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Mariah K Rowse

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Alex
By Mariah K Rowse
Tuesday, August 05, 2003

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A disturbing/graphic look inside the mind of a suicidal girl. It's a work in progress. If you do take the time to read the whole thing, please leave a review too. It would help me immensely if I knew how this is recieved.

M*

Everything is Copywritten 2003 Don't take anything without written consent from the author Mariah K Rowse
If I find out anyone is stealing my work or ideas I will not give you a warning, I will quietly persue legal action. Pirating work off of others is a crime, if you do not have the talent or creativity or imagination to come up with your own material please don't steal it from others.

  Scene I

A shower is heard running. A soapy sponge and hand is traveling over the skin of a girl’s back. Various cuts and deformed scars blur into view through the steam. The soap washes down the girl’s neck. A scar in the form of a heart is shown continuing over slashes and bruises on her shoulders. She rinses off new blood and the water is mixed with it. There’s too much of it to make it pink. Even diluted it’s still deep red. The whole bathroom is foggy and the mirror is steamed up from the hot water. Her back is the main focus as she takes the shower. Her long brown hair reaches down to the middle. She carefully takes it and moves it to the side to reveal what appear to be new, harsh burns across her back, near her shoulder blades. It looks like ropes have been pulled back and forth across the skin, cutting into it and forming deep, bloody indentations. The body shakes as the wounds are covered in the steamy water, but the girl doesn’t cry out in pain. It is so fresh that the broken skin is still hanging off while the areas around the burns are turning purple and blue. The water is shut off and she steps out and walks to the sink. The view shifts, panning across and continuing down her arm, stopping momentarily to focus on cigarette burns placed intricately in designs. Different linear scar slits are shown on her wrist, one that seems to be somewhat fresh and slightly bleeding. Finally the focus moves to her hand and forefinger rising to the foggy mirror. The mirror clears in the letters that she’s drawing. The condensation forming makes the letters appear to be melting. She pulls on a long sleeved black sweater with much difficulty making sure it doesn’t stick to her back. She walks out of the bathroom and turns out the light.

Now she is seen from the neck down in a different room. She has a generic blue-bordered name tag on her shirt. The entire montage is overshadowed by Alex’s voice.

“Attempting suicide...It's something that makes you know exactly why they say "Don't try this at home." There's nothing like the taste of red bodily fluid resembling a thousand copper pennies rolling around in your mouth. Not nasty, but not something you want to drink either, so "Swish and spit." as the dentist would say. Then again it is hard to concentrate on anything when you're slicing a blade through your own flesh. A high like this is strangely better than an orgasm. Truthfully, it's the only feeling I can seem to grasp nowadays, not even the pain is a distraction to me anymore. Forty-eight hours and no sleep can do weird shit to a person's mind. Especially mine, since it was fucked up to begin with. Any John Doe in the world knows the feeling one way or another. With all the endangered species and starving people of the world struggling to live, here I am, alone in my room feeling selfish enough to take my own life. I'm a professional. I've done it all. Countless numbers of pills sliding down my throat, me numbering them "36....37...38...pass out." It becomes a fucked up mantra. My body is like a roadmap of scars, each with their own unique design and story. First official scar for my neck though. Barely covered up by the flimsy, form-fitting shit they have girls wearing these days. Not everyone wishes they were Britney Spears. Give me black shrouds any day. I have over 230 scars on my body, and have attempted suicide 25 times in the last year alone...And I'm only 19 years old.…

Today is my first day in therapy. And my name tag reads,”

HELLO MY NAME IS: ALEX

The office isn’t as pristine as you think it would be. There are candles and incense, a grandfather clock in the corner. A large desk sitting slightly off center to the room .I assume that serves some sort of fen-shui purpose. Next to that is a window with a caved seating sill on it. It appears to be a standard psychiatrist’s office…at least to the untrained eye. Behind this massive desk in front of me is a stoic and expressionless face. This is my therapist, Edward James. Personally I think he should be sitting here telling me his problems but…well…you know how things go. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in his room. What psychiatrist would have a surgical glove on their desk, much less just one of them? Don’t they come in pairs? Maybe he’s got some ulterior motives. Maybe he’s giving himself an enema later…yeah, I bet he likes that. I pick up a smooth pen from his desk. No doubt made of silver and probably has his initials engraved on it somewhere. *flips pen around* Ahh…I was right.

“You’re a very smart woman Alex.”

So the Doc can do other tricks but stare.

“I like to think so…” *removing the cap from the pen* “…You see Doc…most people who are suicidal like to gash at their wrist.”

I move the pen across my wrist horizontally making a line with the ink. This seemed to spark the Doc’s interests. He just appears to be staring a hole through my head. Don’t let it fool you. He’s interested.

“This is a cute way for the suicidals who only wanted a hug from mommy or daddy to prove their point and live.”

Doctor James is still sitting in the same position, unmoving. Hmmm…I’ve seemed to have deeply disturbed my doctor. Do you think if I’d clap he’d blink?

“Now. Any true mental case knows that in order to do it right you have to cut yourself vertically.” *Draws a vertical line with the pen.*

“This way surgeons cannot reconstruct the vein and you bleed to death.”

No change, not an eyebrow lift, a little smirk, nothing. The doctor seems scared now.

“Oh but look what we have here.” *Looks down at the lines. It has formed in the shape of a cross.* “Why I have the Lord’s blessing now…”

Still not a move. Doctor Edward is now looking at me in sheer terror. He might want to be careful; too much personality flair may scare me off. I smile at him and look down again at the cross on my wrist. I trace the cross with my fingertips and recite a prayer

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…”

I look at my therapist in the eyes, and lean forward just inches from his face.

“Amen.”

(Long Silence)

“Why don’t you relax Alex?”

I don’t think he’d want me doing that. I’m afraid if I lean back in this chair I may ruin it with a bad blood stain. But he doesn’t know that…not yet anyway. It’s not like my sweater hasn’t already gone to shit. It’s been sticking to my back for the last hour since I’ve been in the waiting room.

“Relax, take a breather.”

He’s repeating himself, that’s great. Isn’t that the first sign of lunacy? No…that’s redundancy.

“You first Doc…”

Alex reaches down and takes out a cigarette from the pack she was hiding in her sock. She holds it over a candle flame on the doctor’s desk.

“What made you want to do this to yourself Alex?”

She sways her head from side to side watching the flame grow and the ash accumulate on the end of the cigarette. She hums to herself then stops.

“I’m the type of girl who likes to put her cigarettes out on her wrist. Maybe make some sort of spiral out of the burns there; just for fun.”

With that she puts the cigarette out on her arm, without so much as a flinch. She offers the distinguished cigarette to her doctor. Whips of smoke float up between them.

“Smoke?”

The Doc’s nostrils flared for a moment. I know he smells that sickening sweet stench of flesh burning.

He takes the remaining pack from her and blows out the candle.

Dr. Edward looks at her wrist and sees the spiral marks peeking out of her sleeve. He hears Alex laugh distantly, quiet and to herself. He looks up at her and she is staring out into space with a small smile.

“Funny thing is, I don’t even smoke…”

He asked in no particular tone,

“Are you insane?”

“Hmm….I suppose some would say that.”

Scene II

Doctor Edward comes swiftly through the main security doors looking somewhat disheveled. He finds the man he is looking for and nearly pushes him back into his office and into a chair. The man is Nicolas Stremland.

“What’s wrong with you Edward?”

“Give me the file on Alexis Portman.”

Nicolas gets up from the table in front of a big wall of monitors and searches for the file in a filing closet where the patient’s personal records were kept.

“Did something happen?”

Doctor Edward is calm but somewhat peeved.

“How could they give me a case like this?”

“Edward you’re one of the best therapists in here, you handle people like her all the time.”

He finds the folder and tosses it on the desk causing some pictures to come out a scatter on the desk. Doc James sits down and takes a look at the papers while Nic picks up her pictures.

“Nic I don’t think you have any idea of what you’re talking about. I wanted something challenging, not this.”

“Are you saying that you can’t handle it?”

“I’m telling you that I don‘t want to handle it, she a done case. There’s nothing challenging about this. Have you ever talked to her? She’s a waste of my time and effort. She just showed her ass all day in my office. I’ve worked here for 7 years and I want something different.”

