My mind froze in that moment. It was so teeming with thoughts and feelings, itching to form, that it just ceased. I could feel nothing but the warmth of Frank next to me and even that felt achingly distant. Everything seemed tranquil, silent, enveloped in some kind of hazy nothingness. The whole atmosphere was humming happily, but with a sinister edge tainting the core and making my internal organs grow restless. One thing wasn't hazy or tainted though; the beep.
It was somewhat comforting, that noise. It reassured me I hadn't sunk into some sort of unconscious dream world, I was still here, still with Frank. It was horrifying at the same time, though, sending a dulled wave of pure terror through my body. It was a sound associated with death, a sound that meant Frank's heart had stopped.
Frank's heart has stopped.
These four words consumed my entire mind, causing my body to spring up from the bed just as five doctors rushed in, talking animatedly to each other and rushing to Frank's side, but all I could hear was the beeping. Their mouths moving frantically, trying to talk to me, telling each other what they think is happening to Frank, no doubt, yet none of it was reaching my ear drums.
I stumbled passed them and out the door, the corridor stretching before me, hollow and looming. The smell of disinfectant attacked my senses, making my stomach tighten as I turned and ran, my mind disconnected from my body.
That's where I am now, still running through the winding corridors of the hospital, not even stopping if I see someone shouting at me. The white, the people, the colours, they all blend together in a delicate symphony of blurred hopelessness. Nothing matters anymore, nothing will ever matter again because Frank's probably dead and it's all my fault, this entire thing is my fault. I'm the problem, I'm the one that just makes everyone else's lives worse. I should just go, should leave because it's not like things are ever going to get better again.
I find my way through the hospital and out into the biting November air; I still keep running though.
I run around the corner, past the wondering eyes and judgemental minds of anyone I pass. I can't face them right now. My mind is racing, all the thoughts and feelings I pushed away earlier crashing against me, making me feel like I'm drowning, sinking in this sea of denial and secrets.
I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to deny what happened to me, I don't want to try and forget it, I want to be happy again. I want everything to be simple, even though I know in my heart it never can be.
I fall to the ground on an abandoned patch of grass at the side of the hospital, my chest aching painfully as I gasp and try to catch my breath. The green blades are cold and slightly damp beneath me, though still comfortingly real. My vision is fogging, my head aching with the force of a thousand worries, so I close my eyes and lean back against the imposing wall of the hospital. A fleeting thought about how big this place must be is quickly replaced by the emptiness that seems to surround my entire being, trapping me within its sadistic clutches.
My breathing steadies and I just lay there, the freezing air gnawing away at my skin as I let thoughts flash in and out of my mind; Frank probably dying, what Henry did to me, my life without Frank, how I feel about Frank, Frank. It all seems so far away, like I'm watching someone else's life unfold before me, detached from it all.
My mind is just too overwhelmed by feelings, thoughts. I want to cry. I know I do, but at the same time I want to laugh and I want scream, yet nothing feels right, nothing feels real, it's all fake. Synthetic and itchy, plaguing my soul with its materialism. I can't even think real thoughts anymore.
'Mikey?' someone asks softly, placing a hand on my knee. My eyes remained closed but my entire body tenses, on edge from the simple touch. The hand burns through my jeans and onto my skin, the invisible fire of a simple gesture.
I open my eyes and see Gerard looking sadly into my eyes.
'The hospital phoned,' he says in response to my unasked question. I nod nonetheless and pull my legs up to my chest, making him withdraw his hand from my knee.
'Are you okay, Mikes?' he asks, voice gentle as he sits next to me. I don't offer him the glare my body wants to, I'm too tired.
'What kind of a question is that?' I respond, voice weak. He reaches out to put his arm round me and pull me into him, but I jump away from his touch.
'Don't touch me!' I cry, crawling along next to the wall so I'm a fair distance from him. Where his arm was just placed feels like its burning, just like with his hand on my knee and I rub my own hand along there to sooth the sensation, wanting it to go away.
I don't want anyone to touch me, ever.
He stares at me, bewildered as I pull my legs up to my chest protectively.
'Don't touch me,' I repeat, voice quieter and I see an emotion in Gerard's eyes I've never seen directed towards me before - pity.
'Oh Mikey,' he says, but doesn't elaborate. He just sits against the wall, out of touching distance from me and stares ahead with a thoughtful look on his face.
The small gap between us feels like lightyears and I can't help but feel alone, even though he's right there. I never thought I'd feel like that with Gerard and I can feel my heart pang slightly painfully at the thought.
'Have you told mum and dad about...what happened to you?' he asked quietly. I shook my head.
'Are you going to?' he insisted.
'Can we not talk about it?' I asked, barely above a whisper.
'Mikey,' Gerard began, trying to express how much he cares through his gentle tone, 'you're going to have to sooner or-'
'I said can we not talk about it!' I practically screeched, taking Gerard by surprise and causing his eyebrows to rise slightly.
I buried my chin between my knees and tried to hide my face from shame, rocking back and forth ever so slightly.
I shouldn't have screeched at him, he's only trying to help. Anger pooled in my stomach and mixed with the woe and nervousness I already feel, swimming amongst my guts and reducing me to a quivering mess. Why do I always hurt everyone I love? First Frank, now Gerard, I can't do one fucking thing right and I'm just, I'm fed up. I'm fed up of me. Of my whining and my inability to truly love, the annoying way I hurt everyone around me and I can't stand it.
Before I know what's happening, Gerard's standing up and offering me a hand, which I just stare at, my gaze burning holes in his flesh. He recoils it immediately.
'Come on,' he begins, tone soft, 'up you get.'
'Why?' I croak.
'We're going to see Frank.' I stare up at him in disbelief, to see if he's joking, and find a perfectly serious look plastered on his delicate features. I shake my head frantically and he sighs.
'I'll pick you up and carry you there,' he says, clearly trying to be harsh, even though there isn't a harsh bone in his body. Still, the thought of his hands and arms lifting me, burning against the fabric of my clothes wins me over and I rise slowly from the floor and to my feet.
I guess I'll have to face my demons sooner or later.