And then a large man holding a pink umbrella stood peering amicably at me. I hesitated at first, but then I thought it could do me no harm. I made my way slowly towards him, trying to avoid any direct eye contact as much as possible because I really wished he would at least make an effort to drag his eyes off me and mind his own business.
In the darkness, with rain droplets dripping from the end of my umbrella, it made my vision blurry adding to the already foggy night. I kept inching my way towards him, stealthily, hoping not to catch him off guard. He kept standing there, not moving an inch for the past one hour since the incident happened.
By the time I reached him, the rain had stopped and the cold set in but it felt comforting when I stood near him, silently. He asked me after what seemed like hours, “Are you alright?” “Yes, I’m fine”, I whispered silently, nodding my head. From the corner of my eyes, I saw him folding his pink umbrella and tucking it under his elbow. He then gently got hold of my arm in one hand, held my umbrella in the other, closed his pink umbrella and led me towards our home.
I didn’t know what to expect from him at this point in time since I felt a little shudder run down my spine that shook my body a little. With his protective arm around me, I was sure he felt that shudder because the next thing I knew, I had his jacket around me.
“Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you”, came his voice suddenly in rasp swiftness and soothing at the same time.
“Hmm.”, I said in loss for words. “But I managed to chase them off so I could be safe”, I piped in, hoping to let him know I did something by myself, but he paid no heed.
“Don’t go anywhere without me or without telling me. I’m sure you knew I was there, few feet away from you”, came that ever protective voice I had always known since I met him.
“I just wanted to give it a try. To show you I can manage on my own”, I said, feebly trying to defend myself, well knowing it would not be of any use.
His phone rings.
“John, Where are you? I called home but no one answered. Where are you, man?”, shouted the voice on the other end of the phone.
“I’m out with Melissa”, replied my better half in a calm, yet controlled tone I had always admired in him.
“Out? What do you mean out with Melissa? Did she get up again? It’s 2 AM John, for the love of God!”, the voice rambled on not knowing that I could hear it.
“Mike, calm down. She’s fine and is next to me”, John said.
There was a complete moment of silence and all I could hear was our footsteps, the light raindrops and my heavy breathing coupled with the soft creaks of my crutches.
John hung up the phone without another word that left me wondering what it was that Mike was so worried about. I used only my left crutch and John was balancing the other side of me.
“John?”, I slowly called him. “Yes”, he said.
“Why am I out in the rain?”
“You’re not. You’re just dreaming again”
“No. I know I’m not dreaming. John, tell me. Why am I out of the house? When did I come here? What is this place?”
“Close your eyes and sleep. I’m right here with you, alright?”
“Sleep? John, are you crazy? We are out of our house now. How can I sleep here? We need to go home now. Are we there yet?”
“Forget what happened three years ago. We’re not there anymore. We are in Seattle, hale, healthy and happy. Now stay calm and go back to sleep. You’re about to roll off your bed.”
“You’re crazy, John. Seattle? What are you..”
“Mel!”, his voice was sterner than ever and that scared me a little. I felt myself quieten down, considerably.
I settled down and felt his arm around me. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t exactly place it. I felt his breath on me and the next thing I knew, I was peacefully sleeping.
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! The phone vibrates on the bed side table. It was Mike.
“Has she gone back to sleep?” the message read.
“Yes. I just put her back to sleep.” John typed.
“Is she improving?”
“Better than yesterday. She must have remembered the incident, three years ago. She was pretty violent tonight. She started screaming, yelling swear words and brandishing her arms and kicking. All at the same time. She is unable to distinguish between real and imaginary events”
“John, schizophrenia really is a serious disorder. Mum’s ‘accident’ has affected her so much that she can’t even realize that something like that had never happened. Why doesn’t she realize that it was Dad and not Mum? Mum has been telling Mel, every time, that it was Mel and Dad who were in the car the night before the party. Why doesn’t she still realize it was Dad? Why does she seem to be chasing something or the other all the time? John, when will all this end? I really wish to see her back to her old self again”
“Mike, I know how you feel. It’s your sister. I’m your best friend, man. You know this will end soon. That’s why we’re leaving to New York for a long weekend to take her mind off things.”
“Alright John. I’ll meet you at the airport.”