"Call them." His lips graze my ear. "Tell them I've returned."
"The next question I am going to ask you is one I ask of all patients that because its an important question to ask." The therapist tells me in a calm, smooth voice.
I glance to the left at the window across the room.
The dark curtains pulled halfway over it, blocking out much of the pale gray Light.
Excess rain Drips from the edge of the roof, hitting the pavement below and making it sound as if it's still raining.
It's one of those drippy days. The dark cloudy ones that smell of earth and water when you walk outside and sound with the noise of millions of tiny water droplets hitting the ground all around you.
The kind of day that makes your sneakers squeak on the pavement as you walk down the street, hands in your pockets, eyes on the ground. Yes, maybe the world was mirroring how I felt inside.
My heart-beats like footsteps, my sorrows like raindrops.
"Ella, are you listening to me?" My psychiatrist calls my attention.
Tearing my gaze away from the window I focus on his gray eyes.
Is everything in the world so drab and empty?
Once he has my attention he asks,
"Ella, i want you to answer me honestly now. Have you been having any thoughts of hurting or harming yourself lately?"
How many times haven't I heard that question?
How many times haven't I lied..
At night when the dreams start.
When the pain throbs in my chest.
When the emptiness takes over.
The hollow feeling.
I've thought of it many times....I've done it.
I've clawed at my chest to stop the pain.
I've slammed my head to stop the voices.
I've deprived myself of food and drink to stop from retching it up in the tub.
I've held a razor many times. Wanting nothing more than a release from this torture.
From the crater in my heart that aches to be filled with a presence. One I cannot seem to find.
Psychiatrist after psychiatrist I've been to.
All have asked the same question.
Almost All have gotten the same answer.
No, I don't think about hurting myself.
No, I don't see things or hear voices.
No, I don't often feel alone or empty.
No, no no....
But the answer to all of these questions is yes.
"No Doctor. I haven't."
"So you say you have nightmares frequently?"
I nod. My palms starting to sweat at the mention of my nightmares.
I readjust the gloves covering my hands, my hands feeling hot inside.
I want to take them off.
The psychiatrist looks at my gloved hands.
Letting them fall to my sides I turn my attention to him.
"Tell me again what happens in the dreams." He asks, meeting my gaze.
I chew my lip hesitantly, my eyes breaking contact to wander over the strangely patterned carpet on the floor.
Tracing over the flowery designs.
"It starts off Dark. And then there's a light...a bright light. Then pain,"
"What kind of pain?"
"Burning. It burns."
"Hm..on a scale from one to ten how bad is the pain when it gets "bad"?"
His brows raise.
"Where do you feel this pain?"
"In my chest...here." my hand rests close to my heart.
"The pain, can you describe it again?"
"It burns. Like fire..sometimes it almost feels cold."
"White hot pain?"
"I guess." I shrug.
"Now Ella, remember what we talked about. You know I can't help you if you don't help me."
"You can't help me at all.." I murmur to myself.
"Describe exactly the pain. How does it feel when it's 12?"
I inhale sharply, remembering the pain vividly.
"It feels like ....like there are things inside of me..clawing their way out. And it burns. It's like being torn apart from the inside." I force out, finding it harder to breathe as my body recreates the memory vaguely.
Ghost pains pulse through me as my body relives the memories.
"And what happens then?"
I swallow, my mouth feeling dry.
My heart beats in my ears, the static whispers Echoing through my head.
"Then there are voices. Millions...like static." My voice starts cracking as memories flood my head and my chest tingles slightly.
"At what point do you start screaming?"
"When the voices start...when they- the voices get louder, it makes me head hurt- i- i just want it to stop!" My eyes prick with tears.
My psychiatrist nods slowly, scribbling down on his notepad.
Huffing, I wipe the tears, aggravated, and look away.
This is useless. It's all useless.
They can't fix me.
No one has been able to even figure out what's wrong with me.
How can you fix a problem when you don't even know what it is?
"And you have these dreams every night?"
I just nod, staring down at my hands numbly.
"Ella you've been visiting me for 3 weeks now. I noticed your brother drops you off every day. Are you having trouble at home? Anything that could possibly causing stress or anxiety, or fear? Do your parents fight?"
I shake my head no.
"No." They're barely home.
"Do they know about these dreams?"
Absently my fingers trace patterns into the Jean fabric on my thigh, just wanting the session to be over.
I already know how it ends.
"They know," I murmur. "They're scared when I scream."
"You scream often?"
"When the pain gets bad."
"How often is that?"
"I don't know."
"About how many times a week, can you estimate for me?"
"I see.." he scribbles more on his pad before readjusting his glasses to read what he's written.
"Right, well I'm going to prescribe you some more pills for the nightmares. I want you to take one every night before bed, no more than one," he tears a piece of paper from his notepad.
It always ends this way.
"And when you come back next week bring the empty bottle as usual. Now, I want you to try something for me this time."
He hands me the slip of paper and I take it, being careful not to let our fingers touch.
"When you have these nightmares again I want you to try to become aware that's it's a dream. Tell yourself it's only a dream, that you're not in pain. Tell the pain to go away. Can you do that for me?"
"Good, and remember, I'm here to help you. But I can't help you if you can't help yourself. "
I stand up, lifting my purse from the floor onto my shoulder and zipping up my sweater.
"Thank you for coming Ella. I'll see you next week." My psychiatrist bids me goodbye, walking me to the door.
"Ok." Is all I murmur, exiting his office.
The receptionist smiles and waves to me as pass the front desk.
Giving her as much of a smile as I can muster I exit the building and step out onto the sidewalk.
My parents white SUV is already parked at the curb. A dark haired boy with green eyes occupies the drivers seat.
Getting into the car I strap on my seat belt and put my purse on the floor, folding the prescription paper in my hands.
"You didn't have to wait for me. I would've texted you." I mumble, yanking my gloves off with a mental sigh of relief as the cool air hits my skin.
"It's fine Ella It's not like I had anywhere to be. I'd rather spend time with my favorite little sister anyway."
He says, reaching over to muss up my hair as he pulls away from the curb.
My body involuntarily jerks away from the contact.
"I'm your only sister." I mumble.
My brother ignores my behavior, unwilling to let it dampen the mood.
"So, do we have to pick anything up?"
"Yeah. More pills from the drugstore."
My brother nods, eyes on the road.
"You want to get McDonald's while we're out?"
My mind begging yes.
"Awe c'mon ell, perk up." He coaxes, reaching for my hand.
My skin tingles and I feel his hand tense at the contact.
Guilt stabs at my heart and I pull my hand away but he holds on.
"Isaac Don't touch me." I warn.
"It's fine Elly, I'm impervious Remember? I've been around you since you were born."
He reminds, his voice taking a meaningful tone.
"You can still get hurt." I snap.
"Only my feelings." He jokes.
A small smile tugs at the corners of my lips as I stare straight ahead.
Sometimes he really is the only happiness in my day.