Write What You Know, Part 25
By Stephanie Thompson, 1, 592 words
Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24
Neither of them were with anyone else. When would they have the time? Helen wasn’t ever out of hospitals for more than a home visit or anything else and Jennifer was too busy raising various levels of hell.
In their letters or in their rooms at night all they talked about was freedom. When they were 18 their parent’s or the state or grandparents or whoever as the case may be could no longer force them in to any institution as of their choosing.
They could live on their own, in a little apartment with a patio for flowers. They could go in and out whenever they liked and eat at any time and there wouldn’t be group therapy sessions and continuously changing med schedules. Best of all they could be whoever they wanted to be. Nikki, Cassandra, Helen, Jennifer.
At first, everything was right on track. They found an apartment. They found jobs. They used the small amount of inheritance Jennifer had to buy furniture and get them started. They didn’t have much but they didn’t need much. It was perfect. They should have known it wouldn’t have lasted. Maybe Jennifer did, deep down. But she didn’t expect it to end as explosively and completely as it did.
Helen did not have the strength to work, Cassandra didn’t have the temperament. It got so bad that Helen could barely leave the house and Cassandra nearly got charged with aggravated assault by one of her managers. So they stayed home and Jennifer went out every to work.
That too wasn’t bad at first. It was like married life. Jennifer would come home from work, lay her head in Helen’s lap, and tell her all about the little workplace drama’s and jokes and what happened that day. Helen wold stroke her hair and listen and laugh. Over dinner they would talk about the past, about the future, about the weekends or her next day off.
It was nights where she worked late, or the occasional nights out with workmates that caused problems. In those times Helen wouldn’t talk to her. Those were different silences, not like the ones in the good ol’ days. They were silences that froze. Silences followed by too much noise later. Followed by shouting and accusations and name calling and crying.
No matter how much she explained that there was no one else but Helen, how there would be no one else who could understand her as she did, but that she still had to go out into the world and she still wanted other friends on occasion, Helen still behaved the same. Then retreated into a silence she never came back from. Instead Jennifer was left with Cassandra constantly.
Trying to love Cassandra 24/7 was like trying to live life while riding a bucking bronco. She was just as upset and possessive as Helen but more jealous and aggressive. She followed Jennifer everywhere she went. And when Jennifer slept, Cassandra stalked her colleagues and the few work acceptances she had. She stalked them and threatened them. She stabbed one them. A girl from work, who gave her a ride after a late shift and Jennifer missed her bus. Cassie didn’t like that at all.
So, you see Jennifer didn’t do anything. She didn’t even want to do anything really. She wanted Cassandra to love her in balance with sanity. Or she wanted Helen back but she didn’t have the tools to fix her. To bring whatever structure or stability the hospital gave to her and giver her that herself. That’s what she wanted but when the courts sentenced Helen. She knew she had failed, would fail, and could never succeed at the task.
She did abandon Helen though. She visited her in jail and in hospital. She wrote her letters just like in the old days. But she never wrote back. She never spoke at the visits.
Until the final one that is. It wasn’t Helen though. It was Cassandra and Cassandra didn’t love her anymore. Cassandra blamed her. Cassandra hated her. Cassandra wanted to kill her. She tried in that lsat visit. Called her every nam,e under the same. He mouth and face were contorted in rage to look like something inhuman, something Jennifer had never seen before. Something that haunted her when she closed her eyes for a long time after that. Then she did a combination of attempted strangling and shiving at the same time.
Cassie lunged across the table with such force and suddenness that Jen fell over backwards in her chair, no chance to move or evade. It was like a tiger on an unsuspecting gazel. She grabbed Jenn’s throat in one hand stabbed her WITH SOMETHING SHARP in the other.
It was funny to wonder while she was dying if anyone had been killed in such an odd manner. It made her want to laugh. Then she had to wonder if anyone whos face was hot, who’s lungs were bursting from her chest, and who’s liver was experiencing the strange new experience of a breeze across it’s surface had ever wanted to laugh while it was happening.
That’s pretty deductive but even afterwards in the hospital that’s mostly what she wanted to do she wanted to laugh. There was pain yes. More pain she ever felt in her life. More fear too. But every thought she had the was a really thought and not just abject terror was something funny and then funnier than the last thing like “This is what they mean by love hurts” or YOU KNOW SOMETHING FUNNY.
The other thing was that it felt like it was going on forever. Maybe it was oxygen deprivation that made time slow down. She was only stabbed three times and she never blacked out only saw spots. ORderlies pulled Cassandra off, restrained her and sedated her. Jenn felt the blood pool around her own body, felt it go from warm to cool. And when she could breathe agin in ragged breaths she did finally laugh.
A doctor who had treated her and Helen barely a year before visited her during recovery. She told her that she could consider changing her name. Not just for the clean start but maybe even for her own safety. Whatever she had with Helen was gone because Helen was gone and Cassandra was only the worst of what was inside of her.
Jennifer thought a long time about that. About the difference between Helen and Cassandra. It wasn’t the same as her and Nikki. Nikki came and went, Nikki was apart of her, but they were separate. The doctors said she was a delusion, Jenn thought it was like having her soul haunted, as if it was marked or stained somehow and Nikki was that mark. Helen and Cassandra were the same side of two coins if they were really two sides at all. Incomplete without each other. They’d have to integrate to be healed, to be a functioning member of society and with two attempted murder charges now, it was unlikely that even if healed that they’d get that chance again.
Jennifer, if scarred now was fucked up but she could survive, she should survive, she deserved to survive. So she changed her name and let Helen go.
Lyndsey Sawyer and Lyndsey Sawyer only heard the whole tale. She didn’t want to tell Stella. And she only told her because she insisted. Insisted to the point of threatening to drop her case. And after a pretty fruitless day herself, she knew she’d be absolutely screwed without Sawyer’s help.
So she told her everything.
“So, when you saw Helen a few years ago, what happened?”
“Well, I saw her on the street and it was weird. It was different. Distant, I guess. I was happy to see her. Overjoyed because there hadn’t been anyone else you know. No close friends, just. . .”
She almost said Nikki, that she only had Nikki but that part wasn’t in the story. She didn’t saw how real Nikki was. She didn’t say that Nikki cause all her troubles. She didn’t say she reappeared in New York. She said like she had all those years ago to those doctors. She took responsibility for her actions because they were hers alone, Nikki was a figment only. Because there was only so much truth one could stand at a time.
“Stella, only Stella. So, seeing Helen on the street was just like anyone meeting an old friend, and old flame. It felt like serendipity. But Helen didn’t feel that way. She said she’d been released, lived in a halfway house, hated her job, hated her life. I wanted to do something nice for her. Give her a way to fit back in to each others life. So I gave her my old phone. She could have freedom and privacy and she could get in touch with me any time or anywhere. But she never did. I assumed she sold it or went back into a hospital.”
Lyndsey was taking notes on a tablet, typing as fast as Chrisite could talk. “What makes you think that this is her now?”
“Two things. The first is that according to Detective Riley that phone has been everywhere I’ve been since my book tour started. Maybe one or two cities would be a coincidence but there’s only one person I know who would follow me everywhere because she’s done it before. I don’t know anyone else, I don’t have any ferverent, obsessed fans.”
“And the other?”
Thanks for Reading!