My childhood friend, the girl I've loved since I was a child had been in a psychiatric hospital for over a month now. She was catatonic, unmoving, not speaking.
They said she wouldn't take any visitors. The minute she saw somebody she'd recognized she screamed until they left the room. The doctors couldn't make heads or tails of it.
It wasn't until yesterday that she spoke. She spoke my name.
I came to visit as soon as I heard the news, preparing for her to scream the minute I entered the room. Strangely, she was receptive. She looked just as beautiful as the day I met her, though since the time she checked into the hospital she's gotten sickly skinny; her cheekbones being heavily accentuated.
Her skin was also pale white, as if she was a ghost of her former self. She said hello, gave me a hug and held my hand as we sat down at a table across from each other.
Of course doctors were present making notes of our conversation, but for the most part, we spoke freely.
I asked her how she was doing and she said that she kept hearing voices in her head. Dirty, evil things speaking nasty thoughts to her in her most intimate moments.
They were so loud that she assumed the air was deafening, that her voice would fade away through the cacophony of noise.
When she saw somebody, they appeared as a shadow, as if the voices finally came to grab her and drag her into the unknown. It wasn't until the morning we spoke that the voices stopped.
It was because she remembered my face. When she told me this, I smiled brightly.
Then she started asking questions about her boyfriend. How he was doing, if he tried to visit when she wasn't feeling well. My heart immediately sunk and I couldn't look her in the eyes.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that he took another girlfriend, or that he didn't visit at all.
I told her that he visited everyday and left in tears upon seeing her, even though that's what I did every day.
After hearing about her boyfriend her face lit up and I swore the color came back to her face like water color spilling onto a blank canvas.
It felt like a knife in the heart that I wasn't the one who caused the color to come back to her skin.
We talked for a few more minutes about the hospital conditions and then the doctor said our time was up. We embraced before leaving and I told her I'd see her tomorrow.
She smiled and said that she'd like that. She then said to bring her boyfriend next time too. I said I would, trying my best to hide my disdain for her boyfriend: that waste of a life.
I told her to eat something, that she must have lost ten pounds. She jokingly said that she just wanted to look nice and slender for me. I couldn't help but laugh as we waved goodbye.
I went home and slept soundly for the first time since she was in the hospital. She's finally getting better, I thought to myself. Maybe some time soon, she'll be out.
The next day I came to visit a few minutes later than usual, but there was a ruckus.
The nurse at the desk told me that there weren't going to be any visitors today, but I caught a glimpse of doctors wheeling out a gurnee with a blood-stained sheet covering a body.
I could tell by the shape of the malnourished body underneath the sheet that it was her. I heard the doctors whisper about how she screamed that he wasn't coming today. How he didn't love her.
When the doctor asked who "he" was. They looked through the window and saw me. That guy? Asked the doctor to the other. No, somebody else.
I barely drove myself home that day, with how full of tears my eyes were. As I got out of my car and got into my apartment, people stared at how loud I was howling in my grief.
When I got to my apartment I didn't even lie in bed, I collapsed on the floor, and cried in the fetal position.
What else could I have done? Was it because I didn't love her enough? Was it really because I decided not to blow a red-light?
Maybe if I was a better friend to her she wouldn't have ended up there in the first place. Maybe if I wasn't so blinded by my jealousy of her boyfriend I could have been there for her.
Maybe if that piece of shit visited her once she would have gotten better. I would have given anything just to even hear her scream at the sight of me again.
I didn't go to work the next morning, or the day after that. I lied there unmoving for days lying there in my filth.
My phone vibrated in my pocket endlessly, no doubt from my boss, but I didn't care. The light of my life had been extinguished.
Sure that light was faint already since I knew the light didn't shine for me, but it shined nonetheless.