As I rise from the couch, something inside my mind snaps. My
thoughts begin to race as I fight for air. Am I having a heart attack? I stare
at the bodies around me. How the hell did I get here? Everything seems
strangely familiar. My skin begins to itch. I stagger into the bathroom and
plunge my fingers down my throat. Nothing.
I plead to Mason. "Get me out of this. Make it stop, please."
From the stunned look on his face he has no idea what is
manifesting inside of me. Neither do I.
"Have a cigarette," mutters Sara, "get some rest"
They don't give a shit about me. The last thing in the world I can do
is rest. I pace frantically in my bedroom, changing in and out of clothes
believing it will alter my state. I stumble into my pajamas, clench my eyes,
and plead for sleep. My heart feels like it's beating for a thousand people.
The decay of the apartment charges through my nostrils as I inhale months
of cigarette smoke that clings to the walls. My head throbs with confusion.
Voices, footsteps, and sirens scream in my ears. I begin to pray,
something I have not done in years. I have deprived myself of so many
things that I once loved. I want to fall asleep instantly, wake up, and feel
normal whatever the fuck that is. If I could just split my skull open and
reach inside to turn the switch off, I could make it stop. This is Hell. I
suddenly glimpse myself from above. I must be dying. Am I dead?
I rush to the mirror and stare at a grinning skeleton. I look to Mason
for comfort, but I envision the Devil instead. I picture myself running and
never stopping.
"Are you mad at me?" whimpers Sara.
I force her out of the way and grab the phone. It is four o'clock in
the morning. My mother answers.
"Mommy, I am dead and in hell, please rescue me."
"Lynn..Lynn, relax, everything is going to be fine. What's going on ...
"I don't know, please, please, please, come get me."
"Lynn, what is wrong? Are you using drugs?"
"Yes, No, I don't know, help me please," I am moaning.
"I'm on my way Lynn. Is Mason with you?"
"I think, yes, yes, he's here...I am going to his house...I'll be there."
"Stay with him," pleads my mom.
I drop the phone on the ground and run to my room.
"Make sure you hide the bong if your mother is coming here," yells
Sara before slamming her door.
I seize my wooden rosary beads from my dresser drawer and dart
downstairs out into the street. I sense danger hunting me. Mason clutches
my arm and pulls me back onto the sidewalk, as cars swerve to dodge me.
"Am I dead? Are you not telling me something Mason?"
"No babe, you're not dead. You are right here with me."
"I don't believe you, you're lying."
Mason stays by my side. I sense my existence creeping away. Time
is blurry but it seems I haven't slept in years. Today I am being punished for
all of the bad choices that I have made. I wish to make it right, but I guess
my time is up. Standing outside, agitated, I gaze at my neighbors as they
leave for work. One seems familiar. I stare directly into his eyes, he passes
through me. I am an illusion.
Mason flags down a taxi and pulls me inside. As we cross the
Manhattan Bridge, I peer out the back window and witness the orange sky
rising behind me. In this moment I am protected. The rays of warmth grant
me a sense of calm and serenity that my soul has been needing. I
desperately cling to it as it slips away. I insist that we take the cab to The
Robert's House, a building that I lived in during my first year in the city. I
might find something there, a valuable clue. I jump out only to see that it is
no longer open. Did it ever exist? I am in a fucking nightmare. Where the
hell is the alarm clock to pull me out? I race down 3rd avenue to Mason's
apartment. The glaring daylight is burning my eyes and stinging my skin. I
am exposed to the world, as every pedestrian I pass stares right through
me. At Mason's place, I shiver with fear as I peel my clothes off in the
bathroom. I force myself into the shower. The lights are blinding and the
water reeks of bleach. The hammering of my heart is all I can hear.
Slithering back into my pajamas, I rush outside searching for relief only to
find none. Mason chases after me as I plot my escape. I am darkened,
confused, delirious, and mad all at once.
It is nine o'clock in the morning and I am now terrified that my
mother is coming. When she pulls up to the curb I spot my little sister
sitting in the back seat. For the first time, the sight of my mom does not
relieve me. I turn to flee but Mason forces me into the car and I fight to get
My mother grabs my hand, "do you trust me?"
I say "yes", but I am lying.
