Crater (Day One): Part 25 of Angel
“. . . I do not like this,
I do not like this,
Where I am. . .”
I was cold and hollow. Sitting in a tin box. The wooden chairs splintered my spine. There was a fire. The firefighters of L.A. Division 83 were there to save the day again. Eleven years later.
I know it’s not my fault. Apparently nothing is these days. But I guess people will tell you anything to keep you from offing yourself. There was blood running down my thigh. I decided to try and make perfectly parallel lines this time. Not consciously, of course. Who would hurt themselves on purpose?
I was shivering with blood lust.
I found the letters.
I could smell the weed seeping through the walls. Macy. She forgot all about the tea.
Life without you. Pictures. Fuck all of them. Cole’s note was still on the desk. I don’t know why I didn’t reach him. There’s blood on the sheets now. Nosebleed. Sure.
That’s one thing mom and dad were always good at. Making excuses. Inside, I was throwing myself against the walls. Outside . . . I wiped at my blood.
Orphaned. Damaged. Rejected. Lost. Adrift. I grated my finger nails against my forearms. My whole body was pulsing. And my stains were burning.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t real.
“Macy?!” It was my voice, in a high shrill, “Macy?!”
The cut was so deep, I couldn’t stop. But my hand . . . .
The room was tri-toned, forest green, sea foam green and beige. There were two beds. Both underneath a row of windows. They were protected by a steel cage. A bare light bulb. Above and centered. Nothing else, though. Outside, they told me, there was a bathroom I could use.
Once I came to, I thought that scratching the walls with a tally to show how long I’d been there was a nice idea. But I stopped once I found out what was under the freshest layer of paint. Sedated. Conscious--in the most general, well-meaning sense of the word. They wouldn’t tell me what they were giving me. If I tried to resist, they would force me. Little pills. Red with blue strip, two white, one beige. Different ones throughout the day. Big white, probably aspirin. Who knows, I’m not a doctor. But lunch time was when they hit me hardest.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. There was a dead fish in my mouth. The first time, I almost choked to death. So I was out again. Seizure. Too little water. Too many reruns of Silence of the Lambs. Who knows what they thought.
Once I came to: there was a needle in my arm. It was thick. When I moved my fingers, I could feel it move in me. The feeling made me wretch. But I couldn’t take it out. They picked me up and threw me back into wonderland. I tried to hold my breath as I plunged deep into the water.
Soon, they pulled out the needle. The catheter. She looked shocked when I spoke to her. Another orderly came in and I was sat in a wheelchair. The people watched me, as I was carted into the common room. Four girls, three guys. All staring at me rapaciously. I was stopped in the corner and told to get out. There was a group now, they told me. A focus group. They introduced me to the strangers.
One of the girls had blue hair. Rachel. She hugged me. I felt her hand snake inside the scrubs they’d dressed me in. I jumped back.
“Rachel,” The man running the group, “Sit down,” he said.
She smiled mischieviously at me, then skipped back to her seat.
It was an A.A. meeting. It seemed like church to me.
God, give me the strength to accept things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
It got blurry again.
Once I came to . . . .
My skin was on fire.
I couldn’t. Move. My arms were itchy. Couldn’t stop scratching. Through the bandages.
The bed, the light, the windows. It wasn’t a dream. Aaron’s eyes snapped open as I sat up. Wish I could say I had glimpsed them from the moonlight . . . . The lights from the nurse’s office were blaring through the window in the door from down the hall. Outside was dark. In the distance, I could see a single light post. A messy checkerboard of cars. I tried to look closer. But the steel grate kept me from touching it.
The door was locked. Bed bolted. Single sheet, single pillow, single blanket. I hadn’t noticed the first time. Then the camera. Red light steady. I was crashing, I knew. But I stayed calm. Too bad the burning in my arms and legs were only a pocketful of gnats compared to the wasps that were swarming in my head.
Is this rock bottom?
Is this the end?
My last stop?
Then dark turned to light.
Certainly, this couldn’t be hell. Rachel sat next to me on my bed. I sat against, the wall, wrapped up in a blanket, praying for water or nausea, or both. She told me about my prison mates. Everyone except for Rachel wore the badge. Wrists, all of them. Some had their entire forearms covered in gauze bandages. One guy had gauze around his neck. He showed me the stitches one night.
Rachel was never going to get out, as long as she was alive, she told me. The first time she was brought in, she had tried to OD on pills.
“I took everything I could find,” She chuckled, “But I woke up!”
Coal. Water. Rachel was shitting black for weeks. Then she told me to be quiet—this is how everyone gets out, she told me. They, the doctors, made Rachel promise to be good. She said that meant, “Not cutting or trying to kill myself again”. But that was only after she had been good for a few days.
“They aren’t really interested in fixing people here,” She said, “Just making sure that, when they go out into the world, again, they won’t try and kill themselves right away.”
She couldn’t remember exactly what the doctor said about that. But it had something to do with “symptoms” being less “acute”.
I decided to be good from then on. Even if the drugs made me feel like there were fire ants crawling through my veins.