Gripping the Mist

~ For the Replica Competition.

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12. I Grasp the Mist

 The many, many cases of false hope just damaged me emotionally even more. Every time that they told me that I would be released very soon, it was another lie. But I believed them every time they were told. And as the days rolled past without the outcome that their reassuring words had told me, my hope was crushed once more. Just like a house of cards that was caught in a gust of wind. It crumpled upon itself so easily, but took much, much longer to rebuild.

 And that was where my sanity hid, in this little, fragile house of cards in my mind. It was a consoling place, when it stood up. That was almost never. It's non protective walls could not hold against the slightest tremor. And when the walls fell away, it was like the barriers of hell breaking, allowing every evil thought, memory or dream that I had ever known to attack. It was quite often now, that I would enter a state of insanity. 

 I'm not quite sure what it was that entered my mind like this every so often, but I have ideas. Assumptions really. I assume that it was the loss of the life that I used to live. Yes, it had flaws. Every life did. Whether they were plain to see or hidden. I reminded myself of how I used to hate my old life, and then looked at my situation right now. Trapped in this insane asylum, where everyone thought that I was crazy. Well... Maybe they were right. But that just leads to my next assumption for my mental breakdowns. It was Newton. Through my last little while as a free person, he was my only companion during the time when my life was crumbling down all around me. And now I have no life. I might as well be dead right now. And this is the time that Newton decided to ignore me most. My sleeps were dreamless and feverish. I only saw him every now and then when he would occasionally appear in my sights, standing in a corner watching me. But as soon as I tried to speak to him, approach him, or just stare at him for a little too long, he would disappear. And my third and final assumption, that made me angriest and most emotional, was that I think that it was Newtons's fault that I am in here. No one but me could see him, so it was when I interacted or tried to do anything that included him when he was present, I appeared to be talking to myself. Or just seeming very interested in a blank wall. Sometimes I would wonder if Newton would had done this all on purpose, but I forced myself to doubt it. He wouldn't do something like that to me, would he? Well, I became less and less sure of that as the days trickled away. It had now been over a month since I last saw him around. I only feared that he had left me forever... So here I am, yet again, rebuilding the rubble of my house of cards, soaking the paper in tears.

 Now I sit, rereading the same book for what seems like the hundredth time since I've been here. In the darkest corner that I could find in what we call the entertainment room is where I spend all of my free time. I re read the lines upon the page that I am opened to, but my mind doesn't soak up a single word. I've read these words so many times, I know what happens. The anger builds up in me the further I read, and eventually, I lift my tired head away from the page to relieve myself. My tired, sore eyes scan the room for something else interesting to look at. Once again, I am left with nothing. Its the same scene from yesterday and the day before and every single day before that. My fellow patients that live here on the seventh floor are also carrying out their everyday activities in this large room.

 The many tables and couches are almost all occupied by those who are reading, playing a game or just staring blankly at their hands. The rest of the seventh floor population is crowded around the box of a television, staring at the fuzzy screen. At the moment, I notice a small tussle beginning between two older men over the remote. This happens every now and then, and is really the only partially entertaining thing that happens.

 But I am disappointed when the young fight dies prematurely when a nurse pushes a large trolley through the double doors and everyone directs their stare at her. I watch her fix a fake smile upon her painted red lips and look to the closest patient, pulling a clipboard from the trolley. This was the delivery of our daily medicine. The worst time of day, in my opinion. I stare daggers at the nurse as she visits the many patients. Its the same routine with her. Stop, smile at the person then share a few friendly words, then find their name on the clipboard, receive their dosage of medicine and deliver it to them with a little cup of water. All ended with her making a very obvious check mark on her paper next to the name before she strolls a few more feet to the next person. I've never had a real conversation with this women, I don't even know her name, but I hate her. She's perfect. A beautiful women with a well paying job. She can go home later today to a loving family, husband and maybe even kids without any second thoughts. But here I am, a lump sitting alone in a corner with rats-nest blond hair and pale skin that is nearly the same shade of my white gown. Even my eyes were losing their colour. Like the plain, colourless walls were sucking away my soul as if it were a rare meal. It makes me even angrier when I look at myself in the mirror. These were the eyes that people once called me Ember for. They were the eyes that Newton had said gave me beauty and radiance, hence earning me the name Nimbus. But here I was just plain old Esther. And there was no point in asking anyone to call me different, because nobody wanted to listen to a loon.

