Mrs. Hollings placed her hand on my arm and guided me down the hallway to a large set of double doors. Her heels clicked annoyingly on the hard tile floors. "Now," she said sternly. "Mr. Buttons is only here to help you. I know you don't like to speak much, but if you do, mind your manners and watch your tongue. Mr. Buttons frowns on the use of foul language."

I just ignored her, like I always did, continuing to stare straight ahead as if I hadn't heard her. We reached the door then, and Mrs. Hollings knocked softly on the door twice.

A fat, balding man opened the door. He was shorter than me, which put him at under six feet. With his white shirt, black suit, and beak-like nose, he reminded me vaguely of a penguin.

I laughed.

Mrs. Hollings squeezed my arm in warning. Her pale fingers were very white against my coffee-colored skin. I just ignored her and said, "You look like a penguin."

"Jesse!" Mrs. Hollings nearly shouted.

Instead of getting angry, the nice doctor just smiled and said, "Now, now ma'am. It's quite all right. As a psychologist, I encourage my clients to act as they normally would. It is easier to work with them if they are not trying to be someone that they are not." Then he looked down at himself and chuckled. "I believe you are right young man, I do look like a penguin. I'll have to get some new shirts."

I grinned back at him, relieved to finally have something to take my mind off the pain.

"Go on in and take a seat on the couch," Mr. Buttons said to me, motioning into his office. "I'll be right in."

I walked slowly into his little office and sat down like I was told to. I didn't normally take orders well, but I kinda liked this Mr. Buttons. He was an alright guy.

The ugly little brown couch was surprisingly comfortable. I laid out on it, stretching my entire six foot one frame to the end of the couch.

Mr. Buttons closed the door. I assumed it was so that he could speak to Mrs. Hollings in private; discuss how crazy they all thought I was.

I wasn't crazy, was I?

Ever since the "incident" as they were calling it, I was quiet, and withdrawn. But that was normal right? I didn't like to talk to people, or see people. I just wanted to be left alone. How was that so different than what everyone else did when they had a traumatic experience?

Was it because instead of the regular boring cuts, I etched intricate designs into my skin? Did they find that weird? I didn't see a problem with it. I figured I was just more creative than all the little poser emos. And despite what they seem to think, I was not trying to hurt myself, I was just trying to get rid of the emotional pain. Physical pain helps to distract me from the other pains. That's all.

They didn't buy it. So now I'm here.

I sat up and got a better look of the room around me. I needed to be distracted from thinking about the past. I didn't like to be reminded of what brought me here.

My breath caught in my throat, tears threatening to fall. Of course, the first thing I spot has to be a picture of a pretty girl with red hair. Why did Mr. Buttons have to have some sort of relative that looked just like Cherry?

I desperately searched the room for something mundane that I could look at instead. My eyes fell on the little black coffee maker in the corner. My stomach jerked. The faded plaid recliner behind his desk started the tears.

I closed my eyes, curled into the smallest ball I could, and rocked back and forth. And I was doing so good too. A whole three days without a breakdown. It was progress. Now it was all down the drain.

I fell over onto my side, lying on the couch. I buried my face in the cushions and cried.

It was not silent.

A second later, the door burst open and Mr. Buttons and Mrs. Hollings came rushing into the room. Mrs. Hollings knelt next to me. "Jesse? Jesse?! Can you hear me?"

Of course I could hear her. Was she stupid?

"Jesse!" she shouted again.

I opened my eyes and glared at her through my tears. "Shut the fuck up bitch! Just leave me alone!"

"Jesse!" Mr. Buttons scolded. "That is no way to talk to a lady. And it is no way for a young man such as yourself to speak."

"Just go away!" I sobbed, trying to get up. I didn't want to be around them. I didn't like people anymore—didn't trust them.

I pushed Mrs. Hollings out of my way. She tottered on her heels but didn't go down. At least she quit yelling at me. The noise was giving me a massive headache.

I only made it to the doorway before I collapsed to the floor in one painful, sobbing heap. Mrs. Hollings and Mr. Buttons each grabbed an arm and helped me to my feet. I didn't protest them this time; I just let them drag me back to my room.

