Just Unbalanced

The curve of his smile haunts my dreams, a fresh wound that bleeds and scabs, but never scars over.

Is this a punishment? …I think it must be. To sit here in this room… blindingly white, spotless, practically begging for a Lady Macbeth to come along and hallucinate some beautiful red dots onto the wall. I'm not crazy, not really—just unbalanced.

Why am I here? I think it's because… I fell in love. Or not exactly because of that, but more due to the fact that the one I love was taken away. Is it my fault I fell in love? People say that "you can't help who you fall for", but obviously that sort of kindness doesn't extend to cases such as mine.

I could have someone else… I could have anyone I wanted. I was called beautiful in a few distant memories—I remember. Unfortunately for me, I only want the one they took away.

I remember a cold hand on my shoulder, fingers running through my hair, a voice that said, "It's all right, it's all right." That was when I first came here, tears rolling down my cheeks, hands pinned to my sides so that I couldn't push that person away like I wanted to. Was that supposed to be comforting? I don't want those hands. I could live without those hands, because there was only one set of hands I wanted. Gentle and uncertain and warm and not like those at all.

Why did they steal the one I loved? What use did they have for him anyway? I need him more than they do… My love, the one whose absence makes me want to hold my knees to my chest and rock back and forth, the bedsprings creaking eerily through the room, but I can't do that because then they'll give me the medicine that gets stuck in my throat on the way down so that I feel like I'm choking.

I think that maybe I cry a lot, but I don't realize it. I just sit on my bed, a few knuckles in my mouth as I bite down hard on them, something wet and warm rolling down my cheeks. I wish the ever-present lump in my throat would go away, and I wish that my knuckles would stop bleeding, because blood scares me. It always has, ever since… then, but I have to bite them to keep from screaming sometimes. I don't know why I'd scream, though, because I'm not in pain.

Or maybe I am, but it's not physical. This place is a million times worse than the one my love was sent to, I think. This is 'cruel and unusual punishment.' This is mental agony. My heart is raw from how I've been screaming on the inside. If I screamed on the outside, they might strap me down on that table again.

My love will be allowed to die soon. I will not. There is an injustice in that, I think. Am I being punished for his crimes as well?

…Poetic injustice, like… well, I could paint a beautiful metaphor, stain the white walls of my mind a rainbow of hues, but it wouldn't make a difference. Perhaps it's a failing of mine that I think so much and act so little. I only sit here and clutch my death-white sheets with my same-hued fingers and move my lips (but no sound comes out).

We do art projects sometimes in this place. He was a wonderful artist, so good at everything. I remember when we painted the sunroom—two walls cerulean like the ocean, the other two a golden yellow like a cartoon beach. I was horrible at painting, so he always had to fix my mistakes. He didn't seem to mind, though, he only smiled and touched his paintbrush to my cheek so that it would bloom ocean-like and I'd fidget, nervous and embarrassed, while he rectified my mistakes. It took us ages to paint that room, and I ruined several pairs of pants along the way. He said the paint stains were cute. Cute.

I had no artistic vision and even less talent. My works were nonsensical like Piet Mondrian's modern art, or sometimes Tristan Tzara's dada. Dada was an artistic movement in response to World War I, I remember that from school. Dada is French for hobby-horse. Dada is a tree growing out of one of those old toilets with the pull-chains and the magenta-flowered seat cushions. Dada is like the love in my heart.

Then again, dada isn't art—it's anti-art.

Dada has no meaning. Here, love has no meaning. My love has been reduced to a big, ugly red circle swallowing up my one-hundred-forty-pound art paper. Circles go on forever, like the sun and the Earth and wedding bands and other things that will fall to ruin. My circle is cast-off spatter, and I shudder and decide to look around the room.