“Oh, so she’s normal now? Just because you believe she‘s just a normal case. She’s got to be nuts. That’s why she’s here in the first place. You should know better than to underestimate someone just because they appear to be something. Just watch her and see what develops.”

“I just saw her put a cigarette out on her arm and did the typical ‘Am I scaring you yet?’ routine. I just get tired of it.”

Nicholas shrugs nonchalantly.

“It happens, that’s why I think you’re just overreacting about a challenge. You’re just getting an ego trip. It‘s okay, we all have them. I remember when I came onto the force I wanted to be in convert operations…ya know the fucking stakeout and surveillance, international spy. And just look at me now…30 pounds overweight, watching the fucking straight-jackets…bye bye pipe dream…”

Edward stops paying attention to him rambling on and looks back through her papers and reads that her parents are dead, her dad died in a car accident and her mother died from congestive heart failure. She’s been on her own since she was 15, and has had a few relationships with men. Nic looks over the pictures and scoffs,

“Well she’s one extremely fucked up bitch I‘ll give that much to you. Maybe you‘ll have something here. Don‘t give up on it just yet”

The scars were unsightly and very hard to look at. He noticed one thing unusual. The area from right under her chest, down her stomach, and to her waist was entirely flawless.

“Why are there no scars here?”

“Who knows pal? That’s your job to figure that one out. My job is to sit here, be a legal pervert, and get paid for it. Ahh the perks…”

Scene III

Doctor Edward returns to his office early the next morning after an uneventful night of trying to sleep. Upon arriving, he notices that Alex is not there for their meeting. He goes into the patient wards of the psychiatric hospital and finds Alex in her room.

“Did you forget about our meeting today?”

“No. I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Let’s go to my office.”

“Are you going to have a temper tantrum and walk out on me like you did yesterday?”

He looks at her strangely, but irritated.

“No.”

“Good, cause you kinda left me hangin’ there…ooh I’m sorry is that a little non- P.C.?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Politically Correct, I mean I’m sure you’ve had people hang themselves here, right?”

He doesn’t comment, just continues walking down the hall.”

“Anyway you shouldn’t do that. Isn’t that a rule? Not to leave a patient alone, especially one who’s harmful to oneself. Besides it’s not very professional. Luckily they took me to the hospital wing.”

“And how is that superficial cigarette burn?”

His voice was laced with sarcasm. She pulled up her sleeve and looks at the small but outstanding mark on her wrist.

“Oh…this one? Its fine, but that’s not the burn they were worried about.”

They stop in front of the same room she was directed to yesterday. Once inside, Alex sits in her favorite and cleaned chair but Doctor Edward walks around the room.

”And which one, pray tell, were they concerned about?”

He looks at her, annoyed, but then she stands up and turns around. Carefully lifting up her sweater, she exposes the gruesome burns on her back.

“These.”

He is truly horrified, both by the sight and her nonchalance of it all. He had never seen something so sickening even after all his time with cutters and self deprecators.

“Jesus Christ!”

“Impressive huh? I sort of made a mess on your furniture though, but its okay, they seem to have done a good job getting the blood out, see…”

She gestured to the chair.

“Considering how hard it is to get that stuff out…especially white cotton…”

She says the last part more as an afterthought. It remains quiet for quite a while. Doctor James is still trying to compose himself. He sits down and rubs his temples as if trying to erase the images from his brain.

“You know Alex, even though we’ve just met, I have to say you’re at the top of the list out of everyone here on the severity level.”

“Don’t flatter me Doc…I’m sure the one’s who actually succeeded in killing themselves are more severe than this.”

“I’m just talking about the patients who are alive…I mean, how the hell could you consciously do something like that?”

“You’re the one with all the answers Dr. Freud; I’m just seeking my diagnosis. I’m not trying to be a flat-liner just yet.”
“What are you trying to achieve then?”

She suddenly gets very withdrawn.

“It isn’t the first time I’ve tried to hurt myself this extremely. But it’s the first time in three years I wish it worked.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I wish it hurt…”

“Why?”

“I have my reasons.”

She brings her knees up to her chin and peeks at the doctor over the top of them.

“You know Doc, I’ve been wondering exactly how I will take myself out of this game once I’m finished playing. I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to go out artistically.”

“How so?”

“For someone who is supposed to be curing me, you sure are interested in my solution to the problem. However…to answer your question; I was thinking I could carve out my death letter on my body. I don‘t know. Then again I may not. It depends on how much I have to say.”

“Is that why there aren’t any marks on your abdomen?”

“Hmm…somebody’s been looking at pictures. You are very perceptive. Yes, that is why.”

“Alex if you wanted so badly to kill yourself, why haven’t you done it already?”

“Oh I wouldn’t want to spoil my own fun.”

“What if I could cure you?”

“Doc…you curing me is as big of a mystery as a virgin with hickies on her neck.”

The doctor sighs, exhausted from thinking. Alex is in the chair with her knees drawn to her chest. She holds up a small hypnotist crystal to a beam of light just above her eye level, intensely concentrated on the rainbow reflections, and then speaks distantly.

“Do what thou wilt, for I have done with thee.”

Edward looks at her. She looks back at him.

“Shakespeare.”

Scene IV

At the end of the day is the only time to notice a visible change in Doctor Edward. He looks drained and ready to go home. He lives alone in an apartment uptown. Two bedrooms although he doesn’t get guests that often. There is Alex’s folder on his coffee table; the contents are spread out upon it in some bizarre order. The first thing he heads to when he arrives is his computer.

“Alright Alex, lets see who you really are.”

Logging on to the hospital’s mainframe, he begins reading what he can find about her. Every paper contained in her folder has been read so many times that he has practically memorized it. The differences between his professional life and his home life it clearly evident. He over analyzes every part of the job in the privacy of his own home. The only thing that baffles Edward is the fact that he can’t figure her out. What was the deal with the scarring, and the lack thereof on her in certain areas? He had to make another appointment to speak to her. When he walks into the room he can tell something is a little more off than usual.

Doctor Edward makes a futile attempt at a normal conversation in order to save his on sanity. Alex has been his patient for nearly two weeks and each meeting that they’ve had makes things increasingly harder on him. His appearance has changed. Dark circles has formed under his eyes and he has become obsessed with this case.

Alex is curled up in a ball in the corner of the room.

“The weather is great outside; do you want to talk out there today? The reporter on the news said it was perfect.”

“She knows nothing of perfect.”

“How would you know?”

“I’ve seen her in here. She comes and sits by the bay window in the lobby.”

“She could be waiting for someone.”

“Oh indeed she is. She’s waiting for her husband to come back to her…but he’s gone. He’ll never come back. No one is safe in this place. These walls are thin and tell many stories. And at night they can cry, a cry like a tortured baby. Some say it’s the souls that are trapped here, but they aren’t dead. Sometime the conscious world is scarier than the nightmares that haunt you in your mind Doctor. I know you cannot sleep.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Oh don’t be so fickle.”

She looks at him in disgust, getting mad at him.

“Be happy with your soft bed without restraining straps. Be content being lulled to sleep by the sound of raindrops on your window, instead of being forced to it by shots of Morphine. Each person in here wishes they had something whether it be perfection or peace Doctor. And the only knowledge we have of those things now is chemically enhanced. So she will get her perfection with doses of Lithium, and I will get my peace by syringes full of Morphine. Do you have any idea what they really do to people in here? Some of us are just messed up with ourselves; we aren’t going to harm anyone else. Don‘t you agree that the world would be a better place without people like me in it?”

“Do you have any idea of how hard it is to be faced with this everyday knowing that you are what stand between people like you and death itself?”

“Look at you now, suddenly ashamed of whom you are. Doc…I don’t doubt your ability to cure someone like me. But I’m telling you right now. You are fighting a losing battle with me. You will not cure me. Why don’t you try to take care of someone who really needs you? When I first came here do you think I didn’t notice the scrutinizing way you looked at me? Like I was nothing you haven’t handled before? Sure I was testing you, but not in the way you think. You think that if you just sit there like a statue that I won’t be able to notice anything about you. I saw the pathetic excuse of a personality in this room. You have the standard calming aromatherapy stuff in here. Yet I notice the room doesn’t reek of the smell. There are no patient papers in here, except for the ones you bring with you. You claim to be a doctor like everyone else…yet your papers look so worn out, as if they are going to fall apart at any given minute. There are no cards of any type, birthday, thank you, nothing. That tells me you don’t keep much of a friendship with patients, much less anyone else. No pictures, no sign of life outside of work, I’m sure you have family. Where are the pictures of them Edward? You think you have me all mapped out don’t you? Yeah, you think you fucking know everything about me? You know shit about me Doc. You just know what my file says, information provided freely by myself and people who ’know’ me, their observations. Don’t you think for one minute that I didn’t orchestrate their perception? I can alter what I want them to know. I’m controlling it, you‘re getting too involved now.”