We passed the lobby on our way to the patients' quarters. Every single person in the room turned to look at me. Sane and insane alike. Their expressions ranged from pity to horror to disgust. Some were even laughing at me. I guess I was the only crazy guy in the room that was acting crazy at the moment, so I could see where they were coming from. But it pissed me off that they thought my pain was funny.

I stood up straight and pulled away from Mrs. Hollings and Mr. Buttons. I stomped right over to the jackass that was laughing hysterically at me. He was shorter than me so I towered over him and screamed, "What the hell is your problem asshole?! You think something about being in pain is fucking funny?! You think it's funny that I'm hurting?! Would you want some jackass laughing at you if you had lost everything, including your sanity?! You think that just because I'm stuck in some damn looney bin that I'm too far gone to know that you're making fun of me?! Well you're fucking wrong! If you don't shut the hell up right this second, I'm gonna beat the shit outta you!"

I clenched my hand into a fist and pulled it back, preparing to hit him in the face when two of the security guards tackled me simultaneously, sending me sprawling on the floor. The jackass that was laughing at me wasn't laughing at me anymore. He was pale and sweaty and shaking so bad he could hardly stand. He was backing up as fast as his wobbly legs could carry him.

I guess if I had just been harassed by a freak, I'd be scared too. But the fucker had been laughing at my pain, my sorrow. The tears which had temporarily ceased during my rant were back now. And the four hundred plus pounds of the two security guards on top of me wasn't helping my healing injuries. In fact, I could feel one of the wounds in my side reopening, the stitches coming out. I was crying now for a different reason.

"Get off of him!" Mrs. Hollings shouted in the face of the guard on top of the pile. He stood up and helped his fellow guard up but offered no help to me, the one who needed it.

As soon as I was free of their weight, I curled up into my ball and tried not to cry too loudly. After all, I had over thirty people staring at me, seeing what kind of freaky thing I would do next.

While Mrs. Hollings chewed the security guards out for hurting me, Mr. Buttons proved to be stronger than he looked when he picked me up and started carrying me to my room.

He laid me down on my bed and gasped when he saw that his arm was soaked with blood. His eyes were drawn to my side, where the blood was now trying to soak into my sheets as well as my clothes. His eyes roamed over me, taking in the tear stained face, the wide, terrified eyes, the fetal position I was in, the blood trickling from one of my many wounds.

He stepped closer to the bed and knelt so that his face was level with mine. "Now, I know this is a stupid question Jesse, but please bear with me. Are you okay? What is wrong with you?"

I looked at him and whispered, "I don't know. But make it stop, please. Please. Just make it all go away. The pain, the depression, all of it. Just make it go away…"

Mrs. Hollings stood in the doorway, framed by the light from the hallway. "Jesse…" she said slowly. "I'm going to go get a doctor. We may have to transport you to the hospital wing. Will you be up to that? Or would you rather they set up everything in you room and fix you up here?"

"Just make it stop," I pleaded.

She nodded slowly. "Mr. Buttons, I think you had better stay here with him. Don't leave him alone, that's one thing he doesn't need right now. I'll be back as soon as I can." Then she walked quickly down the hall, the click of her heels fading.

"Do you think you'll be up to discussing your past tomorrow, Jesse? I know it's painful for you, but I need to know in order to help you. It really does help to tell another person. It lightens the emotional load if you can talk about it with someone."

He reached out toward me, obviously trying to comfort me in some way, but my body involuntarily jerked back. I hit my head on the wall behind me. I cried out without meaning to. Again, it was involuntary.

Mr. Buttons looked me over again, this time really focusing on the barely healing cuts and bruises that covered me from head to toe. Comprehension dawned on his face. "I am so sorry, Jesse. I should've realized…"

"It's okay, doc. But you understand why I don't…you know…"

He nodded. "I understand." Then he shook his head disbelievingly. "You know, out of my twenty years working here, you're the only patient I've had who's so…" he paused, looking for the right word or phrase.

