A Story: The Struggle To Remain

“The Doctor will see you now Lucy.” The Nurse says in that annoying tone, the one that makes me feel like a child again. She helps me stand and leads me into the Doctor’s office, where she ushers me to the seat in front of his desk before patting me on the shoulder. “I’ll be right outside Lucy, if you need me.” She nods to the Doctor and closes the door behind her.

Uncomfortable at situation I begin to pull at the bandage on my wrist waiting for the interrogation to begin. I daren’t even look at the Doctor, I can feel his eyes burning into me trying to stare through my layers and steal my secrets.

“Lucy, I am Doctor Rajan but you can call me Raj. How have you been Lucy?” He sits bolt upright in the chair, hands together, fingers intertwined leaning on his notebook, his pen by his side ready. As soon as I begin to talk he will pick up that pen and make his notes, one false word and I’ll be stuck here forever and I want to be anywhere but here. I don’t belong here.

I shrug my shoulders. I’m not talking today.

“Lucy, I must begin by asking you two very important questions. You understand you must be completely honest with me on these questions. It will serve you no good to hide your true feelings. Now, Lucy can you tell me if you have had any thoughts of suicide in the last week?”

I look down at my wrist and the bandage, once white but now grubby from the constant attention, a smear of pinkie red coming through from underneath. I pick at it mindlessly. Have I had any thoughts of suicide?

I think long and hard, burying the thought down deep inside me. The one thought he mustn’t find with all his staring. I look up, straight into his eyes. “No, I haven’t.” He picks up the pen and writes. I hate to watch him write, I want to scream at him to stop but it won’t help me get out of here.

“Ok Lucy, that is very good. I’m very pleased to hear you say that, now for my second question. Have you had any thoughts about hurting any other people in the last week?” He intertwines his hands once more, awaiting my answer.

“No I haven’t.” That question is always the easy one.

“Very good Lucy. Now what would you like to talk about today? I am new here but I have read your file thoroughly so I know all about your current situation. I am happy to begin wherever you need to start. Remember you are here to be helped; we are not trying to hold you against your will. You just need a short break and some rest. We can start with what happened with Henry or if you would like to go further back, you can tell me about Karl.”

At the sound of his name I flinch. No one talks about Karl anymore. He is a distant memory. I beautiful distant memory that lives inside me every day. He is the one that started the darkness inside me. The darkness that creeps like a shadow through me until I can’t see the light anymore. The darkness I feel inside me now, now that He is gone.

“I don’t want to talk about either of them.” It is just too hard. I try to bury my head against my chest; I bring my knees up onto the chair and hide my wrists.

“Lucy, you have had treatment before. You know talking helps. I will not push you on this but you know in order to be well you need to first address the reasons for this phase you are in. If you don’t want to talk about Karl that is fine, but I think you have some issues regarding Henry you would like to address. Am I right?”

They keep trying to tell me the reason I am in here is because Henry left and I cut myself off from the world. They say I stopped eating and lost lots of weight, they stand me in front of the mirror but all I see is me. They tell me I am skin and bones and that is why I must wear their clothes and eat carefully but I look in the mirror and see I am healthy.

They say I used a knife to cut my wrist. I promised Karl I would never do that again, when he came to see me and stopped my hand. I only did it to see him again and he came, he was there. I didn’t really mean it, I just wanted to see him and I knew he would come and help me. I would never have let him down like that.

They say that Henry left me but he is here with me. We were just talking and it’s just like it always was. They say he left me for another woman and that I saw them together and got angry because I saw how happy they were. Happy like me and Henry were in the beginning. But how can that be true when he is here with me now?

“Lucy, can you tell me about Henry. What is he like?”

What is my Henry like? He’s tall, muscular and he has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen. They were the first thing I noticed about him, the smoothness of the skin around his eyes and how big and clear they were. He has a cute wrinkle at the top of his nose, which he hated but I found sexy. He has plump kissable lips and sandy hair that I love burying my hands in.

He is smart and funny, he teaches me new things and I attempt to teach him new things and we have a lot of fun together.

I’ve never met anyone like Henry, his personality fills the room and people are drawn to him. I love to watch how he talks to other people, the way they instantly trust him and open up. His enthusiasm for life is infectious and he made me want to try so many new things just to see how much he loved them, although not all of them were to my taste.

But I don’t want to share my Henry with this man. He is mine; I want to keep him my secret. Once I talk about him he will leave again and I can’t bear it anymore.

“I don’t want to talk about Henry.” I rest my head on my knees and look out the window. It has begun to rain and the drops chase each other down the window pane in some imagined race. The garden has been dry, the rain will help the colourful roses under my window gain their strength back, keeping the petals alive for a few more days.

“Ok Lucy. You don’t want to talk today. Can you tell me something about you? What is your favourite colour?”

“Blue is my favourite colour.” The different blues in the sky on a clear day, or the blue of the ocean on a beach holiday. The blue of the shirt of my football team or the words of our song. The different blues of the rooms in my house, the carpets, walls, curtains even my bedspread everything has a touch of blue. All my diaries have to be blue, I write better in blue ink, I feel better in blue clothes, and I feel sexier in blue underwear. Blue is safe, blue is home.

“That’s good I like blue too. What is your favourite food?”

I know what he is trying to do. He’ll begin to ask about Henry again soon but I won’t respond. If he wants to know about Henry he can go and ask him, he doesn’t like me talking about him with others.

“I like Italian food but I will try pretty much anything once. I always say you don’t know if you like something until you give it a try.”

“That is a good attitude to have.” He smiles. “Is there anything you would like to ask me Lucy?”

“When can I go home?”

“I think you need to rest for a bit longer. But I am keen to see you fit and ready for home as soon as possible. A part of that is talking to me, so I can be sure that you are ok. I am here to help you Lucy. I want to listen and help. Trust me and open up and you will be home before you know it. I think we need a rest, so you go off now and we can talk again this afternoon. How about that?” He stands and walks around the desk to where I sit, placing a gentle hand on my knee and giving it a slight squeeze.

I think I can trust Doctor Raj but I am not sharing my Henry with him.

“I would like to rest now.” The door opens and Nurse Sally comes back in.

“Ready to go lie down Lucy? Lunch will be ready in about half hour so time for a little nap before then.” She smiles and helps me stand, holding my arm and walking with me back to my room.

My room is small, just a bed and a bedside table. I’m not allowed to go to the bathroom unaided and there is no door and no locks. My room has a door but I have to keep it open during the day. I have 3 books on the bedside table and so far I’ve only managed to read the first page of one of them. I sit with it open on my lap, scanning the words but my mind wanders. I have no idea how long I have been here or what day it is.

“There we go Lucy, you have a nice little lie down and I will be back in a minute.” The Nurse lifts my legs onto the bed and pulls off my slip on shoes.

 

I roll into a ball on my side and close my eyes. “Where have you been? I missed you silly.”

“Henry, you’re back.”

“Back? I never went anywhere?”

“They keep telling me you have gone but as soon as I close my eyes you are here with me. I don’t understand.”

“Hush now, you need to rest. I’m right here.” I feel him wrap his arms around me, curling into me like he always did and I drift off into a deep, relaxing sleep.

When I open my eyes Henry is gone. I look around for him but he isn’t there, I can’t feel him. He leaves me sometimes, but he always comes back. He is my Henry and we are meant to be together.

 

“Here we go Lucy, lunch is ready.” Nurse Sally is back with a bowl on a tray. She sits on the bed next to me and feeds me spoon after spoon of the thick mashed up liquid. I can’t be trusted yet to eat alone, or so they tell me. I make as little fuss as I can, wanting the whole experience to be over but hating every mouthful of the horrible mush.

“All done, I’ll leave you to rest a while and then Doctor Raj will see you again.” Nurse Sally leaves and I lie back on the bed. Maybe if I close my eyes Henry will come back.

 

“Hey love. You were such a good girl, eating all your lunch. Can you be a good girl for me again?” I nod my head.

“Anything for you.”

“I need you to talk to the Doctor. If you talk to him then you can come home. I miss you.” He smiles and rests his hand on my leg.

“Do you promise it will be ok if I talk to him? I’m so scared.” I missed the feel of his hand on me and don’t want the moment to end.

