“Well, it is a new kitchen. Monica stocked it all, and I don’t know where anything is yet.” I added a stupid smile to try and cover my ignorance.
“The same Monica who told me that if I didn’t detox, I would go to jail?” Mia seemed truly intrigued by the web of Monica.
“Yep, and told me to help you detox or she wouldn’t speak to me again.” I didn’t think before I spoke. I regretted my statement immediately and turned to Mia in attempt to rephrase.
“So you love this Monica?” What? Where did that come from?
“No! Absolutely not! We don’t even like each other.” I kind of blurted it out quickly. I didn’t want anyone thinking I had any romantic desires for Monica.
“So why would you agree to help me?” She seemed intrigued as well as a bit agitated.
“She does things for me.” I felt a bit nervous. I was screwing things up again. “I’m not good with people, so I pay her to take care of things.” I pointed around the house. “All of this she did in three weeks.” Saying it out loud sounded a bit ludicrous. I fell back to the truth and quietly added, “I’m glad she made me do it.” Mia looked at me funny.
“You’re glad she made you clean up my puke?” Mia was incredulous. I should never have opened my mouth. Why can’t I ever think before I speak to other people? I couldn’t look her in the eyes, so I looked at the floor.
“I’d do it again if it meant you would sit with me on the beach again.” God, it sounded pathetic. I was pathetic. I heard a gasp and expected the worse. I wasn’t going to hide from it this time. I lifted my head and Mia had a hand over her mouth. She had a strained look in her eyes. I guess she thought it was pathetic too. She shook her head and ran to the hall bathroom.
The retching started immediately followed by coughing and crying. She was in pain, and I felt it. I didn’t make the pancakes fast enough. I ran to the bathroom with no idea what I was going to do about it. Her entire body went into convulsions each time she tried to throw up. Hardly anything was coming out, and you could see the pain in her eyes. There was nothing I could do. I sat down next to her and pulled her hair out of the toilet. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying not to cry.
Mia finally pulled back from the rim of the toilet wincing in pain. “God, that hurt!” There were tears down her face, and her eyes looked like they had just been punched. I grabbed a washcloth and soaked it with warm water. I sat back down and began to wipe her face clean. “I like you too, Dale.” She gave me a weak smile. Her eyes were completely bloodshot and underlined by dark moons, her nose was bright red and runny, and she was pale as a ghost. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. I hugged her to me.
I finally got some water into her. I had her wrapped up in a blanket against me on the couch as another bout of shivering ran through her whole body. As I held her, I wondered how she broke through my walls. I stroked her hair and couldn’t understand why I wanted to help her. I never wanted to help anyone before. I knew it wasn’t because she saved my life, and it wasn’t because of Monica’s threats. I wanted her pain to go away. It hurt me to watch her. I ran my hand down her arm and saw the history of self abuse. Little bruised needle marks trying to heal. I didn’t understand why I didn’t find her appalling. I wondered if she would stay after she was better. A little fear began to fester. I shoved it aside. I knew where fear would lead. I would prefer that she left me than to shut her out again.
The night was long. I held Mia when she needed it and gave her space when she needed it. I always came back. She barely slept. Wave after wave of awfulness tore through her body. I cried when she wasn’t looking. I have never seen anyone in such misery. She finally passed out around eight in the morning. I covered her and left her to sleep. I was so happy that it she was out of pain for the moment. I wasn’t sure how much more she could take.
I was just pouring a cup of coffee when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to Dr. Williams. “Good morning, Doc,” I said with a smile. Normally, a morning visitor would piss me off. “Got some fresh coffee on. Like a cup?”
“You’re looking a bit more chipper than I expected. And yes, I would like one. Black.” Wally smiled back and headed into the house. “How’s Mia?”
“She’s been sleeping for about an hour. She had a rough night, but we got through it.” I poured him a cup of joe and handed it across the counter. He grabbed the cup and looked at me strangely.
“I’ve got to say, Mr. Tomlinson…” I quickly held up my hand and interrupted.
“Please… Call me Dale.” I’d never done that before. It just seemed the right thing to do, and it made me feel good.
“Well Dale, I have a really good idea of what happened in the last 24 hours.” He was examining my face as I took another sip of coffee. “I expected you to be a bit more frazzled. In fact I was surprised when I didn’t get a phone call last night.” I smiled. I didn’t think I could explain it to him.
“I don’t know how to explain it. We kind of got into a rhythm.” I took another sip of coffee. For some reason, it tasted better than usual. “I think I actually helped make it less horrible.” I smiled at the thought. That is exactly what I did.
“You’d make a hell of a nurse.” He nodded his head to me as he took another sip. I wondered if he thought the coffee was good. “Not many people are built to handle a detox.” I smiled inwardly at the compliment. He chuckled a bit, “I think that Monica thought it was going to be a bit tougher on you.” Now, that made me smile outwardly!
“Who knew? Yesterday, I would have agreed with her.” No need to hide the fact that this was new to me also. I actually enjoyed surprising the doctor as much as myself. I hoped secretly that he would convey his thoughts to Monica as well. Wally pulled a pill bottle out of his pocket and laid it on the counter.