 I realized now that I had been staring the nurse down for a while now and consider that it would probably be a better thing that I stopped. I rip my gaze away and it randomly lands on the book shelves across the room. Should I maybe grab a different book? No. I like this one too much. I loved its shape, size and old red cover. And though the thick, yellowing pages were covered in older English that I could barely understand, I felt like it understood me. Really, it was the only thing that I had right now to call my own. Crazy, I know that's how it sounds. But that's the point. I'm trapped in the nut house. And it's not like I have anything else to do, or anybody to talk to. My families visits became more and more spaced out after each visit that eventually, they stopped coming. Nobody from school visited. None of my friends. And I never did manage to make any friends here. Because I don't need friends anymore. Look what happens when you try too hard to make one?

 "And hello, Esther!" Chimed my least favourite voice. I tore my eyes away from the shelves and glared up at her. I did not reply to her words. "Time for medicine!"

 I watch her read a line on her clipboard and then retrieve the usual little cup filled with a total of three different, little pills. I take them in one hand and the cup of water she hands me in the other. I throw the pills in my mouth and take a mouthful of the water which is enough to satisfy her so that she walks away. But I didn't swallow my pills. I don't know why, but instead I spit them back out and hid them in the pocket of my robe. A smile grows on my face as I return to my book. The rush that I was feeling flush through my body was one that I hadn't felt in a long time. I had forgotten how good it felt to be a teenager and break the rules. After all, I was supposed to be enjoying my last little while of teenage hood before I turned eighteen. That wasn't long from now. I want to care when I consider that I missed over a year of school, and can't graduate or become anything important if I do ever end up leaving this place, but I don't.

 My whole life is filled with nothing but thoughts now. And all those thoughts are full of what ifs and maybe I shouldn't haves... But I have accepted the fact that I can't change the past. But I can't stop it from infuriating me when I think of how it has mutilated my future. Maybe I shouldn't had been such a bitch. Maybe I shouldn't had taken my dreams so seriously. Maybe I shouldn't have picked up the pill bottle in the first place. Maybe I shouldn't have attacked my doctor for whatever reason... After everything that I've done, I cannot deny that it is all my fault. I have no one else left to blame. Not even Newton. I am coming closer and closer to a conclusion that he doesn't even exist. God, I hated that conclusion. I want to know that he exists, that he had a story, that he once had a life that was, at some point, similar to mine. But how can I believe something if I am almost certain that it isn't real? Was he just an illusion all this time? An independent picture in my mind that lead me to the only conclusion needed: that I'm just a lunatic. No, I haven't turned to that conclusion yet.

 Now, I got lost in my thoughts again. I felt the hand that held my book collapse to my lap as my mind traveled somewhere else. I was only awoken when I heard some irritated words being barked as another fight over the remote was forming near the television. My eyes flicked up and I scan the room in a daze. The mid day sunlight seeps through the thin, white curtains that were draped over the many windows of the room. It was a beautiful sight, but at the same time eerie. Eerie in the sense that that sunlight was reflected off of the white gowns of the mental patients that I was surrounded by as they wandered, sat, stared or glared. Shouted, whispered, mumbled or cried. It was almost disgusting to my sights to see such a beautiful, delicate thing such as sunshine touch the troubled occupants that were trapped in a world of suffering and fear. I was so caught up in the sight of the room that I could barely have noticed the mist that was materializing in a brilliant ray of sunlight. Newton stepped through the room towards me. I wasn't able to spot him until he was just ten feet away. It startled me when I first caught sight of him striding towards me silently across the bright, wooden floor. This was the first time since my first day in this hospital that he had even made a move towards me. Or even just show me a significant gesture of acknowledgement. But he just walked right up to me. I attempted to get to my feet. I was at my knees and about to call his name when he leant down, grabbed my face and kissed me.

