Chapter 7: Don’t Run
Days following I woke to Chester’s whining. Despite extreme efforts for a swift recovery, my body was still constantly aching. I laid still staring up at the gold accents that stopped right at the corners of the cream ceiling. The peach walls blended seamlessly to white and seemed comforting somehow. It reminded me that may be change can be effortless too, and possibly even, natural.
"Kind of like staying with Emerson," the voice in my head adds slyly.
"I was thinking more along the lines of how I’d move forward after I left," I rebut quickly, "But nice to know that your mind hasn’t changed." She didn’t react to my humor in the way she always has, but I don’t think about it too long. I take a break from sitting up by resting back on my elbows, this is when Chester realizes I wasn’t being dramatic. He rushes into bed, squeezing his body behind me and pushing gently, forcing my back upwards.
I smiled at the help and took it graciously. When my body rested against the headboard I was drenched in sweat, "Want to get me a bottle of water?" my question was met with immediate response, he smells my desperation then.
I open my bedside drawer and took the tiny pill bottle with the prescription Chance had filled only a week prior. Time was flying by and I hadn’t given any thought to what I’ll do when I leave.
"Because we’ve concluded that you’re staying here," The voice in my head growls angrily. Fear rushes down my spine at the rampage she’d cause if I followed through with that plan, "No I don’t want you to feel captive to me, that’s not how this works," There’s a sigh of frustration as I swallowed the large white pills, "I just can’t imagine being without him, and neither can you."
"I know that," I thought in a moment of defeat, "But I can’t just burden him with staying here."
"It’s not a burden," She says for the millionth time since our relationship began, "He’s told you of the benefits you’ve brought."
I think back to the countless conversations Emerson and I have had, while we were awake and when we went to sleep. He was a constant part of my day. Our only moments of separation were mornings when he had to run to the office to handle things that required his signature.
Even though he took time off the company was barely afloat without his presence, a testament of how much of his time he’s invested in its success, and also of how much he’s sacrificing to be with me. All sentiments aside, I threatened to kill him if he fell over and died from exhaust.
He laughed when I mentioned this before adding a charming, "With your bare hands? Or from a distance like a wimp?" It made me cackle until my ribs hurt. Charice merely scoffed mumbling an insult in response.
I swung my legs over the side of my bed, looking down at my soaked pajamas, I’d need to wash them soon. That was another issue, with all the washing my clothes were getting worn out. Multiple washes due to a limited supply of clothing made the fabric loose and weak, growing more susceptible to rips and tears. Only two pieces of the few I brought looked presentable— both were underwear.
"Just let Emerson take you shopping like he’s offered to a million times," the voice in my head mentions annoyed by my complaining.
"If I do that then he’ll probably think I’m staying and I’m not sure yet if—"
"You know what? Do it. Leave! I can’t do this anymore," Her exclamation made me stop walking— limping, to the bathroom, "If you have decided that even though you’re free to do whatever you want with your life, you should be miserable instead of fulfilled. Then be my freaking guest! I’m done!"
Suddenly a blast of pressure erupted from the depths of my mind, where she was. An overbearing weight crashed into my shoulders and I steady myself byt gripping the dresser to my left. She walked further and further away from me, not looking back once, and I wanted to call out to her but now my body hurt differently. Her absence brought a renewed sense of agony that went deeper than skin and bone meaning she was more real that I’ve been making her out to be. She was more than a thought, or a figment of my imagination, or even a coping mechanism I’d conjured up. She was real and she was leaving me alone.
"Wait," My voice trembled out loud and startled Chester into rushing over to me. His big brown eyes gave me a second of comfort but that was before a burning from my hip synced with the throbbing in the back of my head, "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you." I pleaded my case while reaching forward to grip the bathroom door frame for support.
Chester scurries applying pressure to my leg and allowing me to lean into him just a little. My hip thanked him for the small adjustment and I carefully hopped my way into the perfect bathroom. I lean into the sink and tried to look at myself in the mirror, but the sweat clogged my vision not to mention that my erratic heartbeat was affecting my sight. The details of my face blurred. I turn on the pipe and run my hands under the cold water, gathering enough to wash my face with.
Internally I beckon again, "Please, please just come back."
