“Jenn, are you ready to come out of your room?” Nurse Sarah asks me for the tenth time since I got here. You’d think that, after me being a mega bitch to her, she’d get the point and fuck off.
I drop my Jell-O cup on my night stand and the plastic spoon bounces off and hits the floor. Yeah, they give you strawberry Jell-O in here, isn’t that so sweet? Dramatically, I swing my legs over the side of this shitty bed in this shitty ass room with shitty fuckin’ white paint on the walls.
“If you share with the group, it could help you,” she softly prompts me with her own brand of bullshit and rays of fake sunshine shooting out her ass.
“Sure,” I give her what she wants to hear and shrug a shoulder. I’ll show her. I’ve been locked away in this fucked up mental holding facility for three days now, and I’m losing my fucking mind! Every visitor that’s come by, I’ve declined. At least I’m allowed that. Fuck them all for letting these fuckers hold me here.
My feet swiftly take me down the hallway to the group counseling room. As I’m barging in, the door hits the wall and all eyes fly in my direction to look me over. Ratted crazy hair and dirty stained scrubs, that’s what they see, I wear my crazy inside and out nowadays. Some look at me with pity, some with humor, and others with disgust. The room falls deadly quiet, waiting to see what the psycho girl will do next. This is my fuckin’ nut house, everyone waits for the show to start.
I drum my fingers across my lips before I start, “I guess sharing is encouraged here.” My sarcasm is sharp like a dagger as I look over my shoulder to find the same mousy nurse, Sarah, anxiously watching me from the doorway.
I walk over to the group of chairs that are sitting in a circle around the room. I choose to stand and place one foot on the empty chair and look each one of these people in the eye. All of them are dressed just like me. They all are fucked up. Like me.
A salacious grin forms on my face before I start my tale of horror. “When I was a kid, my mother was raped and murdered in front of me when I was barely old enough to remember. I remember her screams and men crawled all over her body before one of them choked her to death while fucking her. But that’s not all, no. My dad left me way before that, whoever the fuck he is. My sister, Ashley, was so small, she doesn’t remember any of it. Lucky bitch. My baby brother was killed. And Ashley?” I pause and make sure they’re all paying attention.
The old security guard who's on duty today tries to interrupt me, “I think it would be a good idea...”
“That bitch could care less what I’ve had to live with. She has her separate life and moved on gracefully. But me, no. The past loves to haunt me. Came back just to prove it.”
My chest heaves with the desperation I feel, the need to push the pain out. “I love to take pills. I can’t wait until I can take them again and numb all this goddamn bullshit. These feelings you all cry over in here like a bunch of pussies, that’s not going to help. The darkness always sinks its sharp claws in and takes hold.”
“Jenn, that’s enough.” The guard sounds more forceful now and steps forward, with his hand up. “Settle down and I’ll walk you back to your room.”
“Fuck you. I don’t need your help.” I drop my propped-up foot to the floor and face the man with a wide stance, “What are you going to do about it, old man?” I point to Sarah, “She asked me to share. My shit a little too real for you?” Come on, I plead in my head, come at me. Stepping closer, I crowd the willowy little shit of a man. My eyes narrow in on him.
Strong hands grab both of mine and bring them together behind my back, and I have to admit that these people are reacting a little faster than I was expecting. A sadistic smile creeps its way across my face. Finally, it’s show time. I headbutt the poor fucker in front of me. He yelps and grabs his head, stumbling backward. Then I kick my foot back at the shins of my other captor, bringing the measly male nurse to one knee.
A third nurse comes running into the room, heading for me while holding a syringe, looking to jam that thing in the side of my throat. I try dodging her and kick at the man’s other shin, then step back, making him fall backward and forcing him to free my hands in the process.
She lunges with the needle, hoping to hit me with it. See, here’s that word again. Hope. Don’t ever hope shit will work out for you. It doesn’t. My hands grab her forearm, pulling it up with my own. As I step into her, I lock my other arm around her throat. She screams and loses control. I take advantage and grab her hand that's holding the syringe, plunging the needle into her thigh. My thumb presses the end and she screams again. She panics in my hold and, together, we fall to the ground, with me landing on top of her.
Hands and more hands pull on my clothes and arms to try and drag me off her. I hold on tight just to fuck with these people. The room clears with the sounds of chairs scraping the floor and sobs echoing all around. Some others laugh along with my manic state, cheering me on.
Finally, they pull her out from under me and then they all pile on top of me, pushing me down into the hard floor. My nose slams into the ground. It’s difficult to breathe, and I can feel the blood pouring down from my nose, dripping into my mouth. I take a mouthful and spit it out just as someone holds my head locked to the floor. I feel a needle pricking at my skin.
Yes. Darkness is coming. Right before I’m sent into sweet oblivion, I glance up. A pissed off fuming Fuego is standing in the doorway. Murder is clear in his eyes as he watches. I let a smile stretch my blood-soaked mouth. See me? This is who I am. A ghost of who I once was.
“She is leaving today. Check with your damn head doctor,” Cuervo yells.
“That’s not what the chart says, sir,” the timid woman whispers in response.
“No fucking shit! Pinche cabrona, go talk to your head person. GO!”
My head is pounding and I want to rub my eyes. I go to lift my hand up, but I can’t. I squint down and see that my hands are secured by my sides. Fuck. This sucks. I blink rapidly and my eyes open to a pissed off man staring at me.