“It’s ok, I promise. You can tell the Doctor about me, I don’t mind. Tell him why you are scared and then you can come home. But you have to be honest. They won’t let you come home until you are better and to get better you have to be honest. Promise me you’ll get better and come home Lucy, promise me.”

Henry knows how important promises are; I never broke a promise to him although he never kept all of his. “I promise Henry and you know I never break a promise.”

 

“Lucy, Doctor Raj wants to see you now.” I open my eyes to see Nurse Sally is back.  “Let’s put your shoes back on shall we. Would you like to brush your hair too?” Her patronising tone, like I’m a child that needs to have things explained, really winds me up but she is just doing her job so I go along with it. The more fuss I make the longer I’ll be here and now I made Henry a promise I can’t break it.

“There, all better. Do you feel better now your hair has been brushed?”

“Yes, much.” I lie. I look in the mirror as she brushes my hair and see the dark circles under my eyes. No wonder Henry found someone new.

We walk to the Doctors room in silence, she opens the door and I go in and sit down in the chair once more.

 

“How was lunch Lucy? Did you enjoy it?”

“It was horrible but I was hungry so it helped.”

“Good. So you’ve had a nap and some food. Is there anything you would like to talk about now? We have all afternoon; we can talk about everything and nothing. The time is all yours.”

“I think I would like to walk in the rose garden, would that be ok?” I look outside and see the sun has come out, the earlier rain has stopped and the water is forming stains on the windows.

“If you agree to talk to me I don’t see what harm a stroll would do. Do we have a deal?” He smiles and stands up from his desk, taking a jacket off the back of his chair and holding it out for me to wear. “Looks a bit nippy outside. I’ll just grab my notebook.” He says as he slips the jacket onto my shoulders.

Outside I feel the warming sun on my skin. It is too warm for the jacket but I enjoy the comfort of being wrapped in someone’s jacket once more, it is a familiar feeling. Henry would often let me wear his jacket if we were out or offer me his jumper. I loved to be wrapped in clothes that smelled like him.

“I’m sorry I didn’t talk earlier. But Henry said it is ok to talk now. He doesn’t mind and he wants me to get better.”

“Lucy, do you talk to Henry a lot?” Doctor Raj leads me to the start of the rose garden path and we begin to walk alongside the flower beds. The garden has been designed in circuits to allow people to walk on different routes. There is even a rose tunnel where the flowers completely cover the frame and surround you as you walk.

“He talks to me when I’m asleep. But its ok Doctor I’m not crazy, I realise it’s not really him. I know him so well; I know what he would say if he were here. My mind lets me talk to him because it can’t face what has happened. I can’t face what has happened.” I shuffle my feet as I walk, quick then slower steps, pulling on my bandages and rubbing the imaginary itch of the wound.

“You are right Lucy and I am glad to hear you say that Henry is not here. It is a coping mechanism for you to deal with your loss. Can you tell me what happened?”

“I was due to meet Henry for a coffee one lunchtime. He had been on a business trip and we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of days so I met him for lunch on the day he got back. When I got there I saw him kissing a girl on the cheek, I assumed it was just a goodbye.

She was tall, slender build, much younger than me with dark hair and a perfect figure. But something in my heart lurched. I knew there was more to it when I saw the look on his face as she left. He used to look at me that way.

He kissed me and we sat down to order but then he needed the toilet. He left his mobile on the table. We’d always trusted each other with our phones; I didn’t think anything of picking it up when the text message pinged. That was when I realised what was going on.” I stop on the path by a bench and the Doctor motions to me to sit down.

“What happened when you read the message Lucy?”

“It was from someone called Naya and it said ‘have you told her yet?’ I dropped the phone for a second in shock. Then I picked it up and went into his message box. It was filled with flirty messages and photos from Naya. They were similar to the messages we would send each other in the beginning but never quite as intense, but still I could see the connection between them. I saw him arrange meetings with her, the last one was for a romantic trip to Paris. He wasn’t on a business trip at all he was with her.“

I sink with my head in my hands and begin to cry hot and painful tears. I’ve cried so much lately that my tears have dried up and in addition to being fed I have to have drops put in my eyes to bring the moisture back.

Doctor Raj offers me a hanky and I dab my eyes. “That sounds like a difficult experience. Would you tell me how that made you feel?”

“I was hurt. I wanted to be sick. I couldn’t believe he would lie to me. I never had any idea that he was unhappy or that things had changed for him. I felt betrayed that he wouldn’t talk to me, instead he chose to lie and hurt me.

I remembered how the woman looked as she left the cafe and looked at myself and instantly hated myself. I couldn’t bear to look at myself; I was ashamed that I wasn’t good enough. How could I compete with the other woman? She was young and fun and new and I was old and tired and boring.

I tried so hard to make sure things didn’t go stale between us. I wanted us to have fun together and I thought we did but to find out he lied.” I take a deep breath and sit back in the chair.

“So what happened next?”

“Henry came back from the toilet to see me reading his messages, tears and makeup all down my face. At first he didn’t know what to say. Then he said he didn’t lie to me. Then he started blaming me. I made things move too fast. I pushed our relationship on. He needed a break from me and he just met Naya and they hit it off.

He wasn’t looking to hurt me. He cared for me but it just happened and he couldn’t stop himself. I was so needy that I clung to him and he couldn’t breathe. He just wanted to have non-complicated fun, no commitment and nothing lasting but he got caught up with me and now he wanted to be free to explore his own path.”

“That sounds like a very difficult conversation to have with someone. I can understand how you would find that overwhelming.”

“I just couldn’t take it all in. There was so much to process. The fact that he was leaving, the guilt and the shame I felt and that he was projecting onto me. Seeing him not take any of the blame and forcing me to believe it was all my fault.

Looking at the man I thought I knew and realising I never knew him at all. The person I knew would never deliberately hurt me like that.

Everything he said made what I thought to be true a lie. I couldn’t separate the lies from the truth anymore. He seemed so happy when he left, he was going off to someone new but I was stuck in our old life. Only now I was alone, he was gone.

Everything reminded me of him and the fact he was no longer there. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Every time I closed my eyes he would be there and it would be like old times. Only for him to flip and tell me how it was all my fault again and he never wanted a relationship with me.

I couldn’t process what happened. I needed a way out and before I knew it the knife was in my hand. I stood with the knife pressed against my wrist and his voice in my head just said ‘I don’t care anymore, do what you want.’” I hold my wrist with the distant memory of the release of pain.

“This is very good Lucy. Thank you for opening up to me. I know how hard it is for you to relive these moments but in order for you to get better you need to move on from the past. Can you tell me what happened next?”

“Hearing him say he didn’t care and that he was leaving and didn’t want anything to do with me anymore was the hardest thing I have ever heard. I went from meeting someone for lunch that I’d missed and who told me they missed me, to finding out my partner was having an affair. Then for him to say it was all my fault, I couldn’t take it all in it was a lot in the space of an afternoon.

I stopped eating, I couldn’t face food. I could barely get out of bed each morning for work and I was cranky when I did. People started avoiding me. I realised how isolated my life was without him, and I forgot what it was I liked to do. I just didn’t know what was real anymore, what I could trust.

I had these voices in my head going over and over everything good and bad that had ever happened between us. I looked for my mistakes and wished I could unmake them.

I avoided the things we did together so I didn’t miss him. I stopped looking at his messages and photos and deleted them and his contacts but the further away I pushed the memories the deeper back my mind would go.

Back to those first days, when he looked at me like he looked at her. When he flirted with me like he did with her. When my heart would jump at the sight of his name on my phone and just talking to him had me beaming into a smile. It hadn’t been like that in a while.

We had been growing apart in some ways but in others nothing had changed. I was frustrated that I didn’t know what was happening or how to fix it but I never thought he was so unhappy he wanted to leave.

He didn’t only leave he met someone else and because he had someone else he was never going to miss me. Why couldn’t he have just told me when he first knew it was over so I didn’t have to be so humiliated?” I put my head in my hands again as the tears try to fall once more.

“I don’t know the answer to that question I am afraid. Perhaps in the excitement of finding something new he didn’t fully understand the hurt he was causing. Perhaps he was blinded by his own needs and forgot about yours. Let me ask you this, do you believe that he intentionally hurt you?” Doctor Raj opens his notebook on his lap and begins to write the dreaded notes about me.

“I honestly don’t know anymore. The person I thought I knew wasn’t the person who ended it. He was so cold with me, the person I knew was warm and gentle and made me feel safe. I think the person who ended it wanted to hurt me.