"Who's so fucked up," I provided. It was the phrase he was looking for, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

He gave me a jokingly stern look and then he was serious again. "I want to help you Jesse, but in order for me to be able to do that, you need to help me. I need you to tell me everything that happened that day. Do you understand? I need you to think back and tell me everything you can about the incident."

I shook my head back and forth, my bangs falling into my eyes and sticking to the wet tear tracks on my face. "No…I can't…I can't….I can't…" I whispered over and over again.

"Yes you can Jesse, you have to, for me to help you," Mr. Buttons said gently.

"No!" I screamed, throwing my pillow at him. "I can't do it! I can't do it!"

Mr. Buttons laid the pillow aside and stared at me with an unreadable expression on his face. "Jesse…" Mr. Buttons started.

I gripped my head in my hands and screamed over and over, "I can't do it! You can't make me! I can't do it! You can't make me!"

"Jesse! Jesse! Shh, it's okay. No one is making you do anything. It's okay. Be quiet, you'll wake up the whole block." He said the last part as a joke, but I didn't think it was very funny.

"Fuck you!" I screamed in his face.

It was too late though…he had unlocked the vault of memories that I never wanted to visit again. The images flowed and raced through my mind, bringing pain and sadness with them. I screamed again and again. "Make it stop! Make it stop! Please! Please! Make it stop!"

Someone tried to grab my arms and I shrieked, struggling to break free. "Jesse! Jesse! Calm down! It's okay. You're alright. It's okay. Calm down, you're fine. You're safe."

I opened my eyes to see Mr. Buttons holding my arms. Something hot and wet that wasn't tears trickled down my face. I unclenched my fists and bits of my dark brown hair fluttered to the floor.

Oh. The wet stuff was blood. I had ripped a couple of chunks of my hair out. As soon as I realized it, my two new bald spots started to hurt. But it was so lost in the pain of everything else, I hardly even felt it.

I sat motionless, staring at the bits of my hair on the floor. Fuck. I could do better than this. Even on one of my worst days, I had never gone this far. What the hell was wrong with me? Was I really crazy like they all said? I didn't want to believe it, but the evidence was right there on the floor. Sane people did not rip their hair out. They just didn't. Fuck again.

I stared straight into Mr. Buttons' eyes and begged, "Fix me, doc. Save me."

His expression was full of sympathy and pity. "I'm trying Jesse. But we'll wait for that another day. I think I hear Mrs. Hollings coming back. It sounds like she has company."

"Will she be mad at me?" I asked quietly.

Shock flitted across his face. "Of course not. Why would you think that?"

I looked down at my ruined sheets and shirt. "Because she's a neat freak. She yells at me if I've got a wrinkle in my blankets when she makes me make my bed. I think she's crazy."

Mr. Buttons laughed. "Well, I'll give you the neat freak part. But she's not crazy, it's just the way she is. I'll tell her to loosen up a bit though; you don't need any of the extra stress."

The woman in question walked through the door, her expression horrified. "What did you do to him?!" she yelled at Mr. Buttons.

"It wasn't me, he did it to himself."

She pushed past him and sat next to me on my bed. "Jesse, honey, how are you feeling? Do you think you'll be able to go to the hospital wing? There isn't enough room in here to stitch you back up. Can you walk, or do you want to ride in a wheelchair?"

I just shook my head and mumbled, "I can't…I can't…" She took that to mean that I couldn't walk. For once she was right.

One of the nurses helped me into a wheelchair and started wheeling me to the hospital wing. Every single person we passed got out of our way as quickly as they could. I would've liked to think that it was because they were worried and were trying to give us a clear shot to the hospital so that I could get help. But I knew that wasn't true. They got out of our way because they thought I was a freak, that I was crazy. And no one wants to be around a crazy person.

They got me situated on a bed with an IV and all that other stuff that they attach to you. The nurse smiled down at me. "All the pain will go away in a couple minutes sweety. You'll be okay. We'll get you all sewn back up. All you need to do is rest, okay?"

"Just make it stop…"

She smiled again and pushed the hair out of my face. "We will."

I sank almost immediately into unconsciousness.

A/N: Thank you for reading and I would really appreciate it if any of you darling people out there would review. I want to know what you think.