One

Thomas

I wake up from perhaps the deepest sleep of my life. I don't open my eyes right away. I don't know how long I've been sleeping and I don't know where I am. But I'm comfortable. I'm in a warm bed with soft blankets and my head is resting on a fluffy down pillow. It soothes my aching body and leaves me at least a bit at ease for the moment. But it smells strange in here. It smells like cleaning products. Like a hospital. It doesn't smell like my home. And this definitely doesn't feel like my bed.

I open my eyes and take a cursory glance at my surroundings. At first glance I think, I am in a hospital. But once the images in front of me become a bit clearer, I can see that I'm not exactly in a hospital. The room is white. The walls, the tile floor, the sheets on the bed, they're all a pristine color of pure snow white. Besides the bed I'm laying in, there's not much furniture in the room. There's a table next to the bed with a clock that reads 11:23. I know it's 11:23 in the morning, because I can see sun shining through a small window above my bed. There's a wooden chair sitting in the corner. There's an open door leading to what looks like a bathroom, and another door that's closed. I have no idea what the closed door leads to and it scares me.

I'm alone in this room. Part of me likes that fact and part of me doesn't. I want someone to hold my hand to make me feel better, but none of the people in my life could satisfy that want.

I know that my surroundings are unfamiliar and I know that I'm alone, but I don't care at the moment. My brain is too tired to ask questions and be curious. I don't feel any panic except for a fear of that unknown closed door. I'm pretty sure the closed door leads to the other parts of this building, but if I go through the door then I'll have to face reality. And I'm pretty sure I know what my current reality is.

Almost like a confirmation, the door opens as I'm sitting up in bed. A lady in blue scrubs walks in holding a clipboard. She doesn't look up at me, but I guess she can see out of the corner of her eye that I'm awake.

"Good morning, Thomas." She greets in a sweet voice, still refusing to look up from her clipboard.

Part of me realizes that I should probably be asking questions right now. I should probably be asking her where I am and who she is and what's going on. Any normal person would be asking those questions. But I'm not normal. I've never been normal.

So instead I say, "Good morning."

She finally looks up at me. She has light brown skin. She has kind eyes and delicate hands. Her curly dark brown hair is tied back. She's wearing ugly white sneakers with her ugly blue scrubs.

"How are you feeling?" She asks as she walks over to me.

I think about how to answer her question. I'm warm and comfortable in this bed, but I feel like shit. I feel like I just slept for a thousand years, yet I didn't get enough sleep. My body is aching. My back hurts. My legs. My arms. My eyes are sore from being so tired.

And that only covers the physical problems.

"Fine." I respond.

"Do you know where you are?" She asks.

"A hospital?" I guess.

"Close." She says softly, "You're in a mental institution."

I can tell she's broken this same news to others before. She's used to it. But that doesn't stop the sympathetic look in her eyes. She's pitying me, and I can see it. She's thinking, this poor kid... why did God do this to him? Well fuck you, nurse lady. Fuck you and your ugly blue scrubs.

I'm pretty sure I already knew I was in a psychiatric hospital. From what I can remember about yesterday, (or was it the day before yesterday? Who knows how long I've been asleep) I deserve to be in a psychiatric hospital. I'm insane. I'm mental. I'm fucking crazy. I need to be locked up. Part of me is relieved to be here.

"Do you know why you're here?" The nurse lady asks.

"Yeah." I grumble.

She asks me to get out of bed and follow her so I do. She leads me out to the hallway. The hallway is also white. I feel like I'm going blind. It's too clean and too bright in this building. Already I'm thinking get me the fuck out of here.

At the end of the hallway there are scales to measure my weight and height. The nurse measures me and marks it down on her clipboard. Six feet two inches. One hundred and forty three pounds. I know I'm too skinny. But I can tell she's seen much worse.

She takes me back to my room and finishes giving me a basic physical exam. She says a doctor will come in a few minutes to ask me some questions. She asks if I'll be alright while she's gone and I tell her I'll be fine.

She leaves me alone and I like it that way. A random nurse couldn't satisfy my desire for affection. I wouldn't feel better if she held my hand. I wouldn't feel better with her in my presence. She can't help me and I'm better off alone than with her.

I sit in silence for at least half an hour waiting for this doctor to show up. But my mind is enough to occupy me. I think about how much I want someone's hand to hold. I think about all the people in my life. I wonder where my parents are and if they are okay after seeing my fit yesterday. My mom is probably a wreck with worry and fear. My dad is probably holding her and telling her it will be alright. I picture them sitting in this hospital somewhere, holding each other and waiting until they're allowed to see me. But then I wonder if they're even here at all. Maybe they went home already.

Finally the doctor comes in. He's very tall and skinny. He has gray hair but he doesn't look quite that old. He's probably in his mid fifties, I guess. He has a big nose and big ears. He has friendly-looking brown eyes. He has a gentle smile on his face. He's also holding a clipboard and a pen.