“That’s my job.”

She sits back calmly.

“That’s exactly right. You ‘know’ the job.”

He remains silent.

She closes her eyes and breathes deeply.

“You simply ask the questions and I’ll provide the answers. I like you Doc; I don’t want you to be a stranger to me. Get to know the real me. After all, you are my only chance at a friend in this place. They won’t let me be around anyone else here, but I’m sure you knew that already.”

She reaches down to her ankle and pulls out another cigarette pack and lights one. Again watching it burn. Doc Edwards takes it away from her and puts it out.

“How the hell do you keep getting those in here?”

Her eyes avert from the flame and she smiles at him.

“Magic…”

“You know those are banned in this institution right?”

She looks at him in mock-defiance.

“Really…What are you going to do…arrest me?”

“Ooh or better yet, handcuff me. I might enjoy that. You know there’s a male nurse that straps me to the bed to restrain me when I’ve been bad. Needless to say, I have a bit of a crush. I think I’d be too much for him to handle though.”

Doc Edwards cracks a smile.

“Why do you do that…light those cigarettes?”

“A habit I picked up from an old friend. Besides, I’m a bit of a pyromaniac, I love fire. I love the unruly shape it takes. The way it’s unpredictable. I like to watch the smoke patterns too.”

The Doc reverts back to stoicism and says with some disinterest,

“Oh…I see.”

Alex brings her fingers up to her mouth in deep thought. Then she looks up and eyes the Doc.

“What’s it like to live without regret?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Well tell me one thing you regret and I’ll tell you one of my many stories.”

“Is this another one of your disturbing mind games?”

“Precisely, if you want to think about it that way. But remember, nothing is more disturbing than you make it out to be.”

“I regret not getting married.”

“Really? Why?”

“I don’t know, both of my brothers got married and it seems like everywhere I’d go I’d feel that there should be someone with me to share all of it with.”

“So you do have family…”

He nods. Alex stays silent for a while and studies him.

“You’re just as afraid as I am of being alone.”

He looks at her sort of caught off guard.

“Ok, now your turn.”

She smiles and gestures to herself almost happy and proud.

“Sure. Pick a scar.”

As much as Doctor Edward hated to study her visible scars so carefully. Something in her eyes told him to stay away from the burns on her back; he knew those were somehow off limits right now so \he picked a small one on her collarbone that resembled a jagged heart.

“What’s with that heart one?”

Alex’s eyes immediately saddened as she traced it softly on her skin, knowing exactly where it was. Her voice was laced deep with sorrow.

“I remember this one vividly…I did it in October. The one person who I loved the most let me go. This was the most painful. I was sitting on the floor staring into a small mirror at my face. Remembering I hated how ugly it looked. I went to move my hair out of the way and saw this spot. This was his favorite place on my body. I wanted to have a reminder of what the cost of loving someone was and how much he hurt me, so I would never fall in love again. I carved a heart symbolizing love. I sat there for the longest time just watching it bleed…”

She continued to touch it with her fingers.

“I was determined to have no one love that part of me ever again. I wanted to make it as ugly as he said I was.”

“Was this your ‘Old Friend?”

A faint smile passed by her lips, and she shook her head no.

“Who was this guy then?”

She let out a soft laugh.

“Ah….Jason.”

“And you loved him.”

“Oh, more than air. God, the sun rose and set with him. You know that feeling?”

The Doctor nodded.

“Anyway, Jason was never physically attracted to me. There was no way possible that I could change that. And come to think of it, I never actually pinpointed the reason why he fell in love with me in the first place. I mean how can you love something you can‘t stand to look at?”

“Is that what caused you to hurt yourself?”

“Are others so vain…?”

She ponders quickly.

“Ultimately that wasn’t the cause, but I wouldn’t say that it didn’t add to the pain in the end. Jason had it embe dded in his mind that just because he hated the way I looked that that meant 99% of the male population felt the same way. After a while, I believed it. Regardless of how many times I was told different. About two weeks after he told me he didn‘t want me anymore I came to the conclusion that I had had enough of love and was never going to let it hurt me anymore. One Friday night after 3 days of being drugged up on sleeping pills with no success of actually sleeping I gave up and this was the final product.”

She laughs once more.

“Don’t you hate it when you can’t sleep? I finally noticed I’d grown a high tolerance for Quaaludes. Then again I was known for my love of any and all barbiturate drugs by then. This wasn’t a normal suicide attempt like the others I had done previously…it was mere symbolism of an intangible love. It was never intended to be any more or less than it really was.”

Doctor Edward is acute as ever, hanging on her each and every word like he always does. She indeed was not stupid. She was very aware and perceptive of everything and everyone around her. From what he could tell she was highly intelligent and very articulate as well. Alex was now curling a strand of her dark hair in her fingers, speaking distant and somewhat hypnotic as she is often prone to do.

“Love is truly such a beautiful thing.”

One tear fell on her cheek.

“Does he know about all of this?”

“The scar? Yes.”

“What did he say?”

“He was shocked l guess. But that doesn’t matter. Obviously it didn’t go well, otherwise he’d be here wouldn’t he? He never took anything well.”

“This is very painful for you. Isn’t it Alex?”

“Doc…take the worst pain you’ve ever experienced and multiply it by a hundred and you wouldn’t even come close. After my blood stopped flowing, I never felt a single ounce of physical pain. It‘s almost like it seeped out of my skin with that first cut.”

Alex looks around quietly and sees a portrait of a family on the Doc’s desk.

“Who’s the photogenic family?”

“Wouldn’t know…that’s just the picture that came with the frame. I don’t have anything to put in it right now.”

“Yet you still have it on your desk…”

He shrugged.

“It’s a nice frame.”

She looks at him strangely.

“And you think I’ve got problems…Do you wish you had a family like that?”

He sighed at first then shrugged his shoulders. Alex sparks another cigarette as he just watches.

“I guess so; I mean everyone wants that right? The perfect family, white picket fence, the dog…”

Alex shook her head no.

“It doesn’t suit you. You like being surrounded by people with problems. To be able to live blissfully happy like that would bore the shit out of you eventually. It gets too predictable.”

“Well how do you know you’re not destined for a future like that?”

“Because I wasn’t supposed to have a future at all.”

His eyebrows creased at that comment.

“Some people are born knowing that they were never meant to be here in the first place. There’s a lot of us…the unborn…the unplanned pregnancy. There’s nothing they can do about it, so they spend their every waking day waiting to die. Although some of us like to toy with speeding up the process.”

She blows at the burning tip of her cigarette watching the smoke dwindle. The Doc sat up and resumed with asking her questions.

“Where is your first scar?”

“Here…”

Pointing to her left wrist.

”… and here.”

Pointing to the matching one on the right.

“A dedication to my mother. Two tokens of my affection for her.”

“What’s happened?”

She laughed loud, borderline maniacal.

“I left a stain all over my mother’s precious 3,000-count sheets and white Berber carpet. What a slut she was, probably not the only stain on those sheets if you know what I mean. It was good, deep cuts too. I hit the dark crimson blood. I was so angry. I wanted to fuck up anything that woman possessed, to make her never feel comfortable while she slept. Even though she was physically there, she’d been gone. I lost her way before she died. She gave up on me. I was always a problem to her. She was one of those fucking socialite types, too good for her own child. The only time I ever saw remorse in that bitch’s eyes was when she found me after she came home. She couldn’t handle it. So when she thought I was better and okay, she left for a new life, however short it was.”

She went quiet. Then spoke.

“I make silence comfortable don’t I?”

“Actually the quieter you are, the more it scares me because I don’t know what you’re thinking.”

“You don’t find it un-comfortable when I talk? You like the things I talk about?”

“I guess when you put it that way, I do like the silence, but I need for you to talk to me in order for me to help you.”

“Still stuck on the belief that you can help me are ya? Well, keep thinking what you want to think. Just don’t get disappointed when you find the truth. I tried to warn you already.”

