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Chaining the Past
Narrow hallways choked the figures of the facility and frowned down at any visitors who dared to venture into the cage of lunacy I called home. After escaping the maze, one would stumble across my room, which was just another number on a paper. It was a bland cell decorated by a singular succulent who kept me company. The rest of the furniture requires the average man to have a medical license to even gaze upon it and was connected to me in some way. Lengthy vines of tubes coiled around the tiled floor and into my arm. Frigid cuffs affixed me to the silver bars along my bed and created a lighthearted jingle when I pleaded for mercy. Light burned into my eyes, brightening the face of a cloaked doctor grinning in the corner of the room. He adjusted the medications flowing into my wrist, toying with it like a petulant child. The monster stared at my face, pondering the cause of my sour scowl. I began to list the millions of reasons in my head, starting with my entrapment. The man seated himself on the other side of the room and my fury complimented his decision. My ears blurred the strident words of the man to cease my vexation from boiling my skin and gaining control of me.
“...severe schizophrenia...treatment for another few years...violent and rash behavior…” Faint fragments of sentences penetrated through my agony. I folded my arms across my chest, feeling my feeble heart stumbling over itself. After a few seconds of thinking, I connected the words to each other. I would be trapped here for what seemed to be an eternity. My life would deteriorate to miniscule pieces of memories and I would have nothing left. Suddenly, he sauntered out of the room on his merry way to abuse the unfortunate. Fear grasped my throat as I listened to the voice in my mind hissing. They’re trying to hurt you. The sentence repeated until I shook my head to dismiss it, only to find that it returned, chanting a new phrase now. You have to get out. I banged my head against the wall to eliminate it. Or you can die here. That was the final blade of words that broke the shield that I created. It stabbed the very core of the ideas I conceived to heal. As soon as my ears heard the door click satisfactorily, I struggled to grasp the handle of the cabinet besides me. The tips of my fingers grazed the thin sheet of paper inside, and I groped the bottom blindly until it was secure in my hand. I examined the unsteady lines I sketched into a map of the atrocious prison of a mental facility I was stuck in, studying the new route I would attempt after I sawed off my restraints with a blunt lid or a shard of ceramic. I stuffed the map back into its safe hiding spot, scanning the room for an opportunity to saw the restraints off. Blood rushed down from my arm as soon as I heaved the bars enclosing me. I was favored by some sadistic god poised on a throne above me who fiddled with my tragic self. The mattress creaked in pain until I finally tugged myself free. Trembling, I slipped out of the blankets, my bare feet slapping the tiled floor. The bitter flavor of sodium emerged in my throat, forcing tears to form at the corners of my eyes. A swift swallow sent the nauseating substance back down into my stomach. I spent the next several seconds floundering around the room, clutching the walls for support. My fingers grazed several linear carvings in the plaster and I stared at them. My thoughts dashed back to the time I birthed these marks. Counting the days was particularly difficult when every second felt like a decade. In order to kill time, I utilized my bitten nails to scratch tallies onto the blank space. The residue of the art polluted the air when a breeze sifted through the stiff room and lied on the floor, untouched. Snapping back to the present, I shot a final look at the potted plant, my eyes scanning the circular leaves waving to me as I fingered the bar attached to me through the chains that preached a petrified song. A deep breath lingered in the air as my hands reached out to the silver door knob to begin my next attempt at fleeing.
I was unfortunate to have a diagnosis at fifteen, since most of my life would be spent chugging pills and talking to people hired to listen to my emotions spill out onto cracking linoleum floors. I comprehend that I am being forced to heal to only “protect” society from getting injured. My thoughts raced back to my life at home before my hospitalization.
My conscience was handed back to me from the demons who guided my actions. All I could recall was the vile shriek emerging from my mother’s mouth as several purple bruises revealed themselves to us. Astonished, I dashed to her, peeking at her wounds. She gazed into my eyes, refusing to break the bond between us as she whispered:
Bewildered, I glanced down at the abrasions on my knuckles.
A gasp snatched my breath as I realized what I did. Rushed apologies turned into screams as the atmosphere shattered into millions of pieces. I heard the thundering shriek of my father’s scream as my own howl escaped my mouth. I shoved my head into my knees. Cowering into the wall further, I felt a cold hand curling around my shoulder. I shuddered and stared upwards and saw the figment of my imagination and the manifestation of the voice in my mind, who I named 12 Hours. He was as different from me as day is from night. His crimson eyes gleamed in the single sliver of light from the lamp. Trepidation made my heartbeat a drunken man sauntering through desolate streets praying for another sip of cheap liquor weaponized against him. In a futile attempt to distance myself from the monster and his tattoo of a malevolent grin, I shoved his chest. 12 Hours remained still. Miniscule breaths danced in the intolerable air along with the smell of burning love. He emerged from the blanket of twilight sheltering him and divulged himself to me as the hideous demon with a loathsome smirk that he is. Sharpened fangs protruded from every corner of his mouth, forming a hypnotizing cave of blades. As I was escorted to the facility, my brain attempted to rationalize my actions until I realized that I was not at fault.