 

 "Esther!" A voice shouted in my ear. I jolted awake as something shook my shoulder harshly. My eyes flicked open and met a room the complete opposite from the one that I had just sat in. It was dark, and empty. The only light was from the moon outside, or a street lamp a little down below that managed to get some of its light through the windows. Finally, my eyes landed on the face that I least  wanted to see at the moment. It was my doctor. Hair even more gray and face more deeply lined since the last time I saw him. All of this was topped off with a nice little scar that my teeth had made about a year ago. "It's time for bed."  

 I glare up at him through the darkness, wishing that the fire that people had once said existed in my eyes would activate and flare up at his face. To my disappointment, it didn't. "Fine," I grumbled as I got to my feet. He didn't help me of course, ever since I sort of attacked him, he hasn't been as sympathetic as he is to other patients. I stalked behind him as he hurriedly made his way out the double doors, not thinking to hold one for me. I dodged them as they swung back at me then sneaked through and proceeded down the hall in the direction of my room. I, of course, was not staying in the exact same, huge room that I was first introduced to, but was now staying in a smaller room that was obviously only meant for one person. The door was open when I twisted the knob. The clock on the wall read that it was quarter to ten so that meant that the nurse wouldn't be going around to lock us up for another fifteen minutes. But we were still expected to be in our rooms well before that, which meant that I was a tad late. Oh, well. It's not like I'll be punished for it.

 The first thing, and only thing that I can really do when I shut the door behind me is lay on my bed underneath the pale light that is shadowed by my barred window. I lay here for a few moments until I finally hear the rattling noise of keys just outside as the nurse locks my door until nine then next morning. The memory dawns on me of what I thought that I had done before I had randomly fallen asleep in the entertainment room. I reach awkwardly over to my pocket to feel the pills in my pocket. A smile appears on my face as I realize that that wasn't a part of the dream. That I had actually done something real. But then another memory dawned on me. The dream that I had had. Immediately my smile fades as I enter the recollection. It was the first time that I had seen Newton for the longest time. Though I would have preferred returning to space to find him, it was just as well. And, to my greatest shock and surprise, he kissed me! But why? He has never done that, nor have I ever though that he would. Now I was having to face the possibility that that wasn't really him. That the vision that I had seen of him was just generated in my crazy mind as I drifted away. That was probably the case. After the time that I had spent in this place, I have learned not to get my hopes up.

  

 

 It has been a week now since I saw Newton in that dream, and of course, I had not seen him since. But I still had something else to keep me busy. That was the task that I had created for myself to pretend to take my pills then later hoard them in my dresser drawer. I wasn't quite sure why I was doing this, but it kept my troubled mind at bay. Since I didn't exactly feel anything different about myself from not taking them except the rush that I was bending the rules.

 It just occurred to me now that I could pull a chair up to the corner where I hung out instead of sitting on the floor. So now I race to the entertainment room every morning as soon as the nurse unlocks my door and I steal my favourite, squishy armchair away from the television area and drag it to my corner. At least I can read my book in comfort now. 

 I carried out my new daily schedule which was now altered to fit in smuggling my own pills. The nurse is clueless of this. All she needs to see is us putting the pills in our mouths to satisfy herself that we took them and then carries on to the next person. It is quite obvious that she has been doing this job for quite a while now and her precision to the extra efforts have slowly faded away. Same thing that happened to me when it came to trying to conceal my emotions. I could already feel the anger bubbling up in me as I put my pills in my pocket and spotted another patient striding towards me from across the room.

 "Can I help you?" I spat up at the twenty-something-year-old girl that came to a halt before me. I knew her as the perfectionist of all the people on the floor. She had to have everything exactly her way or else she would lash out. I think that I already knew what this was about before she even began her rant, so I prepared myself to win the argument. No matter what.

 "Are you allowed to have this chair over here?" She asked in a sassy voice, as if she were something special.

 "I don't know," I replied plainly, holding my glare. "Does it matter?"

 "Oh, yes it does!" She was acting shocked now. "That seat is supposed to be around the TV."

 "And do you need it right now?" I asked with an edge in my voice, my eyes still unblinking as I shut my book and adjusted my posture.