“Alex I think you’ve had enough talking for today.”

“If you say so Doc.”

Scene V

Later that day Nicholas Stremland is in the security room watching the patient monitors in their rooms. The doctors in the institution monitor and tape their patients sleeping habits. Keep an eye on them while they’re alone to see if they act differently. It was part of Nicholas’ job to inform the doctors if something should change. Some nights he’d play music in the rooms to calm patients down and to see what reactions he got from them. He noticed Alex was swaying and twirling slowly in her underwear and a shirt. He hadn’t seen this reaction before and called Edward in to look at her.

“Hey Ed, you might want to come down to the security room and check something out.”

He arrived and Nic pointed to the monitor.

“She’s never done that before, I’ve been watching her for you lately. I think you should go talk to her.”

“She’s just dancing. I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

"Yeah I know, but she’s always just sits there or lies on the bed and stares at the ceiling. She never dances. God, she freaks me out Ed. She looks like a Salvador Dali painting with those scars all over her body."

"Strangely beautiful in a messed up sort of way, is it?"

The view is inside her room now. She looks like she’s in a trance just spinning and moving her arms around. Doc Edward comes in the door and stands there. Alex continues and looks at him.

“Dance with me, Josh”

“No thanks.”

It doesn’t faze her at all. She speaks while dancing around the edges of her bed.

“I used to be a ballerina.”

Doc just listens. She called him Josh. It was a name she had never mentioned before. He decides to let it go unanswered until the next meeting. Alex is in a strange calm mood right now which doesn’t settle right with him. He doesn’t want to do anything to disturb her delicate state of mind. She spins and closes her eyes in great concentration and whispers.

“Pretty… Pretty… pretty, pretty, pretty….”

He watches her carefully.

“Pretty, pretty pink ballerina…daddy’s little girl.”

She snaps out of it and smiles as she looks down at herself.

“I think I maybe should put on some shorts.”

She goes over to a chair where a single outfit is laid out. She picks up some gray gym shorts, puts them on, and starts to laugh.

“They won’t give me anything with strings to tie around my waist”

She laughs some more like it’s the funniest things she’s ever heard.

“And do you know why?”

Her laughs slow down and her facial expression slips into one of pain. She runs her fingers on her wrist and down her arms. She begins to get upset, angry, and sad all at once.

“Because I’m suicidal…”

She begins to grab and her hair and falls onto the bed. She starts screaming at the top of her lungs. All of a sudden nurses run into her room and strap her to the bed as she fights them, thrashing her body around. One nurse comes in with a needle full of Morphine and then gives it to her. After a minute or two she begins to lie still although she’s trying to fight it. Before she slips into unconsciousness her eyes meet with the Doc’s and she pulls against the straps holding down her right arm and try to reach out for him. Sweat and tears cover her face making her long hair stick to it. She whispers very faintly to him.

“Save me before it’s too late.”

And then she fell asleep.

It was Alex’s 20th birthday that day.

Scene VI

Alex is now fully awake and in her room with the Doc. She has a guard outside of her room just in case she goes off again.

“Alex, about last night…”

Alex turns instantly sad, shields her face with one hand and holds up the other, palm out signaling the doctor to go no further. She cries softly at first and then out loud uncovering her face, and running a hand hastily in her hair. Her face is already soaked in tears.

“It was my birthday Doc…”

He looks at her, not sure of what she was getting to but lets her continue anyway.

“…Ever since I was a little girl, I always had someone dance with me. My father did for a long time… my boyfriend never would. He hated that too…”

She broke off. Silent, then continued.

“No matter how much I asked or begged him too…he never did.”

She stares at him with glassy eyes.

“That’s why I dance alone now. Jason could never grasp what was important to me. He would leave me alone for days at a time, just like everyone I loved. My mother, my father… I loved my mother, and once, long ago, she loved me too. I would do any, and everything she wanted just in hopes that she would show affection to me. I would take it in whatever little amounts she gave. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was doing the same thing with Jason just so I could feel important. However, this was not all Jason’s fault. Doc, would you say I’m somewhat of a difficult girl when it comes to understanding what’s going on in my mind. Would you not?”

The doctor nods.

“Do I really get under your skin that fast? God you must need to take a monthly vacation after each patient. Anyway, if you think I’m bad now, you should’ve seen me then…”

She’s quiet, and sighs.

“Poor Jason…”

The statement was heartfelt and sincere.

“…He had no idea what he was getting himself into when he fell in love with me. He figured it out towards the end, but it was too late. And yes Doc, he still loves me in ways even I don’t understand but I’m too much for him, all the stress. See…I have this strange ability to make people fall in love with me before they even know it. When they finally figure it out, they fall hard. I promise you this, every single person who loves me will never forget me Doc. They’ll be older than time itself and think about me and still love me like it was brand new. Even you Doc…Yes you will love me… And God help you on the day you figure that out”

Doctor Edward was stunned by this adoring prophecy.

“Doc, I am not a conceited person by any means, that much should be evident by now. Nor am I denying that I’m quote unquote, Crazy. However, People tend to fear what they don’t understand, and what can’t be explained. Are you afraid of me Doc?”

“Sometimes Alex you scare me with how you word things, or the way you react.”

“Give me your hand.”

She holds her hand out to him. He tentatively takes it. She takes his and kisses his palm. The Doc closes his eyes for a second as if that were the last thing he expected her to do. Getting up, Alex leads him across the room.

“Doc, the only person who needs to be afraid…”

She stops and stares.

“…Is me.”

He then realizes there is a mirror in front of her, in which she’s looking.

“I want to kiss an angel…”

She walks towards the mirror and says softly,

“I want to change…”

Then she screams.

“I want to change!”

She smashes the mirror with her hands. The glass flies around like glitter in slow motion. Doctor Edwards immediately backs away as far as he can. She looks around in wonder and holds out her hand, with glass embe dded in it.

“Snow…”

She licks the palm of her hand, causing her tongue and mouth to bleed. She looks defiantly at the doctor and taunts him.

“Cure me you fucking bastard!”

She cuts her wrists and laughs as the blood spills. She screams at the top of her lungs.

“Cure me now!”

Doc Edwards is in shock at this complete transformation. He looks tragically confused but in the same turn, desperate to help her. He backs away to the door as a few guards come in, surround her, and restrain her.

“My my, if it isn’t my sweetheart. How ya doing darlin’?”

She looks at one male nurse in particular and kisses the air.

“Don’t I look good in red?”

They move her out of the room and head for the medical area. Before leaving the room she looks at the Doc and laughs.

“You coward.”

She smiles as they carry her away.

Scene VII

Two hours later Doctor James decides to pay a visit to Alex while she is still somewhat sedated. He comes to the holding cells and enters the room where she is strapped down. She notices him and waves one of her restrained hands. Her voice is laced with drowsiness as she speaks to him.

“Hey… come here.”

She took his hand and rubbed the back of his knuckles with her thumb.

“I’m sorry about saying you’re a coward, I really should learn to keep my thoughts more inside my head. Sometimes my mouth moves without my brain recalling it until much later.”

“It’s alright…But there is a really important question I wanted to ask you.”

She just waits for him to continue, all the while holding his hand. He gathers up his courage and asks about Josh.

“Alex…who’s Josh?”

The familiar ghost of a smile passes through her features.

“Is Josh home?”

“No…Who is Josh?”

“An old friend of mine, my Guardian.”

“How come you’ve never mention him in our sessions before?”

She looks briefly indignant and insulted, almost child-like.

“I have!”

“You’ve never told me any stories about him. Why’s that?”

She just lies there and refuses to answer. Her face becomes as stoic as the Doc’s can get and she points at the door.

“Get out.”

“You can’t keep things from me like this.”

“I can definitely try, can’t I? Now, get out…before I get upset.”

“There’s no need for that, I’ll talk with you tomorrow when you feel better. Right now I’ve got to go home.”

He opens the door and she refuses to look at him. As leaves he faintly hears her whisper to herself.

“Sweet dreams Doc. Don’t worry Josh, I’ll keep my promise.”

