Each day is filled with an expectation of her forgiveness. Each day guilt for this selfish need increases. I nurse a fading, forlorn desire for miraculous recovery which dissipates as Kristine’s unbearable loss destroys her.
I free several capsules per day from confinement in my safe. After meeting my own needs the rest are delivered to soften Kristine’s tightly balled up form. She accepts my extended palm-full of bliss without comment, regardless of the dosage.
I experiment with different quantities and types of pills to try to correct to her mind. But the permutations are many and my pharmacological expertise is lacking.
Before too long Kristine is hammered into a state I can work with. She dictates how much sedation she requires and agreeably takes the anti-depressants I offer in between. I allow this course of action, believing she’s safer in those dreamless sleeps than dwelling on an unchangeable past.
I try to make use of her swift addiction to bribe her into eating. Withholding the next dose when she refuses to finish a sandwich has an unforeseen side-effect. She cuts herself deeply and I am discouraged from making too many demands. Our trade-offs erode any attempts to improve her mental health.
Days scroll by in drug-fuelled, deceitful games with unequal stakes.
I’m in pretty bad shape by the second week. The descending sighs of Snow White’s drugged sleep deepen to the point I know will carry her through the night. I leave her side, heavily depressed. We’ve had another useless argument over changing her bed-sheets. The steadfast refusal had infuriated me, and we’d come to blows. I’d slapped her hard and repeatedly before stopping myself with difficulty. The great fury had pushed me well into insanity’s camp.
Still shaking with self-loathing, I abandon her to silently stalk the facility’s shadows. I drift past work-place cubicles that divide the down-stair spaces into a hundred caves. As I wander randomly I feel a pull. I allow Fate to guide my feet towards an answer and arrive at a door stencilled with a fateful word; ‘Counsellors’ Office’. Behind this door I feel the accumulation of past beseeching questions and comforting answers. I wish the office owner was still here to sort through my own jumbled mind and make sense of what they find.
The neatness of its ex-occupant offends me. I slump untidily in the advisor’s comfortable chair; spinning mindlessly and spitefully knock delicate items from the desk.
A bookshelf is filled with complicated manuals of the human mind. These learned tomes contain the help I seek in a form I will never be able to decipher. Taking the nearest one down, I make an example of it to the others by maliciously tearing handfuls of pages from its buts. I unmake another and another, in a destructive frenzy until the carpet is covered by torn and crumpled paper.
I climb onto the leather covered desk and sit upon on my isle of ignorance cross-legged to escape the sea of sage opinions and dry, incomprehensible case studies.
As I stare into the maelstrom of my discontent a sleek, black telephone is caught by my encumbered vision. Once I might have played up to its purpose by conversing with myself using different voices, but I’d developed a phobia against this pastime. The belief something cold and calculating waited ever so patiently at the other end had killed the humour of this game. Reminded of this beast I yank the phone jack out of the wall. It isn’t enough to stop the demon inside the phone. I spill the contents from a desk drawer and imprison the voice inside, slamming it closed. Phones are far less harmful when shut away.
Upending the drawer has spilled a bright yellow phone book to the littered floor. For some reason it draws my attention so I rescue it from the evicted detritus of pens and paperclips to riffle its pages. My thumb releases microsecond glimpses of long dead people and business as they fan past my eyes. It is a book of obituaries now.
But wait. Something has called to my tired mind. Intrigued, I thumb a clumsy return to the advertisement that caught my interest. The Golden Pine Nursery. I’ve never been there; gardening is not my thing. The only person I associate with Pine trees is Kristine and Shanna, and I’m unhappy enough without being reminded of them.
Uncaring of my wants my mind recalls a drunken night, now long in our past, where Kristine had shared a special memory involving her and Shanna. I’d almost switched off by the time she was through telling me about their get-away to a private island, where loving life and each other were their only concerns. Her soft voice describing the sound of wind through the Golden Pine’s at night was so wistful and clear that I still remember it clearly.
I’m suddenly convinced I was meant to find this page. I’m smitten with this laser printed commercial that sells pine tree salvation. I can redeem myself and repair all my past wrongs with this single right. And how convenient is its location! Only one suburb away. I tear out the page and think to myself; who am I to argue with destiny?
Being constantly high leaves few reference points to what is, and isn’t, advisable. Like; it would not be advisable to re-enter a world full of horrors, to seek out a tree, as a gift for a girl who has lost her mind.
But I’m driven by impulses and once set in motion, I am unstoppable.