“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.” ― Ralph Ellison,
We had a strange relationship that was based on going days without seeing each other. Still, when I couldn’t sleep at night, I would come into the kitchen to find some drink or snack he had left out for me, and if I was still awake in time, I would fetch his paper in so he could read it on the way to work. When our paths did cross, we said very little. We hadn’t hugged in years.
We were more distant than family, but still closer than strangers. It was an oddly comfortable arrangement.
I’m sure we still loved each other, but it was easier not to exercise that too often, get too close. In many ways, we were very similar. *** “Still here, Dad?” I asked, surprised to see him still on the couch at ten in the morning.
He was in his work clothes, but I knew he hadn’t come home the night before.
I can’t say I blamed him for choosing a warm bed and a beautiful secretary over a wife who couldn’t bring herself to look at him. He sighed, flashed me a tight smile. “Yeah, Kath. Figured I could go in late for once.”
It was hard to not wince at him calling me that. It was a nickname that should be left in the past, but he still called me by it.
I resisted the temptation to leave him alone, and sat down. “That doesn’t sound like you. Is...everything okay?”
He didn’t answer me, simply stared into space. I made a move as if to leave, and he glanced back up.
“Kath...you know I love you, don’t you?”
He carried. on as if he hadn’t heard the question.
“I still love your mother, too. But not in the same way. It’s not like it was before, not like with...”
“Maria?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. His secretary.
He swallowed. “Kath, I could have a chance to do things over again. Marry someone I love, have kids. A kid.”
“Ah,” I suddenly understood.
I expected to feel some punch to my emotions, but I felt nothing. In a way, it was worse. I had always wanted a little sister when I was younger. I guess my wish could still come true.
My father buried his face in his hands.
“I don’t know what to do, Kath...”
And I didn’t know what to say. We were quiet for a long moment.
“Congratulations,” I muttered, and left him behind.
*** “You’re sure this isn’t too much?” I asked, crunching my way through a bag of Nachos as Jess worked on my face.
“Nope, it’s fabulous. Quit munching, you’re getting crumbs on my masterpiece.”
“I just don’t think pink is my colour...”
“Pink is everyone’s colour, Kate, now be quiet”
“Ooh. It’s...uh, yeah, that’s really something.”
“I know. I’m a genius. Oh, guess who I saw at the whale protest last week?”
“Jason! He’s back in town!”
I stared at her. “Jason? As in...THAT Jason?”
“No. My car mechanic. Of course THAT Jason.”
“At a whale protest?” I asked, confused.
“Nope. He’s working with his dad. Must have finished college. It’s that brain surgery place down by the town hall.”
“You mean the psychiatrists’?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a tree protest to attend to.”
It took a moment for me to realise what she had said.
“Oh, right, yeah. Um. You mind if I use your bathroom for a second?”
I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror. It had been over two years since I had seen Jason, and I didn’t relish the idea of going to see him.
But I had just realised I needed to, for reasons that didn’t involve our relationship. Some things went bigger than my own problems. I owed it to my brother. I sighed, and ran the tap to try to scrub some of Jess’s handiwork off. If I was going to have to face him again, I was not doing it looking like a drag queen.
“Jess? Is...er, is this make-up waterproof?”
“You bet! Nothing’s getting that stuff off.”
*** I grabbed Joel and cycled the familiar route to Jason’s father’s office, trying to get my thoughts in order. Ms Tanner had said that our actions were not our own. I couldn’t figure out if she had meant Nick and I, or everyone.
A quick online search had suggested PTSD, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders; things that made people imagine things.
There was no one better to ask these things than a psychiatrist. One who wouldn’t tell anyone else I had been asked about it.
The secretary in Andrews & Sons’ Qualified Psychiatrists’ looked me up and down in a way that suggested she wasn’t surprised I was there. I glared back.
“I’m here to see Jason. Er...Andrews Jnr.” “Do you have an appointment?”
“Er...yes. I’m his four o’clock client.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“You’re Mr Gordon? A fifty-three year old doctor?”
“Yes. I have a lot of issues. Can I go straight through?”
“Wait a minu-“
“Thanks for your help.” I ignored her, and pushed open the heavy wooden door with Jason’s name and title on.
*** It’s easy to forget how much someone can change in two years.
The boy I had once loved, probably, was now a man, and it took me a few moments to get my head around the transformation. He was sat at a real desk, with real paperwork and real plastic plants in his office. He was responsible for sorting out peoples’ minds when they couldn’t do it themselves. And what had I done in those past few years? Written a few articles for the local paper, made grilled cheese sandwiches, stayed in the same house I had known all my life. Jason looked up from his laptop screen and his eyebrows shot up. “Kate? Is that...you?”
I blushed, suddenly self conscious. I looked like an idiot. Damn Jess.
“Uh, yes. Excuse the make up. I’ve begun a prosperous new career frightening small children.”
His face relaxed a little, and he got out of his chair to come over to me.
“I guess you haven’t changed. How have you been?”