Scene VIII

Now, with the Doc, I know you’re wondering just how much of the can one person take on a daily basis without becoming crazy themselves? Edward James was a Princeton graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Mental Illnesses. It was true that he had seen many disturbing cases and more than a dozen patients actually die in this hospital by the repercussions of their own hands and personal addictions. It was his life’s study, but then this Enigma, this Alex. His Alex, as she had once referred to herself, came along and had to screw everything up in her path of psychological destruction. Maybe it was the way in which Alex carried off her illness in such a threateningly lethal way. Her passive aggressiveness with it all. Or perhaps, it was her ability to make someone care, and even love her like she’d predicted to him. Whatever it was it agitated him to no end. It affected him deeply, and slowly seethed its way into his personal life. Through the weeks, his home life was becoming something left to be desired.

His loft was in typical disarray again. Layers of dust covered any part of his furniture that was not presently occupied by a piece of clothing or sheets of loose paper. He abandoned all normal domestic activities, such as picking up after himself. As a result, his place was severely lacking that general “lived in” feeling homes were supposed to have. His voice echoed through the small rooms. He was talking to himself again, a habit which developed from a side effect caused by a lack in human social interaction. He carried a tape recorder in his hand to easily document suggestions and observations, screaming out in momentary frustration.

“Alex, God damn you…”

He thinks for a moment at the absurdity of that rhetorical statement.

“I guess it’s really too late for that.”

He hit the record button again.

“Alexis Portman, Patient number 22867. Initial thoughts were misguided, analysis is being continued. Patient appears intellectually stable. Coherent thought process is unaffected by drug stimulation. Mood shifting is unpredictable on most cases with nothing to spark it. Main objective it to figure out why she is harming herself if she apparently is thinking in a clinically rational manner. On a side note; find out who Josh is and why she is so protective over anything regarding him”

It was highly frowned upon to quote unquote, “bring your work home with you,” but he could no longer help himself. Alex was right. He was the job. She invaded his thoughts when this all started. Here he was a 32 year-old man bound by this woman-child. It puzzled him that she could seem so naïve at times but also remain incredibly intelligent. She blended the two so seamlessly. Sometimes his own thoughts betrayed him. He thought that maybe by making his environment seem like a broken home, he could somehow understand Alex’s point of view better.

“This is dangerous.”

He knew that very well, but as long as he kept himself under control he figured there wouldn’t be a problem. There indeed…was a problem.

He could feel it building up inside him, taunting him. It was just beginning. Was Alex right? Would she be his final downfall? He refuses to believe that she could be dangerous.

“No…”

If only he knew what lay ahead of him. His whole world as he knew it, would unravel. Alex lay in her bed staring up at the ceiling, occasionally tossing a glance over to the poorly hidden security camera in the corner. She knew she was dragging Doctor James down with her. He was already getting more than he bargained for, she could tell. Tomorrow’s session is supposed to delve deeper into her loathing of life, her parents, and other problems along with his psycho-babble on suicide. This was going to be another mind-orgasm for him.

“He has only begun to scratch the surface.”

She looked once more at the camera and flicked it off, then turned to sleep.

Scene IX

Alex is lying on the floor in Doctor James’ office waiting for him to arrive. She was in her own little world again. Her arms were above her head holding up an origami star she made from a loose piece of paper from the desk, waving it in the air back and forth slowly. Her eyes were following it wherever it went. She was singing softly. Doc walked in the doorway but stopped to observe her quietly.

“Fly the ocean in a silver plane. See the jungle when it’s wet with rain. Just remember till you’re home again, you belong to me. See the marketplace in old Angier. Send me photographs and souvenirs. Just remember when a dream appears, you belong to me. I’ll be so alone without you, maybe you’ll be lonesome too… Fly the ocean in a silver plane. See the jungle when it’s wet with rain. Just remember till you’re home again, you belong to me…”

As disturbing as she was, her voice was strangely calming to him. The tone was a somber one, but gentle and light. A soothing smile appeared on her gaunt face. She turned her head to look at him, the smile remaining.

“I’ll be this way forever you know…Hello Doctor.”

She looked at him from the corner of her eye. He was momentarily taken aback. He thought that she was unaware that he was in the room.

“Good morning Alex, are you feeling any better today.”

“It’s still too early to tell, the Morphine hasn’t worn off yet. But strangely my mind is clear.”

“Good. I don‘t want a repeat of yesterday.”

“I make no promises…not for you.”

He was still a bit edgy after that episode yesterday. He didn’t know whether he should push the issue with Josh or not. She hadn’t been aware that he heard her speaking when he left.

“Well shall we begin then?”

She got off the floor and curled herself up in the usual chair.

“So you like Bob Dylan?”

Her face softened. And for the first time Doctor James thought he was seeing the real Alex.

“My daddy used to play that song for me a lot. It was one of our favorites.”

He noticed something else.

“Alex, every time we talk about you father it seems as though you two we close.”

“We were, I was a daddy’s girl, still am really even though he isn’t here.”

“So what happened with him?”

“Well you know he died. But he was 2 different people. There was dad, and then there was the drunken stranger. That’s what I didn’t like about him. He’d be fine when he didn’t drink, but then he’d go out late at night and wouldn’t come home till 4 or 5 in the morning. That’s how the Insomnia started. I’d wait up for him every night and worry myself sick. When he did come home, it was horrible. At first I wanted to blame it one my parent’s divorce, but it started way before then it just escalated a little after that. He wasn’t abusive. He just wasn’t my father. He’d turn into this drunken idiot going through a mid-life crisis. He’d hang out with girls that were barely legal and pretend to be someone he wasn’t. I had to get away from it. I never wanted to look back and remember him like that and even now I try not to. It was like he made himself one way just for me and when he was looking I noticed the changes. I guess I can’t really blame him now. I was doing the same thing, just in a different form. Pretending to be okay when I wasn’t.”

Doctor James saw her glaze over and begin to shimmer. He decided to let the subject of her father slide off for now. He didn’t want to get her upset this way. She still appears to be calm through her tears. Her thoughts slipping away to perhaps a better time. He wanted to explore more into her relationship with her mother. She gave him a knowing smile.

“I’m sorry Doc, please continue.”

“You’re mother…”

“Bi-polar. I don’t know if she really was or not but that’s how our relationship was. There weren’t any shades of gray in there. We either got along famously, or we were at each other’s throats. I guess it’s like that for most kids and their parent but more than likely in a more subdued form. You remember how I said that most people turn to suicide to get attention from parents? ”

He nodded.

“I suppose I was that way in the beginning at some point before it became a game and turned into this. My mom knew I wasn’t as perfect as she wanted me to be, and she definitely knew that while telling all of her important friends how frighteningly perfect I was. Maybe I should add pathological liar to that long list of things wrong with her too.”

She laughed.

“Look where all of the problems with my parents ended up….right in my gene pool. I guess that makes me twice as screwed up as they are. Lucky me. Sometimes I wonder if my dad hated that part of me that was like her and my mom hated me because of the half that was like him.”

She faltered for a moment, thinking maybe that was the truth.

You know, she loved to twist things around to make it seem that if something was wrong it was someone else’s fault, namely blaming whatever it was on my dad. Oh, and the guilt trips too…she was the queen at both of them. Luckily I became immune to it. Or else I would‘ve been trying to kiss the barrel long before this.”

Alex sat still for a while, and then started picking at imaginary lint on her sweater.

“Hypochondriac…“

Doctor James’ intense focus on her suddenly blanked out.

“Excuse me?”

Another thing my mother loved to do was make me think I had sicknesses that I didn’t“.

“Such as?”

“Let’s see…anything from a common cold to a kidney infection. My favorites though were anemia and an eating disorder…Although I do have to say the last 2 were true .”

“You’re anemic?”

“Come now Doc, that should be obvious. Staying out of the sun may make you pale, but I’m damn near transparent. You’ve read my files. Why do you think it takes the medics an hour to find a vein for a blood sample? Hey at least I can’t have that debilitating heroine addiction I always wanted. Kinda puts a damper on my master plan though, ironically. Hell just give me box cutter and 2 minutes and they can have all the blood they want.”

“What about the eating disorders?”

“The Anorexia…it comes and goes as it pleases. I can go for months without a problem. Then the regression starts and that obsession begins again. That was my best kept secret.”

“But you said you mother thought you had it.”

“Oh she just liked saying those things to me around her friends so she could play that ‘caring and concerned’ role. When I did get noticeably too thin, she chalked it up to me being a vegan. That’s why it was one of my best kept secrets. As long as she thought I had it, the more she could convince herself that I didn’t, that it was always something else. Truth is, I just didn’t eat.”

