The path was winding and ongoing, the trees stood tall and ominous. Martin had to keep running, he moved his feet frantically and his arms swung in time with every step. He was exhausted but he knew that he could not stop. Someone was following him, chasing him. He couldn't give up; if he gave up then they would get him and hurt him like they did with his friend. Martin ran faster when he heard a voice call his name. 'Martin', the voice almost startled him, causing him to slip on the gravel from his increased speed, but he quickly regained his balance as he ran around another bend. He had to keep focused; if he didn't then he wouldn't be safe. 'Martin' the voice came again, but Martin didn't take any notice of it. But he could no longer hear the footsteps behind him so he risked a glance back.
A hand grabs his shoulder, his name is heard again, 'Martin.' But this time he's not running, he's not on the gravelled path; he's sitting on the bench outside of the institute. The tall trees no longer surround him, instead, it's a vast open space with views that go on for miles. At his realisation that he was daydreaming again, Martin blinked to try and forget all of the past and glanced down to his trembling hands. They were red but his knuckles were white as if he had been clenching his fists, struggling for control, all the time that he had been sat there. The palms of his hands had visible marks on them from where his nails had been digging into his skin, leaving their imprint. If his fists were grasped for any longer he would've drawn blood from his hands.
'Are you ready?' The voice spoke again. This time, Martin recognised that it was Colin, his carer. Colin was tall and scrawny. He didn't look like the type of person to be in a caring profession but he had been here for almost 25 years and he was good at what he did.
'Where am I going to go?' Martin asked. He hadn't arranged anywhere to stay or hadn't had contact with any of his family since the incident, so he figured that he would get no help from them; they didn't seem bothered about him. He couldn't blame them really. He also didn't have any friends who could help him either. He realised that his question was perfectly reasonable.
Colin didn't need to think about the answer, he told Martin with confidence that they had accommodated housing for him and that he was due to move in today. It was clear to Martin that a lot of planning had gone into this, and a lot of the planning relied on Martin leaving the institute and leaving his past behind him. So, when Colin said 'but please Martin, take your time.' He couldn't help but feel unsure about everything. Were the hospital sure that he was ready to leave? How did they know that he was ready? Colin began tapping his fingers on the back of the bench. It was not an impatient tap, Martin could tell, but the sound that it created was in time with the pounding that Martin heard from his heart as he thought about everything, as his ran faster, as his feet collided with the ground with every step. He stared at the tapping fingers. Colin noticed Martin's stare and quickly stopped tapping. Colin stopped leaning on the back of the bench and stood up straight. He moved around to the front of the bench and as he went to sit down, Martin moved his bag of belongings closer to him. It was clear that Colin had noticed this action but chose to ignore it; he had probably seen this kind of behaviour from many patients before. 'I know real life will be an adjustment for you, Martin.' Colin assured. But Martin already knew how difficult it was going to be for him so he continued to stare at his hands, 'Yes, I know.' He muttered. His lack of attention was ignored by Colin who continued to say, 'Getting adjusted to a new reality is a daunting process. It will take time. For some patients it is a quick process, for others, it can take many years.' It was at this point that Martin began to consider his new life and his future.
'What if I can't do it?' He asked, 'I'll be sent back here.' He answered himself.
But Colin remained calm, 'Don't panic Martin,' he said 'you've done so well over the past few years.' His tone was reassuring and professional, Martin felt comfortable around Colin; it had been Colin who had been there for him when he was first admitted, it was Colin who had helped him come to terms with everything, and now it is Colin who is helping him to move on. So Martin couldn't help to bring up the past.
'You know, I often think back and wonder why I thought he was murdered.' Martin said, 'All of the evidence proves that it was a complete accident, but I was convinced it was murder and I still don't know why.'
'We've been through this Martin. You went through a traumatic and emotional time-'
But Martin cut him off, 'I was crazy!'
'Crazy is not a word we use here.' Colin sighed a little as if a lot of patients call themselves crazy. Although Martin still believed that he was indeed crazy, he knew that he had the wrong word.
'Yeah, you're right.' He looked up from his hands and took in his surroundings. The panoramic views often gave him tranquillity when he needed it and the isolated area meant that the patients could get the best recovery before being introduced to civilisation. 'I'm ready now.' He took a breath.
Colin stood up, 'I'll wait for you in the car. Just follow the path down to the main gate.' He said before he walked away.
Martin stayed sitting on the bench for a little longer before he stood up, put his bag on his shoulder and took a final look at the building that he had called home for a long time. His palms began to sweat at the thought of starting again. He wiped them on his trousers and took a big breath. This is it he thought. This is where the rest of my life starts. And so he headed it the same direction of Colin and didn't look back.