me, eyes wide but curious.
I tilted my head. “That's not an answer.”
He stared at me a nervous grin on his face.
“Do you know what I feel guilty about?” Spencer sighed and crossed his arms, “I feel guilty for doubting myself.”
He smiled, an all knowing smile, as if he though I was seeing the light and trying to work my way out of the so-called depression I was stuck in.
“Do you feel guilty?” Spencer shrugged, with a smile a got up and walked over to him, my finger traced the back of his chair and I bent to whisper in his ear. “Do you feel guilty for pretending I was dead to my parents, for going to my funeral and saying how sorry you were.” Spencer's body went rigid. “Do you feel guilty for watching over me for all these years and taking away the only freedom I had.”
“Do you feel guilty for making me think that my freedom was just my mind.”
“Do you feel guilty for not knowing which name to use?” Taking me by surprise Spencer spun from the chair, pushing it to the floor and pinning my to the wall. He looked down at me his face contorted with anger. I gave a smile. I wasn't afraid anymore, he tried to turn my insane and now it was my turn.
“Well, do you?” Spencer's grip tightened as he stared at the floor.
“I'm helping society.”
“Sure you are, but what about me, you've taken most of my life away from me for some unknown reason.” I shouted.
“Shut up.” He shouted pushing me roughly away from him.
“Oh come on Spencer, Alice fell down a rabbit hole and now she's stuck in wonderland with you.” Spencer charged at me, his finger pointing at me. “I'm looking after you, if making sure you don't go insane. I made sure they didn't kill you after you ran away.” He spat. “You should be thanking me.”
“What,” I screamed, “For bringing me back here? For making me go into an operating room, for shooting my friends and family. Well thank you Spencer thank you.” I finished speaking quietly, calming myself down, shouting wasn't going to get me anyway. “What was so important for society that I have to be here.” Spencer threw his body away from me, anxiously running his hands through his hair.
“I can't tell you that, Alice.” He said quietly. I walked slowly over to the chair and picked it up. I moved to my bed and sat down. “Tell me who I am Spencer, you owe me that much.” He turned, his face riddled with sorrow. I nudged the chair with my foot.
“I can't. I'll lose my job.”
“Well, I’ll lose my sanity and I'll kill myself. You want my death to be on your conscious too.”
I sighed. “Tell me Spencer.”
“Alice,” He said slowly, as if to calm me down. I narrowed my eyes and moved to the other side of the room. I bent down and picked up the book, Spencer coughed and I turned to him, he sat facing the wall as he spoke. “Do you really want to be in the real world, everything and everyone just get's on top of you.” He murmured his head in his hands. I played with the book, spinning it round and around in my hands. I walked over to Spencer slowly, ready to hit him over the head and grab his keys. I held the book above his and brought it down with all my strength. Spencer spun and grabbed my hand, twisting it painfully. He pushed me away. I screamed, cradling my hand. He held the book in his hand tauntingly and face me. “What were you trying to do?”
“I need to get out of here.” I cried, darting at him and grabbing the keys from his belt. I rushed to the door and fiddled with the keys, tears streaming down my face so fast I couldn't see in front of me. Spencer grabbed me by the middle and pulled me away from the door, tackling me to the wall so I could barely move.
“No.” I screamed. The keys lay on the floor below me. I spat in Spencer's eyes and kneed him in the groin, grunting with the effort. Spencer let out an indignant growl as I scuttled along the floor for the keys. I crawled to the door, completely and utterly desperate. Spencer kicked me away from the door like an irritating animal. I screamed at him as he pushed the assistance button. Within seconds nurses flooded in and restrained me against the floor. I spat and kicked, being as animal as the way they treated me. I kept eye contact with Spencer, telling him it was all his fault, that he was a traitor. A nurse held my bucking leg still and pushed a needle into my thigh. I wailed in pain, as my body stopped answering to my instruction, black ink filled my vision.