He knew already that she was anorexic, even when she tried to cover it up with big sweaters. They just hung onto her like they would a wire hanger.

“You wanted to be this thin?”

“It wasn’t really a problem with the whole I’m too fat thing. It was more along the lines of being so thin I could just disappear. That way no one would notice me. That’s the real ugly thing about being suicidal or depressed. One moment you’re waiting forever for someone to notice you and the next, you just wish they never knew you even existed in the first place. Doc take a look here.”

She takes off her loose sweater to reveal unnaturally bony arms. He still cringes at the scars but notices a number of scattered bruises.

“No, I don’t beat myself up….This is Anemia. I know that it’s from the suicide attempts. It makes bruises show up if I bump into anything no matter how hard I hit something. They give me iron and vitamins for it here, but I honestly don‘t think it‘s going to help. Like I said, I‘ll be this way forever.”

He didn’t want to think about that again. He still wanted to believe she could be cured in every way possible. To keep her good mood, he decided to take a break from the psychological analysis this morning.

“Did you sleep well last night Alex?”

She pulled herself up into a sitting position and looks down at her hands.

“Yes I did Doc, thank you. And you?”

He could tell that she hadn’t slept.

“I was up really late.”

She looks up at him and notices the darkened circles around his eyes.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s okay, I eventually went to bed.”

He looks at her and is content with the calm aura still hovering around her.

“Did you have any good dreams last night Alex?”

She fidgets with her hands once more and looks at him through the hair in her eyes.

“I don’t dream anymore.”

He eyes her curiously and lets her explain further.

“In order to dream you have to have some sort of unconscious perception. I have none. Call it too many drugs, too much blood loss, call it whatever you will. I used to have them. God, I used to have the best and most vivid dreams. I had an incredible imagination, even when I first came here. I blame it on this place. I just don’t dream anymore.”

Doc inches closer to Alex so that he is sitting right in front of her.

“You don’t have dreams at all? Not about memories or different places in time?”

“Memories are just image-heightened flashbacks. I believe that a memory is a substitute for reality, and in some cases, even life itself. I do have terrible flashbacks, and I don’t have to be asleep to have them.”

“About what?”

She folds her hands in her lap and takes a deep breath.

“Different things; Past attempts, about my parents…my friends… “

She pauses and rubs her eyes.

“…About Jason, about my depression. They all haunt me.”

She rubs her hands over her face now and rakes her fingers through her hair. Doc Edwards becomes afraid that he’s upsetting her.

“Let me explain. Depression loves no one…not even me. It is so cruel that way. It deceives and contorts. But self mutilation can be beautiful in its own way. The blade has to yield to beauty sometime. It’s a beauty slice, you call it obsession doctor. I call it love. Each of these scars is a part of me. It‘s romantic, to feel that strongly about something that you not only want to mentally remember it, but physically too. These scars tell the story of my life.

Standing up, Alex walks behind him and puts her hands on his shoulders. She whispers in his ear. He closes his eyes.

“Living here can make someone crazy. At least you get to go home. Imagine never getting to go out of the confined spaces of this hospital. Imagine knowing nothing else but this place. Look at what it‘s done to people. Look at what it‘s doing to you.”

She leans in and kisses the spot below his ear. Doc Edwards is so caught up in her world that he doesn’t try to stop her. She continues down his neck and stops to speak again.

“Tell the truth Doc, and shame the Devil. I‘m getting to you, aren‘t I?”

Doc opens his eyes and breathes erratically. Not able to bring his voice barely above a whisper. He tried to be defiant at first, only to contradict himself by asking for more.

“You can’t do this to me…please.”

She comes back around the front of him, bends to his level, and gets in his face.

“It’s been getting more difficult for you each passing day to come in here and face me. Because you’re slowly beginning to realize what I said is true . You will fall in love with me, and you have fallen for me.”

He takes a breath.

“How did you do it?”

“It’s like I said before…magic.”

“I know, but I don’t understand.”

Alex takes her hands and traces them lightly over his face while her own lingers just inches away.

“You’ll find that there are a lot of beautiful people in this world. But not every one of them is guaranteed to have a beautiful soul too…Those are somewhat rare.”

This time the Doc closes the space between the two of them and kisses her fully on the lips. He grabs the sides of her face to deepen it. They both eventually sink to the floor. Alex breaks away to catch her breath, only able to get a short gulp before he reaches for her, frantically pulling her to him. After a moment, they stop and he gathers him into his arms and holds her there on the floor. She turns her body to face him. She looks at him quizzically.

“Please understand me…”

She gestures to her scars.

“These are beauty to me Doc. These are everything anyone said I wasn’t.”

She begins to push up her sleeves and then takes his hands and runs them over different scars. Her hand leads his over a slash on her shoulder.

“This is beauty for Mom…”

Now she guides them down the newest rope scars over back.

“This is happiness for my Guardian…”

Then she takes his hand over her breastbone and his hand stops at the heart scar on her collarbone.

“This is love for Jason…”

He bends his mouth to her and kisses the scar and she closes her eyes. On opening them again, she takes his face and guides him into a standing position. She then takes his hands once more and lifts her shirt to expose her flawless stomach. She looks at him in his eyes.

“This…is my pain.”

He kneels again. His hands trace over her stomach slightly and rest on her hips. He rests his forehead on her abdomen, and then puts pressure on her hips, urging her to sit down. She does so turning with her back facing him.

“You want to get inside of me? You want to know what it’s like. I’ve had everything that is supposed to make me feel good, to be happy. What happens when nothing’s left to fill that deep and needing void? What do I do?”

She focuses and plays intently with his fingers and hands he watches his fingers entwine with hers, as she traces her nail down each finger then back again. She lifts his hand in the air and strokes her own finger subtly across his palm till his hand finally closes over hers. Out of the silence, she speaks quietly as for once not to alarm him.

“That’s the first time in 5 years that I’ve felt human.”

Edward is outside of his apartment yelling at himself, walking back and forth outside his own door.

“Fuck!…What did I do, what did I do?”

Doctor James enters his apartment, slamming the door. He roughly un tucks his shirt and loosens his tie.

“I’m done…God! If anyone finds out, I‘m over.”

He lays down on his unmade bed. He can’t close his eyes because he sees her taunting him. He smells like her. He’s even feels ghostly hands touching him the way she did.

“Get out of my head!”

He wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight. Meanwhile Alex was in her room brushing her wet hair with her fingers.

“Okay love…You wanted to see my world? I’m going to give it to you.”

She turned off her light and got under the covers of her bed. She spoke out into the darkness.

“Soon…my love.”

Scene X

Around 3 a.m. Doctor James’ phone rings. Groggy, he picks it up. It’s Nic.

“Hello?”

“Ed? You there?”

“Yeah…What’s up?”

“Dude, we’re having an odd situation with Alex. She looks like she’s not really here.”

“What the hell are you talking about Nic? What so you mean she’s not really there?”

“She’s here, physically, but mentally she seems to be somewhere else. She’s been talking to herself. The head nurse says she may be hearing voices in her head, but I’ve been gone into the room and I don’t think that’s it. It’s got to be more serious then that. She’s scared and freaking out.”

“Alright, I’m coming up there. Give me 10 minutes and just make sure to watch her.”

As soon as he gets there one of the head nurses meet him at the entrance and fills him in.

“Doctor, your patient seems to be experiencing multiple voices talking to her at once. She seems confused. She’s been exuding potential side-effects from her sleeping medications. Until now they haven’t been so severe.”

“Why the hell wasn’t I informed of this? I am supposed to know everything that my patients go through while being here.”

“Well the medications cause mild flashbacks, it’s never been this way though. That’s why we called you in.”

Edward gets angrier with each passing minute. Now he’s yelling.

“No wonder she’s so afraid to go to sleep. God damn it!”

He pushes the door open to the patient wards with a bang. Nic pokes his head out of the security room with a surprised look on his face that quickly goes away.

“I thought that was you. She’s in there. She hasn’t changed.”

Another nurse grabs him by the arm.

“She’s having flashbacks, she’s slipping in and out of them Doctor James. It’s the medicine. This heavy of a dosage is causing hallucinating side effects. My guess is that she’s remembering something from the past, and thinking she’s actually there. It’s kind of like hypnosis, except she recognizes the people around her now. ”

“I want her off of that medication tomorrow! Is that clear?”

The nurse, a bit jumpy by his sudden showing of temper, recoiled impishly and nodded.