"No," the suddenness and depth of her growl terrifies me to a gasp, "If you’re so adamant on us leaving them, then get used to being without me."
"But it’s for the greater good—"
"It’s completely selfish!" She seemed to walk deeper into my mind, further away, "You want to be alone so bad well now you can."
Then she was gone. Her being dissolved and the emptiness that consumed me made Chester bark and start doing laps around my feet. This happened when I started having anxiety attacks, he’d circle me frantically so as to better prepare to catch my body when I fell. Now against the counter, my wrists shook violently signaling the beginning of an episode like nothing I could ever fathom. As my body drowned in chaos my mind, in all its complexity was bare.
I didn’t know what to…. do anymore. Taking a shower seemed to be my best bet, but even as I prepared my body trembled. For my own safety, Chester hopped in the spacious shower capsule with me, standing in the corner with eyes glued to mine, ready for disaster. When I finished and slipped into my leggings and sweatshirt for the day the torment of mind and body had only worsened. How was this possible? I had more to deal with, bigger thoughts to handle.
I stumble out to the bedroom and tried to get my bearings, some sort of grip on reality would suffice, but that seemed to be the most impossible. The thought of going back to bed was distasteful, but standing any longer would lead to collapse. What should I do?! I screamed in my mind, but no one heard me for miles.
She really left.
Chester walks over to me, a towel on his body as he shook his fur dry. He nudges me with his nose pointing to the bedroom door. I could go outside. Get breakfast? It was better than staying here alone. I turned the golden knob and he pushes the weight open for me, sticking close to my body as we walked helplessly towards the stairs.
It was the sound of another human voice that distracted me from the pangs and throes that came with walking. "Hey sleepy head," Charice’s melodious voice seemed oddly soft and painfully pitched. How far away was she? I began turning around to greet her when instead I bump into her, "Woah, careful," She steadies me by gripping my shoulders. Her blue brown eyes were dull by the looks of it, "What’s wrong?" She picks up quickly.
I shook my head, "I don’t feel so..." the hallway was turning beneath my feet and closing my eyes only made the dizziness worse, "I don’t feel so great."
"Chance left with Emerson earlier this morning," Charice kicks into problem solving mode as we start down the stairs together. I was sandwiched between her and Chester and her death grip on my elbow was necessary at this point, "I’ll call them to see what time they’ll be back."
"8:30," I say breathlessly as I allowed my body to drop another step. I vaguely recalled the details from my conversation with Emerson last night. He mentioned it after joking about wanting to quit his job so he could ‘see what that hair looks like in the morning’. I smiled at the memory and for a brief second my body relaxed.
"Okay, you think you can hold out for another 15 minutes?" She was worried.
I nodded and gave what I hoped was a reassuring smile. She relaxed a little and carefully helped me settle in the couch in the main living room. It faced the chimney and wine colored curtains. They were pulled back enough to allow some sunlight in giving us the perfect view of the front of the mansion. She throws her book bag on the floor before settling next to me staring down at her cell phone persistently. She has class.
"I’ll wait with you until they get back," She sings sweetly, not caring about the fact that even though I had just showered I was drenched in sweat. That was the thing about Charice that I loved most. Her uncharacteristic willingness to help. Here she was in her designer jeans and faux-fur jacket while the hole in my brazzeire buzzed shamefully.
Charice never seemed to notice the polarity in our beings, no one here did. At first I assumed they were just being polite but then the consistency became too natural and I realized that much like Emerson, the Hunt’s didn’t care about flashy image. The entire house scoffs at my thought.
Now she smiled over at me, "So I was thinking about what to get Anthony for his birthday and of course I waited till the last minute but," She placed her cell phone closer to my face. It took a few seconds for me to focus— the screen was at first too bright and the colors all muddled together— but eventually the fancy gold watch materialized, "I think he’ll like it."
I smiled and nodded, "It is really nice," She took my words seriously, pleased that I agreed with her decision. I glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner and her sacrifice came to mind, "You don’t have to wait around with me— "
"Oh please Adira," She pushes my worry to the side, "Do you really think I want to meet with this heinous group?"
I laughed shortly, "Another meeting? I thought the one...Tuesday was the last one."
"You and I both," She shoves her coils to the side, frustrated, "But apparently we need to ‘revisit our analysis’," I laughed at her imitation of the most disliked group member, Kevin, "They’re taking this way too seriously."
