Red (Part 12)
“Oh, are you finally going to listen to me?”
“Now, now, Brooke. We don’t need any of that attitude. Dr. Stav is just trying to get the story straight,” he said calmly. I couldn’t believe him. He was talking like he hadn’t sentenced me to be chained to this bed and forced drugs.
“Shut up! I don’t even want to see you!” I screamed. I couldn’t keep it in any longer.
“Raymond, it’s okay,” Dr. Stav said to him and turned to me to say, “You can just pretend that he’s not here. You are talking only to Linda and me, or even just Linda, if you want.”
“Fine,” I mumbled. “That’s pretty much what happened.”
“And what happened after Linda told you no?”
“I stayed in my room and then decided to sneak out to go see him.”
“And did you?”
“Yes. I met up with him at Pier 39 with his friends, just like he told me. We went to a restaurant, but I left early with him because I had a headache.”
“Okay. Linda, what did you do when you realized that she was no longer in her room?”
“I called Ray and he said he would leave as soon as he could. He told me to stay calm and wait for her to come back. He knew she would come back. And she did.”
“How did you get back?” She looked at me now.
“Sawyer gave me a ride back, but I remembered something and ended up cutting open my stitches. I snuck back into my room after the paramedics fixed my arm. I still had a headache, so Linda gave me some of my medicine.”
“Linda, did you ever see this Sawyer?” She turned back to Linda
“No.” She was staring at her feet, now placed firmly side-by-side on the floor.
“What happened the following morning, Linda?”
“Well, I took her to her appointment with you, like always; but then I got a call from you saying that she was gone.”
“Where did you go when you left the appointment?” Her eyes turned suspicious, hungry for the truth.
“I had called Sawyer and asked him if he could pick me up to discuss what had happened the night before. He met me in the lobby and took me to a tea garden.”
“How did you end up back at the apartment when Linda and Mr. Conall got there?”
“Sawyer brought me back so I could prove to him that I was who he said I was. I was showing him the scrapbook when the real Brooke Conall came in.”
“And why were Sawyer and the real Brooke not there when Linda and Mr. Conall got there?”
“We had decided to play along with it, get some more information about why he was saying I was Brooke and why he was lying to me. Sawyer told me that I was Cori Baine, the missing girl from the news. He knows her brother and he was at Pier 39 with us. So Sawyer and Brooke left so that I could get more information.”
“So neither Linda nor Mr. Conall ever met Sawyer or the Brooke?”
I said through my teeth, “Yes.” They nodded their heads thoughtfully.
“Are you absolutely positive that Sawyer and Brooke were real?”
“Yes. Why would I think they were fake?”
“Well, I think you are exhibiting signs of hallucinations, Sawyer and Brooke and all the others you met the other night.” He let out a sigh while she gasped and looked to him. “I’m going to prescribe some medication to see if it helps stops the hallucinations.” She was no longer talking to me; it was if I wasn’t even in the room with them. He nodded in agreement solemnly. They all left the room after that. A nurse came in with another syringe and injected it into my IV.
Hours passed and I was exhausted, but I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to be awake when Rebecca came back. Show after show, I waited. I didn’t want to press the call button and bring attention to me or another nurse into the room. I remained calm and quiet when a nurse would come in periodically and change the bag of saline or check on my monitor. I never talked to any of them even if they asked a question. I just stared at them until they left.
Finally, when the light behind my bed and the TV illuminated my room, Rebecca came. She had on a baseball cap with her hair tucked underneath and a large and dark trench coat. She was carrying something in a bag. She closed the door and made sure that nobody had followed her in. She placed the bag on the edge of my bed and went to work on releasing my arms from the cuffs. I felt good and free. Then she turned off the machines and grabbed a cotton ball. She took off the tape holding the needle into my hand and placed the cotton ball on top as she extracted the needle. Then she taped the cotton ball onto my hand and helped me sit up. She took a large coat out from the bag she had brought with her.
“Put this on,” was the only thing she said. I stood to put my arms through the holes, but I was a little disoriented. She grabbed my arm and held me steady. I put it over the hospital gown they changed me into while I was unconscious. The bottom of the coat touched the floor, covering my feet. I sat back down as she pulled out my shoes they took off. Then she shoved my hair beneath a hat.
“Make sure you cover your face. There are security cameras near all of the doors in this ward. I can take you down to the back entrance, but then I have to come back. They think I’m just picking up some stuff I forgot from earlier.”
“Where am I going? I can’t go by myself. I can barely walk two feet!” I tried to keep my voice low.
“Sawyer is waiting with the real Brooke. He’ll see you and pull up. We have to hurry though.” She shoved the bag into one of the deep pockets of her coat. I gripped tightly to her arm to walk. She opened the door and looked out for a sign of anyone. When she determined the coast was clear, we walked to an elevator that was in a discrete corner. She pressed the button quietly and the twenty seconds it took for the doors to open dragged on for an eternity. We walked quickly into the small box and waited for the descent to end. When the door reopened we walked briskly with our heads looking at our feet through a dimly lit hallway to a door marked with big neon green letters declaring EXIT. She pushed the door open and waved into the darkness interrupted with streetlights and cars.