“Y…yes sir.”

He walks into her room alone with the nurses watching through the window in the door. Alex was sitting in a chair near the entrance to her room facing the bed on the other side. When Edward got there, she seemed to be in great confusion. She looks up into the eyes of Doctor James, although she sees him, her eyes are hazy.

“Why did this happen…”

She pauses with harsh breathing just remembering him. Oh how much it hurt. She closes her eyes to try and focus. The flashbacks were getting so lucid. Uncontrollable tears flowed out of her eyes. Edward just watches her, not wanting to startle her.

“It was too soon. He never deserved any of it. He left here too young.”

Her eyes open and she stops all movement, suddenly. She continues to speak and mimic the movements as if she has gone back to the day the memory was created.

“Something to do with pills, drugs. He took too many at once?”

“Alex, what are they telling you? Who’s saying this to you?”

“His father…Josh’s father. He‘s placing his hands on my shoulders…and he‘s squeezing so hard. He crying, he‘s sad. I can see it in his eyes, God, don’t let me lose him!”

She’s moving her head in confusion.

“Show me, let me see him.”

Her breath hitches after a moment and the tears silently fall. She looks like she’s cradling a face in her hands.

“Josh…”

She is silent for a moment, and then her voice breaks.

“Why?”

The tears start flowing down harder now.

“Why did you do it?”

Her unfocused eyes move across an empty space. Yet there is so much concentrated emotion on her face. Too much for her not to think she isn’t really there.

“Don’t you leave me…I can’t make it here without you. Do you hear me God damn it!”
Her hands were shaking so furiously.

“You can’t die, you promised!”

She starts to whisper and rock back and forth. Her voice is steadily getting louder

“Wake up…”

Tears keep a steady stream out of her unblinking eyes.

“Wake up!”

Her body goes limp and Doctor James is at her side trying to wake her up. She slowly opens her eyes with tears in them. She takes a deep breath, her voice shallow and hoarse.

“He didn’t stay…”

Scene XII

The Doc arrived the next morning, not in a professional state of mind or dress. As one would guess that his original goal was to look nice today. Yet he had on the same pants and tie from yesterday, and a tragically wrinkled shirt that hadn’t seen an iron in 3 weeks. All he was after was to get back to Alex. He watches her a moment through the glass. She was doing nothing in particular, just sitting there. She looks up as the door opened.

“Going for a new look Doc?”

She smiled sarcastically. Nothing about yesterday had seemed to faze her, either that or she didn’t remember s thing that happened last night.

“You know, you shouldn’t dress up for me…”

He looked at her with bloodshot eyes.

“Shut up.”

She looks a bit taken back by that and her facial expression showed a flash of sadness. Showing how much hold she has over him, his eyes instantly soften and he apologizes quietly.

“God…Alex, I’m sorry.”

She stays sullen and quiet. He then crouches beside her and puts a hand on her cheek.

“Let’s just try to get through this meeting alright. Do you even recall what happened early this morning?”

“Yes, I know. You should be very happy. You know about the whole mystery that surrounds the one good person I had in my life.”

“I can only gather sparse information from what I saw last night. Even with that, I don’t understand what happened.”

“He passed away the night before I signed myself in here.”

Her voice is broken.

“If you go into Nic’s office and look at my room surveillance tapes from the following night you’ll see that it wasn’t exactly my finest hour. That’s why they started me on the Morphine drip right away. That’s why I haven’t truly slept since I’ve been here.”

“I’m so sorry. Look, can we postpone our meeting until this evening? I want to see the tape.

“That’s fine…you know where to find me.”

He returned with his face more saddened that when he left.

“You didn’t believe me did you?”

“No…”

She smiled inwardly…of course not. But now, she had him. He sounded so beaten. Ah, welcome to my world Doc. She thought to herself. Sucks doesn’t it? He fell into the trap easily. He takes a seat in his chair to begin. He momentarily put his head on the desk, breathed inwardly, then sat up straight again.

“Please talk to me.”

She looks at her hands.

“I do not wish to speak, I long to die.”

Doc Edward recognized that line immediately. It was the second time she made a reference to Romeo and Juliet. He knew because he had read it because of her.

“Shakespeare again.”

“Mmhmm…”

Alex got up and walked around the room.

“Let’s try to go for some normalcy right now. Okay? Alex, how would you describe how a day in your house was while your parents were still married?”

She ran her fingers across the wall and thought for a moment, then spoke warily.
“I wouldn’t exactly describe this as a topic of normalcy Doc…”

“Humor me, please”

“Okay…We had thin walls at home too, much like this place. I would wake up to voices that weren’t my own. I could hear everything from Old Lady Haskins yelling at her flea-market mutt for shitting on the floor for the third time that day. Or my parents bitching at each other from down the hallway, while my mother waxed her upper lip in my adjoining bathroom. They sure didn’t seem to notice that everyone could hear them. They were magic though. They could become thick walls too. But that only seemed to happen when I screamed. No one heard me.”

“It says here that your parents did send you to therapists before.”

She returned to her chair and lazily sat in it.

“’Tis true Doc. I haven’t been faithful, I’ve seen other doctors. I was a Debutante’s Daughter; I went through all of them. My parents weren’t shy about paying to have the quote/unquote Best Doctor. I’d seen their familiar faces before. They were friends of friends of friends…Considering how vicious upper-class can be, you know that when I showed up in their offices that everyone who was anyone was going to know about it within the hour I stepped foot out of there. Thus evidently trying to ruin my mother’s reputation, which I was all for considering the lies she impended on me to carry out during her little soirees.”

“What kinds of parties?”

“Standard charity functions, balls, and my personal favorite, cotillions. When you’re exposed to this as such a young age, you began to realize early on that it’s all the same people. The same bi-nominal inbred bitches sufficiently named Natalie-Anne or Scarlet. Oh yes, there was always a Scarlet. Next to these delusional, Gone-With-The-Wind rip-offs, were their living, breathing fashion accessories, their husbands. The ones who were blindly letting their family fortunes get pissed away by these packed and prodded cows with manicures, cheap hair extensions, and breast enhancements. I felt sorry for them.”

She paused and blew out a deep breath.

“Nope…I’m not bitter.”

She seems to be getting frustrated.

“Why must life be watered down with metaphors? Are people so scared of true meaning that they need someone to hold their hand? So many of the doctors I’ve met refer to life as the burning flame of a candle. The wax is the span of time you have as it melts away. Hell…in the end all you seem to be left with is ashes, in some cases literally. And I’m told I’m living in this small pitch black room called depression. Supposedly I can’t see the light. How is that possible if I’m supposed to be a candle? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“It’s a figure of speech”

She looked at him for a second. She knows he’s trying not to laugh.

“It’s colorful bullshit, that’s what it is. Therapists dumb down the explanation because after years of counseling people like me, their first assumption is that the perception of life is much too fragile for our minds to handle. All you bastards do that…in reality; the truth is, our understanding of life is all-consuming. Nothing is ever hidden, even when you try to curtain it under pale comparisons.”

The doctor is just sitting there with a ghost of a smirk on his face.

“Don’t look at me like that! I knew all of my therapists better than they thought. I knew exactly what they were searching for and more importantly, I knew how to deceive them into believing they got what they wanted. So when it came time to “cure” me, they were so satisfied with themselves but so blind when it came to everything else.”

The doctor smiled. She looked at him with a weary eye.

“Don’t look so happy. You are just as pretentious as they were. You shouldn‘t be worried though. That habit is an easy one to break.”

It’s amazing how easily words can spark immense anger. He felt challenged now.

“And I suppose you are going to be the person to break me of it?”

She smiled at him sarcastically. This was the exact turning point she was searching for now she had the opportunity to shatter him into obsession. That’s what she wanted.

“Are you that lucky?”

He began to get angry again.

“Alex, you seem to be the one who is so Goddamn pretentious.”

Her eyes widened and so did her smile.

“Oh, nice comeback…Very imaginative. Tell me…Did they teach you that one at Princeton?”

“You have no idea what I can do, I can have you strapped in a holding cell and pumped so full of meds you won’t know who you are.”

Alex laughs.

“Is that a promise…or just a late birthday present?”

“I’m not fucking kidding Alex!”

She laughs and jumps up in his face.

