Ugh,I lost my reviews because I deleted this earlier, but whatever. Here's more of the introduction for you, it's still not quite finished yet, but I had to do it over... Well. Enjoy. Leave some love and reviews pleeease. Try to bear with me if I'm slow...there's a hell of a lot going on with me right now. Not good.
((P.S....Thanks so much to Gabrielle for reading this out to me, even if no one really paid attention. You know I was still listening, and that's all that's important. Thanks for always being there, you made Chris's character come to life. Love you tons.))
Born in a Burial Gown
Chapter 1: Welcome to Crazy Town
The first time I met Eli was in the hospital, and I remember he always came in and out of our starting over program. Some told me it was because he escaped, but I stopped believing them after he came back only days later. To me, it was simple. Relapse. Relapse is one of the things this class tries to win over in its patients, and he seemed a likely victim. Although I didn't know a lot about him, I didn't consider him to be one of the insane ones, so I wondered why he was with the rest of us in this psych ward.
"It's Eli…" he would whisper when Ms.Burns called him 'Elli', but she kept calling him that. In this class, it was important to socialize for our teacher, but Eli could hardly talk to her, he was so spaced out sometimes. Maybe that's what freaked them out about him; how he could sit so still and not blink and not ever speak a word, then snap out of his own spell from the time of minutes to more than an hour.
Every day in this place mirrored itself; the same routine. The only thing that seemed to change was the lunch menu, but that only changed every day, not every week. Your hair always had to be the same length, your hands always had to be cleaned after sharing, shower every morning and bathe every night, change into your other gown before bed, sleep in a padlocked room, wake up in a padlocked room, take care of your hygiene in specific ways, eat three meals a day, and go to class. Get daily checkups, head to toe, be marked on your performance in everything you do, and take your medication at the same times every day, with your dose increasing and decreasing, changing what seemed like every time the weather changed. It's a picnic.
Now, silently, I peered across the table (which is one of those round orange ones with no sharp edges, like they have in elementary school) to Eli, who was poking holes into his Styrofoam cup creature to make eyes. The sad thing about it was that he had to poke the holes in with his finger, because he couldn't have anything sharp. Not even safety scissors, which by the way is the point of those things. Key word: safety. But this place is an entirely different world, where insane people go. Where there are insane people, there are geniuses, geniuses who could turn a 'safe' pair of safety scissors into a pocket-knife.
Eli wasn't picky when it came to art therapy; he literally manifested a box into a pair of shoes once. Maybe he could turn a pair of safety scissors into…never mind. I'm still hoping he's not one of those insane geniuses. Sifting my fingers through my naturally black hair (can you tell I'm proud of that?), I stared at my own Styrofoam cup, pondering how to make it into a creature.
From the scrap box, I saw Eli pull out some white and pink material, which he tore into four identical shapes. Gnawing off two pieces of yellow masking tape, he attached two bunny ears to the top of his cup. In five minutes, he was finished, and I hadn't even started mine.
"That's very nice, Elli." Ms.Burns commented and ruffled his soft brown hair, mostly an auburn colour with heavenly platinum blonde touches here and there. Strangely, they looked totally natural, but I'd only seen people with that colour covering thin, shiny hair, not amidst any other colour.
"It's Eli." He repeated, not moving his eyes from the table. She ignored his remark and continued talking, asking.
"Where did you find the inspiration to make a rabbit?" she asked, and I could immediately tell that she had made the wrong move, because he crushed it all, picking it apart with his thin fingers, making a pile for the ears and a pile for the crumpled Styrofoam.
"It's white." He quietly replied, and by now everyone at our table stared from the pile to their own creatures. My eye still stayed on the boy with the indifferent expression, who now held one of the frail bunny ears in his palm. Lifting his eyes up to Ms.Burns, he raised it to her face, quiet before he spoke again. "And…it was a bunny rabbit, by the way." I didn't blame her for not understanding him; his intentions seemed without reason, though the white thing might have made sense to me in a way that nothing ever had.