 "No, but-"

 "Then why are you pestering me for something that does not concern you?" I asked her angrily. She narrowed her eyes at me and placed her hands on her hips, putting herself in a bitchy posture that only made me hate her more.

 "Because that's not your chair."

 "I'm sorry. It doesn't have a name tag on it? Am I supposed to buy it?" I asked her bitterly. My tone was obviously making her even more mad.

 "Just give back the chair!" She said as she lunged forward in an attempt to grab my wrist to pull me up. But I pulled my hand away from the armrest where it was stationed.

 "No! Get away from me!" I yelled at her, placing down my book and moving into a more defensive posture. We were beginning to create a scene because I could spy many other patients turning their attention our way. Even the nurse had glanced over her shoulder suspiciously.

 "Get out of the chair!" She shrieked once more and lunged at me again, this time much more successful. She had clamped onto my upper arm with an iron grip and was attempting to yank me out of my chair. The anger that was burning in my chest was so wild that I thought that I just might transform into a flaming devil and drag her to hell.

 "Get your filthy hands off me!" I screeched as I leaped to my feet on the chair. "You bitch!" The anger within me burst like a bomb and I gave up any little strand of hope that existed in me for resolving this conflict peacefully. I ripped her hand away from me arm and twisted her wrist until she screamed in pain. But no, I wouldn't stop there. I jumped off of the chair with a screech and landed upon her as I pushed her down to the ground. Before I could let her shield her face, I slashed out, using my nails to claw at her face. She screamed and cried before I was yanked away by my waste, blood covering my fingers. I'm dragged out of the room before the girl can even attempt to get up. The last image I saw was of her clutching her bleeding, tear-covered face as nurses and patients crowded around to help her. I couldn't help but giving an evil smile at my destruction. 

 "What do you think you're doing?!" Shouted a male voice as I was dropped down in the abandoned corridor. I crawled away from the person and leaned my back up against the wall to look up at him. It was my doctor. "Why did you attack her?"

 "She started it," I said rather like a child, but I sort of did it on purpose.

 "That gives you no right to claw at her eyes!" He seemed livid. But don't worry, I was ready to attack him as well if need be.

 "I don't have the right to defend myself anymore?" I ask in a mild disbelief.

 "She wasn't trying to hurt you!"

 "Yeah, then answer to the hand shaped bruise I'll have on my arm tomorrow from her grip. She had no right to set a finger on me. I was just minding my own business-"

 "And that's just the problem, Esther," He suddenly interrupted, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. I raise my eyebrows up at him, my knotted hair fallen in ever which direction, but I didn't think to move it away from my face.

 "What, so you want me to pick fights with everyone?"

 "No! I want you to connect. Socialize with other human beings! It's the only way to get rid of your anger-"

 "Oh, you think that chatting with a bunch of other loons is going to help my mental state? I don't talk to other people because they are the reason I'm here!" I couldn't have spoken a better truth. Okay, maybe some of it was my fault, I couldn't deny that. But I knew that the bullying had a crucial part in it as well. It gave me a little push as I stepped down the stair case to a mental breakdown. So that lead me to not being able to trust anyone. Especially not anyone in here. I don't know why, that's just the way I've put it for myself.

 "No," He sighed, plopping himself next to me against the wall. "Esther, why do you think that this hospital is here?"

 "To dump off nut cases," I reply. That only annoyed him more, but someone like him had to at least try to conceal that. Even though he wasn't very good at it.

 "No." His voice was holding as sympathetic as it could possibly act. "It's to make people better. Nobodies out of their minds, Esther. We're here to help you!" I couldn't help but rolling my eyes

 "And obviously that hasn't worked out very well, has it?" Okay, I am acting like a bitch.

 "No, not exactly," He said more to himself, but loud enough so that I could hear. At this point I was swirling little pictures on the shiny floor with the blood on my fingers. He glanced down at it and continued. "So that's why I think we need to take you into a more intensive line of treatment." I stopped.

 "What? Why? What's wrong with me?" For some reason I didn't like this very much. Maybe it was just the word 'intensive' that freaked me out a little. I really did prefer the lazy days with my book in the entertainment room.

