This is part two of the three-part short story about broken relationships and broken minds. You can read part one of Broken here.
Please note this is fiction and any similarity between real people and places is purely coincidental.
Part one ended with the doctor informing Melanie the police were waiting to speak with her.
“Do you think you’re up to it?”
“I’m in a lot of pain,” Melanie managed.
“Yes, of course, the nurses will fix you right up and I’ll send the police in a bit later.”
With that, the doctor turned on his noisy heels and left. Melanie was again alone with her thoughts and pounding head.
Melanie didn’t know what to tell the police. Kerry was her friend. They gave birth to their first born children, each with a son, on the same day 10 years ago and shared a hospital room. The friendship forged in that room created a bond so close, the women felt more like sisters than friends.
Once the nurses had returned with some pain medication, Melanie allowed her mind to drift back to the past.
The women shared their deepest secrets and most private thoughts, even making a game of it and creating their own special code. When divulging something particularly secret, they would say ‘icaboo’ – a nonsense word that meant ‘top secret, don’t tell another soul’.
Their sons became best buddies too, often sleeping over at each other’s houses when they were younger. Recently they seemed to have drifted apart, Melanie’s son, Declan, claiming he no longer enjoyed staying at his friend’s home.
This thought made Melanie realise she hadn’t asked about her kids. What time was it? Were they still in school? Did they know where she was?
She tried to reach the buzzer for the nurses but the effort brought on renewed waves of nausea and an unbearable, sharp, piercing pain to her sore head, forcing her eyes closed once again.
Melanie knew that Kerry was unhappy in her marriage but was trying to tough it out until the kids were a bit older.
Kerry’s husband, Michael, had emotionally withdrawn himself from the marriage years before Melanie had met them. While he was always polite on the rare occasion they met, Melanie could sense his disinterest in anything or anyone, other than their children, that his wife cared about.
Melanie thought the precious friendship between the two women was what kept them sane. It alleviated the loneliness Kerry felt daily, within an unfulfilling marriage, and Melanie felt when her husband, Adam, was away – which was often.
As she tried to quiet her brain enough to concentrate on pushing the buzzer Melanie realised she was consumed with guilt. She should have done more to help her friend before things became so out of hand.
It was clear Kerry was struggling with some kind of mental problem and had been for some time.
Melanie’s first warning that her tall, fair friend was in need of professional help was several months earlier when Kerry started talking about suicide.
They had spent a wonderful time exploring the plethora of craft shops in the Blue Mountains, a 20-minute drive from their suburban homes. On their way back Kerry pointed out a street that led to a lookout called The Bluff – notorious as a favourite spot for teenage suicide.
“That’s how I’ll do it,” she said.
“Do what? What are you talking about?” asked Melanie.
“Off myself. One day. I’m over everything,” Kerry replied.
“Don’t be silly Kerry, things aren’t that bad,” Melanie answered.
“Yes, they are. You don’t know. You can’t know. You have a family who loves you and lots of friends. I have no one.”
“Yes, you do. You have your kids and you have me.”
“Yes. For now.”
They didn’t speak of it again but as time went on, Melanie realised Kerry was becoming more and more depressed.
She was also becoming confused and suspicious, sure that her husband was having an affair and was out to hurt her.
She started to neglect herself, leaving her house in dirty clothes with greasy, un-brushed hair.
Melanie once suggested a counsellor, but Kerry turned on her, screaming how ignorant Melanie was and how a counsellor couldn’t help change all the people in Kerry’s life who were out to get her.
This was so unlike the strong and kind friend who had held her hand during the birth of her daughter, eight years ago, as Adam, an air force officer was away and couldn’t return in time.
By the time Adam arrived at the hospital, tiny Ellie had been weighed, measured and tested and was securely wrapped up in a little pink blanket cocoon.
Such a different hospital experience, when you bring a life into the world, Melanie thought as she drifted into a semi-conscious place where memories of her friendship filled her mind.
Kerry began to call Melanie at all hours, describing the hideous things that she claimed her husband Michael, was doing.
When Melanie suggested the threats could be reported to the police she was once again screamed at about her ignorance.
“You don’t understand. You never do. He’ll take the kids away”.
Melanie realised the toll Kerry’s angst was taking on her life. The long, depressing conversations, which ended with no solutions, left her miserable and drained. She didn’t want to give up the friendship but decided to put a little distance between herself and Kerry. There seemed no other option. She couldn’t make Kerry get help and Melanie knew she needed to conserve energy to play the part of mother to her two active children, keep her own marriage healthy and maintain her part time receptionist job.
When Melanie claimed to be busy if Kerry wanted to get together she was screamed at with a stream of accusations ranging from “you hate me like everyone else does” to “you’ve taken Michael’s side, it’s you he’s been screwing behind my back”.
At this point, Melanie began researching paranoid schizophrenia.
Come back next Friday for the final part of the short story Broken.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.