Eli thinks outside of him, not inside him, which is what the point was in our art therapy: to express ourselves through the art. Psychologically, symbols of art could be interpreted into meanings. I'd seen it somewhere before. By drawing a tree, some therapist said my brother was very close with his grandparents, which he was, though I don't know what that has to do with how he drew trees.
Anyway, back to my point about Eli's thinking, maybe he asked what he could make of the cup according to its appearance. The cup is white, he observed, and so are bunnies. Now that I think of it, maybe that has some meaning in itself: a bunny. What the hell could a bunny mean, though?
It's funny he tells Ms.Burns his name is Eli, because when he met me, he said, "Call me Elli." But then again, his mind never did make sense to me; his thinking. Maybe he only lets you call him that if he tells you to…I don't know. But no one else calls him that, just me. Well, Ms.Burns and I, even though she uses it improperly. Still, he corrects her every time, but she pays no attention at all.
By the end of the class, all I'd come up with for my Styrofoam cup creature was a snowman. Not because it's white, and not because it's Christmas, but because I'd been thinking about my childhood for some while now. Even my therapist was asking me, maybe because I'd been avoiding it. When we were little, we didn't make snowmen, we stared out the window with our fingers pressed against the glass, our breaths making fog with contrast among it. How we wanted to touch that snow, to feel it, lie in it, no matter how cold. Quickly, I shook the feeling away again, that distant hope. I avoided it. As far as I was concerned, childhood had no importance in life.
So, Ms.Burns came to my side, wearing her Christmas tree earrings with a red and green dress, and she asked almost the same question she had asked Eli earlier.
"So, Christopher…" She must have a knack with names or something…it's Chris? "what inspired you to make a snowman?" she stood with her clipboard, which I wasn't sure had any purpose other than to remember our names (there were only eight of us) or to mark any strange behavior, and I wondered whether to answer honestly. I saw Mark, another guy at our table, smirking at my snowman, and I tried to hide it in my lap.
"It's almost Christmas…?" I lied, and she curiously raised an eyebrow, staring me down, marking something down on her board. For a moment, I almost thought I saw Eli staring back, but Eli never stared, so I brought my eyes to the snowman, which I cupped in my hands. I felt just like a kid again. Although most of us were humiliated by this stupid class in the first place, considering everyone but Eli was over eighteen, I felt especially out of place.
During school, I had never fit in, but now that I was done, I expected otherwise. As it turns out, I'm even weirder than some of the crazy people in here, which most people don't see until they really get to know me.
Once the class was over, I was escorted to the cafeteria. Sometimes, this place reminded me of a jail; all of us lined up in rows, entering the spacious pale blue room. Silver lunch tables filled the floor to the right, and with the amount of psychos in this place, I was thankful the utensils, plates and bowls were plastic and Styrofoam. The only accident I had seen in the cafeteria was the time some old guy cracked another dude's head open on one of the tables, and I hadn't even thought of those as being possibly harmful.
To tell the truth, I didn't feel like eating at the time. I would've much preferred being outside in the snow, which of course wasn't an option. Slowly, I migrated to one of the tables in the back-right corner. For me, it was always the back, always. If I went anywhere else it was freak territory, and not that I cared about them, they were the ones who didn't want me there. It was perfect proof that even in a room full of weird-o insane people, I was still weirder than they were.
You wouldn't think being quiet and keeping your thoughts to yourself would hurt, but when I did talk, everyone stopped. I've heard them talking about me before, they say that I only talk when they stop, and that wasn't a good time to speak. The thing was; I swear someone else was talking every time that I had started, so I didn't understand what they meant.
Other times, they said that I heard things that weren't there, or that I would pass out in the middle of a conversation. None of these things were happenings that I remembered, whether it had just happened or not. In fact, the only times I remember being relatively strange were when I would think I saw Eli standing beside me, and I asked every time, "Elli?" It had happened often, and my friends began to ignore it once they got used to my strange behavior.