This is not who I am.
I yanked the door open, sprinting through the halls as my breath quivered increasingly. My elbows thrust the substantial alabaster doors open. I pushed past anxious nurses dialing their bosses and an assortment of psychopaths grinning at my panic. As I tripped over a wire, I noticed the figures cloaked in white that made attempts to grasp the sagging gown levitating around my body. After several turns in the agonizing maze, I reached an extensive staircase. Time died slowly as alarms blared in my ears. Trembling, I lunged down the steps, my limbs bending to maneuver around the corners. My bare feet slapped against the frigid tiles, chills galloping up my spine, coercing thousands of miniscule bumps to appear on my skin. Before I was about to leap down the next flight, I felt colossal fingers coiling around my arm. The tapping of overpriced shoes echoed in my ears as more and more doctors rushed to the scene of me kicking and punching to liberate myself from their uncongenial grips.
Every muscle in my body was still. The fighting spirit appeared to be dead, and I struggled to obtain it back. I clogged my thoughts with the raw emotions of fury and rage and attempted to exorcise the yelling in my head from my attempt to escape. Once again, my thoughts flooded back to my old life out of apathy.
“You’re just seeing things,” My mother’s torn hands scrubbed a dish with such force the pigment peeled off. My own little fingers dug into the sliced up chicken on the plate in front of me.
“I’m not! I swear I saw something!” I exclaimed as bits of chicken flew out of my mouth. I gazed up into the seat across me and gasped. “Right there!”
12 Hours grinned at me from across the table and I picked up a fork to defend myself from the monster. Irritated, my mother turned, peering at the seat he was supposedly sitting in.
“Nobody’s there. You’re just imagining things.” Steamed vegetables ran down my throat as I scanned the character she did not see. I was quite vexed as well.
“Can’t you see him?!” I screamed, raising my arm and jabbing the fork into the wooden table. The prongs dug into the wood and remained there until it was tugged out by my mother. Still yelling vehemently, I sprint upstairs to my room to seclude myself from both of the demons.
An hour or so later, I had risen from my slumber and dashed over to the bathroom to brush my teeth and relieve myself before bed. Miniscule bristles scraped the yellow stains and I spat out a substantial amount of toothpaste. My eyes met my own in the mirror.
To my surprise, I glimpsed the rotting face of my nemesis. Obsidian skin bled through the glass and seared through my jubilance swiftly. The same smirk was plastered on his malevolent face and mocked my every thought. Frantic, I threw the brush at the reflection and dashed downstairs. I was overjoyed to prove my mother that I was not visualizing the monsters that inhabited our household. As soon as I exited the bathroom, I heard the hushed voices of my parents whispering to each other. I crouched besides a potted plant, listening to their conversation as my breath beat against the immense leaves besides me.
“Sebastian has been telling me that he has been seeing someone else around the house.” The slightest sense of human life in the somber house startled me, inquisitiveness coursing through my mind. As her small feet paced against the worn down floor, the creaks sent chills up my spine.
“He has a big imagination,” The baritone words of my father petrified me. “He is only eight.” They sighed in unison.
“You don’t get it,” She hissed at him in a growling manner. “He kept yelling at me and stabbed the table with his fork. I’m afraid he’ll do something much worse…” The intimidating tone faded into concern. Thinking back to my behavior, I considered something greater, something beyond my comprehension.
What if I was insane?
How could I live my life fleeing from the demons that lurk in the corners of every path I take?
A loose tear wrestled itself out of my eyes, collapsing into the floor. My gaunt body seemed fictional in every way, every bone attempting to pry out of my skin in agony. Defeated, I trudged through my fabricated house, a labyrinth I once navigated with ease, but now, it seemed as if the house was desolate.
