Everything around me was a blur, a fog of colours that faded in and out of each other, and I was levitating between them all, moving back and forth in random directions over which I had no control. I had no idea where I was, nor did I know whether I was dreaming or awake. I had the feeling that someone was saying my name, but I couldn't place the voice. My dad, maybe?
Yes, it was my father. I could see him standing over me, strangely clear amidst the sporadic rainbow that ringed my vision, repeating my name over and over in an irritated tone. This was one of the strangest experiences I'd ever been through. It had to be a dream.
For the time being, however, I decided to play along. "Dad, what do you want?" I asked. Interesting how hard it was to make the words come out. Well, of course - it was just like those nightmares where something is chasing you and you can't get your legs to move, only it was more odd than scary. Still, I hated those kinds of dreams..
I felt a jolt, and the haziness abruptly disappeared from my mind. I blinked and stared ahead, and the face and voice above me were suddenly not my father's, but.. Kyle's. Wait.. Kyle? What was he doing here? And he looked so angry at me - what was his problem?
Looking around, I realized I was in the back of a car, and it was moving. Kyle was leaning over the passenger seat, looking down at me, and his eyebrows suddenly lifted into a surprised expression. "Dude, I think he's awake!" he exclaimed.
"Not now, I'm driving," came another voice. It sounded like Stan, but I couldn't see for sure. Besides, why would he be driving a car? We were all only freshmen in high school - not old enough for a license yet.
The car swerved, jerked to a stop, and then started up again slowly, and I sat up with some effort. I was incredibly dizzy, and I felt as though every action I made was in slow motion. "What's going on?" I asked Kyle, still struggling to pronounce the words.
"We're taking you to the hospital, Butters," he told me.
Automatically, I felt a twinge of fear, followed by confusion. "Uh.. why? What's wrong?"
"We know you overdosed on those sleep-aid things. I found you passed out about twenty minutes ago."
"You - were in my house?" I asked, puzzled.
"Yeah. That's a story for later, though." He looked at me thoughtfully. "I gotta say, you look a lot better than you did, now that you're awake. It creeped me the hell out when I first saw you."
My eyes widened as the memory came back to me. How could he have known I took all that Nytol? He must have guessed or something. I was still very confused about the whole course of events, but I decided to let it go for now. After all, Kyle was trying to help me out, and I trusted him completely.
Kyle turned back toward the driver's seat. "Wait, dude, what are you doing? You can't go that way. That's an exit only."
"Whoa, sorry." The car swerved around again, and I nearly fell off the edge of the back seat.
"Stan? Is that you?" I asked the person behind the wheel.
"Yes, it's me," the driver replied. "Don't talk so loud; I can't concentrate."
I didn't know why he had to have so much quiet when he was just pulling up to the hospital door. That didn't seem so difficult. Once the car came to a stop, I reached for the door-handle and got out of the car -- and gave a repeat performance of earlier in the night. My legs wouldn't hold me up for some reason, and I collapsed onto the ground immediately.
"Butters, are you all right?" Kyle asked as I felt his hands gripping my arms, lifting me up off the concrete. I tried to stand up by myself, but it was as if my legs weren't attached to me; they wouldn't do anything I wanted them to do. As I turned my head to look at him, the world swam around me, and I felt a terrifying surge of vertigo. I couldn't help it -- I screamed.
"Butters, shhh!!" Kyle hissed at me nervously, clapping a hand over my mouth. "Hey, Stan, could you help me over here? I can't just drag this kid into the ER by one arm."
I closed my eyes tightly. The vertigo subsided, and I shuddered in relief. Stan shut and locked the car door and did as Kyle told him, grasping my other arm and wrapping it around his shoulders to keep me standing up straight. Unsteadily, we made it through the doors of Hell's Pass' emergency room and seated ourselves in the waiting section of the triage area.
Hospitals were so disturbing. The presence of all those machines and tubes, the smell of sickness and disinfectant, the fact that so many people had died under this very roof, even the name "Hell's Pass" itself -- they never failed to put me in a thoroughly depressing mood. Seeing the other patients waiting for treatment didn't help much, either. Across from us, a little boy sat holding his mother's hand, whimpering, his right eye swollen almost completely shut and the left one brimming with tears. Beside them, a young woman with a pale, worried face was scratching desperately at her left arm, which was covered with large red blotches -- some kind of severe allergic reaction, I figured. Kyle stayed by my side as Stan went up to the desk toward the back and informed the receptionist of our arrival.
"How are you feeling?" Kyle asked.