“Buenos dias, cabrona. Looks like you are a real pinche pendeja. You couldn’t just play nice, could you? You have to rip the world apart and show your pain?” Cuervo shakes his head at me. “This place is caca, doesn’t help you with the life you’ve had. Fuego is getting you out, you’re coming to the club.”
“Sure, whatever, can’t be any worse than this place.”
“Watch your fucking mouth, mija, I’m not putting up with it.” Cuervo’s eyes scowl down at mine, drilling holes into them.
Giving in a little, I do shut my mouth because, at least at the clubhouse, I can get booze and score some drugs too.
A few more minutes tick by before Fuego walks in with a nurse to untie my hands and feet. The burn and chaffing feel like a relief when they’re removed. I rub my wrists and swing my legs off the bed, then bolt across the room to use the restroom.
I come back out to see Fuego and Cuervo waiting for me by the door. Slipping my feet into sandals, I follow behind, wanting to get the hell out of this place.
Outside by the car stands Hawk along with Cindy, Fuego’s wife. “Well, well, there’s a sight for haunted ghosts’ pasts that came to pay a visit. Tell me, Hawk, how is Ashley these days?”
Hawk glares my way before he takes a breath to respond. “I’ve heard that coming off that shit makes you feel like you’re crawling out of your skin. Say what you want to me because you’re weak and you can’t stop yourself. But you just insulted my President’s wife. That’s your last warning with me, Jenn.”
Shit. Cindy. My chin drops to my chest and I want to run away from my own goddamn shame and disgust with myself. Two small hands wrap around my shoulders and I feel arms coming around me, pulling me into a warm embrace. She doesn’t say a word as I cry on her shoulder. She’s always been like a mom to me, if I ever had one.
A minute passes as I cry and sob right there in the parking lot. Cindy kisses my head and lightly touches my face, tilting my chin up to look at her.
“Hello, beautiful baby girl,” she whispers as she pushes my messy blond hair back behind my ears. My lips tremble and I whimper at hearing the kindness and love lacing her voice. Biting my bottom lip, I nod at her. Cindy takes my hand and leads me to the backseat of the car. Together, we ride to El Casa de Fuego y Familia.
My fingers run over picture after picture of the three of us. Me, Alessia and Dana. The three of us as little girls, looking so perfect. I tried so hard to be normal. To be like Alessia and Dana. Frustrated, I set a picture down as a knock sounds at the door.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Aunt Teresa asks as she’s stepping through the doorway, coming to sit on the bed behind me.
“I’m fine,” I whip out, looking to keep our conversation short.
“Good. I think it would be…” I cut off her words, holding up my hands.
“You thought it would be what? That I would come home to your house, and what?” I demand on a snarky tone.
She nervously swallows and starts speaking, trying to act gentle. “This all happened because you didn’t leave a long time ago, Jennifer. You can start over, and we’ll pretend this never happened.”
“What are you trying to tell me?”
“That if you don’t cut them out of your life, I can’t see you anymore either. I can’t sit here and watch what happened to your mother happen to you,” she quickly spews the words from her mouth.
“Do you even know why I took those pills? You don’t, do you? You just look at me like I’m some groupie club whore, don’t you?”
Teresa’s faces blanches and she looks at the floor.
“Because a man raped me while I was in your home,” I hiss at her. Her head snaps up and I wait for her to say something about that fact. I even raise a brow at her. Her face pales and she looks like she’s about to puke.
“Did you know that he, my rapist, also called me Jennifer? I want to slit my wrists every time you say it now.” I wait for her to say something, anything, but the frightened little church mouse is just staring at me.
Finally, she finds her words, “You are not the girl I raised.”
“It was all a show, Teresa,” I flip my hand in her direction, “to keep everyone from seeing what I really am.” I exhale an exhausted breath. “This is all too much, I need to be alone.”
“I brought you something.” She leans forward and reaches into her large bag. She pulls out my cell phone and an old speaker that I’d left at her house over a year ago. It was a short visit there, as well as my last. The memory of that house and what happened there has been way too much for me to want to ever stay with her again.
“Music’s always helped you. I’ll leave it here.” She stands and places them both on the nightstand, next to the pictures that I was just looking at.
Cindy knocks on the door with a worried look on her face, “Fuego is on his way home for dinner, we’re all heading out.”
Teresa picks up the hint to leave and nods in agreement, grabbing her bag and slinging it over her shoulder. She always tried to do her best with me, I’ll give her that. We just never really understood one another.
Teresa also has a lot of pride which is what causes her to leave right now without saying a single word to me or Cindy on her way out. Cindy looks me over and comes to wrap her arms around me. She doesn’t have to say anything because she feels the pain radiating from me.
“If you do want to go out for dinner, you let me know, okay?” She kisses my forehead and leaves me alone, which I appreciate more than anything right now.
As I wait for my phone to power on, I feel a little curious and isolated from the world. About a thousand dings from missed calls or message alerts from what seems like everyone I know come through. I scroll through and one from Vegas grabs my attention.
Vegas: JENN! You won’t believe that Dana is pregnant too! She took a pregnancy test, by accident, long story, but the bitch has a baby daddy for real like she reads about. Can you believe it? Please call me for the details!
Gripping the phone in my hand, I can’t bear to even look at the rest of the messages, let alone read any of them. Alessia and Dana are both pregnant and have a future. I curl up in Alessia’s childhood bed and cry myself to sleep, hating that love has abandoned me and there’s nothing left of this barren body.