 "We don't know. We have some tests though that might be able to determine that..." He answered, getting to his feet.

 "But... but-"

 "Tomorrow morning, remain in your room for a nurse to come retrieve you. Don't go straight to the entertainment room, okay?" And before I could reply, he disappeared into another room.

 I found this so upsetting. Because it made me think that there was something wrong with me. Something serious. It made me realize that I probably was actually crazy, not just living in a dream. That I was a violent and insane person, not just a quiet, strange girl. It made me think that I was in my own world. Perhaps everything that I look at around me isn't really what it seems to the normal eyes. Maybe every colour is really painted black and white. Maybe every laugh that I heard was a snarl of hate. And maybe every thought in my mind was wrong. What if Newton never existed... What if the pile of my smuggled pills in my hand wouldn't lead me to a forever home in the solar system with him, but straight to hell.

 Perhaps real hell would had been better than what I had to face the next day. I couldn't be able to count the number of needles jammed into my arm, or minutes that I was trapped in some weird scanning machine. I felt like a lab rat. A subject to the many soulless seeming people who conducted their tests on me. The only thing I seemed able to see that whole day were the many faces hung over mine, the blinding, white lights beaming down at the bed where I lay. And this wasn't just a one time thing. This happened every day, my only break was when I was sent back to my room for curfew. And each night when I was locked up, under the faint, shadowy light of the shrinking moon outside, I would hold the pills in my hand, daring myself to make a real decision. Throw them all away, or swallow them all right now. But I din't have the balls to choose either. I would always just put them back in my drawer for the next night, after the long day, my arms styling more needle holes. The only reason at this point that I hadn't taken the pills is because of the tiny fleck of hope that these tests will help me get better. But the long days keep crawling by, and I am having trouble in finding that light. Until now, it has been consumed by the shadows completely.

 It has been a week now, and here I sit again with the handful of pills before me. And I did it. Something made me raise my hand to my mouth and do it. And I wasn't reluctant about it either. For at this point, I would be lying to myself if I said that I had anything left to live for. I would be dead soon. As that sentence ran around in my head, it made me feel good for some reason. For I knew that this life never suited me. That there was no way to get out of the hole that I dug myself into. It was almost too easy to slip all my troubles away, and leave them forever. I would soon be connected with a new great journey. Perhaps better than this one. A mission with a purpose that was plain to see. A place where I could be happy, and not have a single worry.

 I cried for a long time, just let it all out. Every pang of sadness that I still had left dwelling in me. The horrors of my past, present and future. Every ill feeling that I had about all three of them, I dumped out through my tears. I don't know exactly how this is supposed to make me feel better, because I'm starting to get a headache, but something deep inside me feels stronger. More stable and free. But this wouldn't last for long. Soon I would be united with the greatest mystery known to man: Death.

 Suddenly I feel a hand gently touch my shoulder, which brings a quick stop to my sobs. I don't remember hearing anyone unlock the door, let alone enter. Have I really been crying for that long? No, it couldn't be. I would have to be dead by morning. I look up and turn my head to meet the misty face of Newton. He was knelt on the ground behind me, so I turned to meet him face to face, astounded to be seeing him like this. His hand drifted away from my shoulder and moved to brush my cheek. It all felt so real...

 I leaned a hand against his shoulder to hold myself up from the shock, completely forgetting about my sadly bound future. But only for that split second. I had to look at my hand twice to see that it matched Newton's appearance. Misty, glowing and transparent. Immediately I looked down at the rest of my body to see that it was the same, and my hospital gown turned to beautiful white dress. But to my greatest shock, that wasn't all. Through my strange appearance, I noticed something slightly. I had to turn around completely to make sure that I was seeing it right. There, in the dying moonlight, was my body, lying in a lump on the ground in a puddle of tears. I looked back at Newton, eyes wide. He returned my look with a sad smile as he grabbed my hands and pulled me back over to face him. We each stood there for several minute on our knees, staring into each others empathetic eyes before the room around us transformed into the familiar, much missed setting of outer space.

 Because true love belongs in every inch of existence, as it echoes through the universe. We were destined to find it, even if not in the most ideal way... 

 

 ~Kayle Majic

 

 

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