"Bad," I replied. At least, I think I replied. I couldn't tell whether my lips were moving or not. The room was starting to dissolve into a blurry patchwork of shapeless colours now, and I felt myself drifting into them, gliding between the flickering hues, watching them move in synchronicity with the movement of my eyes. In the shadows and highlights of them, I could see outlines of shapes and patterns. Some resembled cartoonish faces, some resembled animals, and still others seemed to contain random letters and numbers. I almost felt like a little kid again, staring up at the sky and searching for faces in the clouds, but on an entirely different level. This was fun!
My eyes snapped open. That was weird -- nobody ever called me by my real first name. That voice didn't even sound familiar. Wait -- where the hell was I?
I felt a jab in my side. "Hey, get up," said Kyle. "Here, we'll help you."
The hospital, the emergency department -- that was right. Kyle and Stan took my arms again, and I was led to a little cot on one side of the room, where a nurse was waiting for us. My stomach started to lurch as we staggered along, and I felt increasingly that I was going to throw up any second.
"Now, just sit here, Leopold, and we'll take care of you right away, okay?" the nurse told me in a gentle, Southern-accented voice.
Ew. How I hated that stupid name. "Y-you can call me Butters," I said hastily.
She looked confused, but shrugged. "All right.. Butters," she replied as she stuck a thermometer in my mouth and wrapped a blood-pressure monitor strap onto my upper arm. "Now, what brings you here, hon?"
Now I was a bit embarrassed. "Well, uh.." I mumbled, rubbing my knuckles together uncomfortably under her steady gaze.
"He took too many sleeping pills," Stan interrupted.
"Sleeping pills?" The nurse looked at me again. "What kind?"
"N-Nytol, I think it's called." My old stutter was coming back, the one I'd had as a kid, and I began to feel less tired and more agitated.
The nurse studied the monitor, and her eyes widened. "Pulse is at 120, blood pressure 74/50.." she muttered, writing the numbers down on a little notepad. "How many of those Nytol tablets did you take, babe?"
"Uhh, I think about f-five. Five or six," I told her.
"And how long ago was this?"
"I don't remember." The nauseous feeling rose up higher in my throat, and I nearly choked. "Oh.. oh, geez, I.. think I need to lie down."
"That's okay, hon, just try to relax," she replied. "Just don't worry. Everything's going to be okay."
No. No, it wasn't, as far as I could tell. The thermometer fell out of my mouth and landed on the floor, and I started shaking, more and more until I could barely see or hear anything around me. I thought I was moving again, thought I heard Stan or Kyle shouting something far away, but it could have been my imagination. The world became distorted once again, and my mind plummeted itself rapidly into unconsciousness.
Chapter V (cont'd.)
When I awoke again, I was lying under the crisp, white sheet of a patient bed, and it took a few seconds for me to realize that there was a small tube in my throat. As I turned my head slightly, I felt it touch the inside of my throat a little, and it made me gag. And then someone was laughing right next to me, I discovered. Laughing!? Jerks, I thought automatically, looking up toward the ceiling in annoyance.
"Hey, Butters, how do you feel?" asked the same voice, still tinged with laughter.
"Don't make fun of me, Stan," I muttered. It was slightly difficult to talk, but I managed.
More chuckling, this time from Stan, Kyle, and an older woman -- a different nurse this time. "Don't be upset, dear," said the nurse. "We're just happy that you're going to be okay, that's all." I could see her now, a stout woman possibly in her early forties, gazing at me from the side of the bed with a warm smile.
"Not to mention you had the most screwed-up expression on your face when you woke up," Stan added. He and Kyle knelt beside my head, and they too wore genuinely happy expressions.
I sat up and looked at the three of them. The dizziness I had felt earlier was nearly gone, and so was the nausea. "So.. so I am gonna be fine?" I asked.
"You sure are," the nurse stated. "The antidote we gave you should keep any more of the medication from getting absorbed into your system."
My heart rose. "Great!" I exclaimed.
"Your mother's on her way as well," she informed me. "Your friend Kyle -- he called her for you. She should be here any minute."
My heart plunged right back down again, and I was sure there was no way they couldn't have seen that on my face. My mom knew about this? The fact that my parents had to be notified had completely slipped my mind.
Kyle gave me a sympathetic half-frown. "Sorry, man," he murmured. "But if you're under eighteen, you kinda have to tell your parents if you're in the hospital."
"I know that," I sighed. Knowing that didn't make it any better, though. In fact, it reminded me of the reason I'd OD'd in the first place.
And one part of that reason was rushing into the room right now. My mother, still in her rumpled pajamas, tore through the doorway. "Butters, ohmigawd!" she shrieked when she saw me, and her face turned white.