I realize that he's not actually the kind of doctor I imagined. When the nurse said doctor I pictured a white lab coat and scrubs and a stethoscope. But now that I see him, I realize he's probably more of a therapist than a medicinal doctor. For one thing, he's wearing jeans and a button-up shirt instead of a lab coat and scrubs. But he also just has that look in his eye, like he's seen it all. He's used to crazy. But it doesn't damper his mood.

"Hello, Thomas." He says, actually looking at me unlike the nurse did.

"Hello." I respond.

"I'm Dr. Monroe." He thrusts out his hand so that I'll shake it, so I do. My grip is weak and I know that it makes me seem cowardly but I don't really care at the moment.

"Nice to meet you." I lie.

Dr. Monroe pulls up the chair from the corner of the room and sits in it, facing me.

"I'm just gonna ask you a few questions if that's okay." He says.

I nod. "That's fine."

"So you're seventeen, right?" He asks as he looks down at his clipboard.

"Yes." I answer.

"You live with your parents?" He asks, as if he already knows the answer. In fact, he probably does. He probably talked with my parents beforehand.

"Yes." I repeat.

"And do you know why you're here?" He looks up at me.

"Yes."

"Why's that?" He already knows the answer. He's only asking so I'll tell him in my own words what happened.

"I had... an attack." I say awkwardly.

"What do you mean?" He's still looking at me.

"I got angry... and I had kind of a... fit." I'm embarrassed but not embarrassed enough to care what he thinks of me. However, I can't stop a blush forming on my face. I'm pathetic. I'm insane. I'm fucking crazy.

"Do you get angry a lot, Thomas?" Dr. Monroe asks.

"Well...yeah... just recently." I respond.

"Why's that?" He asks.

I already know the answer, without the help of a therapist. I feel accomplished for figuring it out on my own. I answer his question triumphantly. "Because I've been a bit upset lately, and I let it out through anger."

"For how long would you say you've been upset?" He asks.

"I don't know..." I think about it for a minute. My brain knows the answer but my heart won't accept it. Five months. Five months. Ever since David... May 12th. Five months. "Five months I guess." My brain wins.

He asks me more questions, about my home life and school life. I guess he's ruling out options for why I could be depressed. No, my parents don't neglect me. No, I'm not bullied in school. No, no, no. You've got it all wrong, Dr. Monroe. And I guess he figures that out.

"Well, Thomas." He finally says, "You're gonna stay in this hospital for a while. Probably just a few weeks, but we need to know that you're feeling better before you leave. So you have to make an effort to get well. Can you do that?"

"Yes." Get me the fuck out of here.

"Right now you're in the Emergency Unit." He explains, "We had to bring you in here yesterday because you were acting a bit violent. We had to sedate you. But I'm assuming you're done acting violent, yes?"

"Yes."

"Alright then. In a few minutes someone will come and escort you to the main Unit."

"Okay."

Dr. Monroe stands and places a hand on my shoulder. "I'll be your therapist while you're in here. So if you have any problems or if you need any help just ask for me. I'm here for you."

His compassion almost makes me want to cry, but I ignore those feelings.

"Thank you." I say sincerely.

"Everything's going to be okay." He smiles.

I attempt to smile back, but I know it probably looks half-hearted. He leaves the room and in a few moments, someone shows up to escort me to the main Unit. It's another nurse, but she isn't wearing the same kind of scrubs the other nurse wore. She looks less like a nurse you would find in the surgical wing of a hospital, and more like the kind of nurse you'd see in a psych ward.

On the way to the main Unit she fills me in on what to expect.

"You'll be rooming with another boy your age." She says, "His name's Peter. I'm sure you'll get along. He seems like a nice boy. He just arrived here the other day."

The idea of having a roommate makes me want to groan with annoyance and roll my eyes. I just want to be left alone. If I'm being forced to stay here, why can't they just let me sleep alone?

"There are group lectures and discussions twice a day." The nurse explains, "They're not required, but we strongly suggest that you attend them. Lots of patients do, and they can be very informative and helpful."

We'll see.

"You'll have three meals a day in the cafeteria." She points to it as we pass by. "And in the afternoons you'll have a few hours of free time in the Rec. Room to play games or you can even go outside and play basketball or something in the yard."

"Cool." I say.

"Excluding today since you just got here, you will meet with your therapist, Dr. Monroe, once a day." She says, "2:00 in the afternoon, in his office. Someone will show you where it is. This is an Open Unit, meaning there's much less security than in the Emergency Unit. So you'll be housed with less violent patients. Hopefully that will make you feel a bit more at ease."

Yeah, right.

"Your parents already brought some things for you." She continues, "They're waiting in your room. Just some basic clothes and a toothbrush and things like that. We are required to go through it and confiscate any items that might be dangerous. But you'll still have your basic necessities."

I know the drill. I've never been to a mental hospital before, but I've seen them on various television shows. They take away your dental floss so you won't cut yourself with it. Great.

We arrive at my room and before I walk in the door, she speaks again.

"My name's Whitney, so if you have any questions you can ask me."

I look at the nurse, Whitney. She has blonde hair that's tied up in a ponytail. She has pale skin and rosy cheeks. She looks like a spoiled Southern princess. Like she could win Miss Nebraska. But nevertheless, she seems like a nice girl. I know I'll probably be seeing her a lot for the next couple of weeks.