“Yes! C’mon Doc, let me get that rise out of you! I know you’re more than able. You know with that lovely encounter we had yesterday and all. You enjoyed that. Didn’t you? Being able to put your hands on me…And me being so vulnerable and willing. Yes, that was great for you wasn’t it?”

The Doc’s face turned to stone and he looked at her with an icy glare.

“Fuck you.”

She sat down in her chair with her legs spread and resting on the arms.

“You’d enjoy that too wouldn’t you?”

She got out of her chair and began to walk over to the window. She succeeded. She won. But she wasn’t expecting anything when suddenly the Doc lunged at her grabbing her by her throat and pinning her against the wall with his body. He kissed her roughly, with angry lips as she whimpered. He grabbed her hands and anchored them to the wall as well. She fought back as much as she could at first, then he felt her resistance cave and she began responding to him. He continued his way down her neck, biting her here and there till she started to bleed. His voice was angry and cracking when he spoke. Tears shone in his eyes as he yelled.

“Tell me you feel nothing for me! Tell me you don’t love me! Tell me!!”

He stopped and was waiting for an answer. He was shaking with adrenaline and not yielding with his anger. He still forcibly held her. Alex was in pure shock. All the conflicting emotions were evident in her wide eyes and pale face. She was so frighten and confused that she trembled from it. She whispered to him with the only answer she could.

“I can’t.”

He let he go and walked out of the office. She started crying and slid down the wall. She drew her knees to her chest and held herself tight. So tight her nails were digging into her flesh causing her to bleed but she didn’t care, she was already bleeding. She began rocking back and forth. She ran a hand through her hair. Holding her arm out, she scratched all up and down it till it started bleeding badly. She continued with the other arm and then her face. There was so much blood coming from her…that made it better…that made the pain go away. She would just have to keep going.

Scene XII

The Doc was trying to regain as much composure as he could. He had to get away from her, so he just left her in the room. His mind was still in a rage. He’d prove to her just how much control he had. He went to find Nicholas. He used the two way radio everyone was required to have, to locate him.

“Nic, where are you?”

“I’m doing cell security today. What’s up Chief?”

“I’m in no mood for your jokes right now. I need you and a few nurses to go to my office and get Alex into a straight jacket.”

There was silence on the other end for a second.

“That bad huh?”

“Put her in a holding room and give her some peace.”

“Wow, you want her that drugged…It must’ve been bad. Don’t worry I’m sending people there.”

The Doc didn’t know how bad it had gotten when he left. When they found her, she was screaming at the top of her lungs, covered in blood and hacking away at herself with whatever she could get her hands on. The nurses came in and stuffed her veins with Morphine. After she was out, Nic came in with the straight jacket and assisted in strapping her up. They transported her into her holding room and Nic contacted Edward.

“We have her under control here if you’d like to see the masterpiece she has made of herself.”

“What do you mean?”

Nic laughed.

“Man just get down here and see for yourself.”

Doc Edward came a moment later and looked in on her. He felt his heart drop. She sat, glossy-eyed, covered with bruises, scratches, and blood.

“Oh my fucking God.”

Nic looked at him strangely.

“What man? You should be used to this shit by now.”

He didn’t know what to do or feel. She looked out of the window at him, meeting his eyes with her own. From just that stare, he could tell that she was lucid in her mind, although her body was portraying otherwise. He became stoic and that hid his emotion.

“When I left her in my office, she wasn’t like that.”

Nic looked at him seriously.

“You know better than to leave a patient unsupervised. Shit Ed, this could cause you your job.”

“I need to get out of here, you watch her and let me know if anything changes. Alright?”

He nodded and said,

“Okay, you need to take a break. Go home and clean yourself up. You’ve been looking like shit lately. I’m starting to worry about you.”

He left and went home. Nic turned back around to see Alex still staring in his direction. Then she suddenly yelled.

“Enjoying the fucking circus, Pedophile?!”

Doc Edwards barely made it to the bathroom before he lost it. He got into the shower and just became worse. He began to wonder if this was how Alex felt when she had a breakdown. He looked at his hands, which were scratched when he held her to the wall. God he wanted to feel her again, to have that control again. He touched the scratches on his hands. He wanted to know what it felt like. He found himself reopening one of the wounds she had already inflicted on him. He watched the water wash the blood away, and suddenly he felt nothing.

“So this is what it’s like…”

He let the hot water just roll off his body just wishing and pretending it was Alex touching him again. He was in his own little world now. He didn’t seem to comprehend time, nor did he hear his cell phone ring. When he got out of the shower, he dressed himself neatly this time and heard his phone beeping. It was a message from Nic. His voiced sounded measured and scratchy.

“Buddy…uhh…we need you here.”

Scene XIII

In the holding room, we see Alex on the bed. The blood from her earlier outburst is still fresh and seeping through her clothes. Alex comes out of her drug-induced coma only to find she can’t move her arms. The nurses had put her into a straight jacket. She looks down a gives a light laugh.

“Well I’ve been in one of these before…..So easy…so easy.”

She begins to writhe around and soon frees herself from the jacket.

“Up and over, in and out.”

She walks over to her nightstand and pulls out a pad of paper and a pen. She begins to write. Stopping momentarily to look wistfully over the page and smiles, and then continue writing. After she’s finished, she reaches under her bed and removes a box. She takes out a sheet of star stickers and something else placing it on the floor. She tears out a page of paper and walks over to the corner and stickers it up on the security camera which is suppose to appear as a small hole in the ceiling. She walks back to her bed and sits down. With a transfixed expression she fingers one of the buckles on the discarded straight jacket, some of the blood is crusted under her nails.. She speaks quietly.

“Game over.”

A drowsy Nicholas Stremland wakes up after nodding off by accident. He sat up, taking his feet off the desk. It takes him a moment to focus his eyes as he checks the patient screens. He notices that Alex’s camera has blacked out. He walks over to the main camera control panel to see if it was malfunctioning, but everything looked fine. He decides to go down to her room and check it out for himself. He opens the padlocked door to find the room very dim and only a shadowy outline slowly turning back and forth in the air. He flicks on the light to see her eyes wide and staring back at him hanging at a sickly angle by the very straight jacket he himself had helped put on her. Her neck is purple and blue where her body gave the involuntary struggle to live. He saw the bite marks on her and the hickies clearly now. He knew she couldn’t have done that to herself, and she was only around one person without supervision.

“Jesus Ed…What did you do?”

He looks as if he were going to be sick. Shaking, he reaches for his radio and makes the call he never wanted to make.

Scene XIV

Doctor James walks briskly down the halls, his long black wool coat sweeping the floor back and forth with each step. He could hear his name being called over the intercom.

“Doctor Edward James to holding room 3...”

He got onto the elevator and got off on the patient quarters. He saw a bunch of nurses and Nic outside Alex’s door, just standing there and not saying a word. Officer Stremland stops him before he reaches the entrance to her room.

“Is she having another episode?”

Nicholas just shook his head sadly. Then Doctor Edward came to the realization that it was way too quiet. He walks towards the door and calls her name softly. He enters to find her. Just hanging there like a martyred statue. Nicholas Stremland comes over and puts a hand on his shoulder. He gives the Doc a sheet of paper.

“This is what I found on her.”

He numbly looks at Nicholas and takes the paper in his shaking hands. Nicholas notices the cuts and scratches on the Doc’s hand and a wash of realization comes over him, confirming something he should‘ve known all along. It was hard to see his friend like this. But there was no helping him now. The Doc loved her, in a sick way. Through blurry eyes he begins to read. Alex voices over the reading:

“When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him. Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him. Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the North Wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He shifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast. All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart. But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor. Into the season less world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, 'God is in my heart, 'but rather,’ I am in the heart of God.' And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your Heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”

Doctor Edwards lets out a choking sob, but continues.

“That has always been my favorite quote Doc. It’s how I understood life. And I live now even in death. For I am now and will always remain in the hearts of those who choose to remember me.”
Your, ALEX

And there, laying on the floor above the hanging corpse that once was Alex, is a picture of her….actually smiling. FADE OUT…

FADE IN…The picture is now placed in the previously empty frame on Doctor Edwards desk next to The Prophet, with a marked chapter.

FADE TO BLACK…

END.


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Reviewed by Susan de Vegter 9/2/2003
I am thrilled that you keep adding to this screen play Mariah. I am also extremely proud of the depth here, the investigative serches that provide credence and the years that you spent counseling other teens. If only others' knew your depth.
love,
mom

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