Teaser Thursday- Dolphins in the Mud

“You said you cared about me,” he said in a warning tone.

I refused to let him intimidate me. There wasn’t much he could do to me or himself in a hospital room. If he tried, all I would have to do was open the door and yell for help. “I do care. That’s why I’m saying this. You’re going to get better, physically and mentally, whether you want to or not.”

As soon as I said it, I knew that was bullshit. Of course he wouldn’t get better if he didn’t want to. Even if they put him on meds and forced him to go to therapy, he still had to want to be healthier in order for anything to work. Maybe he wouldn’t figure that out.

“No one can make me do anything I don’t want to do.” He laughed. “I sound like a little kid. I used to say that to my mother. It pissed her off.”

“Yeah, I don’t think parents like it when their kids say things like that.” I glanced at the door, hoping it would open and Mr. Silver would walk in and say it was time for me to leave. This conversation was going around in circles, and I was starting to feel even more uncomfortable. I had no idea whether I was saying any of the right things to him, or if I was making everything worse.

“I do want to get better,” he said. “Having broken bones sucks. So does being crazy.”

“You aren’t crazy,” I said. “Bipolar isn’t crazy. It just means there’s a glitch in your brain.” That was sort of how Dad had described autism to me after Cece’s diagnosis. I figured it applied just as well to bipolar as it did to autism. “That’s what the medication is for, to fix the glitch.”

“Mom won’t come to see me.” Another couple of tears headed down his cheeks. “Dad said she told him she’s tired of me playing games, and she isn’t going to let me manipulate her.”

It ticked me off that Noah’s father had told him that. Bad enough that his mother had said it. Noah didn’t need to know. Mr. Silver should have kept it to himself. I didn’t think either of Noah’s parents understood what was going on. All they knew was their kid had something wrong with him. That made them feel like bad parents, and they couldn’t see how hard it was for Noah.

Just the way Mom had always been with Cece.

“Maybe she’ll come see you while you’re in the other hospital,” I said.

He shook his head. “She thinks I’m faking all this. That I just jumped off the stairs to get attention, and that there’s nothing wrong with me. She wants Dad to bring me home and keep a better eye on me or something.”

“That stinks.”

“Yeah.” He looked like he was close to crying. “Mom and I’ve never gotten along anyway. She always complains about how much work I am. That’s why she doesn’t always travel with Dad and me.” He sighed. “You don’t want to hear all that anyway. I’m going to be in the hospital for probably a couple months, Wayne said. Are you and I still…?” He trailed off, like he didn’t know what to call our relationship.

Neither did I anymore. “We’re still friends,” I said. “Other than that, I can’t answer you. I don’t know.”

“Yeah, I figured that’s what you’d say.” He forced a smile. “That’s okay. When I’m all sane again, we can talk about it, right?”

“Sure.” I didn’t know if talking would change anything. Getting rid of the mental image of him falling to the floor would take a long time. Even if he got the help he needed, I doubted I’d ever be able to trust that he wouldn’t do something like that again.

I already had a sister who needed me to help take care of her. I couldn’t handle having to take care of a boyfriend too. But I didn’t tell Noah that. I didn’t want to set him off again.

“Cool.”

The door opened and Mr. Silver came back in. “Noah, you should get some rest. Chris, thank you for stopping by.”

He sounded kind of pissed, so I guessed Dad’s conversation with him hadn’t had any effect. I was grateful that he’d interrupted, anyway. “No problem. Noah, I’ll talk to you sometime, okay?” That was the most commitment I was willing to make. I didn’t know when he’d be out of the hospital, or whether he’d go back to Wellfleet afterward. Or whether I would get past what he’d done enough to be around him again where there weren’t doctors and nurses ready to step in if something happened.

“Yeah, sometime.” Noah lay back and closed his eyes.

I left. I had nothing more to say.