"Thanks, Whitney." I say.

"Anytime." She responds.

She walks away down the hall and I watch her. Without anything better to do, I open the door to my room and walk inside. Thankfully I notice that my roommate is not here. He must be in the cafeteria for lunch or something.

Our room is white just like the rest of the building. There's a small bathroom that I guess my roommate and I are expected to share. There are two twin-sized beds. I instantly know which belongs to me and which belongs to my roommate. One of the beds is a mess of unmade sheets and pillows. The other is neatly made and barely touched, and the suitcase my parents packed for me is sitting on top of it.

I walk over and sit on my bed. I unzip the suitcase and flip it open. It appears as though my things were thrown together in a hurry. A jumble of pants and shirts sits in the suitcase, folded in a messy fashion. It worries me. My mother is always sure to be neat and tidy.

There's a smaller bag of basic toiletries, and a few personal items. My favorite book, Of Mice and Men. A photo of me with my brother. A pencil.

I freeze. It's the pencil. The pencil. His pencil. I know it is. It's got his bite marks in it. His mouth actually touched this pencil. How in the hell did it end up in this suitcase? My parents must've put it there. But how would they know that it was important to me?

Whatever. My mind is too tired to worry about it. I think about going to the cafeteria for lunch, but then I realize that I'm not hungry. I have no appetite at all. The thought of food makes me a bit nauseous. And I'm exhausted. So instead, I stuff my suitcase under the bed, and I crawl under the covers and go to sleep.

Sleep comes instantly and it's deep and dreamless. When I wake up, it's still light outside. My roommate still isn't here. The clock on my bedside table reads 3:12. I'm assuming this is the part of the afternoon where everyone gets some free time. So I leave my room and walk the halls until I get to the Rec. Room.

It's a large room with several tables and chairs where various patients are playing card games or board games. There's a ping pong table, but the net and the paddles have been taken away, so nobody plays. There are a few couches and a TV. Three or four patients are looking at the TV, but I know they aren't really watching it. I can tell just by looking at them. There is talking, but it's quiet.

Everyone in the room, except for the nurses, is my age or younger. I had assumed this was a juvenile hospital and I was right.

I stand in the doorway for a few seconds, trying to decide what to do. I think about sitting at a random table and joining a card game, but I really don't feel like making friends right now. So instead I walk over to the couches where the TV is. I sit on an empty couch and I stare at the screen. I look but I don't watch. Just like everyone else.

The show on the TV screen is a cartoon, one of the old-style ones from when I was a little kid. I look around and see that the only person who's actually watching the show with interest is a young boy who's sitting on the ground in front of the TV. He looks to be about ten years old. How the hell did he end up here?

After a few minutes of me staring at the TV screen and pondering about the little boy, I feel a presence. Someone sits next to me, but I don't look at them. I focus on the TV screen. Out of the corner of my eye I can tell it's a boy around my age.

For a minute or two, I think he's just going to sit there and watch TV with me. But then he actually speaks.

"Hey." He says.

I don't say anything. I don't give a shit.

"You new here?" He asks. His voice is small and weak.

I ignore him.

"Cause I am too. Just got here the other day."

Fascinating.

"I just saw you sitting here and thought you looked lonely."

If only you knew, kid. If only you knew.

"Just trying to be friendly. Making friends is a good thing here. You need a support system."

I still don't look at him. I keep staring at the cartoon on the screen. But then he thrusts his hand out for me to shake.

"I'm Aaron." He says.

I turn and get a good look at him. He looks about seventeen just like me. He looks nervous and jittery. He has dark brown hair and very pale skin. He has dark circles under his eyes. And his eyes... his eyes are light gray. Almost silver. They practically glow.

I look down at his hand that he wants me to shake. There are scars all the way up the inside of his forearm. Some are old, some are fresh. They criss cross. Some go vertical, some go horizontal. Some look like he tried to spell something out but I can't read it. The scars are frightening and I try not to wince as I notice them. I try to picture this Aaron guy cutting himself. When he does it, does he laugh or cry? I wonder if he's dangerous.

I look back up at his gray eyes. I stare for so long that his face falls and he withdraws his hand. He looks dejected. He sighs and turns to look at the boy on the floor. His eyes are sad. I start feeling bad for ignoring him.

"Well, anyway." He says, "I guess I'll see you around."

He starts to get up, but I feel guilty so I grab hold of his shirt and pull him back down to the couch. I thrust out my right hand.

"I'm Thomas." I say.

He shakes my hand willingly and a small, meek smile appears on his face.

"Cool." He says.

I guess I've made my first friend.


A/N: Okay guys, a new story! I know this is totally random, seeing as how I'm still not done with Unexpected but I had this idea in my head and I sort of wanted to try it out. I know I usually write in past tense but for some reason I wanted to do this one in present tense. I think this story really has potential. But it's all up to what you guys think. And don't worry... this is a slash story. Just wait and see ;] Please review! I love you guys so much!