I was escorted out of my room in chains, trekking to the cafeteria with several people tailing me. I requested to eat with the others now since I was fatigued of being alone. I sat in the corner of the room, my monologue varying in fury as I gazed at the woman serving me dry chicken with beans. The soothing and rhythmic rattling continued to echo as I nibbled on pieces of the food. My tongue grasped for more of the memories associated with the meat. My mother’s cooking, my father’s jokes, and my dog’s begging. Suddenly, a figure plopped down across from me. Perplexed, my head shot up. A girl around my age was grinning at me, devouring into her own food. Long locks of ebony hair drizzled down from her head as she rambled about the fine dining experience here as well as minor details I had never thought of. She spun the smallest actions into a wild story. The cook’s dirty tennis shoes and torn uniform. A doctor’s wrinkly pants. After sifting through the whole area, she sighed and shoved her tray off of the table. Her voice began entailing her sensitive past, and how she was overjoyed to be away.
Away from all the agony of society.
Away from all their restrictions.
A new thought had left me at a loss of words.
What was the point of running?
Everything I need is here, and not outside.
A low growl emerged from the door, and I glanced at a doctor strolling in. His lab coat swayed behind him as he walked, a smile painted onto his warm skin.
He seemed too jubilant to be here.
I read the name on his tag. Dr. Greene. Who are you? I scanned him, studying every loose ebony curl of hair down to the supernatural sheen of his shoes.
“You have visitors,” His baritone voice projected across the room. My heart banged against my chest and my mind began to race. It was impossible. The voice reasoned with me. They abandoned you months ago. Absorbing my silence, he continued to speak. “We checked. He’s your father. Matthew Vasiliev, right?”
Adrenaline coursed through me. I nodded, my eyes desperately begging for him to aid me, to release me, even though I know he would not.
“Alright.” Dr. Greene beamed at me. “Let’s go.”
And there I stood for the first time, unchained, organic.
This man was the first one to see me, and not a “monster.”
As he guided me through twisting hallways, several screams emerged from rooms and assorted psychopaths who leaped at us. His compassionate face shielded us from them and led me to a neroom, the visiting room. I was appalled that I did not bother to record the path we took and that the doctor trusted me in the first place. As we reached one of the tables, he patted me on my back, grinning.
“I’ll be right there when you’re done.” He pointed to a corner of the room and I agreed.
It was time for me to confront my maker, to question his actions and abhor him to a point of no return.
My father smiled sheepishly and waved across the table. Fury boiled in my mind, and I heard 12 Hours yelling. “That’s it?! That’s all you’re going to do! Yell, attack, do something!
I remained still.
He sighed, beginning to talk. “They’ve told me you’re quiet now, so I should probably do the talking here right?” I prayed the question was rhetorical. “Listen, I know I haven’t seen you in a long time, and I’m sorry for that. Your mother tried to keep me from seeing you. Said you were nuts and all that.” He paused, steadily staring into my eyes. “I-I never believed that. You were always a great kid. I’m happy that you’re getting treated, but they’ve told me you have been refusing your medications. Why is that?” An eerie silence cut his smile into a frown. A chill dashed down my spine, freezing every bone in my body.
“I...am...not...insane…” Words dripped out of my lips and onto the rough table. I watched my father gape at me, his hands trembling and his face aghast.
“No. You’re not. Just know that…” He chuckled lightly and paused to peer into my soul again.
“I love you no matter what.”
Dr. Greene trotted with me back into my room, blabbering about his wife and his dog for the entirety of the walk back. I was astounded he did not abhor rambling to me. I wanted to ask him why he did not take my silence as rudeness.
“...Why?” I muttered and he started to radiate even more optimistic energy.
“Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying.” He grinned as I furrowed my brows at his perplexion.
“Why do you bother talking to me?”
“Why not? You seem like a good kid.” I almost burst out laughing. 12 Hours knocked on the interior of my mind. Prove him wrong. You’re not weak. I shoved him away.
“I’ve attempted to break out of this hell multiple times,” My lips curved into a smile. “I don’t think that makes me qualified for that title. Plus, I act based on fear, demons, and prejudice.”
“Your illness is out of your control. You can’t stop being afraid.” Dr. Greene ruffled my curly dark hair, disorganizing the mess on my head even further. I ducked his arm, chuckling.
“What about the fact that I don’t take my medications?”
“I get that. I actually asked my boss to let me work with you. You’re obviously going to ask why so here’s why: I’m like you. I also have schizophrenia,” I gasped. “However, I was diagnosed much later than you. I lived in fear of myself for thirty years of my life. There were hardly any treatments back then, and the only solution, according to me, was trying to kill myself. I failed and I can’t be more grateful for that. After my attempt, I started exploring new treatment options and I definitely am better now. I’ve never been happier. If you take your meds, you’ll begin healing.”
His smile seemed more sincere as each second passed.
I gazed deep into his eyes, my tone becoming serious. “Thank you. I will.”
And with one more smile, I began healing.