I decided not to go, I couldn't. Hospitals were something I had easily grown to hate. I didn't want to see her; I had been driving around Tulsa for two hours, thinking, worrying... being scared. Before I knew it, I was turning around. I wasn't really sure where I was going, but then again, I knew exactly where my mind had lead me as I pulled into the hospital parking lot.
"Um, could you please tell me where Erin Legers is? What room?" I asked the receptionist when I reached her.
"Third floor, room 314." She whispered. "That's the ward for patients with eating disorders," She assured me, with her eyes wide open and a confident nod.
Taking the large cubicle elevator, I stepped out onto the floor, hoping I was in the right place. I realized I was there when I saw her parents sitting outside, holding each other's hands. The looks on their faces were cold and blank. They each hadn't slept in days.
"Isaac honey, it's so nice to see you. She's in there." Her mother said, pointing to the room.
"I know..." I sat down heavily.
"Aren't you going to go see her?"
I shook my head. "I will. I just want to sit here for a sec."
They took that as an understandable answer, not saying much after that. After a few moments, Erin's step-father broke the silence.
"Listen, Isaac," he started. "I'm really tired, and so is Karen. You wouldn't mind staying here, so I could bring her home for the night, would you?" Through the time I had known Erin, I'd learned of her relationship with this man. To her, he was "just a step-father". Nothing really special to her. They rarely got along, and when they did, it was for a short period of time. Erin's real father had split when she was 8, and she had never let go of that.
"No, no. I'm not leaving her." Karen Ledger was shocked that her husband would even bring it up.
"It's ok, she'll be fine." He gently rubber her back. "Isaac is the only other person I would trust staying here anyway."
I shook my head again. "It's no problem. I'll stay here as long as you want. I kinda wanted to be here with her alone anyway, I was going to stay here the night, you know, just to watch her."
"I don't know..." An unsure tone remained in her voice.
"It's ok..." I added again.
"And I'll take you back here early in the morning. Does that sound ok?" Trying to convince her, he was saying whatever was needed to assure her.
"Yes you can, don't worry about it..." Mr. Ledgers coaxed.
She made a face. "Fine... But I want to be here as early as possible." She said, standing up. Her husband grabbed her hand, and started to lead her out. "You'll call me if anything happens." She said to Isaac before giving him a hug and making her way slowly down the dark empty hallway.
I sat there for a few more minutes. The silence of this floor was ideal. I could've just sat there all night, but knowing Erin was so close by made me think the opposite. I put my head in my hands for a few moments, before standing up to look through the small window the faced Erin's room. I leaned my forehead against the glass, and placed my hand up on the cold surface, letting it fall back down. My breath was slowly fogging up my view of her. She was exactly how I had pictured her. The room, the bed, and her body fit my description perfectly. I sighed, and let myself in, turning the knob slowly.
A small chair was set next to her bed, and I made my way over to it. All the complicated machines were meticulously placed around her bed. The rhythmic beeping got annoying, as I sat there contently watching her. This was my friend, the one I loved. One I had know for only a few years, had dated twice, and always seemed to come back to. I cared about her. But this was all too scary. It was comforting to watch her sleep, and watch her breath. Just to know she was there, and alive. Her lips were gently parted as she lay there. Her chest rising, seeming to struggle for each breath of air.
I just sat there, putting my head back in my hands. She moved around a bit, and then almost immediately, she spoke. ,p> "I was beginning to think you weren't going to come at all." Her eyes opened slowly, as she looked at me.
I looked up. Her face was beautiful, even in the bed and under these circumstances. "I wasn't."
A confused expression filled her face as she eyed me.
"I don't even know why I finally came, I just did."
"Why wouldn't you come?" She asked me, clearly confused with any reasoning I could give her.
"Because... I don't want to see you like this again."
"I'm sorry." She stated. "I didn't mean to do this, I swear. And everyone still cares, after all I've screwed up. When Taylor came in, Zac was here too. I didn't even talk to them, I laid here. Tay is really mad. He kept saying stuff, like he wants you to 'stop thinking about yourself,' or so he says. They all just talked to me, even though I had my eyes shut. They thought I was sleeping. I cannot believe I've caused all of this again..."
