Coming Soon 2013
Four months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.
Two months ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.
Yesterday, Lachlan Halstead visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.
Hours later, Alexander Cole haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.
A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.
And now… everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he’s real, and I know he needs me.
Do you believe me?
When it does, it pulls you under until your whole life hazy and unclear. Everything that was once your security—your family, friends, and goals—becomes a false illusion.
My life has been shrouded by the truth. Instantly, I stopped existing and quickly became sucked into a black abyss with no way out.
Who really knows how long I’ve been here? My little room with its white walls and carpeted floors. Maybe a few days, or maybe a few months? I’ve discovered that time stops here and the world exists around your meds. I take my medication religiously because I want silence from the memories that torture my mind.
My fingers tap against the windowpane over and over, creating its own tune. I watch the fly, a few inches in front of me, frantically moving across the window, trying to find a way out into the sunlight.
“I’ve already tried, dummy,” I say dully. “They have these windows dead bolted.”
The fly stops moving, like it can hear me, before it practically flings itself at the window. Sooner or later, it’s going to find a way out. I feel jealousy surge through my body. I want to slam my palm against this insect, killing any chances of it escaping.
This is what my life has been stripped down to. I’m jealous of a fucking fly.
Months ago, I would have laughed at the idea of me being here, stuck in a psychiatric hospital.
Involuntary commitment was how they admitted me. The choice was never mine. They think I’m a risk to myself and the people around me. I think they’re not listening to me. If they would, they would see the truth. They would know I’m not lying.
Loudly, someone knocks on my door.
One, two, three…
Three is the magic number for my nurse. It’s like those few seconds will give her time to brace herself for whatever will be on the other side of the door.
Mary peeks her head into the room before she opens the door wider. She stands in the doorway and looks me up and down. “Naomi, you have a visitor.”
I take in her short brown hair and her colorful scrubs. That’ll probably be the only color I see all day.
I feel hopeless. Nearly every second of the day. But the nurse’s words make me sit up straighter. My heart instantly starts to race. Only two people consistently visit me: my mom and Lachlan.
Calmly, I stand up. Before I walk over to Mary, I look back at the window. The fly’s gone.
“Lucky,” I mumble under my breath.
Mary gives me a look as I walk past her. We walk down the sterile hallway, toward the rec room. She doesn’t offer conversation. In fact, she looks as miserable as me.
“Don’t look so depressed, Mary,” I say with a smirk. She looks at me with her signature solemn face. I continue speaking with the same dark smile on my face. “You have access to all the good drugs. You could be as high as a kite.”
Kind of like me at night.
Typical. She doesn’t respond, just guides me forward with a firm shove. A doctor and nurse walk by, murmuring quietly to each other. They don’t acknowledge me but they say hi to Mary.
That’s the thing with this staff. They treat the patients like animals at a zoo. We’re a species that make no sense to them. They use the nurturing tactic at the beginning. Their questions are asked with calm, kind voices. And when that doesn’t work, they switch to shoving pills down your throat.
I don’t fight them. But I know of people that do. I hear them screaming at night. The nurses run down the hallway and a few seconds later those screams will turn into moans before they stop all together. It used to scare me. Those screams used to send a chill down my spine. They would echo in my ears hours after they were gone.
Now I’m used to it.
We walk into the open rec room. It’s bright in here. The blinds are open, letting in the light. Tables are spread throughout the room. A few people are sitting down. No one spares me a glance. No one really cares.
Two things happen when you’re here: you’re either petrified, or you’ve given up and stopped feeling altogether.
If it weren’t for Lachlan, I would stop feeling.
The corners of my mouth lift at the sight of him. He’s sitting at a table next to the windows, his face turned toward the window. His tanned hand reaches up and loosens his dark blue silk tie. His dark blonde hair is still cut short with a few strands brushing his forehead. His thick brows are slanted low, as his dark brown eyes scan the outdoors.
If I blink, he’s just a boy. With glasses and a small frame. My best friend. When I open my eyes that image disappears, and in front of me is a man. Glasses are gone; his body has filled out. I gave him a piece of my heart as a kid, and now, at twenty, I’ve given him my entire soul.
