Can’t Keep Goin’ on

This is the short story form of my novel in progress, “Saving Hadley”. The graphic content and profanity is toned down.

 

IX

November 21st, 2016

Hadley had been clean eleven and a half months. Furthermore, she’d stopped drinking beyond the occasional glass of red with dinner, or sharing a bottle of Krug with Simon on special occasions. She’d gained a healthy five or so pounds of muscle, and Bill had told her if she keeps her win-streak up she’d make partner in a year or two. Another two months, and Adam would complete her family, and she could be whole again. Well, that is if Simon ever came back from the bathroom.

Her and Simon had reservations in thirty minutes at the fanciest place in Boston, and Simon was busy mucking around the bathroom. Something about a stomach ache. Since when does it take five minutes to take a pill? She’d bought a new dress, and even had her nails, hair, and makeup done. This was the first time, in a long time, she’d bothered to dress up. She heard a door close. A couple seconds later Simon walked into the room, smiling. Feigning indignation, Hadley asked “Are you going to make it a habit to keep me waiting? On my birthday, no less?”

Chuckling, Simon replied “My apologies, madam. One thing just led to another!”

“Oh, really? Please, do tell.” Said Hadley, maintaining a straight face.

Simon obliged, continuing “Well first, there was the Ibuprofen. I just couldn’t break that child lock. Not for the life of me. So then, naturally I had to find a small reflex hammer. I mean, a large hammer wouldn’t do, I needed the pills in-tact–DING!”

Hadley’s face, previously contorted in laughter, suddenly grew concerned. “Who could that be? Were you expecting someone, Simon?” pondered Hadley as the pair moved towards the front door. “Another…lover? Perhaps?” At this they both burst out laughing, Simon clutching his side as he opened the door.

Their laughter faded quickly upon seeing Tom’s sullen expression. Warily, Simon asked “Tom, what are you doing here? Did something happen? We were just about to head out to dinner.” Tom’s face, while dismayed, was still attractive. He had piercing hazel eyes, and a full head of dark brown hair, like his brothers. He also shared his wide, and well-defined Jawline with Simon.

Looking down, and then to the left, Tom sighed.

“What’s wrong?!” Shouted Hadley. Tom winced, looking up to meet Hadley’s eyes. But he still wasn’t making eye contact. He was looking through her. What’s going on? Hadley’s hands began to shake in fear.

Mournfully, in his soft tenor, Tom said “There was an accident. My wife…” Hadley rushed forward and pulled Tom into her arms, as Simon fell back against the left door-hinge.

“I’m so sorry Tom, is Gia okay? What…what happened?” asked Hadley, pulling him closer.

Stricken, Simon asked “Tom, is Adam with you?” As tears ran down Tom’s cheek, he looked to Simon and shook his head once. Simon started to slide down the wall, until he sat on the ground leaning against the door. Hadley paused, looking to Simon and back to Tom in confusion.

“Wait… Where is Adam… Where is my Son!” Shouted Hadley, pushing away from Tom. Simon’s face was buried in his large hands. “He is my Son! Mine, where is my Son! Tom, tell me!” Tom’s head hung low, his eyes wide, tears trickling. Hadley started to hit Tom’s broad chest with her fists. “Tell me!” She screamed, tears falling.

Shamefully, Tom whispered “Gia was driving him home from his doctor’s appointment.” As he started to speak, Hadley stopped hitting him and stepped away, bouncing from foot to foot as if she were about to box. “She stopped at a red light, and when it turned green, she went. But another car ran their red light. He broadsided Gia’s car. He was drinking. Gia and the other driver are both in intensive care, Adam…” Tom choked, struggling to continue “Adam didn’t make it.” No.

Lunging forward, Hadley attacked Tom, screaming “He is my Son!” Tom tried to grab her arms as she scratched at his face. “You were supposed to protect him, keep him safe!” Tom got a hold of both of her arms, wrapping his own around Hadley, restraining her as she struggled. “How could you let this happen!” Hadley bit Tom’s shoulder and he shouted in pain, maintaining his powerful grip around her shoulders.