I smiled gently, resting my head back against the couch cushion as my body batters itself, "Maybe they’re just passionate," I try to find the silver lining.
She huffs, "I doubt it," her eyes land on mine and for a second I sense her searching for something. She didn’t seem to find it, "Are you sure you’re okay waiting around like this? Maybe you should take some of the medication Chance gave you."
"I took some earlier," I was breathless from the few words I said, "I’m sure it’s nothing."
Even as the lies left my mouth I felt a part of me withering, wilting away to nothingness. The silence in my head rung louder than any of the other pain I felt. It spread until all thoughts grew numb. Nothing new was allowed to flourish as the space grew in sensitivity. Thinking hurt. My palms were sweaty and my throat felt dry. My wrist shook at her absence.
"Would you mind grabbing me some water?" I needed to be alone for a second.
She gives me a small smile before jumping to her feet and heading to the adjoining kitchen. I took the solitude as a means of pleading, "Please, please come back. I’m sorry I upset you, I’ll work harder at thinking this through," There’s a gush of cold air and I think I heard footsteps but I knew nothing would really change if she didn’t come back, "I’ll tell Emerson I need more time to— "
Someone touches my shoulder and that triggers my panic attack. The sensitivity was too much to bear and though I jumped away I knew it was too late. The darkness hugs me in its strangling embrace, it’s been awhile since I’ve had one of these. I’ve been at so much peace with Emerson that my body and mind seemed to forget other things. With the darkness came a mind numbing cold, something that was new. The numbness widens its scope until everything in my mind was...nothing.
Adira, babe what’s wrong?
It was Emerson. Despite the severe panic I was in my heart leaped at the thought of seeing him. He materialized in the way he always does, starting at the coils on top of his head and slowly downwards. His eyes came into view and I felt a sense of wholeness interrupting the layers of isolation I was wrapped in. The cocoa skin and tight bone structure had me salivating, but I needed to focus.
"What’s going on?" I asked him desperately.
You’re unconscious, Charles is trying to get some medication— suddenly his feet applied a slight pressure on the floor of my mind. It signaled that he was present in a space meant to be empty. A domineering growl awakened from the darkness, loud enough for him to turn away from me.
The loss of eye contact reminded my body of our episode.
Flames sparked all over and I felt the deepest contours of my mind blistering in ache all while my limbs trembled in bone-aching cold. The voices around me swirled to a tornado of noise that was more organized than the turmoil in my mind.
"Did she...anything this morn…"
"...Hold her down."
This pushed my body into high alert. Don’t touch me! My head popped up as if I just resurfaced from underwater and I felt a drip on my top lip before a familiar metallic saltiness meets my tongue. Blood? This distracted me enough to lose the edge I had on fighting against whatever constraints were trying to subdue me. Immediately I was pinned down, my arms fastened to my sides from the elbow up.
I kicked and screamed nonetheless, seeing my father before me. How did he find me?! I needed to run, but someone was holding me.
"Let me go!" tears streamed out of the corners of my eyes, "Dad! Let go!"
"Are you sure about this?" I recognized the hum of Victor’s baritone behind me and stilled. Wait, what?
I froze in place and finally opened my eyes. I could barely hold my head up on my own, instead it was being supported by Victor’s shoulder. The sweat stung when it slipped into my eyes but I was able to pick a couple images out of the blurriness, "Chance? I— W-w-what’s happening?"
"Can you hear me?" He was cautious, walking towards me with both palms facing me one holding a syringe. Why was he yelling?! It hurt, I made a face and turned away from him.
"Stop shouting," more tears rushed out, "It’s too loud. Everything’s too loud."
"I’m not yelling Adira," He says seriously, "Would it be better if Emerson communicated through your thought—"
"NO!" I resisted Victor’s constraints, eyes still pinched closed.
"Just put... her under," Anthony was further away, "Constraining him is... be... becoming more difficult."
There’s a growl that reminds me of the one in my mind the one that Emerson noticed when he got there. Regardless, it was enough to jumpstart another episode. I screamed and pushed, twisting my already injured body in more despair than it could process. No, no processing! NO thinking! Don’t think about not thinking! Stop! COME BACK! I’m sorry! Come back!