I don’t understand what I ever did that would make him hate me that much that he would want to hurt me like that. I’m not a bad person Doctor.

I can be difficult at times and I get caught up in the moment and get carried away.  I throw my whole self into things I care about but I give more than I take. I would never intentionally hurt someone, I would never lie or try to trap them and that’s what hurts.

I want him to be happy, if he wasn’t happy with me I would have understood if he just took the time to talk to me and be honest about it. We were friends before anything else and that meant the world to me. I just couldn’t cope and the knife was there and I pressed and then the pain stopped. His voice left my head so I did it again and I was free.”

“So now we know why you hurt yourself. I need to explain again to you why you are here. You have been told this before but now you are ready to listen. You are in Sunnydale Hospital; you are here because you tried to kill yourself by slitting your wrists. You were found by your friend Anna. She hadn’t heard from you in a week and she was worried about you. She went to your house and found you in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. That was 3 weeks ago and you were in hospital up until 3 days ago. Anna has visited you every day; she is very worried about you. Do you remember any of what I just told you?”

His words hit me like a bucket of cold water to the face. I can’t have been in hospital for 3 weeks, I just can’t. Henry left 2 days ago. “You must be mistaken. Henry only left 2 days ago.”

“There is no mistake Lucy. Henry left you two months ago from what Anna has told us. She watched you for 2 weeks but then had to go on holiday when she got back you were a mess. I have asked Anna to come to see you today so she can talk to you about what happened. It will help you to realise.” At that we see Anna walking across the garden towards us.

As soon as she sees me she begins to cry and runs towards the car park. “Stay here Lucy, I will be right back.” Doctor Raj runs after Anna and I am left alone for the first time in the rose garden.

I can’t believe my best friend can’t even look at me. Seeing her run away was a shock, do I really look that bad? It sounds like I owe her my life. I must find a way to be a good friend to her again. I must get myself well and get out of here so I can go back to my life. That is if I still have a life to go back to.

I see Doctor Raj walking back towards me, his arm wrapped around Anna’s shoulders as she wipes her eyes with a tissue. “Hi.” Is all she can manage as she walks towards me.

I stand up and hug her as we both begin to cry once more. “I’m so sorry I put you through all this.” She pushes me away.

“Stop. You have nothing to apologise for. If anyone should be apologising its Henry. He’s the one that caused all this.” She sits down on the bench and dabs her eyes.

“Anna, I love you but you can’t blame all of this on Henry. I made mistakes too; I can be difficult to live with. You know how I need to be wrangled in sometimes. I was the one who couldn’t cope and I gave up on myself. You can’t blame Henry for that.” I sit next to her and hold her hand.

“I can and I do. He stripped you of everything you knew. He lied to you and cheated on you. He made you believe everything was ok. I saw you two together I saw the way he behaved. After you went into hospital I checked your phone and your emails. I saw all the messages he sent to you. I saw the way you were together.

How can someone be that nice and all the time be having an affair. He should have been honest with you the moment he knew things were over.

You always made allowances for him, everytime things went wrong you took all the blame. You never made him own up to his mistakes. You always made it easy on him and it allowed him to walk all over you. When I think of how I found you that day, it makes me sick to my stomach. If I had been any later you would have died.” She sits with her head in her hands and wails.

“I’m so sorry I put you through all this. It makes me feel awful.”

“Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare take all this on yourself. Henry knew you struggled with depression, he knew how hard you would take this and he chose to end it the way he did. He doesn’t care about you, he never did. All he ever cared about was himself. He used you and when he got bored he threw you away and moved onto the next poor woman and I mean poor woman.

She is going to go through all of this just like you did, he is a child. He will get tired of her and hurt her and move onto the next one and the next and he will never once look back and think of you.

Yet here you are still trying to make allowances for him and his selfish behaviour. Yes, you made mistakes and yes sometimes you get carried away and need reigning in but you are one of the kindest and warm hearted people I have ever met.

You are the one who is there for everyone whether we ask for it or not. You always offer to help and rarely ask for anything in return. You didn’t deserve the way he treated you and you don’t deserve to be here.

I watched him strip you of everything you believed in. I tried to warn you that you would end up getting hurt but you saw something in him the rest of us didn’t. Sure he was handsome and at times he was good for you but he had a nasty streak too which you turned a blind eye to. You deserve so much better than him.” I pull her into a hug.

“I know you never understood my relationship with him. I never understood it either but it just always felt right. I know it wasn’t always as happy as I like to make out.

I know there were times when his behaviour frustrated me and I ended up making things worse. That frustration makes me anxious and I never felt like that before so it was all new to me but I trusted how he made me feel when things were good.

I believed him when he said I could trust him. In the beginning I said I didn’t want any regrets, I had enough, and I needed him to be completely honest and open. I needed to be able to trust him and I did, he promised me I could.

We made plans together, some things we did and some things we didn’t and I guess I got frustrated that they never happened. You know how important promises and honesty are to me.

I made such a mess of everything, I hurt myself and you and who knows who else because I couldn’t deal with letting him go. I will never understand what happened, why all of a sudden I was no longer good enough.

How he could carry on letting me think everything was ok? I’m never going to get those answers.

I need to find a way to forget all about him and that is hard to do. I need to find a new life where everything doesn’t remind me of him. New people to talk to, new places to go, new interests, anything so I don’t have to keep re-feeling his loss.”

“New football team?”

“Let’s not push it. I loved my team long before I even knew who he was. I will always feel close to him there.”

“What happens if you bump into him at a match?”

“I will smile and walk away. He ruined everything I knew to be true and made me doubt myself. He doesn’t get to take my football team away from me too. I saw it first!”

“That’s my girl. You know the thing that puzzled us all along?”

“No what’s that?”

“He is exactly the sort of guy you always warn us off of, yet he was the one you would have done anything for.

You have stopped us from making so many mistakes with guys by making us see the bad for our own good, yet you couldn’t see the bad in him. We never understood why. We never saw what you saw in him. It wasn’t as if he was the usual guy you were attracted to. But together you just seemed to fit.

We loved the way he made you glow with happiness but we should have protected you when things went wrong like you protect us and we didn’t. We should have tried harder to make you see the way he treated you at times was wrong and you didn’t deserve it. It was when things started to go wrong between you that your depression started to creep back.

He would start to push you away and you would start to lose your glow and things would get worse. We kept expecting him to end it and walk away but instead you would make up. We never understood why, he clearly wanted you around but then he got bored and pushed you away again.

It was enough to drive anyone mad. I wish you had told me how bad it had gotten for you, I would never have left you and then you wouldn’t have ended up in here.”

“Me being in here is not your fault. I would never have told anyone how bad it had gotten.

I wasn’t sleeping because every time I tried my mind would be full of the happy times between us and the way things ended. I spent hour after hour reading old messages, looking for some sign that he was unhappy and I couldn’t find one. It was obviously just me.

I felt as though I wasn’t good enough and if I wasn’t good enough for him then why would I be good enough for anyone else?

He saw me as a manipulative liar so maybe everyone else did and you were all humouring me. He knew I would hate myself and blame myself and I would let him think it wasn’t his fault. What good would it do? He stopped seeing me and saw the person he needed me to be to make it easier for him to walk away.

He found someone new and exciting and I can’t compete with that. I shouldn’t have to, I don’t want to compete. I wanted him to be there because he wanted to be and I thought he was, he let me believe he was.

He lied to me, maybe not outright lies all the time but a lie by omission is still a lie. Yet a part of me knows I will always miss him.

He used to make me laugh so much, just seeing his name on my phone made me smile. I remember once telling him how much I light up when he messages me and he said he knew, I loved that. No one will ever make me feel the way he did.

He doesn’t need me now and I can’t allow myself to believe he does when he clearly never did. I can’t let myself believe I meant something to him when he found it so easy to let go everything we once had.

I can’t forgive him for letting me believe everything was ok when it wasn’t and then blaming me for not knowing things had changed. He will never understand that he hurt me and explaining it won’t change anything, not that I will get the chance.

I guess knowing he is with someone else when I miss him hurts but a small part of that is jealousy. I’ve never been a jealous person but knowing he is making someone happy like he once did me, makes me feel things I never did before. I’ve become the sort of person I always wanted to avoid, I don’t even know who I am anymore.” I pull down the sleeves of the jacket to cover my bandages, a constant reminder of the fact I couldn’t cope.

