People always say that when you wake up in a hospital room, the first thing that you notice is the light. You wake up squinting, wondering where you are, and then a doctor comes in and tells you what’s wrong and when you can leave. That didn’t happen to me. I woke up in a dimly lit room with an empty bed two meters to my right, slightly disorientated, and alone.
The room was small, with walls that may have once been white but had experienced too many crises to have maintained the intended shine. I was laying on a hospital bed with three thin blankets over me. I wasn’t wearing my own clothes, which led to me wondering who I had to thank for undressing me. I shivered slightly, pulling the blankets up to my chin. Bored of thinking, I stared up above me. The ceiling had a strange, grey stain in one corner. It wasn’t half as beautiful as the stars. The stars. The sky. Alfie. Everything from that night came rushing back to me: the headache, the painkillers, the vodka, Alfie. My heart pounded when I remembered how it felt when he kissed me for the first time. I let the memory sit in my head for a while, savouring the thought of having his lips against mine again.
On the chair opposite my bed, my clothes had been folded and placed there, a mound of grey fabric that I was sure still had my keys and phone in. There was a table to the left of my bed with a few things piled onto it. A magazine. A newspaper. A deep red notebook with flowers embossed on it. A half empty bottle of water with a single rose poking out of the top of it. I was wondering where the notebook and rose had come from when I heard the door open. Through it came the two people I never thought I’d see together; Alfie and Sophie. I felt panic rise up in my throat. I’d told Alfie about therapy, but had never expected for my two lives to cross over so drastically. I tried to swallow my panic and smile at them both, attempting to smile two different greetings at the same time.
Alfie sat in the chair to my left, looking rather solemn but still happy to see me. Sophie pulled another chair over so that she sat to my right, notebook in hand and a grin plastered on her face. I looked at each of them in turn and tried to decipher what had happened, and whether Sophie had mentioned anything to Alfie, but I couldn’t understand anything beyond the fact that I was in a hospital room with the boy I loved and my therapist. Sophie cleared her throat and looked at me.
“It seems to me that you’ve been very silly these past few weeks, Liv,” she said, sounding disappointed. I nodded, trying to look ashamed at what had happened. It was difficult to regret being self destructive when it was my intention to be. Regrets are for mistakes, not choices. Either way, Dr Booker kept going. “You told me you’d been taking your medication. You should have mentioned that you didn’t want to take it anymore; we could have helped you find a preferable alternative to taking pills that would have had a greater effect on you than drinking and taking multiple types of painkillers did. As per the agreement you signed when you turned 18, we used the key you gave us to your flat and got rid of the bottles and anything else that can be used in a way that could endanger your life,” she seemed more serious than she had been in a long time. I tried to object, but she cut me off. “You might think that it’s excessive, but we all agreed - Mr Harris included - that it was for the best.”
“Do I not get a say in what happens to me?” I asked, feeling the anger bubble through my stomach.
“Not in your current state, Olivia. You haven’t been taking your medication, and clearly haven’t been thinking straight. The doctors here don’t believe that you’re mentally sound at this moment in time, which brings me onto my next point,” Booker sighed. Alfie’s hand was suddenly holding mine, and it took me a moment to focus on the words seamlessly flowing from Sophie’s mouth. “The doctors don’t think that you’re in the right frame of mind to be alone in a flat for prolonged periods of time. So, that means your options are to either stay here until they determine that you are mentally sound again, or have someone stay at your flat with you all day every day, with daily checkups, until they think you’re better again.”
I was speechless. I looked at Alfie, who nodded at Sophie. She smiled at me softly before excusing herself to go and get a coffee. The door shut behind her loudly, leaving us in silence. The room seemed emptier without her vibrant personality. I stared at the wall in front of me for a moment, trying to process what Sophie had just told me. I wasn’t mentally sound because I hadn’t been taking my medication, but I wasn’t taking my medication because it didn’t make me feel mentally sound. It was a horribly vicious cycle and I hated every second of it. Around and around the wheel of anxiety and confusion and blackouts and misdiagnosis and possible split personalities just to bring me back where I started each and every time, it was enough to make me want to die.
Alfie squeezed my hand gently, bringing me back down to Earth. I turned to him and smiled gently. I was incredibly glad that I had him with me. He cleared his throat and sighed.
“I told Dr Booker that I would stay with you so that you don’t have to stay here.”
My first reaction was confusion. Then excitement set in. It meant that he wanted to be near me, and wanted me to be okay. I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled and leant over and kissed him on the cheek, despite knowing that it meant that I had to take my medication and be monitored. It was a small price to pay for being able to be in close proximity to Alfie.
“You’re taking this better than I thought you would,” he chuckled slightly before kissing me on the forehead.
“You realise that would mean that you’d have to live with me?” I said, suddenly thinking about living with the boy I’d fallen in love with. What if he doesn’t want to sleep in the same bed as me? I don’t even have a sofa. What if we sleep in the same bed and he expects something? What if? Oh God. I felt a panic setting in, and gripped onto his hand tightly. He looked at me and I saw a ghost of a smile play on his lips.
“I know, and I want to. I want to help,” he nodded. He was so perfect. “Dr Booker has filled me in on how often you need your medication and what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. You won’t be going to work for the rest of this week, and neither will I, and then the rest of it will be determined on how well you’re doing in seven days time. It’s all been planned, Liv. It’s all going to be fine.”
Normally in a situation that was new or uncomfortable, I was a nervous wreck with shaking hands and trembling lips. But when I was with Alfie I felt like I could conquer the world without so much as a stammer. I felt like I was ten feet tall and all powerful, able to tackle anything that came into my path without batting an eyelid. And at the same time, I felt more vulnerable than I had in years. I had given him more of myself than I’d ever given anyone, and I could see a thousand different ways in which he could destroy me. I was dangling from a rope and he was up on the cliff holding onto the other end, pulling me up to safety. At any moment I could drop and fall and be consumed by the ocean that lived and breathed in his irises. And I didn’t care. With him, I was indestructible.
So I nodded and grinned at him. I could feel myself plunging into something new and I loved it.