"I don't care what Taylor says, or what anyone else thinks. I don't care how selfish I sound, or how selfish I am... I don't want to go through this again, and I don't want to see you like this. You promised. You promised me you weren't sick, and that everything was ok. You said this would never happen again, and you lied. You lied to me, you lied to your parents, you lied to everyone else. And you lied to yourself." I was pointing to make my point stronger.
She just sat there staring. She knew exactly how right I was, and from the look on her face, it hurt her inside. "I know... I don't know why I did it. I wanted to be pretty-"
"Cut the shit, Erin. You are. You're so beautiful, why wont you listen to me?! Do I not tell you enough, or do you not believe me?"
"It's not you, I swear. I don't know, I can't really explain it. It's just... I don't know..." She was shaking, and she started crying. Large tears began to fall freely down her face. I couldn't take seeing how helpless she looked.
We sat in silence for a few moments, before she finally spoke again.
"Did you ever feel out of control?"
I just looked at her; I didn't really feel like answering.
She went on. "No, really... Did you ever feel like that? Like you didn't know what you were doing anymore, you just did it? Not thinking, or knowing why. Your head just goes blank, and you don't really have anything to follow? That's exactly how it is. When I was sick the first time, I just started to feel skinnier, and pretty. I liked that. Then, I got better, I swear. You guys caught me, and I got help. I was better. But then, I don't know, it just started again. And I couldn't stop. Nobody knew, so I didn't really think it would matter. At first I wanted to stop, but it just became a habit. I thought I could handle things, but I couldn't. On Thursday night, I had just eaten, and it made me sick. I ate more than I should have. I was just going to throw it up, and I kept telling myself, that this would be it. The last time. No more. But, I passed out, it all went black. I woke up here." She moved her arms around, obviously pointing out the room. Her red eyes just stared at me, completely empty inside.
I moved over towards her, and awkwardly wrapped my arms around her. She leaned up against me, still shaking. I stroked her head, and just sat there on the bed with her. I wasn't about let her go. I just wanted to stay like this forever, maybe somehow I could change everything. Eventually, she stopped moving, and I realized she had fallen back asleep. I let her lay back down, and returned to my spot in the chair.
The monotonous beeping became hypnotic as I remembered everything. The first time this had all happened...
It was only 4 years ago; we were both about 17. I had just met her at our church about six months earlier. Just when we started to get serious, everything started to pick up, and a summer tour was all planned out. Me, Taylor, and Zac were getting ready to leave, and travel around the country. I didn't want to leave Erin... I knew it was going to hurt. The day I left, she told me. She said, "You wait till you come back. I'm going to be so pretty, and so skinny. We're going to go out and celebrate."
"You don't need to be skinnier, you're already perfect." I said, pulling her into a hug, trying to convince her. She seemed so determined to do this.
"You just wait." She said.
'You just wait.'
I never really took it seriously, or stopped to think about what she said. When the tour had reached back to Tulsa for the first time, it wasn't really obvious. She was skinny, but only to the point where I could notice. I commented on it, and she just smiled. I wasn't happy for her, I was worried. I wasn't complimenting her, but she took it that way anyway. That wasn't enough for her. I couldn't quit the tour, even when I knew things weren't right. When we got back, and the tour was all over, I was too late. She was already so frail, and sick. Her mother had her admitted into the hospital only days before, and as soon as the doctor saw her, her had immediately submitted her into a different ward for teens with eating disorders.
She coped with everything, and with staying in that place. They called it a home. I remember the phone calls I use to get from her. She was so upset that she was there, even though it would help her. She didn't care about anything, and she just wanted out. It was enough to kill everyone inside, besides me.
And I waited. I waited that long for her to come back home, and for us to 'hang out' again. I loved her. I still do. But it was different. We didn't have any cares back then, nor did anything bother us. We could do whatever we wanted, and we did. Maybe a little wild, but with the tour finally over, we could just be together. It was great. I didn't want anything different.