…I'm not crazy, like some of the people in the art room with me, like the man-child across the table painting a stick-legged, sewer-green horse. He says the apocalypse is coming. I know he's wrong, though, because I already saw the apocalypse. My own personal apocalypse, a hell built for me alone because I'm just that special. I survived it, and I wasn't crazy then, so I couldn't be crazy now. If all the things I saw then didn't push me over the edge, then nothing should. I don't need the thick beige and white pills in the Dixie cup that they hand me every morning.

When art class is over, I pocket the little red paint container. The judge said I was "crazy," so I won't get yelled at for stealing. Being "crazy," I am untouchable, above the laws and norms of society. I am blameless because I am insane, unlike my culpable lover. But I'm not insane, God, I'm not insane, because if I were it wouldn't hurt so much.

It's time for pills again; it's always time for pills.

He should be here with me. If I'm crazy, then he must be as well. I want to be with him, because when I'm with him I don't feel like I need to drain the coppery water from the cup and swallow, hard, when the kindly woman tells me to. I just feel happy.

The woman's eyes are blue, bright ice-blue, and I can feel tears coming to my own. She asks me what's wrong like she's expected to, like he would've done (but higher), but I lie and say that nothing's wrong, because that's what's expected of me. They don't really think I'm insane here, not like the judge—here they call me "sweet and so very kind, but a little damaged." I'm the patient who's always all right, the patient who isn't crazy, not really— just unbalanced. Sometimes I wish I could be crazy like everyone else.

When I go to see the psychiatrist, the television is often on, because he always wants to know what's going on in the world. The news is important. Me, I've seen too much news firsthand and for a few weeks, many years ago, I used to retch whenever I saw a newscast. It's not so bad anymore, because I don't see my face on television too much nowadays. I'm out of the picture now; I've been safely tucked away in this dollhouse where no one can see me. They like to play doctor here, to try their hands at therapy, but it's about as beneficial to me as it would be to a plastic doll, so in the end I'm always put back in the toy cupboard, my white white white room with the white sheets and the white walls and–

My psychiatrist is a nice enough man. He has kind brown eyes and thick-framed glasses and a clipboard and a pen that goes click-click-click. Sometimes he lets me look at the pen. The click is soothing, and he seems strangely fascinated with how the clicking sometimes speeds up or slows down. It's not that interesting, though. I just pace it to my heart. Ba-bump, click; ba-bump, click. The clicking speeds up when his name is mentioned because, well, how can a heart forget? Mine can't.

Today the news hurts me again. On the screen is a blonde woman, all red lips and hairspray and a garish handkerchief poking out of her jacket, with a picture of a man on the top left of the screen. The man is still fairly young, possibly in his mid-thirties, with black hair and a beautiful smile. He's awfully charismatic, even as the still-framed picture expands and becomes a video and he is swallowed up by the chair he sits in and the handcuffs around his wrists and his lips move as if he knows I can see and his eyes are tear-bright just like mine.

The psychiatrist finally realizes I'm there, and he flicks off the television quickly, but it's too late, because I've already crumpled to the floor with heat burning in my throat. I want to hug the big black box that has gone dark and kiss it and feel its gentle, warm arms around me, but of course it's a television and it doesn't have arms and it's halfway across the room like the man who drifts further from me with every pill I choke down.

The psychiatrist apologizes, takes my hands, and pulls me to my feet, but I hardly notice. The therapy session lasts an hour and he scribbles notes down the whole time and I wish he wasn't so obsessed with the news, because I'm sure that man said my name and I wanted to say his name too, because he said that all I had to do was call him and he'd be there no matter where I was. But that was a lie—a false, useless comfort— and I know it all too well, because I've whispered his name a million times to the dark night. I always knew he was a liar, just as much a liar as me, but I still loved him. God, I love him.