“I know exactly who you are. You are my beautiful friend. The grown woman who still jumps in puddles when it rains.

The person who tells crap jokes to make me laugh. The one who tries to be funny and fails and carries on trying to make you laugh anyway, even when it’s got awkward, just because you like to make people smile.

The one who is always recommending books and films to everyone. The person who is up for anything, as long as it means you can get out the house.

The person who will try anything once or hold your coat while you do. The person I can tell anything and know you won’t judge me and will try to understand.

The person who would do anything for me if I asked. The person who hurts when I hurt and cries when I cry. The person who told my useless boyfriends to step up or ship out before they hurt me. The person I come to with all my problems and the first person I call with my good news.

You are my rock and although in some ways we are so different, in others we are so alike. But most of all you are the person I would miss the most if you weren’t here and I am so glad I got to you in time.”

“Me too and you know most of that goes for me too. You should really try the jumping in puddles thing, it’s fun! Dancing in the rain with someone you love who then carries you to bed and manhandles you all night is also an experience I can highly recommend!”

“I thought we weren’t thinking about H anymore?”

“Oh if only you knew. You always wondered what I saw in him but when it was just the two of us it was magical. I realise no one will ever understand it but there was a connection between us neither of us understood. It was just right. I just wish I could have held onto it and not gotten so carried away. Maybe if it stayed fun more he would have stuck around. I never saw it ending. I always thought we would be friends but it wasn’t meant to be and I have all this time I used to spend on him to fill.”

“So find someone else. Someone worthy of you who will appreciate you and be open and honest and not mess you around and hurt you. You deserve to be happy. I’ll help you find someone.”

“You can’t even find someone for yourself, how are you going to help me?” I nudge her and laugh.

“Well that’s because I’ve always looked for the perfect man. But you, you never looked for anyone. You make friends with people and accept people for who they are and embrace our uniqueness and you don’t look for perfect.”

“Well like I always tell you, perfect doesn’t exist and fun is hidden in the messy bits. As much as I hate arguing with people when I argued with Henry it meant that we were at least trying to fix things.

You don’t argue with someone you don’t care for. We never had blazing rows, we would get frustrated with each other talk it over and end up better than ever. It would clear the air and we’d become closer until the next time we started to grow apart again.

In all honesty the upheaval was exhausting. I never understood why we couldn’t just be happy all the time. We were good when we were happy. But I guess I’ll never know.

What I do know is he wasn’t happy and he left and the likelihood of ever seeing or speaking to him again is remote. The friendship and connection I thought we shared has gone and he’s moved on, he doesn’t need me he has someone new.

I need to find my something new. I don’t want that to be someone new. I don’t want to be this person I’m turning into I want my old self back. I know if I go back to the person he first loved it won’t bring him back, but at least if I find myself again I can be happy.

I don’t have the energy to start over again with anyone new. I don’t want to explain to them that I got dumped and scarred myself for life. I don’t want to have to tell them about the darkness inside me. Who will ever want to deal with that?

Maybe when the scars fade and I’m back to myself, maybe then I can consider letting people in again but right now the only thing I can do is be me and forget everything else.”

“Well you girls look like you had a long talk. It’s time for Lucy to rest now.” Doctor Raj is back to walk me inside.

“Ok trouble, well I will be back tomorrow so you look after yourself until then. I might bring some of the others if you’re up to it. They are dying to see you.”

“Oi, who you calling trouble, you’re trouble yourself. You can bring who you like. It’ll be nice to see people again and I need to apologise to everyone for what I did.” I hug Anna tightly.

“We’ve been through this, no more apologies. We all love you and no one is blaming you. We all want you to be better and come back to us so we can have fun again and put this phase of our lives long behind us. We thought we would plan a girl’s trip away somewhere. Anywhere you fancy.”

“Ok, thanks. We’ll pick somewhere fun, I could use a break. Oh and promise me one thing?”

“What’s that?”

“Promise me none of you will treat me like some sort of delicate flower. I don’t need protecting. I had a break and I need time to heal but I’m still me. I still need honesty like I always did. So if someone has something they need to say, tell them to say it and not bottle it up. I’ve had enough lies. I don’t like things being left unsaid and building up to bigger things when they don’t need to be. So tell everyone if they come to see me, do it cause they want to. If they have anything to say, say it so we can all move on. I don’t want people here because they think they should be here. I don’t need platitudes and pity, I just need my friends.”

“We are your friends and we aren’t pitying you. I will tell them but honestly I still can’t believe after all this time you doubt us. I know you have issues with trusting people and letting people get close to you. I know how much you have been hurt and what losing Karl did to you. But you know you can trust us and we are here because believe it or not even though you are a massive dork you’re our dork and we love you. Now give me a hug and get some bloody rest you nutter.” As soon as the word leaves her mouth the shocked expression forms on her face.

Nutter, I know she didn’t mean it. I know we both know I’m not that bad but right now I can’t laugh, I hurt too much but she is my friend so I laugh and hug her “Too soon.” I whisper in her ear and she knows she is forgiven. I watch her walk back to the car and hope she doesn’t beat herself up about a silly remark, we have teased each other for too long to let something like that come between us.

 

Doctor Raj walks me back to my room. “You’ve had a long day huh? Do you think you are ready to start healing now?”

“Yeah I can’t keep going on like this. I’ve hurt too many people and I need to make amends. I need to find myself again.”

“So tomorrow we start a fresh? We get to the bottom of what is hurting you and we begin to deal with it so you can go home. You are clearly loved and missed and I overheard talk of a holiday so that will be fun. Agreed?”

“Agreed.” He turns to leave the room as I sit on the bed. “Doctor.”

“Yes my Dear.”

“Thank you, for everything.”

“It is a pleasure. Now get some rest and no more worrying. Tomorrow is the start of a good day.”

 

He leaves the room and I sit staring at the wall, trying to make sense of all that I learned. I feel overwhelmed and numb at the same time. I have no energy left to fight. I lie back on the bed and close my eyes, praying that when I do Henry won’t be waiting for me.

“My eyes adored you, though I never laid a hand on you, my eyes adored you.”

“Henry, not now. You can’t keep doing this to me.”

“What? You always loved my Frankie Valli impression and you love that song.”

“Yes I do but you aren’t here. You left me remember. You have to leave me alone. I can’t keep talking to you as if nothing happened when I know that something did. You’re killing me Henry and I can’t bear it. Now leave and don’t come back.”

I close my mind but the song still plays. A tear runs down my cheek.

He had a lovely voice and he never knew why I loved him singing that song so much. It reminded me of the beginning, when I began to trust him and open up to him. My eyes really did adore him, everything about him and we hadn’t touched. Well not like lovers anyway as friends we were always tactile. Slapping each other, nudging each other, kiss on the cheek hello or goodbye, hugs and even holding hands on occasion, we were just playful with each other. I guess that’s why it was so easy for it to become more. It wasn’t an effort, it just happened. The more we knew about each other the more we wanted to spend time together. But it’s all over now.

Sleep finally takes me.

 

I wake the next morning feeling refreshed. For the first time in a long time Henry isn’t my first thought. His voice isn’t in my head. I can’t smell his warm skin lying next to me in bed. That special smell that is everything and nothing all at once. I always said I loved how he smelled and he always laughed and said the name of whatever aftershave he was wearing but I’d always say “No just Henry.” They say you are attracted to someone’s pheromones on a subconscious level.

Someone has left my clothes for the day on the chair in the corner. I long to be at home, looking for my own clothes and showering in privacy. I still can’t get used to someone listening to me peeing.  I need privacy for my morning functions, not an audience. Until Henry I never even enjoyed sharing a shower or bath with someone but he changed all that. He changed me in mostly good ways but some not so good.

“Morning Lucy, time for your shower.” Nurse Jane pulls back my bed covers and helps me stand. I always feel weak in the mornings now. I guess its low blood sugar.

We have an uneventful shower and I’m allowed to dry and dress myself unaided. I mean really I’m a grown woman.

“You can have breakfast in the group room this morning Lucy. After that Doctor Raj will see you. Come down when you have finished dressing and don’t forget to wear your shoes.” Nurse Jane smiles and leaves me be.

