I haven’t eaten properly. I can’t eat. I haven’t slept properly. I can’t sleep. How could I? I don’t know where my sister is. I don’t know how she’s doing.Is she safe? Is she scared? Of course she isn’t safe! Of course she is bloody scared! And here I am, sitting at home, not being able to do anything. My parents came back. They can’t believe that I am even their son.
“Jacob, we trusted you.”
“How could you have let this happen?”
“You had abandoned your own sister.”
“How can anyone be as irresponsible as you…”
I can’t even say anything back. It’s all true. How did things even come to this?
I had dropped by the police station yesterday. I tried explaining the accident but ended up apologising for it. And when I asked what I mainly went there for, about my sister, Keisha, the response was brutally demoralising.
“Height of irresponsibility.”
“What were your parents thinking when they left her in your care?”
Again, I could only stand still, soaking in everything like a dry sponge. They eventually said that they had no clue yet and they were trying their best to get something out of nothing. Today they came by our house and said that they had interrogated all of our neighbours. But none of them could give any information that could help their investigation. And all the while they scorned at me while they lectured my parents about bringing up their kids responsibly.
I still can’t eat. I still can’t sleep. I feel like puking every time I look at my plate. I wake up in a cold sweat every night when I dream about Keisha’s pink “Kitty-Kat” bag lopsided on the pavement on the day she went missing. Can depression cause hallucination? A few days have gone by and I’ve started seeing her everywhere. Every morning I find her reflection in the mirror instead of mine, staring at me with the same confused, sad and horrified expression I had last seen her with. I walk down the stairs for breakfast and for a moment I see a mirage of her sitting on the chair, laughing and pestering my mother. Whenever I pass by the front door I see her sitting there, tying her shoes, ready to go to the mall. The image only lasts a split second. The hallucinations are getting worse now. I wake startled in the middle of the night, I swear I heard Keisha screaming outside the house. I stumble outside and rouse the whole neighbourhood by shouting out her name. My parents had to come and drag me back onto my bed and stay by my side the whole night.
The psychiatrist is a nice guy. He is a good family friend of ours. He came immediately at my father’s call, saying he actually expected something like this to happen to me in due course of time, and was ready to help out if necessary. It’s a chore. Normally I use the mornings to roam around the city to find any signs of Keisha being anywhere. Now they’re consumed by the therapy sessions. He keeps telling me that I needn’t take it so hard on myself, and that she’ll surely be found really soon, but I can’t take his words to heart. How can you do that with the whole world undermining you, telling you it’s all your fault? Not to mention it is actually my fault. It feels wrong, seeking the help of someone else to overcome an emotional breakdown, but I need that. Nevertheless, no one can ever expunge my guilt from my heart.
A week goes by. I still can’t eat. I still can’t sleep. I still wake up every night to the same bad dream. The images I see of Keisha have become obscene. I see her lying in a pool of blood on the floor of the living room. I see a knife impaled in her body on the kitchen counter. I see her broken and twisted in the bathtub. I can’t take it anymore. I run around the house covering my eyes to stop the visions, screaming to block the noises. What’s worse is that I know I’m acting crazy, but I can’t stop myself. It’s like as if the whole world is diverging from where I stand, leaving me only to my hallucinations, my darkness. My parents don’t know what to do with me, they don’t know how to handle my precarious situation. They began apologising, saying that it was a mistake blaming me for the whole incident, that I had tried my best and that I needn’t burden myself with my own thoughts anymore. Too late. I am split in two. Half of me wants to take the car and drive around the whole city, day in and day out, searching for her. Half of me just wants to give up, to do nothing but weep in remorse.
James comes by my house today. He talks about the police interrogating him and hopes it helps in some way. And I can’t stop thanking him for taking care of me the whole time my parents weren’t here. But something is a little off. Every time he says Keisha’s name, his face gets slightly twisted, and he continues his sentence only after a couple of seconds. I’ve never seen him do it before. Has Keisha’s disappearance affected him so much? He must be way more concerned than I think.
Half of another week passes. More hallucinations. I look out my room’s window and can’t believe my eyes. In James’ house, the curtains of one of his windows are pulled open. His curtains are never open. But it’s what I see through the window that almost makes me pass out. I see Keisha. Half her face is covered in dried blood and a huge gash has opened up on her forehead. She is crying relentlessly and is banging the window. Her tears wet the blood on her face and it smears all over the dirty window pane, mixing with the dust into a gruesome maroon. Her wrists are a dark shade of blue. Her eyes are swollen and reddened, and her mouth is open in an inaudible scream. She’s looking at me, desperate to grab my attention, pleading with all her might. That can’t be right. That can’t be true. The police already interrogated James. She can’t be in there. That’s impossible. It’s another damned hallucination. I close my eyes tightly and collapse on my bed. I try hard to get that image of Keisha out of my head, but it’s glued to my brain. That’s it, I can’t hold it in anymore. I snap. I rush out the room and bang my way down the stairs, tripping over myself and hitting my broken arm against the railing. But I don’t heed the pain and run for the main door. Suddenly my dad pops out in front of me and catches me in a huge bear hug. I struggle against him while screaming that I saw her through a window in James’ house. To this he rolls his eyes and forces my head out the hall window towards our neighbour’s house. I look back at the same window. The curtains are now closed and Keisha is gone. But the blood… Where did the blood go? Oh God, there isn’t any blood. It’s just a clean window. I slump on the window sill as my dad finally leaves me. Then I collapse to the floor crying. I can only plead. Somebody help me.