Freeman

February 9, 2012
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I looked out the window and saw fields of propped up crosses and flowers leaning against them. I turned my head back to the road, realizing I needed to ignore all the bad signs and look for the one that said “welcome”. I finally pulled into a parking spot, after going over tiny speed bumps that no matter how slow you go over them your stomach still seems to flip, and walked her into the hospital. There were two cold escalators sliding up against each other and we ascended one, hoping it would take us to the right place. The walls changed into mutual beiges and oranges, adorned with Rorschach-like paintings of blue and red stripes with boxes sometimes appearing. They seemed like they were supposed to mean something, but I categorized them as elementary school art and moved onto the elevator.



“This is the one that can hold gurneys,” my friend said, a tantalizing smile quickly sliding into place. She pushed the button for level three and we walked out backwards doors onto a shiny floor. I tried to walk on the ceiling light reflections but they always escaped me by a foot or two. My eyes were on our feet as we walked, but occasionally I snuck a glimpse up, taking in the children and adolescent psych floor. There were relatively few people here, several lone teenagers on their phones and whispering old women whose eyes stuck to me, like vultures on their prey. My friend signed in with the receptionist and we sat down in soft chairs with smooth wooden arms. The ceilings were high with window near the very top, through which I could only see reminders of the rainy day. We talked about many things, none of them being why we were here, until the receptionist looked at us as if she were seeing us for the first time. She wondered aloud if we had been checked in, and my friend nodded yes, she had, and the receptionist called out to me, several times, to which I replied, several times, that no, I was just waiting with my friend. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe me—it just appeared that I was meant to be there too. I shook my head, no, this wasn’t true, and my friend continued her discussion of high school dances and losing her date to a friend who asked minutes before her. Was it fair? Was any of this fair? The doctor, his nametag announced “Freeman”, came out from his hiding place and called the group of girls waiting to come together.



My friend stood up and joined them, while I started to walk away. I kept feeling the need to look back, to make sure she had gone in okay, to see if the group was the right one for her, and saw the old women again. I put my eyes forward and ignored them, choosing to stare straight at the elevator doors. A strange sadness had come over me, and I felt as if I was in a dream. It felt wrong to be going down two floors instead of up and to walk out of the doors as if it was okay that I had left. She was the one who was going to a support group, not you, I told myself. She’s in there now, she’s fine. You did your job, you’re fine. As I turned the key in the ignition, pulled out of the parking lot, and drove away, I let the rain fall down my windows instead of wiping it away and realized that I should’ve been brave enough to say that I wanted to stay.





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