I pull on the tatty clothes and sit and brush my hair in the mirror. For the first time in a long time I see myself staring back. I am shocked at how old I look. The dark circles under my eyes from crying and my cheek bones prominent from lack of food. I look down at my body and see the curves I once loved have been replaced by bones.

They weren’t lying, I am too thin. How did I let myself get like this?

 

I walk to the group room, forcing a smile for the people I pass. At the doorway I stop, unable to walk in. The room is full of people I’ve yet to meet and I have no confidence left. Just as I think about walking away a voice pops up behind me. “It’s ok Lucy. You can do this. One foot in front of the other and you are there.” It’s Anna’s voice but when I turn she isn’t there. I can’t let her down again. I muster all my energy and walk into the room taking the only spare seat left at the table.

“Morning, you must be Lucy. I’m James and don’t worry I’m not going to ask you what you’re in for.” The guy next to me breaks the ice and I feel more at ease.

“How did you know my name?”

“I’m your ‘buddy’. They told me to expect you today. We all have a buddy in here, someone to talk to. They thought we would get on. Perhaps if we met under better circumstances we would, but the thought of finding a friend in here is just a little off putting for me. No offence. I’m just not in a place where I have anything to offer right now. Normally I’m a nice guy, I just need a break right now. But I’m happy to chat if you want, but can we just stay away from the ‘how are you feeling’ conversations, I’m over them. What do you say?”

“I say you read my mind. I don’t have anything to offer either. So why did they think we would get on so well?”

“Something to do with this I think. The Nurse mentioned if after she saw it.” James rolls up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of the Chelsea FC badge.

“Ahh so you’re a blue! Yeah I think we’ll get on all right.” I nudge him in the rib and begin eating the lumpy food in front of me.

 

“Lucy time to see the Doctor now. You can talk to James later.” Nurse Jane comes to walk me to my appointment. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to walk around on my own without being followed.

“Good morning Lucy.” Doctor Raj says as I walk into his office. “I thought we would walk in the gardens again today if that is ok with you? So much nicer talking in the clean air than this stuffy office don’t you think?”

“Fine with me.” I’m glad we will be outside, being inside all the time is making me claustrophobic and I enjoy feeling the air on my skin.

As we walk Doctor Raj ponders before asking “Where would you like to start today? Can you tell me about how you and Henry met?”

I almost don’t want to remember but as soon as I do my face erupts into a smile. Where Henry is concerned I always have involuntary emotional outbursts, usually beaming smiles sometimes painful tears.

“We met through a friend. He was just there at the pub one day and we happened to sit next to each other. We talked and laughed for hours over football and life. By the end of the night we had swapped numbers and were in contact on a regular basis.

I’d never met someone I connected with so quickly. It wasn’t an instant physical attraction, that came much later, but the minute I met him I knew I wanted him in my life. Our friendship became an important part of my life and the more I knew about him the more I saw the attraction in him.

I was so scared of showing my emotions because I didn’t want to lose my friend, he was a bit younger and loved playing the girls. So I doubted he’d be relationship material and I was happy with that as long as we were friends. I just couldn’t bear the thought of not having him around. A day of not talking to him felt like a lifetime.

We could talk for hours about pretty much nothing and not get bored. We’d tease each other all the time and make plans I never really thought would happen. But occasionally he would make a promise and that I always believed.” I stop and sit on the bench. Promises mean so much to me, hearing them come from him meant so much, seeing them never happen hurt so deeply.

“Do you want a break?”

“No, can we just continue. I want this to all be over.”

“Ok. So you started out as friends, then you became more?”

“Yeah, it just happened. It wasn’t what either of us were expecting but it felt right and I didn’t want to wonder any longer. I had felt us getting closer and I loved the direction we were heading. But I was scared.

I don’t trust people easily and letting someone in as a friend is much easier than letting someone in as more than that. I told him right from the start I didn’t want to regret anything and I needed to be able to trust him as I didn’t want to lose our friendship. He told me I could trust him because we were in it together and I believed him.

It was just so natural and it just happened. I’d never experienced anything like it before. It scared and excited me at the same time. I never wanted it to end. We moved our friendship on together and it was great, we were open and honest and we talked and laughed and loved and it was amazing.”

“It sounds like you were both very happy.”

“We were, or at least I thought we were. He started to pull away and I didn’t know why. He wouldn’t talk to me about it. He’d be distant for days and then it would be like he never went away. I assumed he found someone else. I kept expecting him to leave me, to find someone younger.

He made no promises that it would solely be me and him, right from the start and I accepted that because I wanted him in my life. That and I could see he wasn’t ready for a relationship.

But I sensed that one day he might be and I was prepared to wait and see what happened. Because in truth I never met anyone who made me feel like he did and I knew it was worth the effort.

It wasn’t like I cut off all other options. I never kidded myself that he was going to fall in love with me. I looked for other guys but it just wasn’t the same. They didn’t make me feel the same and I didn’t want to settle for less once I knew how good it could be. So I didn’t let anything else get serious.”

“So you were dating Henry and other men at the same time?”

“I was never really dating Henry. We never put a label on what we were. I didn’t need a label. We just did what felt right, when we felt like it. I never expected anything from him. In truth I always expected him to leave.

Things got rough a couple of times between us when he pulled away and I didn’t know what we were anymore. When it happened I always expected him to walk away and not come back but he never did. I always trusted him to be honest with me and just tell me when he met someone. I could dealt with that, as long as I still had my friend.”

“Ok, so you mentioned him pushing you away. Can you tell me how that made you feel?”

“We’d get close, have fun and things would be good but then he’d start taking longer to reply to my messages or cancel our meeting. So I’d wonder if he was busy with work and tell myself he’ll get back to me when he can. He always said he didn’t ignore my messages.

But the longer it took to reply the louder the voice in my head got. The one that said he’d found someone else and he had forgotten about me. I hated it, I never wanted to believe it, he never really gave me a reason to, but every time he pushed me away it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him.

I guess the fact I knew from the beginning that I was never going to be enough for him played on my mind. I suppose a part of me was jealous that someone else was getting the part of him that I adored so much too. But I saw him with other girls and it was never quite the same as it was with me.

I’d begin to doubt him when he called me beautiful and sexy because I knew he was saying it to other women too. I’d wonder when he sent me photo’s how many other women had seen them. When we had to cancel our meetings I’d feel like it was because he had a better offer.”

“Did you ever talk to him about how you felt.”

“I tried but he never wanted to understand. He tried sometimes but it would always end up in a argument but we always fixed things. No matter how bad things got between us, we always found a way back. But we could never seem to stay in that place.

I guess after a while each time it happens you lose a little bit of what you had. I had a bad experience with some medication, it made me depressed and he couldn’t cope with it. He bore the brunt of all my frustration.

I needed my friend, I needed him to be playful and hug me and tell me it was all ok. I needed him to make the demons go away but he had his own stuff going on and he didn’t have the time to help me too. I lost him after that.

We were never as close, never as playful but we still had fun. I longed to get back to what we were but the novelty of the beginning had worn off. I felt like he couldn’t forgive me for getting ill and as much as I wanted us to get back to what we were, if he couldn’t forgive me it was never going to happen.”

“How often did you see or talk to Henry?”

“In the beginning we spoke every day, all through the day and night, messages and phone calls, ongoing jokes and teasing. We’d see each other a couple of times a month.

When things changed and we became closer we’d talk until the early hours of the morning and I’d wake up to good morning messages. He’d stay at my house a couple of times a week. We’d go out at least once a week and we still talked daily.

If he was seeing someone we’d see each other less but still talk every day. But then as time wore on we saw each other less and spent more time talking via messages. We were both busy with work and I knew he met someone he liked again.”

“Can you tell me about the demons?”

“After we lost Karl I promised myself I wouldn’t get close to anyone again. I didn’t want to love someone for them to leave me again. I didn’t think I could ever cope with loosing someone else I loved. So I pushed people away when they got too close. I hid myself away for a long time. But then I decided I needed to get out there. So I started to learn to trust people.

The first guy I trusted was already with someone when I met him. So I never told him how I felt, he knew but I’d never say the words. So when I met Henry I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. I didn’t want to let someone else I liked get away because I was too scared to try and make it work. Something about him never made me want to say no. His love for life was infectious and I just wanted to be a part of it.