Either way, he’s always been an extension of me. But you can’t be that close to someone and expect your pain not to spread. I know that my sadness is his sadness.
Swallowing, I look in the same direction and notice he’s staring at a naked tree closest to the window. The same tree I always look at. I’ve watched the branches become stripped of leaves and bow to the cold wind. But for the last week, I’ve watched the frozen water drop on one of the lower branches. It hangs there, looking ready to fall at any second.
The weak branch sways in the air, but the water drop never falls, and I think that if it can hang on, then I can hang on to the small bit of sanity I have left.
Walking quietly to the table, I pull out the chair across from Lachlan. His head snaps toward me. His eyes soften as he looks at me. He still treats me like a person, someone with a soul. He never looks at me as something that needs to be fixed.
“How are you?” Lachlan asks quietly.
Placing my feet on the edge of the seat, I rest my chin on my knees, refusing to look away from his dark brown eyes. It’s only been two days since he last visited me. But the time between those visits seems to stretch further and further apart. “I’m the same as two days ago.”
“Your mom said you’re on new medicine?”
Am I? That’s news to me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I take as long as it makes me forget.
“I think so,” I tell him.
Lachlan stares at me levelly. His brown eyes are sharp. They miss nothing. “You’re talking…some. That has to help.”
It should help, but it makes everything worse. I look out the window, away from his gaze.
An exhausted sigh escapes him. Lachlan drags his hands through his hair before he rubs his eyes. “I miss you, Naomi.”
“I miss you too,” I whisper.
“You know you don’t belong here, right?”
I nod. “I know.”
“Then you need to try and get better.” His eyes drift over the people in the room. “It fucking kills me to leave you here,” he admits gruffly.
Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I nod and extend my hand, placing it on top of Lach’s. His eyes become hooded as he looks at my small, pale hand placed over his own. He turns his hand over and his fingers caress my wrist, making my skin burn. With his palm face up, he swallows my hand within his own. “You love me?” he asks quietly.
I look Lachlan in the eyes as I answer. “I do,” my voice cracks.
Lachlan nods his head. There should be hope in my words, but he just looks deflated. “If you love me, then you need to get better.”
It’s so easy to tell someone else what they should do. What Lachlan doesn’t know is that I’m trying so hard to get better. He doesn’t know that I spend every night recanting every memory that I have. Just to prove that none of it was a dream.
“I’m trying,” I insist.
Lachlan’s grip tightens on my hand. “No, you’re not,” he responds firmly.
“I can’t ignore everything that’s happened!” Lachlan’s lips go into a firm line. He looks out the window as he talks. “When it takes over your life like this, maybe it’s best to let it all go and move on.”
“You need to move forward,” Lachlan interrupts. “Everything you think you think you saw…maybe it never happened.”
“That’s low,” I whisper darkly. “I expect everyone else to say that, but not you.”
He drags his free hand over his face and looks down at our intertwined hands. “This is destroying you,” he murmurs. “The Naomi I know would have never just given up so quickly. She would have fought to stay in the present.”
Lachlan’s right. I clutch my hair tightly and pull until my scalp tingles. “He needs my help, Lach,” I moan.
The two of us know who ‘he’ is. Lachlan ignores him. I can’t.
Alexander Cole is as much in my life as Lachlan but for completely different reasons. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Lachlan looks down at the table. “Where does it stop Naomi? You’re at rock bottom,” he grits out. “I want you to get better.”
“I will,” I insist. “I just need more time and”
Suddenly, Lachlan leans forward with an intense look on his face. “You know why you’re here?” he demands. I stay silent and he continues, his voice louder, demanding to be heard. “You tried to kill yourself.”
I flinch because truth or not, I can’t go up against Lachlan’s words. He’s going to come out as the sane one. His words will make sense before mine ever will.
Leaning closer, I say my words quickly. “I didn’t try to kill myself,” I say darkly. “You know I wouldn’t do that.”
