I had lost track of time and the natural flow of events that helped my mind determine “before” and “after” memories. But out of all the muddled mess in my brain, one memory stood out. There was a girl named Janey who kept appearing when I needed her most.
I tried to recall if I had known her before, in my old life. Was she a family member? A friend? Was she even real? Maybe she was a figment of my imagination, or an apparition sent from God to guide me. No. . . I seriously doubted an angel would have such terribly cared for, chipped, blue nails.
The very next pill I hid inside of chewing gum and spit into the trash also stood out to me as a marker in time. It was the beginning act of my recovery.
Less than an hour later, the apparition named Janey had appeared and dropped the note from Marcus onto my blanket. The sun back-lit her hair in a glorious curly red halo. I would have like to paint her. As an artist, I had learned to memorize faces in just a few seconds. The upturned nose, sprinkled with freckles, large blue eyes, also upturned at the outside edges, wide, smiling mouth. . . actually, her whole face seemed to smile. I wished she had stayed longer and I wished I could have kept that note - the only proof I had that my brother was alive - but she flushed it down the toilet on her way out the door.
I watched the door all day long, hoping she would come back, or that Marcus would appear. But nobody came.
It took all of my will-power to hide the terror I felt when the nurse came into the room. Without the drugs the flashbacks and nightmares were more terrifying, but also more defined and limited. I could separate them from reality and control my responses better.
In the long hours of waiting for Marcus to rescue me, I was tempted to sink into the propaganda on TV and go back to the old beliefs. I doubted the experiences I’d had and tried to dismiss them as lies. I was in that very state of mind when the doctor came in to see me.
He was a young wolf, arrogant and dismissive, but also eager to climb the ladder of success; a trait I had come to recognize in myself. That craving to rise was a weakness, a blindness that could be exploited.
“Well, well, Kara. . . you’re looking much better now. How do you feel?” He said as he came into the room.
“I feel pretty good, I think.” I answered, steeling myself to hide my fear of him. He sat on the chair and rolled up next to the bed to peer down at me. His lips drew back and his white teeth glistened as he bent over to look me in the eyes. I quivered with anxiety, but did not draw back.
“Have you been taking your meds?” He asked with a suspicious sniff.
“What meds?” I asked with a slightly blurred voice.
“Mmmhmm.” He answered, scribbling on his clipboard.
“How are the nightmares going?” he asked, leaning over me again and sniffing like a hound on a trail.
“They’re confusing. . .” I equivocated.
“Uh. . . they change and I can’t tell which ones are true and which ones are. . . fake.” This was an accurate description of what I was going through. My dreams were extremely chaotic and dissonant. In one dream wolves were eating my parents, in another it was ostriches with bloodstained faces and the wolves were coming to the rescue.
The doctor took a deep breath and I could see he was smelling the honesty of my statement. He sat back, looking pleased.
“Maybe it’s time for you to see a therapist,” he suggested. “It seems to me you have improved vastly since I last saw you. You’ve begun to question your fears - and this is good. The therapist will help you determine which memories are true, and which are false. Won’t that be a relief?”
“A great relief!” I agreed wholeheartedly.
“Your classmates and teacher are very concerned for you. Someone calls almost every day to find out how you’re getting on. So you must try very hard to get well.”
“Yes, Doctor, I will.” I said meekly. The doctor smiled a toothy smile and patted me on the head.
My mind was fighting to find the truth, to know what I really believed. I was so lost and confused. I wanted desperately for Marcus to come and get me and tell me what had happened so I could stop thinking altogether.