He brought sunshine into my life and chased the darkness and demons away and I was happier than I had ever been. But then he’d leave and the darkness would creep back and I forgot how to stop it myself. Without the sunshine the darkness started to win. I started to lose myself and I can’t really blame Henry for that, even if he did contribute to it I should have handled it better.”

“So how did you cope with getting over the depression or the darkness as you call it?”

“I went to ask for help. We had a big fight, he said some horrible things. I hurt him and he lashed out to hurt me back. I was falling into a bad place and I wasn’t myself. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t realise it had got so bad and then he just cut me off.

I woke up the next day and I was scared. I reached out to a friend but they were busy, they were having their own problems and I couldn’t lean on them. Nothing anyone could say would help anyway. One day I just couldn’t stop crying. Everything hurt, I missed my friend.

I didn’t want to do anything, I was cranky at work and wanted to leave but I didn’t know what to do Everything just felt like it was crushing me. The hurt, the confusion, the loss so I rang the Doctor and they gave me a course of therapy. It helped but I had to force myself to remember to do the exercises. Things got better. I came back, slowly but surely.”

“So where was Henry when you were getting therapy?”

“I didn’t hear from him. He cut me off. I reached out to him the day I couldn’t stop crying, I was so hurt and angry but it made it worse. He never responded, I can’t blame him. When he left this time I re-read all our messages and what I wrote that day was horrible to read. But it was honest at the time of how I felt and it wasn’t meant to hurt him.

He just didn’t want to deal with it. The fun person he loved spending time with wasn’t there anymore and instead there was a horrible person who hurt him. Why would he want to spend time with that?”

“But you got back together?”

“Then one day he messaged me that he wanted to meet. I’d done the first course of therapy and was just starting to sleep when it stirred it all up again. I could hear how hurt he was in his words. I tried to explain and make it better but he didn’t want to listen.

We had a long talk, I told him about the therapy and we decided to just be friends. It was good, but it wasn’t the same. He didn’t trust me and he held back. But we slipped into being more again.

We had a argument one night, it was something and nothing. I was frustrated at him as I was trying to talk to him and he was being evasive, it was annoying. I asked him what we were doing, one minute we are friends the next we are more and then back to friends on a never ending roundabout.

We never gave us a proper chance so we agreed to try. He said he would stop seeing other women and give us a proper chance and I thought that was what we were doing.”

“So how did it end?”

“At first things were good. We both made an effort. But then he became distant again. I suspected he met someone but he always promised to be honest with me about that. I said all along I didn’t mind his need to see other women but I wanted to know when he was, so I knew not to expect too much from him.

Something felt wrong but when we were together it was good and there was no indication that he was unhappy. It was just a gut feeling in my stomach. He was saying and doing all the right things.

Then I met him after his trip and saw him with the other woman and I realised in that moment that my gut had been right. The fact he chose to lead me on and let me think nothing was wrong when he could have just been honest hurt.

Then when he said he never wanted to be in a relationship with me and he only went along with it because he felt he couldn’t say no, I was lost. All the good times we had together became a lie in that moment. I couldn’t trust anything that happened between us.

All the beautiful things he’d said to me, the places we’d been and the things we did together became a lie. A big part of my life over the last few years became a lie. I couldn’t believe after everything I thought we were to each other he could hate me that much to want to hurt me like that.”

“So how did it make you feel?”

“Betrayed, worthless, angry, confused, scared, emotionally drained, and lost, unhappy, tired, frustrated and generally just hurt.”

“Why do you think you felt like that?”

“Because after everything, all the time we spent getting to know each other, when it came down to it I meant nothing to him. He thought nothing about hurting me. He knew finding out about the other woman would hurt me. He could have been honest about it. He could have talked to me about it and how he was feeling but he chose to let me believe there was nothing wrong and that we were happy. He chose to hurt me.

All of this time I thought we had this amazing friendship, it wasn’t perfect. Neither of us are perfect, I said and did things I’m not proud of and wish I could change but I never intentionally hurt him. I could never do that to him. I was shocked he could do that to me.

The person I saw that day, wasn’t the person I had gotten to know, who brought sunshine into my life. It made me question everything, I started seeing things differently.

Reading old messages, looking for signs that he was unhappy but I couldn’t find them. I saw where things had gone wrong in the past and how we always came back from that. But knowing we would never come back from this I just couldn’t cope.

I wanted a way out and the knife just seemed easiest. I was fed up with leaning on my friends. After he pushed me away the first time they told me to walk away and that he wasn’t worthy of me. They never understood why I was happy to be a bit part player in his game instead of being someone’s everything. But then they never saw how we were when it was just me and him and no one else. The way he spoke to me then.”

 

“Doctor Raj, you have a visitor.” Nurse Jane interrupts us.

“Is it important Jane? We were just having a nice chat.” He pats me on the leg.

“Yes, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t have interrupted you if it wasn’t. I do apologise Lucy. Maybe I can take Lucy and get her some lunch while you speak to the visitor.”

“Ok, that sounds like a plan. I will see you after lunch Lucy. Is that ok?”

“Yes, I could use a break anyway.”

Nurse Jane leads me back to the group room and I sit and wait for curled up sandwiches and stewed tea.

 

“Hello, I’m Doctor Raj, you wanted to speak with me?” Doctor Raj holds out his hand to greet the man in the hallway outside his office.

“Henry Callahan, I’m Lucy’s err friend I guess you could call it.”

“Ok, Henry I think you should come into my office. It wouldn’t be good for Lucy to see you out here.” Doctor Raj leads him into the office, offering him a seat.

“What can I do for you Henry. I can’t discuss my patients with anyone I am afraid.”

“I just need to know she is ok. I didn’t know about any of this. If I had I…”

“What would you have done Henry?”

“I would have… It would have been… I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking past what I wanted. I only just found out, as you can see by my face. I bumped into some mutual friends who were none too pleased with me. I never wanted it to end like this. I just panicked and didn’t know what to do. I handled it so badly but I didn’t think she would take it so hard. She’d been off with me for a while. I thought things were coming to an end for her too. I didn’t realise how much she cared about me. I never thought she would try to… well you know.”

“Take her own life?”

“Yes.”

“Henry, from what Lucy has told me you were aware that she suffered from depression in the past. People who suffer from depression are never completely cured of it. It is always there. They learn to live with it and develop coping mechanisms but when things happen they often don’t react in the same way other people might.

From what I can see Lucy is an emotional person, she feels deeply about things. She reacted in the way she needed to, you can’t blame yourself for that. If you think you could and should have done things differently then that is for you to work through. What was your motive for coming here today?”

“I… wanted to see Lucy.”

“Why do you want to see Lucy?”

“I want to tell her I’m sorry. I want to apologise for hurting her. I miss her. I don’t know if she will ever forgive me or if she wants to see me but when I heard about what happened I couldn’t stay away. Even if she never speaks to me again. I had to come here and find out.”

“I don’t think it is a good idea for you to meet with Lucy. She is in a fragile state at the moment, seeing you will set her back in her recovery. I have just managed to get her to open up. She has begun the first step to getting out of here and back to her life and it would be wrong of me to let you see her now. Even informing her you were here would be the wrong thing to do. I hope you understand, my priority is Lucy’s wellbeing.”

“I do understand. Believe me I don’t want to hurt her. Well anymore than I already have. I can’t believe things ended up in such a mess. I don’t know why they did. I just… blamed her for ruining what we had and I couldn’t let her in again. I know she didn’t mean to but she hurt me, she explained about getting ill.

A part of me held onto that, even though I said I didn’t. It just built up and everything she did began to annoy me. Even though a part of me she wanted her.

I met Naya and things with her were fun. I started to forget about Lucy. Then Lucy would message me and I’d get angry seeing her wanting my attention. She wanted me to save her and I didn’t know how. I just wanted her to be my Lucy. The girl who made me laugh, but she kept being real and I wasn’t ready for real.”

 

“I never asked you to save me. I just asked you to be there because you wanted to be.” I don’t know what made me walk down the corridor to that toilet, at the moment but as I neared Doctor Raj’s door I thought I smelt Henry. I listened at the door as he talked about me until I couldn’t wait any longer.

“Luce” Was all Henry managed before I ran out the door, tears streaming down my face. The look on his face of shock, disgust and horror. The cuts and bruises on that beautiful face, hearing his voice, smelling him, it was all too much I had to run. I turned at the end of the corridor to see Doctor Raj running after me.

