Shut up brain !

She grabs an ice cold green tea from the subzero. It’s 3am now.  Everything dark outside her windows, her reflection in the glass all she can see.  She has become almost unrecognizable in the past year.  Round.  Ugly.  Aged. She turns her back to the outside. Not proud of the new look.  Sipping her green tea and debating turning on all the lights so she wont have to look at herself again.  She’s not scared of the dark.  She’s just scared of the dreams.  The memories.  They haunt her in the daylight just the same as the night.  Her brain is her worst enemy. Replaying it over and over again.  Trying to fix what cannot be fixed.  Trying to understand what she will never comprehend. So many intrusive thoughts.  She knows its the PTSD.  She’s had it for four years now.  Festering in her prefrontal cortex.  A nightmare. One that grips her while she showers, makes dinner, drives her car, takes out the trash, records her patient’s vitals, grocery shops, vacuums the carpet, mows the lawn, talks to the teacher, zips up a coat, writes out a check, changes the sheets on her bed, vomits up her dinner…so intrusive that she screams out sometimes “Shut the fuck up brain!! Oh my god SHUT UP!! I don’t want to think about it anymore! I don’t want to think about it! Stop thinking about it! God dammit STOP THINKING ABOUT IT!” she shouts. Then she cries.  She’s always crying.  Or eating.  Crying and eating.  Trying to stay sane.

The flashbacks subside for a moment but her gut tells her he’s up to something.  She can tell by his texts.  Manufacturing evidence. He’s ready to attack again.  Carefully biding his time until he files his next court case. Abuses her by proxy.  The American court system is his patsy.  His arm – the law.  She’s never going to be rid of him.  Not in this lifetime.  But still she fantasizes about love.  About a handsome man with ocean eyes.  He’d protect her.  Hold her at night.  Stroke her hair while she shivers.  Be her rock when she breaks down.  Sing to her. Make her laugh.  Try to impress her with his stories.  Remind her that life is worth living.

His mere presence would knock her ex off his game.  Force him in to submission.  His intellect…his success…his desire for her proof that she’s not worthless. She’s somebody if she can catch Jared’s eye or better yet, his friendship.  But it’s all just a fantasy really – one Jared refuses to fulfill anymore.  He’s so distant.  No longer a good escape.  And the PTSD is so bad – so intrusive that she cries most days.  In a place thats closed off from the world.  Where she no longer listens to music.  She just exists.  Waiting for the next attack. Praying the next ten years fly by.  Wishing her children’s childhood away so her ties to him will be over quicker. Not going to concerts.  No trips with friends.  Doing nothing because she feels like nothing.  Just a punching bag filled with bad thoughts.

Her friends all abandoned her, in the worst time in her life.  But she can’t really blame them.  There’s only so many times you can say “Oh wow, he’s such an asshole!” before you start questioning her.  And she feels all that.  She knows thats what you’re thinking at the other end of the line.  She must be exaggerating.  She’s stretching the truth….he cant really be doing all the things he has done. He can’t keep getting away with it. But he did, and he does.  And she’s angry at god, but he’s not listening either.  He abandoned her too.  Left her with these thoughts in her brain. Thoughts she doesn’t want to think. Memories she’s forced to relive.  Puzzles she’ll never sort out.  She prays for relief – assumes it will come when her children outgrow her.  When her boys become men. There’d be no way left to hurt her then.

But she dreams nonetheless – of finding the California sun and starting over again.  Pick up where 1992 ended and find herself.  Find peace.  Find Jared.  And for a moment – just one – she’s ok.  Until the next time her brain tells her to duck an imaginary fist.  Until the next time a police officer is at the door.  Until the next time she’s summoned to appear.  Until the next time….and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time……and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…and the next time….and the next time….and the next time…

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Or…

She knew she’d had a seizure the moment she woke back.  All the telltale signs were there, the tiny cuts on her tongue and the inside of her cheek where her teeth gnashed and tore at the delicate flesh.  The too familiar ache in her back.  The wet sheets beneath her.  She was embarrassed and she had no idea how long she’d been out of it.

She sat up slowly.  Her back so sore…Jared was sitting across the room, in a reading chair, his head in his hands, fingers gripped tightly in his long hair.

“You’re awake” she said.

He looked up at her, dark circles around his eyes, red where the whites should be.  He looked at her kindly and whispered “I’ve been up all night.”

“All night?” she asked.

“All night.” he confirmed.

“It was …bad?”

“Yes.” was all he said as he rose from his chair.  “This one was real bad.  Do you need help getting to the bathroom?”

She looked at the wetness around her and felt the pink settle high on her cheeks and her neck “I think I had an accident in the bed.”

“You did.” he said nonjudgementally.  “Can you get up? I’ll strip the bed.”

“No! Don’t do that.  I’ve got it.”

