• Chapter 1

    Tess stares out the window, eyes focused on nothing in particular. “Well how do you feel about what your ex did to you?” “Tess?” Their therapist, Lena looks at them with concern. Tess’ eyes start to tear up and their throat tightens. “Betrayed, lied to like he broke me.” They swallow hard as tears fall from their face. they continue “I guess in a lot of ways he did break me.” “Why do you say that?” Lena asks pen hovering slightly over the Manila folder on her lap. “Because look at me, stuck in mental hospital after my ex has beaten me, what makes you think I’m not broken?” Tess nearly shouts too upset to even think straight.
    “Look you may think your broken but in many ways that’s the beauty, you know in Japan they actual fill in broken pieces with gold because it only adds to the beauty.” Lena glances up at the clock. “It’s time for meds looks like we’re done for today.” Tess sighs and goes to get up. “Wait one more thing while your here try to find something small to hang on to till you can go see Hailey something to make you smile and know no of this was your fault, he did that on his own accord.” Lena stands up smiles pleasantly and leaves the room, leaving Tess all alone for just moment before getting up themselves and going to their room being sure to skip meds for now. “ I need to think, I want to call to him and figure out what the ******** he was thinking? maybe we can make it work? but I’m not sure how that could even happen, how do we come back from this?” They think out loud questions coming to fast to be answered. Tess bites their lip, wanting to cut again.
    “Tess?” A tech looks in, “You doing alright? It’s med time?” They nod “I’m fine just tired. Ill get my meds after I eat I don’t want to get sick.” The tech looks at Tess, early 20’s with a shock of orange hair cut into a pixie, a plus sized body, dressed down in pjs and compression socks, tattoos dancing down their arms to a moth on their hand. “I like your moth.” The tech says. “Im Drake by the way i know its technically your first day on the unit so welcome.” Tess stands up “Thank you I guess.” They mumble then go to stand in line for meds completely forgetting the food thing that they mentioned only a few moments before. “Tess?” Nurse Julie looks out and smiles the doctors finished last night with your meds, here they are. She hands Tess the small cup, Tess looks in to see the multi-colored array of meds. “What are all of them?” Tess asks inquisitively. “Let’s see Lamictal, ablify, hydroxazine, mini press, Zoloft, zofran, seroquil, Guanfacine, naltrexone, and lets see that should be about it but there maybe a few others some of these are only at night though. Tess breathes a sigh of relief and swallows the colorful mix and continues into the day to watch TV.
    “No we should watch Alice.” The rest of the group groans, “We watched Alice yesterday.” Sophie the small petite somewhat anorexic looking girl says. “What do you want to watch new girl?” Sophie smiles. Tess looks up, “Oh um what about Cars or Big Hero 6? Im Tess by the way and I use they them pronouns.” They look to Sophie. “Okay got it they/them, there the new they picked Cars so what about that?” The rest of the group looks at Tess and all start to nod in agreement when a slender female tech walks in to start group. “Hello, good morning everyone! I see some new faces I’ve Leela and I use she they pronouns. Can we go around tell everyone you name, pronouns and you favorite animal is.”
    Leela starts on the opposite side so Tess looks to the frosted glass window hoping to see anything or anyone outside. “Guess they don’t call it grippy sock jail for nothing.” Tess mumbles under their breath. “Tess your mother is on the phone do you want to answer or later? Oh and sorry to interrupt.” Nurse Julie looks to Tess. “Yeah ill take it.” Tess walks out the door to the phone on the wall that starts to ring. “Hello?” Tesses mother Cathrine asks almost sheepishly. “I’m sorry about everything. I wish I had seen the signs I know this isn’t the first time.” “No it’s not.” Tess gets quiet and starts to cry. “I still love him though, theres got to be a way.” Tess whines “Honey id really would love to say that it will but it wont you will always hold some animosity toward him from all the abuse. Honey I think you need to get a divorce, I’m sorry I know its not what you want to hear right now but both of those boys need you.” Tess starts to cry harder know what their mom is saying is true its just hard to believe that its over just like that no words to be said no ‘I’m done’ just an arrest For domestic violence and just like that he was gone out of Tess’ life. Tess drops the phone crying too hard and unable to breathe properly as an anxiety attack bubbles over. Nurse Julie comes over in a rush as Tess falls to the floor in a heap hyperventilating shaking from the adrenaline. Nurse Julie shouts something but Tess can only think of everything that’s happened over the past year or so Tess bites their cheek till it bleeds hoping the pain will make it go away and stop the panic. Tess feels a sharp pain in their arm and the edges of their vision starts to darken as a sense of calm rushes over them.