“Sometime today or tomorrow, the violent symptoms will cease.” His voice slipped into a clinical tone. “As soon as Mia can hold down food, she needs to start taking these vitamins.” he was gesturing to the bottle. “They should help rebuild her a bit quicker. The detox has a tendency to zap the body pretty hard.” His expression became more serious, and he made sure he had my attention. “Dale, the next part is a bit harder.” I didn’t like the sound of that.
“Detox will lower her tolerance for heroin. It is extremely important that she not begin using again.” He again made sure he had my attention. “Mia could easily overdose if she went back to her old patterns.” Fuck! That wasn’t at all a pleasant thought. I didn’t even think someone would consider reuse after what I saw yesterday.
“You are going to have to find out why she started using and ended up driving that boat into the rocks.” He was very serious, and I didn’t like what he was implying.
“She was just stoned and lost control of the boat.” I was trying to defend Mia. There is no way she meant to hit the rocks. His face became more sympathetic.
“Heroin doesn’t remove all your inhibitions. It doesn’t suddenly make you stupid. It removes the pain of life.” He was having trouble explaining. “She meant to hit those rocks, and she didn’t expect to survive it.” Oh God! I didn’t want to hear this. Somehow I envisioned the heroin was some kind of accident that got out of hand. It was a much better history than what he was proposing.
“We have to find out why she did it.” I was looking down at my coffee cup. I wasn’t sure I wanted him to continue. “She is not going to want to tell you.” I remembered the pain when she told me to “get the fuck out!” I would take the puking any day over that. “If she doesn’t face her demons, her future is not good. We have to heal both her body and her mind.” I looked up from my cup, and I knew my eyes were watering and my hands were shaking. His expression quickly changed.
“Oh shit! I didn’t realize,” Wally continued in a softer tone. “I can bring in a professional to get her through this. This can get pretty painful, and feelings get hurt during the process.” He looked at me with sorrowful expression. “It’s normal that you would feel a bond with your patient, but it’s rarely healthy if you let it go too far.” Suddenly I was pissed. That he would insinuate that my concern was some kind of normal bonding process that should be ignored. Mia wasn’t just my patient. She was as much my nurse as I was hers.
“Mia and I are two sorry fucked-up individuals.” I didn’t care how it sounded. Wally looked shocked at my statement. “We will get through this together and we don’t need any psychiatrist screwing things up.” I was looking him straight in the face. In the past, I would have left the room instead of entering into a confrontation. Not now, not with Mia at stake.
“Dale, I don’t think…” Wally was interrupted by a weak voice from the hallway.
“You heard him Doc.” It was Mia, dressed in my robe and pale as ever, leaning against the wall. She was looking at me. “I’m not going through this with anyone but Dale.” Her smile was weak, but it felt like an ocean of waves. Wally looked between Mia and me a couple of times and sighed.
“Okay. If you two are still friends after this, I will eat my hat.” He realized he couldn’t stop it. “I would still like to drop in and monitor your physical recovery Mia.” I still couldn’t believe she backed me up. In public. I answered for her.
“That would be great Doc. I would hate for her to be sick any longer than necessary.” I realized I was still staring at Mia’s smile and quickly returned to looking at Wally. He was shaking his head, wearing a smile.
“Not what I expected at all.” He chuckled and held his hand out to me. I shook it and winked at Mia. “I’ll be back in two days to give you a physical, Mia.” She gave him a weak wave. I showed him out the door. I gathered Mia in my arms.
“I was hoping you would sleep a bit longer.” I whispered to her. She still looked weak.
“I got your back baby.” I know she tried to sound strong, but it just kind of trickled out. So adorable. I brought her back to bed. She surprised me by dropping the robe before climbing naked into the bed. I felt guilty admiring her curves as I pulled the covers over her naked form. “I am so tired… Just can’t seem to stay asleep.” She yawned as she said it.
“Be right back.” I said and for some reason I kissed her forehead. It was cold and clammy but very soft. I headed to my office library room or at least what I envisioned Monica thought it should be. I looked across the shelves and picked up my 25-year-old copy of The Hobbit. Sitting on the desk was the book I was reading the day Mia saved my life. I knocked it into the trash. I was sick of my old rules and the book really sucked.
I pulled a chair up next to Mia. I sat and propped my legs up on the edge of the bed. I opened the book and began to read. I always loved The Hobbit and the trilogy that followed. A story of the small and meek defeating evil and changing the course of all for the better. It got me through some pretty tough times. I wasn’t sure it would suit Mia’s literary taste. I just figured her mind needed to rest. I would read, and she only had to listen. I looked over between paragraphs. Her eyes were closed, but she was wearing a smile. I could tell she was still awake. I continued reading.
By the time I got to the second chapter, Mia was out cold. Her head had tilted to one side, and her mouth had a little drool hanging on for dear life. I closed the book and watched her for a few minutes before my head drooped down and I joined her in dreamland.
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