Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.
One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.
Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.
Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.
A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.
And now...everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he's real, and I know he needs me.
Do you believe me?
“I think it’s going to snow forever,” I say. My lips are inches away from the window, making the glass fog up.
The sun is partially hidden by dim, gray clouds. Yet it still manages to reflect off the snow, making it sparkle.
No one answers me. Everyone in the rec room is swept up in their minds, problems and pain. They each have stories of their own. I pull my eyes away from the outdoors and look around.
There’s a lady sitting across from me. The same lady that sat next to Pretend Mommy during the group therapy session. She stares outside. She hasn’t opened her mouth since she sat down, which was three hours ago.
I want to know her story. I want to know what brought her here. I can guess all day, but I know I’ll never know the truth.
I exhale and drum my fingers on the table. It’s so quiet in here and it’s not the good kind. This is the type of quiet that makes your ears ache. It makes time move at an agonizingly slow rate, making you feel like you’re going to lose your mind at any second.
“We’re not going to get out of here,” I say casually. The lady doesn’t say a word, yet I continue our one-sided conversation. “All of us are losing so much time. We can never get it back.”
She blinks, and call me crazy, but I think that’s her way of showing she’s listening. I think she agrees.
“What do you have out there?” I ask her.
“Do you have any family? Any friends out there waiting for you?”
She blinks slowly. I’m getting tired of trying to decode her blinks so I give up.
We sit there in silence.
“God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both.”
I turn. Pretend Mommy is sitting at the table across from me. She’s staring at that damn plastic baby.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson said that,” she says as she caresses the baby’s plastic cheek. “And he’s right. We can’t have both. We have to pick one.”
I turn in my chair. My back touches the wall and I cross my arms. “And you think we all want both?”
“Well…” she says slowly. “We’re all still here, aren’t we?”
Her words make my heartbeat slow. I swallow. “How long have you been here?” I ask.
She looks up at me and her cobalt blue eyes are piercing. Even though she’s crazy, I see knowledge far past my own. Knowledge that only experience and pain can give you.
“Three years,” she says.
This place—this prison—is her home.
“Most people will only spend a few months here. They stop fighting their truths. They accept them for what they are and leave.”
My chin lifts; I don’t like where this conversation is going. “And what about you?” I ask. “Where’s your truth?”
She points to the window. “My truth is somewhere out there. I didn’t want it three years ago and I still don’t want it.”
I sit up straight in my chair. Only two steps away is the person I’m afraid of becoming. I don’t want to be locked in Fairfax for the rest of my life. I refuse to let that happen.
Pretend Mommy smiles knowingly and leans close. I lean back. “Your truth is out there too, isn’t it?” she says.
My chair squeaks loudly as I stand. Pretend Mommy looks down at her baby. Instead of singing a sweet lullaby to her plastic baby, she sings an old hymn that sends chills up and down my spine.
She’s fucking crazy. Everyone around me is fucking crazy.
I walk out of the room slowly and when I get to the hallway, I quicken my steps.
I’m not crazy like them.
I know I’m not.
Calia Read lives in Germany with her husband and their four kids.
She's currently working on the third book in the Sloan Brothers Series, Ruin You Completely.
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Calia is giving away:
10 ebooks of UNRAVEL