Until things changed. She found someone else, so I did. And then, I found another person. Nicole made me so happy. I had thought she really was 'the one.' But after going strong for awhile, Nicole didn't like to be put after my music. I came back to Erin. I loved her, I knew I would always end back with her anyway. Things were going strong, until about 4 months ago. Kevin came back, and we began to be pulled apart again.
Kevin Mclory. The guy who had caused us to break up for the first time. We all met up at a party one night, and I guess they just hit it off. She dumped me. I was hurt, but I moved on. When I heard he left for college, it didn't phase me. But Erin professed she still loved me. We became a couple yet again, to the surprise of everyone. Zac was so pissed off when he found out. He said she dragged me around. But she even grew on him, and they became friends again.
That's where things had gone wrong in the last couple of months. Kevin came back from Boston College for break, and I could tell Erin was slipping away from me. She swore they were just friends, but it made me sick to think she could be lying to me. Now that he was back, she began to break dates, or fill her schedule. Without me. I didn't notice her sickness.
I was brought back to the present, and to the image that was forever inlisted in my head, the one of Erin lying there. ***** Zac stretch out a little, before sitting up in his bed. Looking across the room, he noticed Isaac's unmade bed.
"Tay, you awake?" He asked. A few mumbles came from the lump of sheets and pillows, but no sudden movements. "Tay?" He whispered again.
"Wha? Go back to sleep." He talked into his pillow.
"Can you drive me down to the hospital?"
"Zac, its like 5 in the morning, can't you wait a little bit?"
"I kinda want to go now. We can see if Ike ever made it there last night, cause he didn't come home." He stated, as Taylor barely lifted his head to see the obvious emptiness of Isaac's bed.
Zac had wanted to get down there before Isaac made a big mistake. He had known from the start that Erin wasn't going to do him any good, yet Ike hadn't listened and they got back together yet again. So he faked a small friendship with her. It was only to please everyone else...
Walking down to the park about a week ago, he had saw Erin hand in hand with a guy, but it wasn't 'her boyfriend.' Kevin, the one guy he knew Isaac held pure distaste for, held her hand lightly. The couple sneaked little kisses, and loving looks. Zac had kept it to himself, hoping Ike would find out for himself. No luck as of yet. He knew Ike would go down there, and pour his heart out to her, and she would act the same. Completely denying any feelings for Kevin.
"Please... you owe me one, remember? I covered for you the other night when you snuck off to Julie's? C'mon..." Zac asked again.
Taylor turned his back to the wall, propped himself up with his elbows, and threw a look to Zac. "Can't I pay you back some other time?" He was well aware that Zac had full control of the situation. If his parents knew he had left the house to go meet Julie, they would've killed him. He had just begun to make things strong again, and his parents finding out wouldn't help. Whether he was older now, or not, his parents still went by that whole "You live under our house, by our rules." Even Ike had to live by it.
Zac shook his head. "It's kinda important."
"I rather talk to Ike."
"Me, or no ride." He stated.
Zac rolled his eyes. "I saw Erin with Kevin the other day, kissing and holding hands and all. Ike doesn't know, and you know he's gonna say something stupid. She's gonna dump his ass again, yet he's too friggin dumb to realize it..."
"You didn't tell him? God Zac, you could've done somethin..." He said, throwing the covers off, and pulling a pair of jeans off the floor on.
Zac jumped up, follow Taylor's actions, and grabbed some warm-ups.
"We are completely even after this..." Taylor muttered, after pulling the dark hooded sweatshirt on, and running his hands through his hair.
Erin woke up again around 5am in the morning. It was weird, we were talking just like normal, but it wasn't. I was scared, I knew things were different, I could tell from her eyes. They were so empty and cold. I remembered how beautiful they use to be. How they would light up when she knew she was right. I could drown in those eyes.
