Status: on hiatus till further notice


Chapter 9 - Basin

Twenty-one Years Ago

I feel the water drifting in between my toes as she guides me into the tub. I close my eyes because I'm afraid. If the water reaches my ankles, I'll drown. I can't drown. How will I breathe if my lungs are full of liquid gas and my eyes are bulging and bleary? What will happen next? What will happen next? What will happen next?

"I'm right here, sweetheart. I've got you."

"Mommy..." I whimper softly, "Mommy the water is too high. I'll drown. Please don't make me stay here. Please."

The water has gathered high enough that the tops of my feet are nearly submerged. Soon the water will be over my head. And then I'll be dead. Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead.

"Alex, look at me, baby."

Dead dead dead dead dead dead de-

"Alex, can I please have your attention?"

Dead dead dead de-

"Alexander William lend me your focus for the moment."

De- De- "O" Dead. "kay. Okay."

"Everything will be just fine, alright? I won't let your head go underwater. I make this promise to you. Will you make me a promise to believe me?"

She slowly puts her hands on my shoulders and stares straight at my nose. She knows I'm scared of eye contact sometimes. "Will you make me that promise, baby?"

I nod my head slowly. She squeezes my left shoulder, "Say it so you can hear it, love."

My mouth is dry; the water is getting higher. I'll drown. And be dead. Dead dead dead de-

"Alexander William I asked for your focus for the moment. Can I have it back?"

I look up at my mother. I can do this. I can answer. "The water..."

She smiles at me. "There is water by your feet, yes."

I want to look down, but I know she wants my focus. I'm trying. I'm trying.

"Can I have your focus?"

I'm trying. Just give me a minute. Just one minute please.

She squeezes my shoulder again. "You don't need a minute, Alex. You can give me your focus because everything will be okay."

Sometimes it takes me a few seconds to remember that even if I can't hear myself reply, she can still hear me.

I am in control. I look into her crystal blue eyes, the soft stare of love glowing at me from the shadows of fear. "I promise to believe you."

I cannot see her lips, but her eyes smile bigger. "Thank you, sweetheart."

My eyes opened slowly to a white ceiling above me. I was remembering.

I rub my thumb against my middle and index fingers: wrinkled. I've been in this bath for awhile.

"It's been almost an hour, dude."

My hands slip from the sides of the tub for half a second before I grab on again with whitening knuckles. I thought I was alone. No, I forgot that I wasn't alone.

"An hour?" My reply is dismal and distant so I keep my focus on the ceiling.

"Yup. You done yet?"

I can't figure out whose voice that is. "I'm not sure."

He sighs melodramatically; it's one of my comrades in this place. "You're nuts. Gaskarth."

Only one person calls me by my last name in here and manages to get away with it. "There's no doubt about that, Johnny." He's the incredibly down to earth and loose tongued resident on the ward. I think the reason the administration tolerates his casual behavior so often is because he relates the best socially with most of the patients. Personally, I couldn't care less. However, I don't remember needing a babysitter for bath time.

A chair squeaks against the tile floor and footsteps circle away from me and then meet me on the other side of the tub. Big, brown eyes have replaced my view of the ceiling. "Well, up and at 'em then, yeah?" Johnny gestures a hand down to me. "You all set?"

Sure. Dennis would claim I'm wrinkled enough anyways. But I don't say this. My response is bland and atonal. "Fine." I've still invested my time in relating an averagely less than adequate yet moderately ambiguous persona. Today I've gone with the 'I can handle this by myself, and I don't need anyone trying to manipulate my emotions or ideas' mindset. It's not very effective.

I use the sides of the tub to lift myself up, but my arms burn as I flex them. I can't remember how this happened. Why are my muscles so tender?

"Hey, be careful with those," Johnny lectures me. "They haven't really 'latched on' yet, if you know what I mean."

I stopped moving to listen to words I don't understand, and now I'm shivering. I straighten my legs before uncurling my back and stepping out of the tub and onto the cold tile.

Johnny passes me a towel before my arms can wrap around myself, but I feel the brush of a plastic on my skin. My arms are covered from my wrist to about two inches above my elbow with a clear plastic baggy covering bandages. If I was more aware, I would remember what happened. However, my mind has betrayed me and my memories are a white canvas yet to be splattered with blood.

"Hey, earth to Alex, you in there?"

I can't sound scared, but I do anyway: "Y-yeah. Sorry."

"No problem. Let's get you dried off and into some underwear. Wouldn't want anything to happen to those reproductive organs of yours."

Something doesn't feel right in my head. I'm going through the motions, and probably talking, too, but I don't really feel anything. I'm self-aware in the grand scheme of things, but in the moment I'm this manufactured switchboard of emotions. This can't be real, because I don't feel real. I don't feel anything.


"Do you think you need an adjustment concerning your current medications, Alex?"


"Do you remember what happened that brought your care team to the decision that you needed to be but on something to keep you relaxed?"


"Can you tell me about it?"

I close my eyes and breathe. Rian was here; and Ernest was walking me with this other woman. But then...

"Do you know what happened next?"

I'm back in my room, except the floors are soft. I can't move my arms and my legs feel weak. If I open my eyes, this will all be real. I don't think I want to wake up.


"Earth to Alex. C'mon buddy stay with me a second?"

There is no soft floor. I'm wrapped in a towel in the bathroom with Johnny. I can't move my arms because I'm cold. My legs are weak because I was sitting in a tub for so long.

"Alexxxxx." He draws out my name like cats stretching out.

This is real. So I can speak, right?

The words come out slow, but they're real: "Yes?" Keep breathing.

"Do you need help staying focused today?"

I want to simply nod, but I know that hearing my voice will help clear the sand from my mind. "Yeah, I think so."

Johnny sighs softly, stepping back and sitting on the chair behind him. "Alright then. Let's play a concentration game. Every time it's your turn, you have to start getting dried off okay?"

I can do that. "Okay."

"I'll name a category, and then you give me a word that fits that category. So if I say 'Pets' for example, then you could say-"

I slowly move the towel back and forth across my back. "Dog."

"Exactly. Now it's my turn, so I'll say Dog and Cat."

I begin to dry my upper arms. "Dog, cat, and hamster."

"Dog, cat, hamster, and fish."

My arms are dry. "Dog, cat, hamster, fish, and lizard."

Johnny laughs, "Did you have any lizard when you were a kid? Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, and mouse."

I'm still. "Um no. We had a dog though."

"Alex. Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, and mouse."

"Oh." I start drying my chest. "Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, mouse, and guinea pig."

"Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, mouse, guinea pig, and bird. I distracted you; I'm sorry."

I start on my thighs. "Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, mouse, guinea pig, bird, and rat. That's okay."

"Dog, cat, hamster, fish, lizard, mouse, guinea pig, bird, rat, and possum. You read for your underwear?"

"Yeah. Don't want my balls to fall off."

Johnny smiles while Jack grins from the corner.
♠ ♠ ♠
So it's been a year.

I started writing this about a month ago because I wanted to update. I know how annoying it can be when author's don't finish their fics, so I'm gonna try with this one. I don't know how well I'll be able to keep up with it, but I'll try my best.

Please comment what you think of this chapter! Very different feel.