“I’m so sorry. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.” Tom shouted back. Hadley loosened her bite to spit in Tom’s face. Surprised, Tom let go of Hadley to wipe his left eye. Hadley tried to lunge at Tom but Simon caught her around the waist, her blue dress tore as she struggled towards Tom. Simon pulled her towards him, turned her around and hugged her, hard. Defeated, Hadley fell limp, arms hanging lifelessly at her sides.

“He was my…son.” She sobbed in Simons arms. He was ours.

 

XI-I

February 8th, 2017

Hadley read the old Digitex clock on her nightstand. 7:12 PM, she had forty-eight minutes until Simon would be getting home. I’ve put this off for too long as it is. Forcing herself to get out of bed, she headed to the bathroom. The room was dark, blinds and curtains drawn to hide the fading summer sun. About halfway to the bathroom Hadley lost her footing and fell, hitting her face, hard, on the carpet. Dazed, she sat up, feeling behind her to see what she’d tripped on. It was the pile of clothes that had grown into a mountain over the past two weeks. Hadley groaned, pushing herself to her feet. She walked the last few feet to the bathroom, and reached around the corner to fix the lights. She set them to a dim, comforting glow. Walking past the Sauna, she turned left, reaching for the sink.

She opened the first right-hand drawer and searched through the various pillboxes for a moment. Pausing, she decided on the oxycodone and Ibuprofen. Clumsily, she opened the Oxycodone, taking four pills, her normal dose, out of the pillbox. She turned the sink on, putting two of the pills in her mouth, she bent down and took a gulp of water, easily swallowing the pills. She repeated the process for the second two, choking on the water this time. Hadley picked up the Ibuprofen, staring at it in a daze. She could already feel the pills getting to work. This will save me.

Hadley opened the Ibuprofen, dumping them out on the counter. She counted out eight two-hundred milligram pills and took one at a time. Hadley turned around to face the Jacuzzi. Stumbling, she walked up the two steps, and tried to climb into the tub. She tripped, again, hitting her head on the metal faucet. Blood began dripping from her nose and forehead. Stopping the Jacuzzi’s drain, Hadley turned the hot spout up all the way, while only turning the cold spout four tenths of the way to full. Needs to be hot. The water felt good, only burning a little. Perfect. She reached back, stabilizing herself on the Jacuzzi’s side and stood up. She struggled over the Jacuzzi’s edge, almost losing her balance, but she didn’t.

She saw herself in the mirror, blood dripping into her left eye. She’d lost weight. Last she’d checked, she was down to ninety-three pounds, and that was three weeks ago. Her baggy tank top, now soaked, hid much of her skeleton-like figure, but her legs and arms were a reminder, a morbid template of what she used to be. What she could have been. Her green eyes, which she’d always been proud of, had faded to olive. Maybe it’s the drugs. But if my hair can turn to grey, why can’t my eyes lose color? How did I let this go on for so long?

Smiling, Hadley took a few steps forward, and grabbed the pink razer behind the sink. She removed its head, and took out two of the blades. She turned around, steadier now, and walked to the Jacuzzi. Effortlessly, she swung over the edge, wading into the hot water. The water felt good, she felt peaceful. No more conflict. This is it.

The drugs made Hadley feel safe, made her feel at home. The running water became muted, all she could hear now was her and Simon laughing, back when they were whole. Setting the back-up razor behind her head, on the side of the tub. She held her left arm in front of her face, bracing herself. She cut her left wrist from left to right, slow and deep. It stung, a manageable pain. Carefully, Hadley switched the razer to her left hand, cautious to keep the wound out of the hot water. Not yet. I need to deepen the cut. She repeated the cut from right to left, on her right arm, but it wasn’t deep enough. She went over the cut again, twisting the blade back and forth, grimacing in pain. Tears welled up in her eyes. It’s too late to quit now, this is the one thing I can’t let myself fail at.