She knew what was coming; though nobody had brought it up. She had to go back. Go back to that place she hated, but knew was the only answer. I didn't know what to tell her, or how to break the news. Somehow, I think she knew already.
"I don't want to go back there," She spoke, after stretching out from a restless night.
"You should have thought of that earlier..."
"I know, but I can't go back there. You don't know what it's like, it's so bad there. I can't do that again, I remember what it's like. You have no life there..."
"I can't to anything about that Erin. You made the mistake, and if that's the only place that can help you through this, than that's the place you have to go." I looked over her. "I mean, look at yourself. Do you really think you can handle this?"
"I know I can. I swear, I won't let it happen. I promise." She pleaded.
"You act like I can do something about this. I can't do anything, I have no final decisions, I can't make any choices for you..."
"Yes you can, you can talk to my parents, help them see I'm ok. Tell them I have everyone to help me, and it'll work. You, Kevin, Taylor, Missy, Kelly, Julie, everyone. You can all help me."
"Has Kevin even come here yet?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
She sat there quietly. "I don't know."
"Some friend." I stated. He was a jerk, yet she still protected him. I never knew why she gave him the time of day.
She just stared at me.
"He's good for nothing. I can't believe he isn't even here, who the hell does he think he is. Why didn't you listen to me earlier when I told you what an ass hole he was?"
"He's just really busy, that's all."
"Too busy to see a such a 'close friend?'" I asked. "He's too much of a jerk to worry about someone other than himself." I let the secret hatred for him to come out.
"Why do you even care? You did the same thing? You just came and saw me last night. You're my god damned boyfriend, and you certainly took your time to see me."
"Yea, but there was more on my mind that myself. I was scared, not careless..."
"Isaac, just leave Kevin alone ok? I don't care what you think about him. We're just friends, remember? You said you didn't care about that. Why are we even talking about this anyway? I need you to talk to my parents. Tell them I don't think I should go back to the home..."
"I'm not gonna watch you hurt yourself. I won't talk to them. I think you should go back there. They can help you."
"Isaac, please don't. I need you to stand behind me with this."
"I will, but you have to realize I'm doing something right."
"I need to stay home."
"You need to get help." I stood up. It was getting to be more than I could handle again. I had no clue how I was going to deal with this all. "I'm gonna go get some coffee, I'll be back." I turned towards the door.
"Please don't go, don't leave me." She said, through blurred eyes.
"I'll be right back."
"No you wont. People leave, and they don't come back. They leave you to deal with everything, and the never come back."
"Erin, what are you talking about? I'm just going down to the cafeteria. I'm not even leaving the building."
"You can't leave me. You cant."
"What is bringing this stuff on? Where are you getting this from? I've never left you when you needed me. I've always been there, what would make you think I didn't want to be here now?"
"I don't know, it's just. I feel so alone. You don't want to be here, yet you're the only one who is here."
"How do you know I what I think? I did come here, didn't I?"
"But you don't want to."
"But that's because I'm scared, not because I don't care about you."
I stared at her. She stared back. Breaking the stare, she looked away and out the window. Almost on cue, Zac walked in.
He patted me on the back. "Hey Ike,"
"What're you doing here?" I threw Zac a look, letting him know he wasn't really wanted. He didn't take the hint, and sat down in another chair that decorated the room.
"What? Just wanted to see how everything was going, that's all... Glad to see you're actually awake." He said, nodding to Erin. Taylor walked in, holding a couple coffees. He handed me one, and grabbed the other one for himself.
"How're you feeling?" He asked, leaning up against the wall. Adding two more people into the room had made the small room close up even smaller.
"Ok, I guess." Erin smiled.
"Have any clue when you're getting out of here?" Zac asked, leaning in and draping his arms over the sides of the metal bars guarding the edges of the bed.
"I shouldn't be in here that long. I've been caught, you could say. It isn't going to get much worse than this. It's just the decision about where they're going to stick me this time..."
"What about where you went last time?" Taylor innocently asked, as she glanced over to me.
"She wont. She doesn't want to go back there," I said to him.