Lachlan places his elbows on the table and mimics my actions. “I used to believe that. But things have changed. Stop living in your mind, Naomi. Be present,” he pauses and lowers his voice to an aching whisper, “with me.”
My heart thunders in my ears and I know Lachlan can feel the pounding of my pulse. Slowly, I shake my head back and forth. That’s the closest I can come to an answer.
It’s not good enough for Lachlan. I know he wants me to promise that I’ll never mention Alexander. That I’ll give in and admit that everyone might be right.
His free hand wraps around the back of my neck and yanks me close. That one small action makes me feel like myself again.
There’s a two second pause where he looks me in the eye. A pause that makes my stomach twist and my blood roar through my veins. He wants to say more, but nothing comes out of his mouth. With a curse he kisses me hard on the mouth.
Instantly, it wakes me up. And that’s what a good kiss should do. It should make you come alive. It speaks to you the minute your lips connect. You don’t think. You react. For Lachlan and I, it’s always been this way. All I can hear from this kiss is, ‘Remember me. I’m real.’
I respond back the only way I know how, the way Lachlan showed me. His hands hold my face in place. The pressure of his lips decreases when I move my mouth against his. He makes a noise and grips my face tighter. It triggers who I used to be. The memories start to play out and I squeeze my eyes tight.
Every memory has Lachlan. And in each one, I’m smiling. I’m happy.
For a small moment, I feel at peace. Lachlan’s tongue slips in between my lips. A shudder goes through me as I open my mouth wider. My fingers move up his arms, toward his neck and before we can go further, someone clears their throat next to us.
Lachlan pulls away first, but his brown eyes stay rooted on my face. His lips are swollen from our kiss and I’m sure mine are the same. I lick my lips, trying to get a piece of that kiss back. Mary clears her throat louder this time. Reluctantly, I look up at her scowling face, feeling Lachlan’s eyes on me the whole time.
With her arms crossed, she glares at Lachlan. “Mr. Halstead, I think it’s time for you to leave,” she says firmly.
Slowly, he removes his hand from the back of my neck. My skin instantly feels cold. Limply, my arms fall to the table as I watch Lachlan stand up. He looks at Mary, saying nothing, but making his request obvious. She walks away, but it’ll only be for a few minutes.
Bending down, his brown eyes are only inches away from me. “I can’t keep doing this,” he whispers in a pained voice.
“I need you to visit me. It’s the only thing keeping me going,” I admit hoarsely. Lachlan frowns down at the table. My fingers reach out and I grip the collar of his shirt, forcing him to look directly at me. At this point, I’m desperate. I know I’m losing him. “Do you think I’m lying?” I ask.
A tense silence wraps around us. He looks at me through his eyelashes, his expression grim. One by one his fingers wrap around my wrists. Firmly, he pulls my fingers off his shirt. “I think you need help,” he says slowly.
Imagine having one good thing. Something that kept you sane when everything around you is completely messed up. Imagine having that something good ripped out of your life with only five simple words.
I think you need help.
I rub my eyes with my palms, moving my head back and forth in denial because if Lachlan stops coming I’m afraid of what will happen. My sanity is being held by a threadbare string. I’ll break before that frozen water drop ever does.
Feeling his hand on my shoulder makes me shake. He squeezes once. I keep my hands from reaching out and keeping him next to me.
His hand drifts away, and he’s gone.
I watch him for only a few seconds before my world starts to tilt. His retreating figure becomes hazy and the rec room shrinks into a bedroom. The lights morph into a dim glow. And the walls change colors. I squeeze my eyes shut and rub the back of my palms against my eyelids. There’s no reason to open my eyes. I know what I saw seconds before will be the new setting of the room.
This is how it always starts out.
My pounding heart starts to slow and the vision in my head starts to clear instantly.
Suddenly, I’m facing a mirror, staring at my reflection. I don’t look the same. I look refreshed, happy, and even beautiful. My blonde hair is styled in finger waves, one side pulled up with a golden barrette. My cheeks have color and my eyes have life in them. I’m back to being Naomi.