    Tess wakes up groggily a couple hours later tied down to the bed. They look over to the window somehow open but still locked so they can’t escape. The breeze softly moving Tess’ hair. “Nice to see you awake.” Leela smiles “Sorry about those restraints, we were worried you’d hurt yourself after that anxiety attack. Thankful Nurse Julie caught you before you hit your head.” Leela moves to take off the restraints when Tess speaks up “He’s never coming back is he?” Leela shakes her head a frown replacing the usual smile. She then goes about removing the cuffs on Tess’ wrists. “You missed the first group but you have individual coming up in about an hour or so.” Leela walks out of the room leaving Tess alone.
    Tess sits on the edge of the bed wanting nothing more than to cut. Still groggy they make their way to the bathroom and they see the paper towel holder. Suddenly Tess has an idea, they make quick work of popping open the holder and removing the razor blade that cuts the paper. They turn the blade to their wrist and slice one twice three times deep enough that blood drips on the floor of the bathroom. Tess smiles for the first time in weeks but then panics. “s**t, I just cut myself in a psych hospital.” Tess mutters and goes to hide the razor under the bed then returns to the bathroom to clean up the drips. “Thank god for hoodies” They say and wince as the sleeve touches the new open wounds when Drake walks in. “Hey Tess just doing checks need anything?” Tess glances to the drips of blood on the floor she didn’t get to, Drakes eyes follow to the drips then over to the open holder and his eyes go wide. Tess makes a run for the door escaping Drake’s grasp and they run down the hall past the day room. Sophie and a few others look out and start to encourage Tess to continue on which only makes her smile more. All the while Tess can feel blood run down their wrist. Tess makes it half way down the hallway before they are scooped up by a very muscular tech that Tess doesn’t know yet he talks into a mic “Pushing 150mg Haldol” he says as he injects the medication into Tess’ arm. He carries them back to nurse’s station where they remove the blood soaked hoodie. Tess winces again now realizing just how much they are bleeding. “Their going to need stitches.” Nurse Julie states “Take them back to bed and put the one restraint on till we get the other stitched up.” A voice that’s unfamiliar says “Use the black ones they are harder to escape from.” The voice speaks again before everything fades to black.
    Tess awakes unable to move their arms from their position due to the restraints. They wince slightly as the cuff rubs slightly against the now bandaged and wrapped arm. “I’m so confused why would the one who loved me, hit me as hard as he did?” Tess questions aloud. They squeeze their eyes shut hoping it’s all just a dream. When there’s a knock at the door Tess jumps out of habit. “Tess I’m Dr. Atlas.” A woman stands in front of the bed in blush pink pants, a silky looking black top and a doctors coat. She smiles slightly at Tess, but to Tess it seems condescending. “Can you tell me why you cut yourself? You're here for your safety because you made a threat against your life.” The doctor says coldly. “Yeah you're forgetting the part where my husband beat the s**t out of me because I wasn’t enough. Enough of a mother, enough of a partner or anything. It’s my fault and if I’m the problem then maybe it would just be better off if I was never here to begin with.” Tess begins to cry the tears flowing into the pillow. “If you must know that’s why I slit my wrist. I don’t deserve to be here.” Tess pulls at the restraints fighting to wipe the tears that now stain the sides of their face. There’s a light knock at the door and Nurse Julie walks in, handing the doctor a small key. “Lets get you out of these.” Atlas says unlocking the restraints. Tess wipes the tears from their eyes and fingers the bandage wrapped around their wrist. ‘Saved once again.’ Tess rolls their eyes at the thought. “Group is in thirty I hope you’ll be there.” Atlas says and walks out the door leaving Tess all alone once again.
    They gets up and notices they are in a different room, a room where they can’t hurt themselves. They walk out the door wincing from all the bruising that is appearing now that it's a couple days past the beating. They walk down the hall toward the day room and get intercepted by Lena. “Hey Tess can we talk? I want to ask you a couple of questions about what happened just in general, I don’t want to press you though. I know what happened was traumatic but I’m just trying to start the healing process you.” Tess nods and walks toward Lena, when Sophie steps in. “Tess I've never seen anyone out run Drake before that was awesome!” She cocks her head slightly. “How’s your wrist?” She goes to poke the bandage but Tess flinches. “Jumpy much?” Sophie questions almost sarcastically. “Tess?” Lena looks over. “Right I gotta go.” Tess mumbles too Sophie. Tess walks down the hall behind Lena in to her office. “He’s never coming back is he?” They ask as they plop down on the couch. Lena frowns, “I don’t think so, would it be a wise decision considering all that he’s done to you?” “No I don’t think so. Everything hurts so much because of him.” Tess says their eyes widen knowing now that it's been said there’s no going back.