As a new wave of pain hit, Hadley dropped the razer. She cursed herself for not taking more of the Oxycodone. Struggling to stay awake, she reached towards the other razer with her right hand. Holding her left arm out again, she dug the razer into the base of her palm, screaming as she slowly moved it an inch towards her inner elbow. Panicking, Hadley’s bladder released, breathes quickened.

She pictured herself with Simon, kissing, the day he’d brought her Silgan. For a moment, Hadley thought she heard Simon call out to her. It’s the delirium. Renewed, she tore through another two inches of flesh, whimpering. Her wrist now formed a cross of sorts. Her tears shifted to laughter and back again as tore another inch. Struggling to keep her eyes open, she moved the razer to her left hand, and dug the blade into the same spot below her right palm, twisting back and forth to compensate for the lack of strength. Again, she thought she heard Simon call out to her.

This time, as she struggled to make the cut she screamed “Simon!” in agony.

 

Another inch she gouged “Mommy!”

 

Another inch she lacerated “Simon!”

 

A final inch she gained “Adam!”

 

Crying, Hadley looked at her arms, she’d done it. Now all she had to do was let them fall into the water, and she’d be free. Smiling, she saw her mom tucking her in when she was young. She saw Adam, being born. She heard Simon, call out to her, stopping her from getting on the plane, so he could get on one knee, to prove he loved her. Her arms fell into the water, which quickly turned pink. She heard Simon call to her again, she saw his face when she’d told him she was pregnant. She saw his eyes, as the water turned red. Hadley heard her husband call out “Hadley where are you?! Hadley!” A moment later, the bathroom door slammed open, it was Simon. No! He wasn’t meant to see me…like this.

As the water turned a muddy, blackened red, Hadley whispered “Simon, you’re…early.”

 

 

XI-II

February 8th, 2017

Simon had left work sick, not that he was sick, in the traditional sense. The urge to slip drugs in that setting was simply too much for him to handle right now. He was barely holding on, and Hadley…Hadley wasn’t holding on. He’d caught her going through their old store of painkillers two nights ago. Simon had tried to stop her, but she had threatened him with the dull metal scissors on the counter. He’d had to distance himself that night, sleeping on the couch. I’ll talk to her about it, get her help.

Simon went over what he’d say as he pulled into the large driveway. I hate what happened to Adam, but we’re still here, we’re still young, we can beat this, together. Parking, Simon opened the driver’s side door of his McLaren Coupe, and got out. Closing the door behind him, Simon walked towards the house’s side entrance. He pulled the key out his pocket, put it in the lock and twisted. Things are going to be alright, we’ve been to hell and back together. I just need to stop being so damned distant all the time. I’ve never been good at handling emotions. Hadley had recently theorized why Simon had made a good ER doctor. He remembered the sting he’d felt as she’d said “It’s because you don’t care when the patients die, and you can just tell the family then go have a fucking cigarette.” She’s right, though. I need to be more available. I’m going to settle this. Walking into the kitchen, looking around, Simon yelled “Hadley, you up?” It’s nearly 7:30, don’t tell me she’s still in bed.

As Simon walked towards the stairs, he heard a muffled noise. What was that? Simon paused momentarily, listening. Not hearing another noise, he called out a second time “Hads! You okay?” while starting up the bannister. About halfway up the steps, he heard another noise, a scream. No…no. Simon rushed up the stairs, skipping a step with each stride. “Hadley! Where are you?” he rushed towards the master bedroom. The door was closed, he tried the handle. Locked? Oh shit. Voice cracking, Simon yelled “Hadley!” as he kicked the door. It didn’t break. On the second kick the doors frame concaved slightly.

He heard Hadley scream “Simon!”, she sounded in pain. What is she doing?

Panicking, as the door failed to cave after the third kick, Simon shouted “Hadley! I’m here, hold on honey, I’m here!” On the fourth kick, the lock broke and Simon rushed into the dark bedroom. Hadley was still screaming, but Simon couldn’t see, fumbling the side of the wall next to the broken door hinge for the lights he called “Hadley I’m here, don’t worry, you’re okay!” Finding the lights, he realized Hadley was in the master bathroom. Accelerating forwards as she screamed something intelligible, Simon barreled into the bathroom. The lights were dim, looking around his heart sank. The sink had tens of small pills scattered about, there was blood all over the floor, and the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi water was a dark, lifeless, red. No.