When I 'woke up' everything appeared as though I'd only blinked, but they stared as if they'd seen a ghost in me. I didn't understand that I could do things without my own knowledge, and it occurred to me that maybe I had been doing it my whole life. I'd been muttering in silence, talking back to no one, hearing things that don't exist, even god damn passing out. Who knows what else I did that I didn't know about when I was by myself.
One night, after the usual nightmare, I woke up with the arrangements of my room (a dresser and a bed) facing the opposite way from what they'd been the night before. Letting it slip, I told myself for a while that it was just a strange coincidence, and it had never changed. When it came that time for my checkup, it turns out I had been right the first time. My therapist asked me why I switched the room around, and I didn't know what to say, so I lied and told her it had always been that way. These people obviously don't miss a thing, because an escort had reported that I had done so. I could've acted irrationally in that situation, feeling rather stuck, but I told her I didn't know why I did it. I didn't tell her about the nightmares, or the fact that I wasn't even conscious when I did that.
Sighing, I looked up and saw the people from my table approach, and they all looked behind themselves as they reached where I sat. Eli stepped in front of them with a plastic tray at hand. Lunch on Friday: beef stroganoff. For once, I got to see him wearing his own clothes, (though he had worn his hoodie today in art class) instead of one of those stupid pale green…things. I'd been wearing it for almost a month, and I didn't even know what it was called. Whatever they are, they're useless; you might as well just walk around naked. If I hated anything, it was feeling naked in public, and I got the pleasure of going through it every day.
As Eli sat down, he slid off the purple hoodie, revealing an extremely baggy t-shirt for his tiny frame. For a moment, his belly poked out as he stretched his hoodie off his arms, and I gazed at the poking ribs and sunken in stomach. Maybe I was wrong; it seemed he wasn't so perfect after all. What else can you expect in a place like this, though? None of us were perfect…we were far from it.
When I quickly peeked under the table, pretending that I dropped something, my eyes widened at his bony knees and legs. Even though it was winter, he was wearing only a pair of brief boxers under that long t-shirt of his. I guess he was careless, that or lazy enough not to wear pants. My thoughts trailed back to this place being a jail, and I thought he would be the kind of guy who comes home scarred after having some sick perverted cellmate.
Finally, everyone had found their places at the table, and some picked at their food between watching me sit straight again. Mark, the guy who was kind enough to laugh at my snowman, banged on the table, in front of me, and waved his hand in my face. Lifting my eyes, I gave him a 'what?' expression, and he grinned, elbowing Eli on the side of his body, which made him choke on his food for a second and hold himself tight, a forlorn expression on his face.
"This is Eli. We think it's that kid you keep talking about." James explained, and Mark glared at him. I don't know why Mark wasn't in anger management, instead of the psych ward, because he sure needed it. Once, last week in art therapy, he stood on his chair and yelled at Ms.Burns until she came over to our table with the craft supplies. Then again, that does seem like something a crazy person would do. Overall, I just think he had really destructive behavior.
"James, shut the hell up! He already knows that!" Mark yelled, flipping James's tray back, its contents spilling all over his t-shirt. It almost seemed like the beef stroganoff was sad…but what am I thinking? Beef stroganoff doesn't have feelings, obviously. By the look Eli had on, it seemed he felt like he was a problem, and he almost got up to leave before Mark sat him down again, continuing. His head was down as if he'd done something wrong, and I felt sorry for him. Then I realized: wait, Eli must stare at people sometimes. How else would he know what we looked like?
Eli had a different stare, I decided, one that pierced through you, and he could just know everything about you from a stare. Maybe he was that kind of person, who could just tell. So that was it; he hadn't been looking behind me, or near me, he saw through me. Eli was blessed with angel eyes, ones that sparkled in light…but they were sad, as if they had been innocent to the light, and never seen it. Maybe he was an angel…maybe Eli was my angel, he just didn't know it, and I didn't know it yet. And I didn't know that I loved him. What am I doing now? Rambling on about love? But it scared me how fragile Eli was…like he might break if you just touch him, but beautiful, like the forbidden fruit. Yeah, the fear-ridden, demented fruit, maybe. But he was forbidden, nonetheless.