She looked to be in even worse shape than when I'd seen her after Stan's party. Her hair was down, and the condition it was in now reminded me of a frizzy, blond bird's nest. Streaks of dark eye makeup stained her pasty cheeks, and the whites of her eyes were pinkish from crying. The last time I'd seen her like this was when she'd tried to drown me in the car when I was eight, and seeing her now in the same state spooked me. I said the only thing I could think of to say.
"M-Mom, I'm.. sorry.. about this."
I choked on the words. She didn't respond; she just stared at me with that horrified, bloodshot gaze.
"Really. I didn't mean for this to happen. I was just desperate, and.. and.."
But she didn't yell or scream or curse -- her gaze was intense, but it contained no trace of anger. Instead, she dashed over to my bed and wrapped her arms about me, squeezing them tightly around my body, and she buried her head into my right shoulder. "No, Butters.. I'm sorry," she whispered. "This is all my fault. I never should have gotten so angry with you like that. I never should have shoved you off on your father. Oh, honey.. I'm so sorry.."
The nurse gave us a concerned look. "Do you two need some time alone?" she asked.
"That'd be nice," my mother told her in a shaky voice.
"Okay. You boys should probably leave for a few minutes," she replied, addressing Stan and Kyle. They obliged, and the nurse turned and led them out of the room.
Gingerly, I slipped my right arm around her and returned the hug. I didn't know what to do, really. It just seemed right, even after the confrontation we'd had the last time we'd seen each other.
"So.. wait, so you're not mad?" I wondered aloud.
"No, honey. Not at you." She took my shoulders and turned me to face her directly. "Butters, I don't ever want you to feel like you have to do anything like this ever again. You're going to be safe and happy from now on. And I'm going to make sure of it."
Such kind and caring words.. protective words I wasn't familiar with hearing at all. That kind of attitude was reserved for other people, for other parents to say to their kids.. not for me. My left cheek felt a bit colder, wetter -- and I discovered that I was crying. Embarrassment flooded over me, though she and I were the only people in the room. Even so, I wiped the tear away as quickly as I felt it -- I was used to doing that.
I turned my head to one side. "And I'm not.. grounded for this, am I?"
Her gaze drifted to the wall behind me. "Well.. no, not exactly. I'm not punishing you. But I think it's best if you just stay at home for a little while. You can go to school, of course," she added quickly, "but I want you to come right home every day, all right?"
No going out. Not even to go to Kyle's house or anything.. not even for when my mother was in another mood of hers. The notion gave me a sinking feeling, but I knew that I had no choice.
I swallowed. "Okay," I replied limply.
She pulled me close to her again, even more tightly this time, and I felt the slight, intermittent jerking of her chest as she began to sob. "My baby, my baby," she murmured, almost chanting, as she looked down toward the floor. "I've ruined my child."
I felt so powerless in her arms, unable to think of what to do or say now. She was telling me all these things at the moment, but what would it be like in the next twelve hours? Would the whole ordeal turn into something that was solely my fault, just like everything else? Or would this act have finally convinced at least one of my parents that maybe I wasn't the one to blame for all the sh*t that happened in their lives? I guessed I would see how things played out soon enough. At this point, all I could do was give her a tentative hug back and hope that she truly meant everything she was telling me -- not just now, but for real.
* * * * *
Melodramatic? Cheesy as hell? Yeah.. pretty much. I'd go over it again, except that IT'S FREAKING LOUD IN HERE and I can't hear my own THOUGHTS enough to read over and proofread it efficiently. I'm sure there are typos and redundancies all over the damn place. >< AAAAGGGHHH. Ah, well.. whatever. Read, review, and please be nice. ^^
If you want to improve your dramatic storytelling, don't spare any details. Throw in the descriptions whenever you wish to draw your readers' attention to a key moment in the story. You can create a lot more immersion if you describe the focal character's mental state, facial expressions, or what he or she is experiencing physically.
You probably don't need to hear this from me though, since you seem to know what you're doing.
working on the next chapter as we speak. ^^
okay. i admit it.
i am a lazy bum.
and anyone who wants to continue reading this reserves the right to kick my ass. because i promised chapter six and then i slacked off.
but i swear.. i swear, i swear, i swear i'm gonna write more. this is going somewhere, and it can't just stop dead in its tracks. i just need more inspiration at this point, because the artist's motivation is kind of dying.. and i'm willing to take ideas. PM me and i'll consider 'em. anything to get the creative juices flowing. hehe.
also, sorry, i tend to get a bit poetic. haha.
Hmmm.. I just read over it, and I'm really thinking about picking this one back up again, if anyone still cares. I've been in a bit of a story-writing mood lately. College is once again eating my life with a spork and a knife, but I'll work this in somehow. Keep checking if you want to read more; I'll try to get something up soon.
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