When I opened my eyes I saw a white ceiling. It was so unfamiliar that I got disoriented. I slowly looked down as I tried to move. The first thing I saw was the dextrose attached to my arms.
I am at the hospital.
The realization made me panic. I tried to sit up but I got dizzy with the sudden movement. I closed my eyes instead, my heart still beating fast as I try to make sense of the situation. What am I doing in a hospital?
After a while I heard soft whispers outside the hospital room where I am located. I slowly opened my eyes to look at the door that was suddenly opened. My best friend Lizzy came in. She was with an old man wearing all white so I assume he is a doctor. They stopped talking quietly when they saw that I was awake.
Lizzy looked so happy when our eyes met. She quickly went to the side of my bed and cried. “Joy, finally you’re awake,” she said shakily and began to kiss my face. “I was so worried! What happened to you?”
I pressed my lips together and looked away.
“You didn’t leave your apartment for three freaking weeks! You didn’t go to work, you didn’t talk to anyone and it seems like you also didn’t eat at all. You’re so thin, Joy! When your landlady and I forcefully opened the door to your house because she and your neighbors got worried that they haven’t seen you go out for weeks, we found you sleeping. We can’t wake you up no matter how hard we try. We thought something bad happened to you. Did you tried to kill yourself?” Lizzy almost screamed at me.
I tasted something bitter in my mouth. They had no idea how many times I thought of doing that for the past three weeks. If they knew, she might do more than scream at me. So again, I kept quiet.
“We will not be able to help you if you don’t speak, Miss Madrid.”
My gaze went to the doctor. He has a calm voice but his eyes look serious. It was as if he was trying to read my soul as he stares at me. It was as if he knew all my secrets. I resisted the urge to hug myself. “I have nothing to say.”
My intention was to say those words strongly. But my voice was pathetically hoarse and weak. I realized that in the past three weeks it was the first time that I really said something. It has been so long I actually got a little surprised by my own voice because it suddenly became unfamiliar to me.
The doctor sighed. “Miss Madrid. Based on the initial tests we did, aside from malnourishment and dehydration because you haven’t eaten anything for so long, there is nothing wrong with your body. We were waiting for you to wake up so you can undergo a more intensive physical exam. We also need to interview you for your medical history. If we diagnosed that you don’t have any physical sickness, I will recommend you to a different doctor.”
“You said she doesn’t have any medical condition? You said she is physically fine. So why do you have to recommend her to another doctor?” Lizzy asked.
“There is nothing wrong with her physically. But I believe she needs a psychiatrist.”
“Psychiatrist?” I whispered as I stare at the doctor in surprise. “I don’t need a psychiatrist. I am perfectly fine, thank you.”
“You need it, miss Madrid,” the doctor said in a calm but serious voice. His eyes met mine. Then he said, “You know you do.”
Something got stuck in my throat. My face heated up and this time I wasn’t able to resist wrapping my arms to myself. Maybe this way I can protect my secrets from the doctor. Again I can’t help but feel like he knew everything about me. Guilt and shame washed over me.
After a long while the doctor spoke again. “I will go now. Take a rest. Later a nurse will accompany you for your physical exam.” Then the old man turned his back on me and went out of the hospital room.
A long silence filled the room. Lizzy sat down at the side of my bed. She then carefully held my hand that does not have a needle attached to it and softly squeezed it. I looked up at her face and I saw sympathy and worry on her eyes. “Did you become like this because of James?”
When I heard his name I could not stop the sob from escaping my lips. Tears fell down my cheeks. Lizzy hugged me and I only cried harder. “I’m sorry. Oh God, I’m sorry Joy,” she keeps on saying as I cry.
I shook my head, telling her silently that she has nothing to apologize for. But Lizzy shook her head too. “No. I was the one who did something so the two of you can personally meet. I know his reputation but I still allowed you to get close to him. I am part of the reason why you are crying now.”
Again I shook my head. Because that is the only thing I can do as I cry. Because that is the only thing I can share to Lizzy. I cannot tell her the real extent of my relationship with James. I cannot admit how deep I allowed him to penetrate my heart, my mind and my soul.
What James and I had, normal people will never understand.