A small car pulled up close to the door and I recognized it immediately. Sawyer jumped out and took over for Rebecca. I whispered my thanks to her during the exchange. She nodded in return. He walked me over to the backseat door and waited until I was in safely to close it. I looked to my right and saw Brooke in the passenger seat, staring stoically out the windshield. I looked back over to thank Rebecca once again, but the door was already closed and Sawyer clicked his seatbelt. Then we drove. Nobody said anything the entire time. It was totally silent except for the sounds of tires moving on the pavement.
I decided to ask a question to occupy us with anything but silence. “Where are we going?” My voice was hoarse, but they both heard me.
Sawyer answered, “We’re going to my apartment. It will be safe there.”
“I hate that word.”
They were both confused. Sawyer looked back and forth between the street ahead of us and the rearview mirror to look at me. “What?”
“Why?” Brooke asked. She stilled looked out at the passing cars.
“Because there’s no such thing.”
“How is that?” Sawyer asked, a little too forcefully.
“They said I would be safe at the hospital, that they would take care of me, but then they allowed me to go with him. He said I would be safe with him and Linda, but that’s only damaged me more. Then he said I would be safer back at the hospital, but I was hurt. People are never safe. They said that my mind has locked up every memory from before my accident to keep myself safe from the terrible things that happened, but the memories leak out and cause harm; and not remembering why or what happened has ruined me. And now you say that I will be safe hiding from these people who claim to know me, but for how long? How long can I hid from them? How much will this end up hurting me?”
“We’re trying to help you! If you wanted to stay chained to a hospital bed, I’ll turn around right now and bring you back! And forget about Rebecca risking her job to get you out because she just did it for nothing! Oh, we could be arrested for this, too!” I had never seen this side of Sawyer, but how could I since I’ve only known him for a few days? Something about the way he acted in our earlier encounters never indicated that he had such a short fuse.
“No. I appreciate what all of you have done, but how long can we keep this up? Nothing lasts forever, not even the most important memories. Those are the only things that no one else in the entire world can take from you, but your mind can wipe out in a single second. Do you even know how frustrating it is not being able to know anything about your own life when everybody else can?”
“Yes,” she said calmly. I stared at her wide-eyed. “Everyone has amnesia.”
“No, they don’t. Every normal person can remember their lives, who they are.”
“If you asked anybody anywhere in the world, they wouldn’t be able to remember most of their childhood or a single event only a few years ago. Time makes martyrs out of memories. Time is the cause of amnesia, the one and only disease experienced by every human.” I was speechless. We resumed the silence.
I asked, only to relieve the tension, “Where are we going?”
When she divorced Ethan, she had a three-month-old and a four-year-old. For two years, they lived in a tiny apartment. She still had a job as a nurse, but she had to cut back on her hours to care for them. He didn’t even help out with child support or fight for even visitation rights. But she didn’t mind it that much since it meant that she wouldn’t have to see him. She had put up with his abuse until the moment he touched Cori. By then she was two months pregnant with Gabriel. Then came the day she met Allen. He was good to her and to her children. Cori was nine when they were married. She didn’t remember why Ethan had left or why her mother was marrying this man. Gabe took to Allen right away, but he never gained trust from Cori.
When she was thirteen, that’s when it got too hard for them to handle. First, they tried counseling. When that didn’t work and she started experimenting with drugs at fourteen, they put her in a rehab center in the closest big city, Eureka. She came home and did well for a couple of weeks before she started sneaking out and using again. She wasn’t the little girl Maya knew and Allen was getting frustrated. But they tried sending her to a different rehab center, farther away. It broke her heart when she read Cori’s letters, desperately pleading to come home. Despite Allen’s warnings, she brought Cori home early only to yield the same results as before. Cori grew depressed and started to cut herself. They took her to another therapist, but that only lead to her suicide attempt.
When she wasn’t cutting herself or trying to kill herself, she tried to runaway. Sometimes she wanted to find Ethan and find out why he wasn’t apart of her life. Other times it was to find her birthmother with the little information Maya had provided her. It always ended after a few days when a police officer or a bus driver or someone who recognized her would turn her in and bring her back.
She ended up graduating early, despite missing so much school, but she did most of the work through the special programs for troubled teens and independent study. After her graduation, when she was seventeen, they sent her to a wilderness program that helped teens with problems like Cori’s. It was far away and they couldn’t visit. But at least it had worked. She was changed when she came back, calmer, but still harbored so much anger. They continued to take her to therapy. She was doing so much better, but then she was gone again. And now they were looking for her and something wasn’t right. This wasn’t like the other times.