Simon rushed into the Jacuzzi as Hadley mouthed something, he couldn’t tell what. Tears cracking his voice, Simon asked “What did you Hadley, what did you do. Lovely, what have you done.”  He wrapped his arms around her, picking her up into her arms. He left the Jacuzzi and set Hadley down gently onto the cold bathroom floor. My god, her arms. No. It can’t be. Not like this. Panicked, Simon ran to the second bath, turning the shower on and stopping the drain. She’s too warm. I need to stop the blood-flow. Returning to Hadley, he picked her up gently, making sure her wounds faced up. Grunting, he carried her to the shower, setting her down carefully with her back against the side of the tub, letting the cold-water wash over her. “Hadley! Wake up Hadley!” Simon screamed in desperation as her eyes began to close. She was still mouthing the same words. “I can’t hear you, honey, stay with me, I need you Hadley, I need you to stay here… to stay with me.” He could feel her pulse, a wave of relief shot down his spine. It’s weak, I need to act quickly.

Turning, Simon got to his feet and walked to the saunas towel rack. He opened the Saunas door, grabbed two towels and threw them inside before setting the saunas heat to max and shutting the door. He grabbed the other two towels and ran to Hadley. Why is she smiling at me like that? Simon wrapped the first towel around her left arm, tying it off, and repeating the process on the right arm.

Hadley’s eyes had opened again. Quietly, she murmured “I love you.”

Stricken, Simon responded “I love you too, Hadley, you’re going to be fine, stay with me.”

Eyes closing again, Hadley whispered “Let me…go.” Never. Hadley fell limp, blood soaking through the towels. How did she cut so far up the arm? Simon ran back to the sauna, grabbing one of the now-hot towels. Turning back to Hadley, he draped the hot towel around her slight midsection and turned the cold-water stream off. Too cold and she’ll go into shock even faster. Testing her pulse, it felt weaker than it had a few moments ago. She’s lost too much blood. Simon ran to the medical cabinet fixed to the wall, near the sink. He grabbed a high-volume syringe and a tourniquet. Quickly, he wrapped the tourniquet around his left arm, found a vein and drew blood as quickly as he could without blowing the vein. Damned anxiety is constricting my vasculature. Stay calm, Simon, or Hadley will die. After about thirty seconds, he’d managed to fill the syringe. Now comes the tricky part. Her arms are completely shot and I don’t have an IV.

Moving to Hadley, Simon paused, looking for a vein on her inner thighs. I’ll worry about infections later. Hands steady, Simon pushed the syringe into Hadley’s Femoral vein, pushing extremely slowly before retracting the syringe and moving to Hadley’s greater saphenous. He switched back and forth until the blood in the syringe was gone. The injection sites aren’t bleeding, low pressure, not good. Simon checked her pulse, it was gone.

Tears streaming down his face, Simon ran back to the medical cabinet looking for the adrenaline. He found a small bottle full of the stuff. Come on, just another ER shift…Keep it together. Grabbing a new, lower volume syringe, he drew about half the adrenaline, hands shaking. Rushing back to Hadley, Simon pulled her left tank top strap down over her arm. He palpated the area, feeling for a break in the ribcage. This has to work. It WILL. Finding the spot he was looking for, he carefully pushed the long needle into her chest, until he felt a break in the resistance. The heart. He injected the adrenaline, pulled the syringe out, and threw it aside. He maneuvered her cold, limp body so that she lay on her back, arms to the side. Getting on top of her, he started compressions. His arms and face had gone numb from the anxiety, making it difficult to keep going. Must…keep…going, I have to save her.

Crying, he shouted “Come back to me, Hads, come on baby, you’re okay, everything’s going to be fine!” After about a minute of compressions, he felt Hadley’s ribs break. Slowly, defeatedly, Simon slowed his compressions. Leaning back, he cried out in agony. I’ve failed.

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