He laughed a little. “I guess. Er, not to sound rude or whatever but...what are you doing here?”
I shrugged. “Same old. But look at you! You’ve...really done well for yourself.”
I took a deep breath, frantically trying to remember what I had put together on the way here.
“I just needed to ask...is there some sort of thing, like a disease or a condition or something that might be genetic or contagious or random or I-don’t-know-what that makes people think that things that ARE there aren’t there and maybe things that AREN’T there are there and also might make them feel like their actions are not their own...? Or something.” He blinked. “Who are we talking about here, Kate. Because if it’s you...you know I can’t really be the one to talk about it.”
“No! It’s just a hypothetical, completely unrelated to anything question. That I need answering. Now.”
He looked at me for a long moment. His eyes hadn’t changed, nor had the little laughter lines in the creases at either side. My chest started to hurt.
“Well. Honestly, it’s hard for me to say without examining a person with these symptoms because every case can be different. These are pretty common symptoms, hallucinating and feeling a loss of control. It could be a sign of...a schizoid disorder, if it’s serious, or it could simply be depression with psychotic tendencies”
“Psychotic?” I was suddenly feeling out of my depth.
He shrugged. “Could be. Like I say, I can’t be sure.”
I nodded. “Right. One more question? Is it possible for...a lot of people who live in the same area to have very similar tendencies? Like, they all sync up?"
“Not that I’ve heard of. But anything is possible.”
“Or can chemicals or something, like in the water supply, could that bring it on?”
“I suppose if it was an actual drug, then that could mimic the symptoms. But pretty much everyone would be affected.”
“Anytime, Kate” he said softly.
“Wait,” he said, as I went to go. “How’s your mom?”
I took in a sharp breath. Jason was the only one I had ever told the truth to. “The same.”
“Have you thought about getting her help?”
“We tried, remember? Right at the start.”
“Maybe it would be different now. If...if it wasn’t too weird, you could get her to see me. Or my dad. You can’t look after her forever, Kate. You have your own life to live.”
“I’ll think about it, okay?”
We looked at each other for a long moment.
“Good bye,” I murmured.
“I’d have given you the world, you know that, right?”
I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t make feelings that I had buried deep resurface. It was just easier not to deal with them.
“It wasn’t mine to take, Jason.”
With that, I pulled the door open and left, biting back tears that I was determined not to let fall.
*** “ID,” the barman grunted.
I flashed the card at him and plonked myself down on a stool. I was planning to be here for a long time.
“What’s it gonna be, lass?”
“Whatever. But give me three.”
“Comin’ right up.”
The floor was wooden and sticky with long-dried drink and the stool was disturbingly warm, but in an odd way, it was comfortable. A good place to forget everything.
The barman slid three glasses over to me, and some of the brightly coloured drink spilled over the side. I gulped down a burning mouthful.
If it turned out we were all mad anyway, I may as well enjoy it.
*** Three hours later
His breath, stale and uninvited, felt too close to my face, but I couldn’t get a handle on myself enough to pull away.
“Well, aren’t you a pretty lil’ thing, darlin’?”
“G’way,” I groaned, trying to swat him back.
“Oh no,” he smiled, sinister. “I’m not going anywhere, darlin’”
A vague sense of fear washed down my spine, and I tried to fumble in my bag for my pepper spray, but my fingers couldn’t work. A whimper passed my lips.
I felt his heavy frame lean in close to me, and was about to bring up a knee to connect where it hurts, if I could just get my damn legs to obey, when he was yanked away. Another guy was standing over him, taller and leaner than the man, flexing a hand that was now bleeding across the knuckles.
I saw all of this, but couldn’t take it in, process it properly.
The guy’s face was close to mine now, saying my name. Kate. That was me.
I knew this guy...Trevor? Yeah, that was it. Trevor. Good Trevor.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?” he hissed. Noooo. Angry Trevor. Trevor shouldn’t be angry with me. He tried to pull me along with him, but my limbs weren’t working.
“DRINKING BY YOUR BLOODY SELF,” he ranted. “ANYTHING COULD HAVE BLOODY HAPPENED TO YOU!” He tapered off into a stream of swearing.
“shooorry,” I moaned, but it came out like a sob. “I’m shooorry...don’t leeeeave meee.”
He sighed. “I’m not leaving you, idiot.”
“Right, come on,” he said, swinging my legs up and suddenly I wasn’t on the floor any more.
I clung to him, trying to figure out what had happened.
“You’re shooo pretteee,” I murmured, craning my face up to look at me.
“Yeah, that’s what all the paralytic girls say.”
“Noooo! We fr’got Jooooel,” I cried.
“Whoever the hell Joel is, he can stay there.”
“I loooove yoooo Trevooor”
“Shut the hell up.”
End of part two
So yeah... hope you enjoyed it. This was kind of a necessary chapter to start a few storylines off, but the next one should start to tie things together. Oh, and it should have more Nick. So yay. :L
Not Alone ( part two )
Jul 26, 2012 by TheRedCortina
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