Someone holds my head and Chance walks forward with a needle, gloves on.
"...going to pinch."
Suddenly a stinging in the side of my neck sends off warnings everywhere. Liquid forces itself into my body and a violation of all sorts settles. I relaxed. The room is quiet, I look around for the couches, the kitchen, something. But it’s dark. Was it nighttime?
Another growl sounds behind me and it was then that I noticed I was on the ground... naked.
"Hello?" I call aimlessly, "Where am I?" My hands cover up the folds and bends of my body.
"You should know by now," It was her, the voice in my head. She was...here? What’s going on? "Don’t think that this means all is forgiven," She was no longer concerned with me, "I’m just worried for Emerson, so you need to wake up."
"Wake up? Am I asleep?"
"Kind of," She seems to shrug, looking over her fingernails in disinterest. Her detachment hurt, "Well a coma."
My eyes bulged and I jumped to my feet, "I’m in a coma?! H-How long has it been?"
The fear of weeks or even months passing by that quickly made my heart speed up.
"The day has passed," She said to ease my worries, "I couldn’t let you stay under that long."
I let out a breath of relief and remembered what else she said, "What’s wrong with Emerson?"
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise, a dramatic hand pressed against her chest daintily, "Are you finally caring about someone other than yourself?"
More hurt, "I’m not selfish," Thoughts of internal conflict on whether to stay or leave came back to mind and they all involved Emerson.
"They involved him, but that’s just a selfish guise of conceit," She stalked closer in the darkness. I felt the weightlifting itself from my body as she moved near so I walked over in what I presumed was where she stood. Suddenly, a huge fury brown paw materialized and I gasped. We pull away from each other at the same time, deciding better than to get closer, "You keep trying to convince yourself that if you left Emerson’s life would go back to normal."
"Because it would," I insist angry now, "Don’t try to act as if you know how I feel about hi—"
"Oh really now," Her voice was a growl that shook the foundations of the darkness around us, "Well if you did I don’t know how you could possibly think of leaving considering that Emerson’s life before you was filled with misery," I stilled at the words, "He’s been nothing but miserable until a year ago. It affected all his relationships with his parents, sister, friends, everyone. Then you started communicating in dreams and the fog of anger cleared. He started to reinvent himself, for you."
"How do you know all this?" I try to deter the point she was trying to make, "Why should I even trust you? You’re just a voice in my head."
"Could the absence of a voice cause your soul and body alignment to be thrown out of orbit after just 10 minutes? Could a voice force your body into complete deterioration? Could it make you want to not exist if I wasn’t there?" She hisses her teeth and I felt small under her gaze.
"Then who are you?"
She sighs, "I’m here to help you realize why being with Emerson is the best decisions you’ll ever make. And to answer your other question," A memory floats in front of me, it was of Emerson, a couple nights ago when I first got here. He laughed and stroked my cheek sweetly before saying, "Since you came in my life things—everything got...better".
"You don’t realize these things because you’ve only been thinking about yourself," her tone softened, "And considering everything you’ve been through, your upbringing and life thereafter, I truly understand your hesitation, but Adira these past couple of days you’ve just been trying to justify leaving. You haven’t considered how Emerson might be affected."
Now relaxed I take my seat on the floor once again, "But what if after I tell him everything…he… regrets his decision to let me stay?"
"Oh, wait is that what all this is about?"
The vulnerability set in and I felt a natural instinct to cover it up, build walls, but I couldn’t keep doing that. I can’t do this without her, so I nodded, "The thought of him rejecting me...is too unbearable to even think about."
"And leaving gives you the benefit of not being pushed away," She puts the pieces together. It’s quiet for a moment until she settles on the ground too, further away from me, but present nonetheless. The image of her paw flashes in my mind, "What if I told you that leaving will result in the same pain?"
I hadn’t considered that possibility, "What? How?"
She thinks through how best to present the information to me, "When I withdrew from your mind that panic and pain cannot be compared to the levels you would be in if you left Emerson."
"Because he’s your soulmate," her answer was quick, sure.
"H-How do you know that?"
Another silence, "Spend enough time with him and you’ll see it too. Everyone does."
