(I apologize for the shortness of this week's installment. So much to do, so little time!)
Chapter 13 – July 24th
We attempted to confront Melanie, but she turned on us with a fire and fury that was completely out of character. White-hot anger that left her shaking, shouts that frightened her roommate out of bed and brought the nurses running. The panic in her eyes was real, the desperation that twisted her mouth and made her clench her fists completely genuine.
If she was telling the truth about the letters and the phone calls, then someone was totally fucking with her, or she'd completely lost it and was unable to tell reality from fantasy.
Liz tried to talk some sense into her, but her efforts only led to Mel screaming that Craig was a traitor.
A nurse poked her head in the door and said, "Melanie, knock it off. You're agitating the other patients."
I don't know. I peeked out Mel's door and the only patients I saw were watching TV, and they looked pretty calm. Maybe she was agitating the nurses.
Silas finally wrapped his arms around Melanie and held on tight. She fought him for almost a full minute, and then started sobbing.
She pulled away from Si and sat on the edge of the bed, Liz coming to sit beside her to smooth large circles against her back. Josie picked up a hairbrush from Mel's night stand, positioned herself cross-legged behind Mel, and started to brush.
I sat on the floor and took Mel's feet into my lap, pressing my thumbs hard into the soles, keeping my eyes on my hands so I wouldn't have to look into her face.
Melanie pretty much had no choice but to succumb to the comfort-attack of three sisters. She calmed.
"I don't know what's worse, to have him loose, or to have him loose only in my head, and be trapped with that, basing all my decisions on something not even real. I mean, that's really, really sick. Multiple personality sort of sick."
"I think you need to get out of here," Silas said. "None of this seems to be helping."
"How many ECT's have you had?" Elizabeth asked.
"Four," Mel said in a dull voice. "But I've called him from here, I swear. He said if I try to escape him, he'll take Caleb. So I got his number out of my cell phone and called to explain where I was, why I was unavailable."
Silas, who'd been sitting back in one of the heavy chairs, jerked to his feet. "You have a phone number for this asshole? Where is it? I want it."
Melanie paled. "That's a bad idea."
"No," Silas said. "It's a great idea. We can prove or disprove his existence."
Melanie shook her head, violently. "But what if –"
Silas cut her off. "What if what? What if he tries to hurt you? We rally. What if he tries to take Caleb? We watch him, and don't allow it. If this asshole is only in your head, nothing will happen. If he's not, we find him and get him locked up again. But you've got to get out of here so we can help you. Now, where's the number?"
Melanie sighed, a sigh that ended like a sob. I could feel the rigid tension in her feet beneath my thumbs.
"On my nightstand," Melanie said, her voice a quiet simper. "I’m not supposed to tell anyone. I only told Craig because I wanted him to watch Caleb extra carefully. I needed Craig to know the danger."
Silas shuffled through papers, then held up a hand-written list of numbers. He scanned them, then pulled his cell phone out of his pocket.
"You're not supposed to have that in here," Josie said.
Silas smiled at her. "Yeah, well. It'll be our little secret."
He showed the list to Mel. "Which number?"
Her hand was shaking as she stretched out her arm and pointed to a number written so lightly in pencil that it almost wasn't there.
Silas tapped the numbers into his phone, and none of us dared to breathe.
Silas was just going to dial up the Doll Collector, right now, right from here, dial him up and tell him he was done.
Melanie could physically feel her heart beating fast in her chest, hear it pounding in her ears, and felt physically ill.
She watched Silas, and the edges of her vision grew dark, putting him almost in a spotlight.
What if they were right? Had she dreamed it all up, so determined to punish herself that she'd go back to the shed?
But he'd been in her apartment, made her drink glass after glass of water, then made her stand in the bathtub for hours, fully clothed, while he waited for the inevitable excuse to punish her for wetting herself, just like before.
She wouldn't do that to herself. That was sick.
Her vision continued to narrow and she held her breath, maybe even lost consciousness for a few seconds while Silas dialed his phone.
She found herself silently begging answer, answer, answer because she didn't want to be this crazy. If she was disassociating, or becoming her ten-year-old self again, she'd never be able to be trusted with Caleb, and that was worse than having a real enemy. A real enemy could be found out, defeated.
An imaginary one was pure defeat, all on its own.
Just an additional little treat for you today...
My daughter got pulled up on stage with the band Lit (Please tell me why... the car is in the front yard, I'm sleeping with my clothes on, came in through the window....) so I thought since the Sundays installment was so desperately short, I'd share a video with ya'll.
Security was nice enough to let "the mom" through the security barrier so I could get a better-than-even the-front-row view. Sprite is on the right in pink with the huge smile.