I have been working on a story that may end up being a novel. I would like to introduce you all to Ruby.
*A very rough first draft*
Ruby walked out onto the front steps and breathed in deeply. She watched as her breath formed a cloud in the crisp fall air. Today was the first day of the rest of her life. She smiled a little at how hokey that sounded in her head. The leaves around her were dying. She took in the bold colors. It was a beautiful death she thought. A bright yellow leaf fluttered past her in the wind and landed in a puddle. She hoped her death of sorts would be as graceful.
She took in another deep breath and walked into her new life, suitcase in hand. A bright yellow cab drove her to her new home. As the cab pulled up to the curb she opened the door and saw the reflection of yellow from the midst of the watery sidewalk. The symbolism between the cab and the the leaf from earlier was not lost on her. It was her own fluttering in the wind, this ride to her future and now she was near her end; the end of who she was and the way she had learned to be.
She wanted to jump back into the cab and drive away to anywhere but here, but she knew that this death was necessary. Just as in nature, there has to be a death before new growth can occur and if there was one thing she needed it was new growth. New life. A resurrection. The old had to die so that new could come and she was ready. At least that is what she told herself.
Once settled into her new room, Ruby pulled out her journal.
The leaves are all dying. It seems a fitting farewell. I am terrified of this next chapter, this shedding that I will be doing, because I know that just like the trees I will be laying myself bare. There will be nothing left in which to hide myself behind.
I will be exposed and left naked.
I must remember that I chose this. I chose to come here. This process is necessary. I can do this. I am ready and I am terrified.
A knock came on the door. Ruby closed her journal and placed it in her drawer underneath her underwear.
“Yes, I am coming.”
Ruby opened the door to a well dressed woman. She was much younger than Ruby had expected, much prettier, too.
“I am Dr. Mary Robins, are you ready for your first session?”
She gathered up all her courage and gave a nod. As she followed Dr. Robins down the hallway she noticed her shoes and how much she liked them. They were stylish, yet sensible, if cute shoes were any indicator of a person’s personality she figured she was going to like this woman just fine.
As they entered the room Ruby took inventory of her surroundings. There was a couch, two chairs, a desk, and some bookcases. One of the chairs was very definitely meant for the Doctor, the couch was closest to that chair and the other chair was at the other end of the couch, opposite the Dr’s. The bookshelves were lined with books and some personal photos. The walls were painted a cheery shade of tan, the perfect amount of color to give the room a homey feel, and make you forget you were at an institution. There was a large mirror behind the couch. Ruby caught a glimpse of herself just long enough to regret it. She may have been good at hiding behind her put together exterior for others, but she could never hide herself from her own reflection and the truth she saw looking back at her. Yes, those eyes of hers may have been a mirror for others to see what it was they wanted to see, but for her they were always a window and she never liked what she saw inside them. She made a mental note to avoid looking there in the future.
As the door was shut behind her she quickly had to decide where she should sit. If she sat in the chair farthest away she would seem stand offish, that would not be a good impression. The spot closest to Dr. Robins seemed too familiar and vulnerable. The middle of the couch would have to do, safe, but not distant.
Once she was seated the panic began to set in. What was she doing here? What had she done? This was too much, she was in way over her head? What had she been thinking? She closed her eyes, slid her hands underneath her legs, and took a deep breath, then another. She let all the emotions out with each exhale.
“Calm down, Ruby, you can do this. Today will be simple, she is just going to ask you simple questions. The hard work will come later, today you will be fine.”
Ruby opened her eyes and let them move from the sight of her own feet over to the pair of cute shoes and then up to Dr. Robins eyes. Her face was kind and her eyes held a gentle wisdom.
“Let’s start by telling me a little bit about yourself.”
There was a notebook in her lap and a pen in her hand ready to write.
“What would you like to know?”
“Whatever it is you think is important to tell me.”
Her mind raced furiously to think of what it was she should say, what she thought she was supposed to find important. She was here to be brave and her mind wouldn’t let her think. She said the first safe and relevant thing that came to mind.
“Well, I am sitting here, so that should tell you something.”
“What should that tell me?”
“That I am broken. A little crazy, maybe. And weak for needing to even sit here.”
“Okay, let’s break that statement down a bit more. What is it that makes you broken?”
“Life? Yes, life, and maybe God.”
“So, those two things made you broken, but what parts of you did they break specifically and how?”
“Life broke my will to continue living most days. It broke my trust. Life and God broke my sense of worth. Life has become this thing that I just have to get through until I can finally die. Although there are moments of happiness there is always something lurking in the shadows, just waiting to catch me, bring me down. God, He created me. He created me knowing full well what life was going to give me and He created me anyways. He created me in order to be broken, to be used.”
“What happened to break your trust and steal your joy? How were you used?”
Those question went too far. Before the words could even form an answer in her mind the terror came bubbling up. A nauseating pit grew deep in her belly and a sharp clawing feeling scratched at her chest. Just the thought of speaking the memories out loud had her nails digging into her arms. She shook her head “No”. She wasn’t going to answer that. She couldn’t.
Dr. Robins saw her reaction to the question and wrote down a couple of notes.
“It is okay, we can come back to that later. Why don’t you tell me what you are feeling right now.”
“Panic, terror, it is hard to put into words.”
“That is okay, just take as long as you need and when you are ready can you tell me what makes you say you might be crazy?”
There was much that Ruby could say on that, but not right now, not after all her internal alarms had been set off. All she wanted to do right now was to sleep, shut this choice of being here off, close her eyes and make everything around her be gone. That wasn’t an option though. She had come here to battle, to beat the demons that clawed at her thoughts, but she felt as though she was losing. Talking had always been hard for her. Writing was always the safer option, but a pen can only slay so much.
She looked down at her feet as she spoke. “Sane people don’t beg God to kill them. Sane people don’t need to check themselves into mental institutions and before you ask, that is what makes me weak. Being here makes me weak, because I can’t figure out how to continue living on my own. I need someone else to help me and that makes me weak. It makes me vulnerable. In my life vulnerability is never safe.”
“I don’t see weakness when I look at you. It took a lot of courage for you to come here. It is very brave to admit you need help and then to find someone that can help you. Weakness is nowhere in this room. How would you describe this desire within you to both want to live and to want to die?”
“It is a war.”
“Let me ask you this question, how many wars do you know that are won by a single soldier? You don't have to answer that, but as we leave here I would like you to think about this, if wars are won by an army, wouldn’t it make sense that a strong soldier would gather other soldiers to help win the battle?”
Ruby let that soak in as she made her way back to her room.