I folded my lips and thought it through. She was forcing me to face a reality I wanted nothing to do with. I had to make a decision now. When I wake up I could stick to my old ways, choosing logic over emotion resulting in Emerson and myself ultimate destruction. Or, I could fall into this. Truthfully. Without barriers, or safety cushions.
She smiled, "Okay? Meaning what?"
"I’ll try," I say gently.
"Finally," Her smile grows wider, eyes shimmering a fiery silver as her presence re established itself in my mind. She sighs in ease as the circular room is dimly lit with a soft white light. She was as bright as a star. I couldn’t look up, "Not yet. Soon. Emerson needs you more than I do right now."
Suddenly my body is pushed upwards, chest first until I reached a space of resistance. I’m pushed deeper into the air, falling upwards until I gasped awake. I was in Chance’s office. It was neat and tidy, as always. To my left a machine made an incessant beeping sound, a clip on my pointer finger told me my vitals were being monitored.
I sighed and forced myself to lay back in the hospital bed.
As if on cue, Chance walks in the room looking down at his clipboard intently, a vein popping out from the left side of his perfect face. He looks up at me briefly and comes in contact with my scared brown eyes. He’s flooded with relief, "Hi," his tender smile made my insides mushy, "How are you feeling?"
I think about it, "Everything hurts," The words barely made it out of my lungs. My limbs throbbed in symphony with my exhausted heart.
Chance chuckles lightly, walking around to slip on some gloves and grabbing his stethoscope, "Well you did put up quite a fight."
Flashes of punching and kicking against Victor’s restraint materialize. I covered my mouth in horror, "Oh my goodness I didn’t hurt anyone did I?"
He shakes his head walking over and placing the stethoscope in his ears pressing the cold circular orb against my chest, "Take a deep breath," he instructs gently listening closely to both my lungs from the front then the back, "You punched the shit out of Emerson though."
All the color must have drained from my face because Chance’s laughter comes to a stop and he smiles sweetly, "Oh don’t sweat he’s fine. Just really worried."
He takes one of my hands and places it horizontally over my breasts, "Secure this arm against your chest, I’m going to look at your mid section to see if anything has changed since I checked the last time," It was then that I realized that I was naked under this hospital gown. Just like I was when I appeared in my mind.
"W-what happened?" I feared the answer.
"Do you not remember?" His ability to maintain a genuine tone, while keeping focus yet not making me feel ignored was incredible.
"No," I shook my head, "I remember bits and pieces but nothing flows, or makes any sense."
He nods while pressing down on my stomach, "Does this hurt?"
"No," I shook my head and was instructed to lay on my side.
"Well when we got here Charice was in a panic because you wouldn’t wake up. She had gone to get you some water but when she got back you were barely breathing. Emerson tried to communicate with you but that just seemed to worsen your state. I asked him and Gavin to help transport you to the surgical room so I could do an MRI but you worsened when Emerson touched you," he spoke while taking notes and applying small pressure against the back of my ribs, "So we had Victor restrain you while I delivered a solution to help numb the pain. It put you in an involuntary coma."
"Oh," He pulls me back gently and Flashed a light in my eyes, "Did my injuries get worse?"
"By the looks of it, nothing exponential," He mentioned sweetly, "And there are no signs of cranial injuries but if you start to experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, memory-loss please let me know."
I nodded closing my eyes for a moment, "Everyone must think I’m crazy."
Chance laughs softly, helping me sit up in the hospital bed, "Far from it," this shocks me, "They’re all worried sick. I don’t even know if they ate dinner."
"Worried? About me?" The thought was baffling. They barely know me.
"Well of course," His eyebrows shot up and he handed me back my clothes, "This really came out of left field. We didn’t know how to help, even considered bringing you to a hospital, but there were so many safety concerns that Emerson and I came up with."
My heart clenched in my chest, "Thank you," I meant the words more than i could explain.
Chester smiles and nods, walking to the front door, "Feel free to call when you’re fully dressed."
I looked down at my outfit and my body ached in unison, "Actually," he stops at the door, "Would you mind asking Charice or Chelsea if they...could help me?"
"Are you more sore than normal?" He was worried.
My body throbbed in harmony with my tired heart, "I definitely can’t lift my hands past my shoulders."
"I’ll send her in," He left me to my thoughts and aching body.
