CHAPTER 1 Welcome To The E.R.

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copyright 2018 Chris Smith  All Rights Reserved.

"Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light."

Norman B. Rice

First African-American Mayor of Seattle, Washington, USA 1990-1998

(1943- )

The hallway smelled clean. But for all its cleanliness, I didn't want to be standing in it. Sterile places felt wrong. By the looks of my Dad, he didn't want to be here either. Tension leaked over his face.

Who could blame him?

I didn't know what the fuck was supposed to happen now. I wanted to kick my ass right out of this entire scene. Or write myself out of it anyway. But I was stuck here in this god-forsaken void.

"Is there a reason you didn't bring her in sooner?" the E.R. Doctor asked.

"Yeah, there are a billion reasons. Which one do you want first?" I thought.

I looked at Dad. Emotions passed through his eyes. The air shifted as undercurrents swirled right below the surface of our stark new existence. I knew what people would think. I knew they'd judge us. They always did.

Why would now be any different?

"We didn't realize how bad she was until a doctor friend of mine came by to see her. He noticed the huge change in her and suggested we bring her in immediately," Dad replied.

Dad's friend, Nick, had come by the offices to assess Mom in the afternoon. Nick was used to the bubbly fun Mom. He wasn't prepared for the non-responsive-shut-down-emotionally stand-in version of Mom or the severe weight loss. He was shocked. Funny how life changes in the daily grind but you don't notice the incremental fallout until someone else jolts you back.

"Joseph, you need to take her to hospital. Today. Right now," Nick had told my Dad earlier in the day.

"Jesus. How did I miss it?" Dad asked.

"You live with her. You see her every day. You wouldn't see it. I haven't seen her in a couple of years," Nick said.

The past six months had been an ordeal. I could discuss at length how many times I wanted to kill her myself. The number was quite staggering. Nothing like a little knife work between meals to bring love back into the family. I don't know what else I should have done with her. You can't force someone to do something they don't want to do. Like live.

The Doctor took one look at my Mom and sized up the situation of who he thought we were. He had no idea what it took for us to be here, in this sanitary world of theirs. This wasn't our world. Flickers of judgment crawled over the E.R. Doctor's face. But what I couldn't tell was if he thought we were telling the truth. Prepare for the scrutiny and judgement commencing in three, two, one.

"Yeah, Doc. Look. We chain her to the bed, beat her, and withhold food," I thought.

What the actual fuck. Fine. Stand on the sidelines of a war you've never fought in and judge me. Fine. I don't care. Frankly Doctor, you can take your righteous opinions and GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Once we entered those E.R. doors there was no turning back. We were officially declaring to the outside world there was indeed a "problem". We might as well be on a stage holding a megaphone announcing it to the entire world. The same world that treated us as if we were the plague at every turn, with its endless messages and beatdowns to CONFORM. And in return we treated them with the sixty foot rule. That's sixty feet between them and us, at the bare minimum.

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