I ran outside into the garden and looked in the window to see Henry sitting in the chair with his head in his hands, his shoulders shaking as if he was crying and my heart lurched. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted him to be ok but then I remembered where I was. I turned and ran into the rose tunnel and kept running until my lungs burned so much I fell to the floor. Shortly after an out of breath Doctor Raj flopped to the floor beside me.

 

“Oh my, I really am quite out of shape.” He said fighting for his breaths. “I’m sorry you had to see Henry. The Nurses should have been more aware and kept you apart. Can you tell me how you are feeling now you have seen him?”

“The look on his face Doctor Raj, the way he looked at me.” My breathing is stabilising as I pull my knees to my chest and begin to cry.

“I think you gave Henry a bit of a shock. He has only just been told about what happened with you. He came here today to speak with you. I was just explaining to him it wasn’t a good idea for you to see each other. When the door flies open and there you are.”

“What happened to his face?”

“He said something about meeting one of your friends yesterday.”

“Oh. They didn’t need to do that. Is he going to be ok Doctor?” Even now all I can think about is him.

“I am more worried about you. Henry is a big boy, he can look after himself. Your health and well being is my priority. I need to know you are ok Lucy. We need to talk about this.”

“Doctor Raj, if you want me to talk then you need to go and check on Henry first. I can’t talk to you knowing he is upset. Please, go talk to him. Explain to him that this isn’t his fault, me being in here. Tell him that I don’t blame him and that I don’t hate him for what he did. Tell him I didn’t ask them to hurt him. I would never do that to him. Please Doctor. If you do that then I can talk to you again. I will wait on the garden bench for you.”

“Ok Lucy. I am going to trust you. I will talk to Henry as you ask but I am going to trust that you will wait for me and not run off again. Do we understand each other? I want to trust you Lucy.”

“You can trust me, I promise and I never break a promise.”

 

“Oh Doctor it’s you, is she ok? The Nurse told me to stay here and wait. I’ve been going out my mind. Is she ok?”

“Sit down Henry, take deep breaths, and drink the water. Lucy is ok for now. She wanted me to come and speak to you before I talk to her again. So just sit and get your breath back and we will talk.”

“Typical Lucy, she’s here, in this place and after everything I did she is still worried about me. I just, I don’t know how to deal with that. I’ve never met anyone like her before. The way she always asks questions about me and what I’ve been up to and checks on me and wants to help and is just there all the time I found it stifling. When she wasn’t there I missed it.

I know she has feelings for me, I just didn’t know what to do with them. I don’t think I can be the person she wants me to be and I hate it. I want to be that for her but I just can’t. I don’t know how and the way she makes me feel scares me. I never understood the connection I had with her.

Things got so messed up and then they were good but that just got tiring going backwards and forwards. I know she hated it too.

But seeing her like that, so thin and so vulnerable. It made me feel sick to see her like that. To know that I did that to her.” Henry breaks down into tears.

“Henry, she wanted me to make it clear to you that she doesn’t hate you nor does she blame you for what happened to her. She wanted me to make sure you knew that. Do you understand?”

“Tell her I’m sorry I’m so so sorry. I just don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t believe I almost lost her for good. Doctor, please help her. Please bring my Lucy back. Even if she is never my Lucy again please bring her back. I’ll do anything for her. Anything she needs, money, anything just get her well again.”

“Henry, Lucy’s illness is not something that money can fix. She needs to be surrounded by people who love her and who remind her of who she was. Right now you are part of what made her unwell so we can’t have you influencing her now. Do you understand me?

If you care about Lucy you need to stay away from her. If you wish I will inform you when she leaves here, if she agrees. Write your contact details on here. But other than that there is nothing more I can do. As I said I can’t discuss Lucy with you. I can’t let you back into her life without her permission, which she is not in a position to grant.”

“I understand Doctor, I promise I will stay away. I owe her that, I owe her a lot more but if staying away is all I can do then it’s done.”

“Henry, might I make a suggestion?”

“Yeah sure.”

“Seek someone to talk to. Work out what you want and how you feel about what happened. If Lucy means as much to you as you say then she isn’t the only one who needs help processing what happened between you. There is no shame in asking for help. You both seem like good kids. I would hate for you to both end up in cycles where you hurt people and move on without addressing the things that hurt you. Do you understand what I am saying to you?”

“Yes Doctor, I think I understand. I will find someone to talk to for Lucy.” Doctor Raj smiles.

“You know it’s funny. She refers to you as ‘her Henry’ and you asked me to bring back ‘you’re Lucy’ and yet it took you both getting into a complete mess for you to want to talk to each other. Perhaps if you two had talked more instead of avoiding your issues then all of this could have been avoided. Just something to think about.” Doctor Raj shows Henry to the door and they shake hands.

“I know Doctor, I know.”

 

Doctor Raj joins me in the garden again. Nurse Jane has been keeping me company and filling me with glasses of milk and cookies.

“You were gone a long time, is Henry ok now?”

“Yes my dear, Henry will be ok. He is going to find someone to speak to. He wanted to apologise to you for being shocked. Now we need to return our thoughts to you and your well being. So I want you to tell me how you feel now you have seen Henry again?” I breathe a sigh of relief.

“I don’t know how I feel. Hearing what he said about me wanting him to save me. I never wanted that. I know no-one but me can save me. All I ever wanted was for him to be him. I loved him for who he was and the things he brought to my life.

The person who ended things wasn’t that guy. He was cold and hurtful. He didn’t care about me at all. He was just thinking about himself and what made it worse he blamed me for everything. It really wasn’t my fault.

Everything we did we did together, most of it he lead and I followed. Some of it I didn’t like and I made allowances for, because when it was good it was worth it. But he stopped and started so much I began to be constantly wondering if he’d be there or not.

I couldn’t go on with the frustration anymore. A part of me knew I was losing him, he was leaving me but nothing I tried made any difference. I started to change and become a person I didn’t like and he started to hate me.

All I wanted us to do was talk and work through whatever it was that was bugging him. I never thought that is was someone else. I could usually tell but I had no clue this time.

He’d just finished telling me how good we were together when the next time we talked he was cold and talking about ending it. Then he changed his mind again and said it was ok we could carry on and then I met him for lunch as she was there.

None of my friends knew about what else was happening between us. They only know about the lunch meeting. I stopped telling them about us after I got depressed the first time.

He didn’t like being talked about and they thought I could do better and didn’t understand why he was so important to me. They kept telling me I give him everything he wants and ignore what I want and make excuses for why he can’t give me what I deserve. I was so tired of hearing it that I just stopped talking about it.

From the minute I met him I imagined us being friends for a long time. Had I known how things would have gone I would never have ruined what we had. I’ll never understand why we couldn’t make it work, it was all I wanted for us to really try but the fact is he didn’t want it.”

“So how do you feel now?”

“Seeing him today stirred it all up again. I wanted to hold him and make everything ok like I always did. I guess I always will. He just has that effect on me.

No matter how much he hurts me or how much I wish things were different, I know I could never really hate him or fully blame him. I took my share of the blame for what happened, but he never wanted to take his share. He’d just say he did nothing wrong and blame me and I didn’t deserve that.

So whilst I will always miss him and what he brought to my life, right now I don’t know who he is anymore. I always thought we would find our way back to each other, and that he would miss me and we would fix things but I don’t know if we can.

He’s never going to want to put in that effort. We can’t get back what we had. I don’t want that back. I stupidly believed I meant something to him and finding out I didn’t will always hurt.

I wasn’t always the best person I could be and I made mistakes but I deserved more than I got. I guess it’s my own fault. I knew from the beginning he didn’t want a relationship with just me, he wasn’t ready for that.

But the way he spoke he always lead me to believe he cared and I guess I thought that if I just carried on being me and we kept having fun, one day he might be ready. He always left things open. Even when we fought he would always turn it straight around again.

He would never say it was completely over, he said he needed a break and in the future things might be different. He never said he didn’t want a relationship with me, all he ever said was he didn’t want that right now.

I guess when I looked back I just saw all the false hope I’d been fed. I just wish he had never let me think we could have a chance.

I wish he’d said he didn’t like me and stuck to it if that was truly what he felt. I wish we’d never gotten close like that. But I can’t undo the things that have been said and done.”