“Knock it off.”

She very carefully put both of her feet on the floor and sat at the end of the bed.  One hand resting on the sorest part of her back, the other holding her steady.

“Are you mad?”

“Of course I’m not.”

“But you’re …”

“I’m just tired. Here let me help you to the bathroom so we can clean you up and salvage some sleep before the sun comes up.”

She let Jared lead her quietly to the master bathroom where he guided her down in to his soaking tub.  He helped her disrobe as she sat on the floor of the tub.  The water filled in around her and he tossed her clothes into a laundry basket.

“I’m so sorry this keeps happening.” she said.

Jared kissed her forehead and smoothed back a tendril of wet hair.  “You have to go back on your medication.” he stated.

“But – ”

“There’s no but … you don’t see what I see…you have to go back on the medication….or…” he let his voice trail off.  They’ve discussed “or” ad nauseam.

He loved her, more than he ever has loved another, but he’s scared of her.  Of what her body does when they’re sleeping side by side in the night. What these seizures must be doing to the baby.  He’s scared and that’s not an emotion that Jared feels very often.  He’s not comfortable with the adrenaline that come with fear. He just wants everything to be ok.  Normal.  Even mundane.  But there’s an elephant in the room….and a tumor in her brain….

Dangerous Night

He doesn’t know what love is. His love hurts.  It’s embarrassing and stifling and at times I can hardly breathe.  He’s mean and he’s relentless and my whole body hurts.  There are no words, just pain.  No silence, just this ringing in my head that wont go away.  I’m not sure why I begged for this.  Why am I always begging.  It started with a walk.  Just a short one up our shared hill. Around our dry city. But now I’m under the ground, hiding from his love.  Under a watchful eye and never ever alone.  Be careful what you wish for because your dreams may come true.  His dreams, dear dreamer, are nightmares.  My dreams, dear dreamer, have come to fruition. Everything I ever asked for – I have.  He wont let me go now.  He’ll never let me go.  He’s in love with me and I am afraid.  Afraid of his attention. His unrelenting attention.  His focus.  His passion.  His love.

“Careful … careful.”  he whispers. “You don’t want the others to hear you … and be … jealous.”

Penal Code 192(c)

“She’s not breathing…no, no I tried that.  She’s not breathing! Ok….I’m kneeling….I can’t hold the phone and do CPR….ok ok….” he passes his cellphone off to me, I fumble but manage to get it to my ear “Talk to them…” he insists. His blue eyes pleading.

Jared tilts the woman’s head back softly.  Her mouth falls open.  I look away.

I’m frozen.  The scene in front of me is horrific.  So much blood underneath her and there’s glass in her hair. Her body is directly on the pavement. Like in the middle of the goddamn street. And it’s so loud. I can’t even think straight.  Why is it so loud? I can’t focus. I’m not good in a crisis.  Never have been.  Not that I have much experience. I have never been in the middle of anything like this before.  I’m just not a strong person.  No, not at all.  My stomach is queasy.   I think I’m going to throw up.  I can’t throw up here.  I shouldn’t even be here.

Somehow I manage to listen to the 911 operator and relay her instructions back to Jared. “They want you to push on her chest….they said you can’t hurt her…and count…each time you push…you count” I say.

“When do I give her the breath….two….three…four….when? …six … seven…eight…WHEN!” Jared shouts at me.

“She says you don’t do that part …just keep doing the compressions.”

“Put the call on speaker!” Jared demands and of course I comply.

The 911 operator repeats through the cellphone speaker what she previously said to me. Something about new guidelines and help is on the way.  She instructs Jared to switch with me as soon as he begins to feel fatigue, but I know he wont.  He has monkey strength and a resilience I most definitely do not have.

I put the phone down next to the woman.  Closer so that Jared can hear the operator and the operator can hear him. He looks at me helplessly but he keeps giving the woman compressions.  I am no help at all.  I can’t even hold the phone for him. I begin to back away from the scene.  I cannot be here when the police arrive.  I cannot be here for a second longer.  I have to get out of here.  I have to.

A crowd has gathered, over my shoulder.  The cars piling up.  A traffic jam for sure.  People want to help now.  I want to disappear.  Somehow melt in to the pavement.  Evaporate.  Pretend none of this is happening.  That nothing happened.

I feel myself sway and someone catches me by the elbow.

“Are you ok?”

“No…” I say …and I really don’t remember anything after that but I’ve been told a Medivac came and went. Then an ambulance came for me.  I remember that.  So many questions.  I forgot today’s date.  Jared was furious.  But the police said they’d interview me later.  And that calmed him down. I’m probably in shock, they said. He seemed to appreciate that.

But I’m not in shock.  I’m just feeling guilty.

If that woman dies, if she already has died … it’s all my fault.