That bloody beeping sound. Erim awakes to see a nurse fiddling with her drip, pressing buttons on the heart monitors and bustling around the room. Time has gone by, and Erim doesn't see how she could have possibly slept some more.
There is something going on at the nurses' station. A doctor has arrived, and is writing something in what appears to be Erim's folder. Erim cranes her neck to take a look. She looks young, has a short frame and is wearing a long, flowing skirt that emphasises her slender figure. Sinuous auburn hair is held back with a bandana, and her bright colours make her look like a hippie.
The doctor makes her way into Erim's small, dark room and Erim hoists herself up and tries to control the incessant dizziness that swirls around her head. She pulls up a chair and smiles at Erim, who stares at her hands and isn't sure how to reply.
'Good morning Erim,' the doctor talks in a calm, gentle voice and she pulls out a notebook and pen, 'my name is Lydia and I'm just going to be asking you a few questions to get some more detail of exactly what happened yesterday afternoon.'
Lydia has a way of talking in an orderly, doctor voice but at the same time remaining peaceful. Erim wanders how many self-harm patients she sees in Emergency each day.
'So, Erim… what exactly happened yesterday?'
Lydia begins scribbling on her notepad even though Erim hasn't said anything yet.
'I can't remember,' Erim's voice is quiet and slightly raspy, 'but Sid was there.'
'You can't remember anything?' Lydia raises a brow.
'No, I mean… nothing was real. It wasn't me. It was Effa.'
'Who is Effa?'
But Erim remains silent, sealing her lips tight.
'Erim,' Lydia leans foreword, looking at Erim closely, 'I'm here to help you. It's okay to talk about these things.'
Erim shakes her head, staring at her feet. She can't say it. She can't say that Effa lives in her head and tells her to do things. She'll think she's crazy.
'Is she a real person?'
'I don't know.'
Lydia nods slowly, and writes something down on her notepad. She looks back up at Erim.
'Who is Sid?'
'He was my brother's friend. He let us stay at his apartment sometimes.'
'And where did you live before that?'
'I see,' Lydia scribbles incessantly on her notepad, as if this is all vital information. 'When did you leave home?'
'When I was thirteen. I think my mother kicked us out.'
'Any reason why?'
'She was an alcoholic.'
'Was she ever violent?'
'I can't remember.'
'Can you remember anything from your early childhood?'
'Who did you live with?'
'My mother and step-father. And my brother.'
Lydia nods again, and she is drawing something on her notepad. A family tree, perhaps.
'Did you like your step-father?'
'I can't remember. I think he's dead.'
Lydia looks confused, but writes this down. 'You can't remember anything?'
'Where is your father?'
'I don't know. I think I was about six when he left and I never saw him again.'
'And your brother?'
'He's dead. He killed himself a few days ago.'
Erim sits on her bed cross-legged. She was sent up to the psychiatric ward in a wheelchair, from Emergency. She still has that bloody drip in her arm. She's in a large room right near the nurses' station, so they can watch her constantly. It makes her slightly uneasy to have them staring at her all the time. A nurse keeps coming in to take her blood pressure and temperature.
Erim's sapphire blue eyes wander around the room. It looks quite comfortable, a lot warmer than the Emergency Room. There are three others beds in there, and the one right across her has an eaten food tray on a desk near the bed. Erim has a food tray in front of her, but even though she hasn't had a proper meal in ages she isn't hungry. She spent all of last night throwing up. The curtains are closed in the bed next to her, and someone is in it. She saw a man go into the cubicle. There are beeping sounds coming from the bed next to her so Erim suspects they probably have a drip as well.
Huh, there are bars on the other side of the windows. What is this, a fucking prison?
Effa again, pushing for Erim to just rip the IV out of her hands and run away. Or better, jump from the windows and fall unconscious. Erim feels slightly edgy at the thought of having an obsessive compulsive masochist in her head. She doesn't say anything in reply; she has learnt in the past that this has what kept Effa quiet.
Erim lies down. She is tired, but she doesn't realise it. Her body is still in shock from being poisoned. The methionine has made her sleepy. Her eyelids gently close and she drifts off into a dreamless sleep.
Sid is lying next to her when Erim wakes up. She flinches slightly as she realises she is so close to another human being. She doesn't like physical contact. She pulls her exhausted body up and stares at the clock. It's early evening and the sun is slowly edging its way across the hospital floor.
Sid opens his eyes, sits up and slides off the bed. He smiles, to which Erim doesn't know how to reply. She attempts to smile back but it looks more like a mouth twitch.
'How're you doing, kid?'
'Tired,' Erim's reply is indeed spoken in a flat tone as she allows her eyelids to flicker slightly.
Sid nods. 'Just came to see how you were doing, if you'd like some company tonight. The nurse at the station gave me the number to your bedside phone. I hope the doctors aren't bothering you too much, with what you did and everything.'
Erim nods. Sid speaks about it in such a casual tone, but he's probably seen it all before. He says he frequently lets runaways crash at his apartment for a little while, and a lot of them get into this sort of thing. He plays in a band, works at fast food stores and still has the extra money to help out the homeless. Erim has to say she admires him. But she has only known Sid for a few months and he still lets her crash. He's even visiting her in hospital. She knew Sid was a good friend of Lee's, but why Erim?
'Sid,' Erim has wanted to ask this question for ages but figures now is most appropriate, 'why are you so nice to me? Taking me here, visiting me and everything. Why do you do it?'
Sid's parched lips break into a faint smile. 'It's what Lee would have wanted,' he softly punches Erim's arm, 'besides, we're mates, right?'
Erim thinks for a while before replying, 'Yeah.'
Sid sits back on Erim's bed and crosses his legs. He ends up staying until night when the nurses kick him out. Erim and he talk about everything. They talk about hospitals, about sleeping on park benches, about scavenging food from restaurants, about Sid's band, about how Erim has to quit her job, about Sid's well-off foster family, about what life was like at school, about IVs, about how this is all Effa's fault. They talk about Lee and they hold each other and cry. Erim talks about his long absences on the streets where he would frequently just wander off and return only months later. He said he did it so Erim would learn how to cop everything on her own. During that time Erim would usually stay at old men's apartments and eat their food in return for sex. But for some reason sex was extremely painful for her, so Effa would usually take over.
Sid talks about how he first met Lee, about running into him and Erim in the park. He talks about how Lee and him would stay home all day while Erim was out and get stoned and trip on acid. Occasionally Erim would get some, but Lee always wanted Erim to be clean. 'I'm the one who's fucked, so you have to take care of yourself,' he would say.
Lee always talked about ending it all. He said things like, 'I'm probably not even going to be here much longer', and 'I was always destined to be dead.'
At the end, Erim cries. She hasn't cried in forever, but she can't control herself. She hopes Lee is better. She hopes he has gotten the "freedom" that he so yearned for. She is angry at him for leaving her like that, but she admires him for having the courage to end it all. She wonders, or hopes, that she will end up like him soon.
Sid doesn't say anything, he just cries with her. He has to call in one of the nurses to replace the box of tissues they used up. Erim is a mess. When Sid leaves, she closes her curtains and curls up into a ball. She rocks slowly back and forth, remembering that she would do that sometimes when she was distressed. She sobs quietly and, ignoring the sound of nurses talking and IVs beeping, rocks herself to sleep.