"Why not? It helped last time."
"Yea, but I hate it." She said, "I want to beat this by myself. I can do it at home with the help of my friends and family."
"I don't know..." Taylor said, as I nodded in agreement.
"What's the harm? I mean, it's worth a try." Zac said, "besides why stick her in a place that she hates..."
"Because it works."
"So? Maybe this'll work too..."
I glanced back at Taylor, who just shrugged. "Whatever," he stated.
We all hung out at the hotel room for a few more hours. Erin's parents came back around 8am, pleased to see their daughter finally awake, and motivated. They credited it to us being there.
"Isaac. If you don't mind, we'd like to speak to Erin alone." Her mother said, shortly after they arrived.
"No problem..." I stated, walking out, as Taylor and Zac followed. "Its pissing me off that she wont even be reasonable about this." I said, walking down the corridor. "And you're no help." I directed towards Zac.
"What? I think she could probably do the same things home, as she would there. All they're gonna do is force her to eat. Let her have a life."
We walked for awhile, riding the elevator a few times, and visiting the gift show once or twice. Taylor grabbed a bouquet of flowers to bring up to Erin's room.
We finally decided to go back, and walked in on Erin hugging both parents.
"I'm going home, they're gonna let me work this out at home." She said gleefully, looking at us. I tried not to show my disappointment in her parent's decision. If they wanted to watch her die, than it would be there fault. "Doctors said I may be able to leave as early as Monday morning." She said, as Zac smiled, and handed her the limp flowers.
"That's great." He expressed.
I frowned, and walked out of the room.
I sat on the couch watching some pathetic cartoon. So nothing good was on. My next classes wouldn't be starting till after Christmas, and lately I had nothing to do but hang around the house. Most of my friends went back to their homes and their families for the break, while I just made it home, only 15 miles away.
Taylor walked in the house, as Zac followed him. "So what was that?" Zac asked, plopping himself down on the other end of the couch, as Taylor kept on walking into the kitchen.
"What?" I said, not taking my glare of the TV.
"Leaving like that? It was kinda rude."
"Well, I think it's kinda dumb that she's going home. She should get better help."
"Christmas is coming, don't you want to spend more time with her?"
"We barely spend anytime as it is. I won't be missing much anyway."
"That's not true. You guys spend way more time than most people."
I just shrugged my shoulder. "So what kind of benefit is she going to get out of this? We can't help her."
"Yea, but we can encourage her." He stated, turning his attention to the TV. "Wow, this sucks, you think you could find something better to do with your time." He said, standing up and walking out of the room.
"Don't forget that. Oh, and that too..." Erin said, tossing me a few bears she had received over the past week. It was finally time for her to come home, and she was on her feet, dressed in normal clothes, helping me pack up a few of her bags. Her parents were down the hall signing release papers.
I had gotten over my differences about her coming home, and began to look forward to spending more time together. Kevin wasn't anywhere in sight, and hadn't even come to the hospital. Things were looking good. "Come here..." I stated, as she walked over to me. I wrapped my arms around her tiny, unhealthy waist, and pulled her closer. "I'm glad you're coming home." She smiled, as I lightly kissed the curve of her neck, and she put her arms around mine.
"Me too..." She sighed, as her parents walked in, and we pulled away.
"Ready to go?" Her mother asked lightly, as I picked up her bags, and took another out of Erin's hands.
"I got that." I stated, putting it over my shoulder, as she slipped her hand into mine.
We walked out of the hospital, and towards the car. My mind was throwing ideas everywhere, of whether she could do this, whether we could do this, who was going to stand by her, and if Kevin would pop up anywhere soon.
Zac sat at home, waiting for Erin and Isaac to arrive. They had planned to eat dinner here, and then go out to celebrate after. All week he had wondered how he was going to tell him the truth about Erin, but stalled each chance he got. Taylor knew, and was slowly hinting that if Zac didn't tell, he was going to. He knew he had to, but how was he suppose to break something like this to his brother who loved her so much...