"When is it set to happen?" I ask, and my voice cracks in my throat despite my fervent hope that it won't. He looks uncomfortable, because of course he's not supposed to answer, but he shouldn't have been watching the news with me around and he did it anyway. "You reap what you sow," as some say. He'll answer me, I know, because no one can keep from answering me when I look at them like that, with my treacherous eyes. I cast a spell when I look at you, sir—not a magic spell, but something weaved of threads of the most intense suffering and heartbreak. I'm familiar with all the levels of hell, sir, and you can't deny such Stygian eyes. No one can. Sir.

"Tomorrow night," he finally answers uncomfortably, his glance darting away across the diploma-lined wall. "Seven-thirty."

I smile at him. "Thank you, sir," I answer politely, like I used to answer, like I did when I made everyone think I was so charming. My smile is so lovely and so false. Now they know the truth, though. "I assume the session is over?" I ask, making my exit when he nods. I must plan.

The next night comes too soon and there's red on my fingers and on the wall and I feel like quoting Macbeth, but then I might be called overdramatic. It's seven-twenty-eight, or so says the digital watch on my wrist. I'll cry if it's not right.

The families would've been invited to the event, of course. I think it's sick. It won't give them any closure, after all. There won't be any reassurance in it, either, because he hasn't done it since then. He wouldn't do it again. He hasn't done anything but regret his actions, barely his own, from so long ago, the pain-driven knives and daggers and the little red spots on his fingers. It hurt him most of all, more than the people who died, more than their families, more than me, because he's the one who did it, he's the one with the stained hands.

I almost wish I'd been invited, though, because then I could press my face against the glass so that it would become streaked with tears and oil and I could see him again— but if I did that, then I wouldn't be able to believe that he'd escaped at the last moment and was living in the woods with Jimmy Hoffa and Bigfoot and having campfires under the stars every night. This way, I can believe it. It's better like this. He escaped, right, and someday, when all the talk has died down, he'll come to get me and—

Fool. I remind myself not to hope because what point is there in hoping for something so silly and impractical? Two minutes, two minutes and counting, and he'll be dead as stone and nothing I can do about it. Nothing. No amount of love or tears or red paint will erase the sin or the justice. So I do what I can for myself, try to cope, for his sake, because he told me not to follow him—

As my fingers move against the wall, I remember the long drives with him singing Bonnie Tyler and Queen beside me and falling asleep under the sun of his convertible with my bare feet on the dash. I stand, I crouch, I clamber onto my bed and wait for my equilibrium to return as I'm tossed about by the ocean of broken springs. I keep going even after the wave of agony buffets me and I know he's dead, but his soul must still be somewhere, so I keep doing it until long after the red has spilled across the floor and I've sunk down into the pool of it, my pillow dyed crimson and the walls covered with stains that will have to be whitewashed or painted over, like the walls of my heart.

The garish sight of I love you I love you I love you repeated a million countless times on the wall frightens the morning nurse just as much as the sight of me asleep on the floor, but her screech wakes me and I reassure her that I'm awake, I'm alive, I'll paint over it if they want me to. "I'm not crazy, just unbalanced," I affirm, glancing at her over my shoulder. I don't know if I'm lying or not.

I smile at the wall, only noticing the ice-blue reply on my pillow when I've climbed into my cold bed, and it makes me feel warm even if there's no reason for it.

I love you too I love you too I love you too.

I'm not crazy, not really—just unbalanced.

AN: Mmmm... well, you can probably guess what this is if you're familiar with SS... eeeeee, anyway. I wrote this quite a while ago and I wasn't going to post it until I'd finished all the stuff I've been planning for SS, but that doesn't seem to be happening too soon. Anyway, this has already appeared in my school's e-zine and my LJ. But, y'know, it's still me. SRSLY.

Anyway, I'll love you forever if you comment and give me a penny for your thoughts. Yeah. You give me the penny. I'm a college student; I need all the money I can get. Ha ha.

Oh, and on a random note, I'm going to be at AWA 2007, so if any of you will be there, we should meet up and fangirl about stuff. Just a random thing.

And OMGWTFBBQ I am so mean to Siren. Poor Siren. His life suxxorz.