Face Down and Freefalling
"So, what’s all this about?" Emmy asked, flopping down in the chair across from Dr. Bloomfield’s desk. She was angry he’d interrupted her talk with Aidan moments before and wasn’t ashamed to hide that fact from him. "Why did you find it so urgent to see me while I was with my patient?"
"Your patient," her boss repeated, closing the office door and taking a seat behind his desk. "I’ve noticed quite a preoccupation you have with him and I don’t think its, how should I put this...?" He leaned forward in his chair, choosing his words wisely and said, "… healthy."
"What?" Emmy scoffed, sitting straight up in her seat. "How can you say that? Really, Harold. I’ve been nothing but professional with all of my patients – including Mr. O’Brien."
"Emily, wait," he interrupted, trying to calm her down.
"No, you wait," she replied, angrily, getting to her feet. "Just because I am spending a bit more time with this particular patient doesn’t mean I’m preoccupied with him or that I’m taking away from any of my other duties here. The man is hurting inside and at the moment all he wants is to die. It’s my job as his doctor to keep him from doing that and to find out what’s troubling him so much that he’d take his own life given the chance."
"And have you done that?" Dr. Bloomfield asked, skeptically.
Emmy looked at him, let out a loud sigh. "Not yet, but I’m close. I just got sidetracked with this new memory he had about having a twin sister. I promised him I’d find her for him. Thought it would give him something to look forward to and that he’d want to stick around a while."
"Well then, here," he handed her a file, "this might help to get you back on track."
"What’s this?" Emmy asked, opening the file and skimming its contents.
"That, my dear, is most likely the reason the young man wants to die so badly."
"Oh my," Emmy nearly sobbed. "Oh, Harold…this is, um, thanks. Where did you get this?"
"Coroner faxed it over an hour ago," he told her.
She stood up and headed for the door – the file clutched in her hands.
"Dr. Brooks," her boss called out to her as she turned the doorknob to leave. "Not so fast."
"But I need to talk to him about this," she protested.
"It will keep til morning," he said, getting to his feet. "After the night he had I’d think you’d want him to get a good night’s rest before confronting him with this."
"You’re right," Emmy sighed, grudgingly. "I’ll just go get my things and head out." She tucked the file under her arm and headed to her office – her head spinning with the new information she’d just been given about her patient.
Halfway down the hall she stopped. "This is crazy," she said to herself, as she turned around and headed back towards Aidan’s room. She didn’t care what Dr. Bloomfield thought. She just had to see Aidan one last time before she left. She had to talk to him about what she’d learned.
Emmy paused outside his door, her hands shaking. Was she doing the right thing by confronting him now? Somehow she felt she was. When she’d left him minutes before he’d been in a good mood. She couldn’t chance that something might happen overnight to change that. Strike while the fire’s hot, she told herself as strode into the dimly lit room.
Aidan sat on his bed with a book perched in his lap.
"So now you’re looking for guidance from…" Emmy lifted the front flap of the book, read the title, "whales. Hmm." She smiled, setting it down and sitting on the bed next to him.
"Fascinating creatures, whales," Aidan replied.
"Really?" Emmy asked, skeptically.
"No, not really," Aidan grinned, setting the book aside. "Library here is a bit limited I’m afraid. It was this or one of those Harry Potter novels."
"Not a Potter fan, I take it?" Emmy grinned.
"Not that I recall," Aidan replied, returning the grin. "Of course, if I get desperate enough for reading material that could all change in an instant."
"What do you like?" Emmy asked, "I mean, to read, that is."
"Oh I don’t know," he told her, rubbing his hand across the four-day-old stubble on his chin. "Anything that strikes my fancy, really."
"Read a lot I take it?"
"Yeah, a bit. Never too old to stop learning I figure." He patted the book next to him, "Even if it is about whales."
"How ‘bout your wife," Emmy asked, slowly, "she like to read as well?"
Aidan quickly sat back, shifting nervously in his seat, wondering if he’d heard her right or not. "I told you," he said, gruffly, "I don’t have a wife."
"But you did," Emmy told him, quietly, gauging his reaction, "and a child, for that matter. A baby girl. Penny, was her name."
"How did you…?" Aidan asked, quietly – the color draining from his face.
"Doesn’t matter, I just did," Emmy replied. "The hospital you transferred here from wrote in your file that you were found unconscious across two graves in the cemetery. It was their graves, wasn’t it?"
