Chapter One- Security
Setting my pen down on my yellow legal notepad, I gingerly shift from my stiff position and reach for my coffee on the cluttered desk in front of me. I take a slow sip to keep from my scorching my mouth and immediately spit it back into the mug. Cold. How long have I been sitting here stuck in this trance-like reverie reflecting back on the girl I was when I first met Austin Dubois? Having finally escaped Thomas Scalia I ran, no, I clung, to the first guy’s arms that held me. I kissed the first lips that spoke sweet words to me and Jade. I shake away the thought.
My hand hovers, hesitating over an old, worn leather bound journal before picking it up. Flipping it open, I skim through the pages until I get to the fall of 2003 and revisit an entry from my nineteen year old self.
October 23, 2003
I still feel his lips on mine from earlier tonight. I still feel his rough hands like the grit of sandpaper on my skin. Hands calloused from hard work, honest work. His hands feel like security. Austin could be just what we need.
I stop reading and close the journal, placing it next to the story I am writing. A flash. Just a flash, and there I am. Soaking in a bubble bath. My arms floating up level with the water. The dark rush of ruby blood seeping from the gashes in my wrists stains the bubbles that barely cover me. The flash doesn’t scare me. It comforts me. Because I know that if I fail in writing this story…if writing this story fails to give me the mental peace and security I need, well, then I know I have another choice. A plan B.
And don’t we all crave security in some form or another? A roof over our heads, a full belly from a decent meal, a few dollars in our pockets, true and honest love in our lives? And when these basic needs, the security of these needs aren’t met- when they are just beyond reach or lacking in consistency, what becomes of a person? What about someone like me? I have all of my basic needs met- the food, the house, the money. I have more love in my life now than I could ever deserve. In these aspects I have security, right? So why can’t my brain get on board with this knowledge? Why it is constantly in fight or flight mode?
I’m certain some people would say I’m selfish. They would say that I’ve finally made something of my life, and I just can’t be satisfied. I’ve said that about myself for years. And then I realized something. Maybe it’s okay to let go. To stop the fight. To stop saying, “look forward to five minutes from now, just look forward to the next hour from now,” for the rest of my life. Is there truly weakness in accepting that the illness has complete control, to accept that the only way to gain back control is by killing the weakness, even if that means the end of me?
A light tapping at the office door tugs me from the darkness.
“Yes?” I answer assuming my protective Elliot is back to check on me.
The door swings open and my angels, my Jade and Allie, peer into the room. So I paint on a smile.
“Morning, crazies. Sleep well?”
My sweet bouncing Allie who is always smiling flickers over to me like a nimble nymph, wrapping thin arms around my neck. “Yes, ma’am,” she answers in a tinkling voice.
“No bed bugs?” I ask tickling her rib cage.
“No, no!” She squeals and squirms trying to get away from my merciless fingers.
“Okay crazies,” I say rising up from my chair, “Let’s go get some noms for breakfast.”
Up and down, up and down, Allie bounces on her tiptoes. “Elliot is making us pancakes for breakfast,” she says rushing her words out, each syllable in a race to beat the first between small gasps for air.
Allie is tall for her ten years and mostly skin and bones, almost painfully thin really, a physical characteristic she inherited from her father. She also has his dark brown hair and dark olive skin tone, that creole blood. But where his eyes are black as night, Allie’s are a curious green, gray marble splashed with the faintest sapphire, which she did not get from me, as mine are a light honey brown.
Jade, who is not smiling, hasn’t budged from the doorway she is leaning against. She is the polar opposite of her younger sister. Long sandy colored hair hangs loose all the way down her back, and her pale face is either smiling or frowning in a smirk mixed with her wry sense of wit and humor and biting cynicism. Her sharp honey brown eyes -my eyes- are looking around the room and on the desk taking everything in with a hint of concern. I am aware that she notices the empty wine bottle.
“You are faking again, Mama.” She mouths to me across the room and past an oblivious Allie.
I give Jade a wink. “Let’s go see how bad Elliot has messed up the pancakes this time.”
And with linked arms the three of us march down the stairs and to the kitchen where Elliot greets us with a big goofy grin.
“There are my three favorite girls. Breakfast is ready,” he booms out at us in his loud voice, as he flips the last pancake out of the pan and onto a plate stacked with several other extra crispy pancakes.
The three of us doubled over laughing as Elliot wears an expression of mock hurt. “See when I cook for you girls again,” he pouted.
“Alright girls, you two finish getting ready for school while I fix something up right quick,” I say shooing them out of the kitchen.
With long lanky legs, Allie sprints off up the stairs, but Jade hangs behind looking at me, trying to read me. I nod. A silent message to her that I am okay, and she gives me a hard hug and runs off after her sister to get ready. She’s only twelve years old. She shouldn’t have to be worrying after me like that.
Elliot comes up behind me with a box of cereal and a carton of milk. I grab bowls down from the cabinet, and he starts in a low voice, “I know last night had to do with what the doc said, Mellie. Just give the new meds a chance.”
A deep long endured anger flares up inside my chest, and I glare hard into his kind, but clueless face. “New meds…how many times do I have to give the new meds a chance, Elliot? How many times just this past year have I had to give new meds a chance? Aren’t you as tired as I am?” I catch the brief flicker of hurt in Elliot’s warm amber eyes caused from the sting of my words. He blinks it away, recovers, and starts again.
“Being Bipolar is not as bad as it sounds, baby. At least we know now, so just keep being my tough woman.” He put his big strong arms around me, my security. “And I knew you were crazy when I married you,” he added into my ear followed by a hard kiss on my cheek.
I nod. I nod for him just like I nodded for Jade- to reassure him, despite my firm decision. I don’t tell him I’m tired. Tired of the PTSD, Panic Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, anxiety, depression, now Bipolar. A different doctor, a different diagnosis, a different pill. Pink ones, white ones, blue ones, yellow ones. Different shapes and sizes. All supposed to cure me. But to me they are just a colorful assortment of false hope.
The girls leave for school. Elliot leaves for work. I go back upstairs to write. Before any decisions are carried out, the book has to get finished.