Chapter 24


Tracey opens her eyes. It takes a while for her to get acquainted with her surroundings: It appears we’re back in a hospital room, just like at the beginning of our time spent following her. Again, there’s a bandage around her head—now more severe—but Tracey seems rather lucid. She panics when she realizes her hands are strapped to either side of the bed. She yanks on them, fraught and confused, before a nurse walks in. “Hello Sadey,” the nurse says. “I’m Elaine; I’ll be helping you this week. Do you remember what happened? How are you feeling; how’s your head? You had quite the fall there.” Elaine is being polite, but her questions seem to exist if only to replace the silence; she doesn’t expect any answers, nor does she want any. Then, a buttoned-up man with a police badge walks in the room, followed by a middle-aged woman in a winter jacket. The woman and Tracey lock eyes, and Tracey panics even more. “Hi Sadey,” the woman says, with reservation. We study the woman, and see that she looks an awful lot like Tracey, perhaps 30 years her senior. Tracey pulls harder on the straps, furious now: “No. What are you doing here? NO!”


Now we’re alone with Tracey and the woman who entered her hospital room. Words have been said, and neither woman can look at the other. Then, the visitor: “We can’t get you off the hook this time. Especially if this Helene lady is dead.” A pause. She continues: “Dr. Thompson says you haven’t been to see her in months now. You’re behind on all your refills. You know what this leads to, Sadey. We’ve–” Tracey cuts her off: “Tracey.” // “You’re still Sadey to me.” // “Then you have no business being here.” // “Sadey–” // “TRACEY! TRACEY! God dammit.” // “Honey. I’m here to take you home. Until any hearings, whatever those will entail. I need you to be a bit more cooperative–” // “I don’t want your help.” // “Trust me, you’ll be a lot better with us than you will be in the facilities here.” // “I don’t want your help.” A pause. “Well, for the record, this is the conclusion that both of us prefer.” She grabs her jacket, finds her keys, and has some parting words: “Please stop pulling other people into your hell. Or pushing them.” They make eye contact one last time—silently—before Tracey’s mother leaves. Tracey sits in her hospital bed, arms tied to either side, hanging her head in shame, or perhaps relief.


It’s nighttime. Tracey’s door is cracked, and a light bleeds in from the hallway. Tracey is awake, but it looks like she’s doped up. Her eyes struggle to focus, and she’s sweating at the brow. She looks to her right, searching for someone. Then to the left. Again to the right. Then again to the left, slower this time as she pans the room. She swallows air, though it seems like her throat is dry from the strain involved. We watch this again from a wider shot, and we hear footsteps pass in the hallway as a shadow strobes over the light; the steps come and go, then it’s silent again. Tracey stares blankly to the right, now inhaling slowly, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling; she’s not searching the room anymore.


Tracey’s nurse Elaine comes in the next morning to check the monitors. She jots some notes and replaces the IV. They’re both quiet; Elaine smiles politely after awkward eye contact, and then Tracey breaks the silence: “You’re very pretty. Are you married?” Elaine, trying to be polite, acts like this is a normal thing. “Why thank you, Sadey. Yes, I am married. My husband’s name is Xavier. He’s handsome. Charming and kind.” // “How lucky for you. But he’s lucky too.” // “Very sweet, thank you.” // “You said your name is Elaine?” // “That’s right.” // “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse.” // “Is that right?” // “My whole life.” // “Maybe it’s not too late.” // “Maybe you can teach me.” Elaine is now finished scribbling notes, so she smiles politely and readies to leave. Tracey stops her: “Elaine. Is she dead?” // “Sorry, who?” // “Helene. Heh. It sounds just like your name. Elaine. Helene…” (trailing off) “…and Alina…” // “I can’t answer that for you,” Elaine says. // “Because you aren’t allowed to? Or because you don’t know?” // “Well, both.” // “Elaine.” // “Yes?” // “I hope she’s alive.” // “I do, too.”


It’s night again. Tracey has hardly slept, and she’s nowhere close to sleeping now. There are tears in her eyes, and she scans the room. She whispers: “Where have you gone, love? Where are you?” Then her sniffling turns into sobs. She tries raising her arms again and starts shaking the bed. She’s near hysterical. “WHERE ARE YOU? BABY? WHERE ARE YOU?” Two nurses and a security guard rush into the room, followed moments later by a doctor. They sedate her as she screams and wails, then she calms. The tears slow, but they aren’t gone completely. The doctor assuages her: “There, there. All better, Sadey.” “Where is she?” Tracey cries. “Where is who?” Now Tracey sniffles, turns to face the doorway, and looks longingly out of it. “Elaine. Where’s Elaine?” // “She’ll be back tomorrow. Why don’t you get some rest?” They all exit, but one of the nurses props the door open fully. She smiles to Tracey as she exits, and we pull in slowly on Tracey’s face as she babbles: “Where are you, love? Come back to me. Elaine. Come back to me. Baby… come back. Please. Come back to me, Elaine. Please. My love. Please. Please. Please. Elaine…” We fade out on Tracey.

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