My body is covered with a gold dress that skims the floor. The silk material clings to my curves.
Turning to the side, I see my entire back is exposed. Quickly, my attention goes from the dress, to the male sitting in the corner of the room. My lips curve up and my blood instantly goes hot, as I watch this beautiful man through the mirror. He rests his ankle against his opposite knee. His expression is casual and the dimple on his right cheek makes him seem boyish. But his full lips curve up into a masculine smile that is anything but boyish.
He stands to his full height and I watch as he slides his black blazer over his wide shoulders, covering up his white shirt and black suspenders. His black bow tie is undone and hang around his neck like a black ribbon.
His light brown hair is longer than it should be, stopping around his jaw. It’s unruly and looks like someone’s hands have been through it. But he doesn’t care. That’s the thing with Alexander. He brushes past every single rule and goes his own route.
Adjusting the collar of his jacket, he walks up behind me. His entire body surrounds me, easily swallowing me up. The top of my head reaches his strong jawline. My hands are laced in front of me, but it’s only to hide my shaking.
This is my only way of seeing Alexander Cole. I take this moment like a lifeline and I hold on for as long as I can.
It never lasts long. But each time I see him, I become convinced that it will be different, that he won’t disappear on me.
I take in his strong jaw that travels up to sharp cheekbones. His skin is free of stubble and tan from the sun. It makes his hazel eyes even brighter. He steps closer and his fingertips brush against the bare skin of my back. I shiver.
“Beautiful,” he murmurs in his slow Southern drawl.
I smile at Alexander and he lifts a brow in return and gives me a lazy smile.
Pulling my hair to the side, he wraps both of his hands around my arms, encouraging me to lean against him. I go willingly and when my back feels his strong body, I practically sigh. He stares at me through the mirror and slowly leans down to kiss me on the shoulder. His teeth graze my skin. I make a noise and tilt my head further to the side.
He asks the same question Lachlan asked moments ago. “Do you love me, Naomi?” he asks gruffly.
My body still reacts at the way he says my name. I can barely swallow, so I give him a blunt nod as he moves in closer and breathes me in.
I do love him. In the most twisted, impossible way. Alexander smirks at me in the mirror, like he knows what I’m thinking. His hand moves from my neck and drifts lower. I watch as his large, tanned hand stops where my heart beats. His palm lays flat against my skin and his fingers spread.
His eyes go half-mast as he watches my reaction in the mirror. The tip of his nose brushes against my cheek. My hands go into fists, and I watch in fascination as he kisses the curve of my cheekbone.
“If you love me then don’t give up,” he says deeply.
“I promise I won’t,” I say out loud.
I know what’s next. And I’m desperate for this time to be different. So I lean even further into him and smell his scent. For me, someone that’s stuck in this place with its sterile walls and musty scent, it’s refreshing. It might be better than anything.
The scent wraps around me before it disappears. Just like that, he’s already fading. I whimper and lean into him forcefully.
He’s gone and I’m falling.
My shoulder blades hit the back of my chair. I jump in pain and shock. Rapidly, my heart pounds in my ribcage, and I take deep, shallow breaths, trying to calm my heart.
“Naomi, are you okay?”
Someone touches my shoulder. I flinch and look up, finding Mary staring down at me. How long has she been standing there?
Her face is etched with concern as she waits for me to answer. I swallow loudly and shake my head. Painfully, my fingers dig into my thighs while my body shakes with pent-up frustration.
“It’s time for your medicine.”
I stand up and give Mary a blunt nod before I follow her back to my room.
My body is running on adrenaline from everything I just felt, and a sweat breaks out across my forehead because those memories were mine.
I know I’m not making Alexander up. I know I’m not imagining anything. And what scares the hell out of me is that all those facts change nothing.
The only fact that really matters is that everyone thinks I’m crazy. And now, the one person that has consistently been there for me is losing hope.
Tonight, I would rather take the drugs than think about what is stacked against me.
Tomorrow, I’ll accept that in order to unravel my story, I’ll have to be destroyed in the process. Just like that frozen water drop outside, it’s inevitable that I break.