How could these people care so much for a stranger? Regardless of how they perceive my relationship with Emerson, this goes far and beyond. They were so worried they didn’t eat, Emerson was probably a mess the entire time. I know I would be inconsolable if put in his shoes.
"Maybe you’re just so used to not being taken care of that you expect it even from people who care about you?"
Okay, too soon.
"Sorry," the voice retreats to the back of my mind, "We’ll talk later."
There’s a knock at the door that interrupts our conversation. How does she do that?!
"Come in," I say weakly.
Charice’s coils shine in the dimly lit room. Her eyes were red and watery, "Oh thank the moon you’re okay," She sighed wrapping her arms around me, "I’ve been worried sick. One second you were sitting down and then you were unconscious and in pain and I didn’t know what- what to—"
"Charice," I called worried, "It’s okay, I’m fine now. All thanks to you of course."
To this she looks up at me, "What do you mean? I didn’t even help with—"
"If you hadn’t taken the time to make sure I was fine, called Chance and Emerson even when I didn’t want to and wait with me while they got home? I don’t even know what would have happened," I took her hands in mine, completely unlike me but an action that filled my heart with light, "So, I genuinely want to thank you for your persistence."
"Won’t you look at us?" She reaches forward and wipes a tear that I hadn’t realized I shed, "Just some goddesses crying in a hospital room."
I huffed, "One goddess and an Adira," I corrected her.
"Hey none of that," her scold was quick and personal, like a slap to the face, "The world does enough of that demeaning shit, we shouldn’t do it to ourselves."
I smiled and held my peace. I appreciated her presence and her authenticity, maybe I could open up more, she surely isn't holding anything back.
"Alright goddess how can I be of service?"
I laughed softly and handed her my clothes, "I’m in a lot of pain and putting on clothes is something that completely terrifies me."
She scoffs and walks nearer, "If you tell Emerson that he might have another heart attack, for different reasons this time of course," She carefully slides the shirt hole over my head, tucking some hair back in place.
"How is he?"
"Much better now," She rolled her eyes in annoyance, "He was starting to act like more of a jerk than I could tolerate so the guys took him out of the house for a while. I thank the moon every night for him finding you."
"Why’s that?" I laughed trying to ignore the tension along the back of my arm hen she placed it slowly in my sleeve.
"Well now he’s bearable," She moved on to my other sleeve lifting it higher so I wouldn’t have to stretch as far, "When we were inseparable when we were kids, but after he went away for college we became more distant. Recently, within the past year or so, things have gotten much better."
"Why do you think that i—" the familiar sound of ripping fabric filled the air.
"Oh, Adira I’m so sorry," Her hands flew over her dainty mouth as she stared at the gaping hole in terror.
It made me laugh, "Charice, you didn’t do that, all my clothes are kind of getting...worn out."
"It’s not too bad but maybe that means we should go shopping soon, get you some new stuff."
I smiled up at her loving the warmth that the thin material flushed my skin in. She started helping with my sweat when they rip as well. I was shocked they lasted this long honestly.
"Okay Adira, no, I’ll go get you something from my room."
"Oh you don’t have to do that—"
"There’s a hole in your crotch," She glares at me, helping me into the bed, "I’ll be right back."
She starts heading towards the door when an unusual feeling rushed down my spine, "Charice," I called and she faced me worried that I hurt myself further, "Thanks again, for everything. I know that being this friendly is probably in your personality but it really means...a lot to me."
She scoffs and leans against the door frame, "Well, despite what you might think, I actually hate people, and don’t really go out of my way for anyone outside my parents and Emerson," she thinks for a second, "Oh and Anthony sometimes. But you’re great, you’ve been amazing since you got here. I really hope you stay but I"ll get it if you don’t, because of how far out of Em’s league you are."
With a final wink she disappears down the hall, leaving me with a smile and healing body.
I think I’ll be staying after all.
DISCUSSION TOPIC: What do you think that voice in Adira's head really is? Share your answers in the comment section.
Banyana: I'm sorry the last chapter was too short :( Is this one better? What do you think?
Butterfly: Honestly, I like writing this version much better than i did the last one! I'm really glad you're enjoying it.
Anonymous: I'm happy you were excited for this chapter. What do you think?
Anonymous: Haha, here you go! ;)