The ambulance ride was a little nuts. Honestly, though it took over an hour to get there, it felt like about ten minutes. All I did was listen to my music and sing, while I hugged a bear and stared out the back window.
My attending EMT was named Jeremy, and when I told him I’d remember it because of the Pearl Jam song, he responded by telling me what the song was about. I didn’t know it was about a school shooting—or suicide. I guess I should have. It surprised me. He surprised me.
Jeremy was a very kind man, with a nice smile and a gentle heart. It seemed like, anyway. Apparently, I’m not always great at reading people.
There was something special about Jeremy, though. He broke the rules for me. For me!. When we got to Pine Rest, we had to wait for them to open the doors. They were running late.
I asked if I could get out and smoke a cigarette. At first, he said no. But the longer the wait took, the more he buckled. He lowered me out and let me smoke, right there on the gurney.
It was magic.
That’s when he told me about “Jeremy”. And We talked about Shawshank. “I don’t know what that woman was singing,” he said. A quote. I love movie quotes. We talked about Opera. I told him the only one I had ever seen had been in San Fransisco—and it was in Chinese.
He wheeled me in, when the doors finally opened and I was afraid when he left. He was the first person that day that I had trusted. I didn’t like seeing him go. But I smiled, and said thank you.
I let them lead me into a room where they checked me for marks, bruises, scars, tattoos. Then they made me squat and cough. I was really mad—I could have shoved four joints in there and they wouldn’t have fell out, I felt like I should have.
I wished I would have, a few days after no cigarettes.
Then there was a round of questioning. I answered as best as I could, but I couldn’t tell you what those questions were, now. “What brought you here?” “What’s happened the last few days?” “What is your mind state, today?” Things like that. Of course, I probably lied through half of them. But seeing as I can’t remember, who knows?
After my check in, I got led to a nice private room, where sunshine filtered through broken blinds, and the empty shelves called for books I didn’t bring. The attending nurse brought me a sandwich and it came with fruit and chips that I hoarded in the back of a long shelf.
The bed called my name, though it was a strange shape and an even stranger texture. The sunlight slanted in onto the foot, and I sat down. Looking around myself I felt…nothing. It didn’t matter where I was, it didn’t matter why I was. It mattered that I was safe and my son was not. I had failed.
The last time I had been in this position, a few days before in another institution that exists for other purposes, I had fled. I had run as hard as I could towards trouble because I wasn’t safe, until my son was safe.
This time: there was no running, no way to flee. This time: I was as imprisoned as Martha Stewart after inside trading. This time: there were guards, nurses, techs, and a Doctor or two, in between me and those from doors. And beyond those doors I was two hours away from my home, away from my son. This time I had no choice.
I ate my sandwich. I took off my clothes.