We speed off leaving Mason frozen on the curb. The Lincoln tunnel
is my birth canal and I am being torn out of the city, the womb I have known
for so long. I listen to my demons yelling for me to come back. I sob and
shake as Stephanie holds on to me. Thrusting my legs, unable to sit still, I
begin running in place. I am paralyzed with thirst so we stop at a gas
station. My mom hands me two bottles of water and I begin to guzzle
them. It does not satisfy me. I plead to her for reassurance. We drive past
a big rock painted with dull red letters, Jesus Saves.
"See that Lynn, what does it say?" I hear the fear in her voice.
I want so much to believe it but I am powerless. Coming to a
standstill in traffic, a woman in a hideous green car smiles and winks at me.
She must know something that I don't. Paranoia has set in. I scrutinize
each expression on my mother's face searching for the key. If I am clever
enough to solve this riddle, I will survive.
When we arrive in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, we rush
immediately to the hospital. The emergency room becomes my
confessional. I purge all of the dirty secrets that I have kept locked away. I
own up to my sins, exposing my love affair with the pretty poison I call
ecstasy. I can't stop biting the skin off my fingertips. I tell the doctor about
my friends, the clubs, the drugs, and the lies. All the lies. My mother sits
speechless in her chair. A drop of blood falls from my thumb onto my
pants. The doctor discusses substance abuse treatment facilities with me
as if I were completely lucid. Now I know I am crazy. No one seems to
realize the shape of my mind. All I can smell is the doctor's rotten breath
as he hands me two sleeping pills and tells me to go home and take them
before bed time.
"Come back if your condition worsens. Take care."
We silently pull into the driveway of the house that haunted my
childhood. My mother insists on offering me tea as if it is some kind of
magic potion. The thought of ingesting anything makes me ill, but Mom
copes the only way she knows how. She avoids it, confident that this will
simply disappear. She draws me a bath, but I refuse to get in it. I
disintegrate over the next few hours. My mother guarantees me that I will
be fine after getting some rest and hands me the two tiny pills with a glass
of water. I stare into my hand. Music suddenly begins thrashing in my
head. Chills surge through my core as familiar voices invade my ears.
Are you feelin it? Are you feeling it? Are you feelin ...?
I will not fall for these tricks. I reject mom's invitation and place the
pills on the counter. This is only a test. A simple test by your emergency
broadcast system. Here is the perfect opportunity to just say no. I am
certain these are no better than the shit I was popping in the city. No one
will convince me of their lies. Stacey seems to think that this is all an act.
Lynn trying to hog the spotlight ...again. Frustrated by my behavior, Stacey
gets a nurse on the phone to assure me that the pills will provide me with
rest. As if I am going to listen to another person in the medical field. Yeah
right. The whole time my father continues watching television as if nothing
is wrong.
"Just swallow the pills Lynn. Stop making such a big deal of it," he
mutters before going to hide in his room. The usual supportive advice from
father of the year.
I crawl into my mother's bed as she holds me in her arms. Stacey
and Steph bring blankets into the room and lie on the floor. Stephanie, wise
beyond her years, lies in front of the door, sure I will try to escape. With
eyes wide open, hallucinations creep in as I watch my mother's face morph
into Mason's. I'm a bomb set to explode. I stumble past Stephanie and
dart outside. My mother chases after me, sobbing, pleading with me to
stop, as if I have control over this.
"Let me go mom. Please let me rest in peace so I can move on to
the next world."
"Lynn, I love you. You are alive! I am your mother I am telling you
the truth."
"You are keeping me here in this life and I need to leave. I know
this is hard for you but I can't go on like this. I am dead."
Having no other choice they pull me into the car and take me back to the
hospital. It is morning again, the days have melted into each other and I
have lost all sense of clarity. My father is already at the hospital where he
works as a nurse. He enters the room showing no emotion and avoids
looking at me. Great bedside manner. We all sit in a dark windowless
holding cell. It is the first time we have sat together as a family to confront
anything. I am instructed to sign papers to commit myself to the psychiatric
ward of the hospital. If I do not cooperate, my parents or the state will be
forced to commit me. Tasting the barrel of a gun in my mouth, I scribble my
name and it is done