"He called you."

It would be eighteen months later in the asylum that Cash would reveal that I got psychotic at the mention of rehab. I broke his arm and two of his ribs. I gave him a concussion by knocking him against the wall. I bloodied my feet when I ran bare feet over all those broken pieces of glass and vinyl. And that I screamed, "He called me. I deserve this!" all the time. I didn't stop screaming in my hoarse voice until I had to be sedated like a wild animal.

And the revelation would heal my memories of those moments, giving me nightmares for the next six months to work through along with my other demons.



I hear the beeping noise before anything else penetrates. As soon as my subconscious acknowledges it, a barrage of sensations fill me while the memories hit me. The smell of disinfectants, the paper-thin cover on me and the way too fluffy pillow below me hit me too close to my vulnerable part. Four years ago, when I finally somehow woke up from the zombie state of being either comatose or psychotic, I was in a hospital bed too. And the panic that had gripped me then grips me again. And then I hear screams and wonder who else is suffering with me. "Jude, focus! It's me! Cash! Stop screaming!" He screams and it finally gets to me that I'm screaming and thrashing around. And that I'm not restrained into my bed like last time.

Tears of betrayal flow down my cheeks, even though he hasn't betrayed me ever, as I look at him. Sadness and concern for me has aged him years. He's nearly bald now. If I were in a better mood, I would've pointed out that only he can rock baldness but the only word that comes out is why. And I'm ashamed of what it carries with it. Question. Plea. Distress. And a whole lot of emotions I won't analyse, despite what the shrink told me. Some emotions are better left unacknowledged.

"I'm sorry Jude. I knew you wouldn't respond well to hospital beds after that time but you didn't see what I saw. All the progress you had made since … that time was unravelling." The unspoken words 'your episode' hang in the air between us. Then, in a move that is anything but smooth, he speaks, "Your work was brilliant though. I truly missed working with someone of your talent. It has been a long time since…" His voice trails off as new, and more painful, words now become the giant elephant in the room.

The past and its wounds never scar, forget about them healing, do they? Even now the reference to them and those days drives all the air out of my chest. It's like missing a limb or something whenever they cross my minds. And having gone through all that, it seems like I have always been hurting. But it isn't as intense as it was back then. And for that I'm grateful to this one person who, despite knowing the truth and my role in it, keeps trying not to poke in my countless wounds.

So this time when I smile at him, I know it's sincere. He has the opposite reaction though. "Oh Jude! I was so worried about you." His voice is strong, though hoarse, but I can understand how close he is to the edge. Here I am trying to be strong and he goes fucking sentimental at me. You, my friend, are a leech on my strength. I mentally taunt him. On the outside though, I have no choice. "Go home, Cash. I'll stay here. But only for tonight. And next time you even bring me to the driveway of a fucking hospital, I will break your jaw. Go now. I need to rest before we start work tomorrow."

I wait until I hear the door close before letting the tears, which I had been holding in so long, flow as I let the true extent of my fear slowly ebb away. It took hours but by the time, I did fall asleep, I felt scrubbed raw from within.

Not completely clean but clean enough to begin again.


Two and a half years ago…

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