"Hey, watch this. I swear he does everything you tell him to!" James laughed, and I sensed this wasn't going to be good. Whatever was going to happen, I was afraid it would imprint the poor boy, and make a crack in the glass…a bite of the forbidden fruit. "Flip off the lunch lady and take off your boxers…" I heard him whisper in Eli's ear, and Eli's cheeks immediately turned a bright pink. Eli quietly huffed, beginning to stand. How could they go back to society like this, abusing people? It sure wouldn't help Eli's situation, either. I had to stop it. Thankfully, his glance from the table to me had inspired me, and I stood before he got his chance to turn around, landing my hand on top of his.
"You don't have to do what they say." I told him, and he blushed again, looking down at the table. Slowly, he sat down, staring at my hand, which still remained over his. Peering down, I choked on my breath, noticing several bandages around his wrist and arm. They weren't done very well, because red skin and dry blood on recent cuts still peeked out from under the wrapping. He didn't move an inch. If he didn't know any better, he probably wouldn't breathe without permission. Lifting my hand from his, I took my seat again, noticing the eyes had all passed over the two of us in that moment.
"Just eat…" I muttered, and James left with a small remark that he was going to get some more food…and clean up. Frowning, I peeled my eyes off of James's walk, and looked to Eli, who picked at the rice on his plate with his fork. What a weird guy…but then again, so was I for watching him. That makestwo of us. Or, try all of us. Now it was us two, Mark, Deirdre, and Ben at the table. In art class, we had Mark and Deirdre at our table, while James, Ben, Liam, and Paul sat at the other.
"…Chris?" Eli quietly whispered, and for a second I didn't notice he'd even left his seat. Turning my head left, I realized he was hovering beside my ear, and he tapped me lightly on the shoulder. "Will you come with me for a second?" he asked, and in an instant reaction, I nodded, shuffling out from the table. Was this my chance to get under his skin? Was this my chance to get to know him? And…why had he picked me? He talked to Deirdre more than he talked to me, though it could've been because they were seated next to each other. As a matter of face, today they sat side by side, too. Whatever, I didn't question their friendship, and I certainly didn't mind it. If anything, I respected it, considering how hard was to make friends in the psych ward.
But still, questions pounded in my head. Why me? Why not Deirdre? Where were we going? What did he want? Maybe I was excited over this, when it could be nothing at all. As far as I knew, it could've been that he didn't want to walk alone to the washroom in fear of being attacked. If that was the case, I really was useless to him, and he just didn't want to make Deirdre do it. Fortunately, that wasn't what he wanted, because he stared at me when I stopped at the door, and motioned for me to come in with him.
Slowly, I entered behind him, and he hopped onto a counter between sinks. Carefully, he untied the knot on his bandages, which were almost halfway up his arm, and they slipped gracefully onto the counter beside him. "Thank you…" he said quietly, and it took me a short while to realize he was talking about the incident in the cafeteria. I nodded and stared at the bloodied cuts along his wrist, wincing. They looked painful, and sore. I wanted to heal him.
"It was no problem…really." I paused. Again, I felt guilty, and I wanted to help him out. "Did you want me to -" he cut me off in mid-sentence.
"Could you help me clean up…?"
He's fragile. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Oookay, guys. That about sums things up for the first chapter. Sorry it was kind of long, but I'd rather have them long…take my time and do a good job. That's what I'm most proud of about this chapter. And, hey, I'm trying to work on visual in my stories by the way…do you think I put enough visual in here, or should I try to put more? Advice? Feed me some yummyliscious reviews, pleeeeease…feed my hunger to write.