"I…" Aidan started, overcome by a mixture of emotions, "I don’t want to…"
"To what? Talk about it? But Aidan," Emmy said, gently, taking his hand in hers, "You need to talk about it. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to get past it; get past what happened to them."
"Drop it," he said, agitated.
"Aidan," Emmy told him, "don’t you think Sarah and Penny would be heartbroken seeing you like this? Don’t you think they’d want to see you live?"
"Stop!" he yelled, jumping to his feet. "You aren’t allowed to say their names!"
Emmy knew she’d pushed him too far, too soon. Dr. Bloomfield was right - she should have at least waited until morning to talk to him about this. She let out a sigh, realizing she had to get him calmed down.
"Aidan," she told him softly, "I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have mentioned them this soon."
He stood against the far wall, his face buried in his hands as he wept.
Emmy’s heart broke for him. It wasn’t her practice to get so wrapped up in a patient, but he was different somehow. She was drawn to him and desperately wanted to help.
She waited a few moments, watching quietly until he began to regain his composure, then moved slowly towards him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "What are you feeling inside?" she asked, gently.
Aidan swallowed hard, looked down at his bandaged wrists. "Dead," he replied, quietly, his voice raspy. "I feel empty and dead."
"I’m so sorry," she told him, quietly. "It will get better, it will, in time. I promise it will."
He looked up at her, his eyes red and swollen from crying. "The pain I feel, will it ever go away?"
"Oh Aidan," she told him, gently, "the fact that you’re feeling the pain proves you’re still alive."
"How can I be still be alive when they aren’t? How can I go on living without them?"
"You just will," Emmy told him. "My mom always said that God never gives us more than we can handle and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger."
"God abandoned me a long time ago," Aidan snorted.
"How can you say that?" she asked. "Aidan, the fact that you are still alive, that he brought you here for me to help… that proves God is watching over you."
"When does He stop?" Aidan asked, quietly.
"Stop piling on more and more pain and suffering?"
"I don’t know," Emmy admitted, "but I’m sure whenever it is everything will become clear to you as to why you had to survive the turmoil that was given to you. I believe there’s a reason for everything that happens to us in life – good or bad. Its not our place to ask why but to accept what is and adapt. That’s just life."
"Life is fucked," Aidan snorted.
"Life IS fucked, I agree," Emmy told him, "but sometimes it can be wonderful, too. Not always and not often but sometimes. And those moments in time, those precious few, well, Aidan, they are worth fighting for. You just have to reach out there and grab them, hold onto them with all your might and never let go."
"I’m not sure I can," he said, looking up at her.
"Of course you can," she replied, holding his hand in hers.
"I’m not sure I want to. Not anymore, anyway."
"You are a fighter, Aidan O’Brien," Emmy whispered in his ear. "From the moment I saw you I knew it. You can do this, you just have to believe in your heart that there’s more to life than just the pain and suffering you’ve felt."
"I’m sorry," he wept, "it’s too late." He pulled away from her and headed into the bathroom attached to his room.
"Aidan," Emmy called out, "please, don’t do this. Don’t shut me out." She tried to open the door but he’d managed to block it by sitting with his back against it making it impossible for Emmy to open.
"Go away," Aidan cried out, "it’s too late for me."
"Aidan!" she called out, worriedly. "It’s not, I promise, it’s not. Just please, open the door and we can talk about this."
Emmy stooped down in front of the closed bathroom door and slipped a hand underneath – hoping that if she could touch him perhaps the human contact might somehow be enough to let her in again and get him talking. She felt around for him but instead of the warmth of human skin she felt something cold, wet and sticky. Quickly, she pulled her hand back and saw it - Blood.
"No!" she cried out, "Oh God, no!"
"Get a medic in here!" she screamed out into the hallway as she scrambled to her feet. Frantically, she began pushing against the closed door with all her might until she managed to push it open enough to get inside.
"Aidan! Aidan, talk to me!" she cried, assessing the situation.
Aidan lay on the floor, his wrist un-bandaged and oozing blood. "I told you," he rasped, "it’s too late for me." His eyes closed and he slid sideways to the floor.
"What have I done? What have I done?" Emmy cried as the medics hurried in past her and heaved Aidan’s limp body onto a gurney and wheeled him out.