“No, you can’t and now you have told me everything I need you to look to the future. I need you to stop thinking about the past. Henry is no longer a part of your life and we need to find a way for you to cope with that. So tell me where do you see yourself in a year?”

“I hate questions like that. I don’t look at life like that. I look at today and tomorrow. I want to be open to experiences and not ignore chances because they don’t fit into some misguided idea of a life plan.

That was why I took the chance with Henry in the end. I didn’t want to look back and wonder what would have happened if I’d said no. I didn’t expect to have feelings for him or for what happened between us to be so good but it happened.

In time I’m sure I will be glad it did. To know someone is out there that can make you feel that good, is a nice thing to know. Knowing they are out there making someone else feel that good whilst your miserable, not so nice. But hey, I just hope they are appreciating him and he is sticking to his promise.”

“What promise is that?”

“Oh, I jokingly made him promise not to let any of his girlfriends change him. I’ve watched my friends try to change their boyfriends instead of just appreciating them for who they are. I didn’t want that to happen to him.

I never met anyone like him and the thought of someone trying to change the annoying bits about him made me angry. Because without the annoying bits you might not realise how good the amazing bits were.

He was the first person to tell me he liked me just the way I am. Even my best friends have things they would change about me. He never wanted to change anything. I wouldn’t have changed anything about him either. In the end he ended up changing me anyway. I just wish I knew how to remain.”

“Remain? What do you mean?”

“I want to know how to remain myself. How to stop losing myself in other people’s words and ideas of me.

Sometimes the way Henry spoke to me just made me feel so worthless and it felt like he was comparing me to someone else. I hated that. I never wanted to lose sight of myself or to let someone tear me down like that but I couldn’t stop myself.

I want to remain who I am. I was happy with that person. I knew where I stood and what I wanted.

I let someone else in and they didn’t always tell me what they wanted or make it clear where I stood and that drove me crazy. You can’t be spontaneous with someone if they aren’t in the moment with you. You can’t make plans with someone who doesn’t want to commit. You never know where you stand when someone keeps changing their mind. So I struggled to remain happy. I’m tired of that now.

I’m tired of letting people in and them hurting me. I can’t take it anymore. It’s just too hard. I put everything I had into me and Henry and he threw it away. Now I have to fight the darkness all over again and I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of being the one who gets depressed. While the people who hurt me walk away and are happy. I’m sick of being the stepping stone to better things, when do I get to be the best thing?

When does someone get to look at me and see I am enough. I’m not perfect but I’m here and I will do almost anything for the people that I care about. When does it get to be my time?

I’m so sick of being the last one to find someone. All of my friends are married and have kids. I just wanted someone to care, a little bit and he did. He said he didn’t at the end, but he did, I was never going to be good enough and it made me tired.

I just want to leave here and go home and try to find my life again. The one I had before I met him. I was still alone but at least I didn’t realise then I was lonely. This time I can try new things again. But I’m never letting anyone get close again, not like that.”

“If you close your heart to people then how will you know if you have met the person you are supposed to be with? I don’t think that is a healthy attitude to take.”

“My soul mate died when I was small. I thought I found someone I loved but he was never going to leave his partner. Even though I could tell he wasn’t completely happy.

Then I met someone who I connected with on a level I never had before and I couldn’t make it work. I’m clearly not cut out for being in relationships.

I just don’t have what it takes to make another person happy. I struggle to keep myself happy. I need to keep things small. I need to stop trying to be there for everyone and just focus on myself. I need to figure out what I want and make a life for myself and stop believing I will ever mean anything to anyone else.”

“Lucy, I have seen people visit you here and to them you mean a great deal. I don’t know you well but I can see you are deeply loved. From what you have told me you are a good person and you will find your happiness again. There is someone out there for you. You will find him and when you do you will realise that this phase in your life was to show you how good the next phase is. Don’t give up on happiness.”

“Thank you Doctor but I’m not giving up on happiness. I’m giving up on my dreams. They never got me anywhere other than disappointment. Maybe one day in the future I will dare to dream again but right now I need to focus on today and then tomorrow. I think I would like to lie down and rest now.”

“Ok, it has been a long day. I will walk you back to your room.” We walk in silence, I am all talked out. As we pass Doctor Raj’s office I think I can still smell Henry but it’s just a trick of the mind.

I enter my room, fall on the bed and am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. No songs or voices of comfort are needed today.

 

“Doctor Raj, I came to see Lucy but they won’t let me see her, they said I should speak to you. Is she ok?”

“Henry came to see her today and she saw him. It set her back a bit. She is very tired, nothing to worry about. We are taking very good care of her, rest assured.”

“That arsehole. I’ll kill him what did he do? Say?”

“From the looks of it someone already tried. He was just explaining a few things to me when Lucy overheard him and came in. She saw the shocked look of him seeing her in her current state and ran. They didn’t speak. She asked me to make sure he was ok and he left. I then spoke to her some more and it tired her out. She has been asleep for a while now, I think rest is the best thing for her right now. Henry has agreed to stay away and I have said on her discharge from here if Lucy is permitting I will let him know she has finished her treatment course.”

“Doctor, promise me you won’t let him anywhere near her. He took my beautiful friend and turned her into this grovelling mess who makes it ok for him to treat her like shit and walk away. I begged him to look after her when they got together. I said if he messed her around it would kill her.

He promised me he would always be open with her, especially when it came to other women. He said I could trust him to look after her as he cared for her and wouldn’t dream of hurting her. I watched them get close and the closer they got the more I saw in his eyes that scared little boy wanting to run away.

All she ever wanted was for them to have a proper chance to know once and for all if it would work but he was never going to let that happen. I saw the way he looked at her, he felt something for her and it was real.

But then I would see him with another girl and he’d be a different person. He just wanted to have fun all the time and Lucy reminded him of real life.

She is a fun girl, she is up for anything most of the time but being pulled and pushed by him took that girl away. I begged him to just end it and let her walk away and he said that wasn’t what he wanted so they talked.

She started messing with some other guy and he saw them together and he couldn’t stand the thought of someone else with her so he found another girl. But the truth was she only considered that guy because I asked her to.

I begged her not to put everything into Henry. I told her he would never commit to her because he was to selfish. He only wanted what he wanted and when he was done he walked away. Other girls accepted it, they knew the score they took what they wanted too, but Lucy isn’t like that.

She can’t just be a one night stand. She won’t give herself to someone who she doesn’t care for. That was why I tried to reason with Henry and I think I just pushed him further away from her. I want to make amends.

If I thought Henry would actually do the right thing and make her happy then I would pick up the phone now and call him but I don’t think he will ever give her a chance. In all honesty that breaks my heart because seeing them together you could tell not many people find that connection.”

“I understand. Rest assured we will do what is best for Lucy. She is making progress and I’m sure she will be back home soon. Let her rest for today. Tomorrow we will begin to find the real Lucy again.”

 

I wake up and stare at the wall. I don’t know the time but it is dark outside and the moon is full, lighting up the roses in its bluish tint. I look around the room, Henry is gone and I’m alone. I no longer hear his voice in my head. Tomorrow will be another long day. Doctor Raj will ask more questions and I’ll have to think up more answers.

I think back to how shocked Anna and Henry were to see me. I don’t ever want to be back here again. This time I must learn how to keep things even. This time I must conquer the darkness for the last time.

I think I will ask for a journal so I can write my thoughts down, they should let me do that.

Perhaps I will write to Henry. I must be sure not to tell him I miss him. I’ve already scared the poor man enough for one lifetime.

I can’t help but wonder why he came to see me today. I wonder if she looks after him and makes him happy. I wonder if he smiles at her the way he used to smile at me.

At least I know he is ok. I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to him. After everything he will always have a place in my heart. Even if I never see him again, that part of me will always care.

I didn’t want to have anymore regrets but right now it’s hard now to see what happened between us as anything but a regret. How can a friendship so good die so easily? But I’m forgetting, that it was only a friendship to me, he said we aren’t friends. I shake my head and clear the thoughts.

No more thinking about Henry, he’s gone. I’m still here.

I want to be happy, I want to be healthy and I want to go home. To start my life once more, whatever life I have to go back to. But this time I’m focussing on me. Time to stop putting off the things I want to make life easier for everyone else. I’m done with being there for people, I know who I can trust now.

I lie back on the bed and close my eyes. Tomorrow I begin my struggle to remain…

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