A Strange & Complicated Evening Pt 2: Putting on the Mask

Afraid of Yesterday

Me: Technically, any woman I meet is your competition and any man you meet is mine.
Her: (laughing) Oh, Logan…they’re not my competition.
Me: Fair.

It turns out the Counselor was in the same hospital, the same building, the same floor – the same wing – that Alison was during the early part of her illness.

Of course.

Felt that same feeling of “this can’t possibly be real,” that I felt for most/all of her sickness that I hadn’t felt in a really long time. It was an unwelcome but familiar feeling.

Dunno why but, I decided to go see the Counselor and – as if by auto-pilot – made my way from the gym to the Upper East Side.

That’s not true. I do know why I went to see her. There were two reasons, in fact, but more on that later.

Visiting hours were long closed but I managed to convince the guard to let me in after a solid 15 minutes of chatting with her. The truth is a powerful thing and I think the guard knew it would be good for the Counselor (and me) if I made it upstairs.

When I walked into the hospital, I was greeted with the same view that I first saw the day I first went there with Alison in that goddamn ambulance.

It was just missing the Christmas tree.

I walked past the same everything that I did all those years ago and tried to keep it together as I maneuvered my way past several security guards, nurses, and various support staff, alla whom noted that I didn’t have a Visitors Pass a solid hour after visiting hours ended.

I was clearly not supposed to be there. I suppose a bright red leather jacket doesn’t help matters.

But, after all that, I finally made it to her room and walked in.

As always, during times like this, I put on my mask: I pushed all that doubt to the side of my mouth, straightened my back, took a deep breath, put on a big smile, and walked in to see a set of pretty eyes.

Me: This is a terrible date venue you picked, I gotta say.

I settled onto the windowsill and looked out across the river to see the exact same view I saw all those years ago.

Me: (staring out) These windows don’t open all the way, you know?
Her: I didn’t.
Me: (nodding) Yeah. I tried to jump out of them years ago and I found that out.

It got a little darker than that but I was there to try to cheer her up, not bring her down.

As comedy relief, her roommate would let out a hacking cough (non-COVID related) every so often while we were in a deep conversation, which doesn’t sound funny but it was such an odd situation that it was.

There’s more, quite a bit more, but most of that’s her story and not mine to tell, as always.

I’ll just tell you that she’s probably going to be fine.

I was glad I went. Can’t remember the last time someone was that happy to see me. Forgot what it was like to have some kindness. That was probably the most attractive thing about her.

Her: It was sweet of you to come.
Me: (shaking head) No, not at all. I just wanted to make sure you were ok. You should get some rest.

So, that’s the first reason I went. Honestly couldn’t tell you if she was more grateful that I went or if I was more grateful that she let me see her.

The second reason, though, was that I’ve been forcing myself to not think of Alison for…years now. Think I knew that, if I went to that hospital, I’d be forced to think of her and remember her.

And I wanted that.

As I made my way downstairs, everything came rushing back at me at once. The smell of the place, the feeling of dread, it hit me as I felt as if it was December of 2015 all over again. Like it was yesterday.

By the time I got to the ground floor, I went straight to the same bathroom that I threw up in twice before over Alison and did it once again.

Honestly, though, after I cleaned myself off and left, I felt better.

I remembered Alison. I remembered that version of me; the one that was a new father, trying desperately to save his wife he loved more than anything.

Not knowing that they were all already fucked.

My gift, if you will, is to forget. It’s a survival mechanism and part of why I have this blog; because I know I’ll forget things. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here right now.

After all, fear is forward, no one is afraid of yesterday.

I walked outside, hopped a cab home, and was neck-deep in my thoughts when the Acrobat called.

Her: How was your night?
Me: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

It was a short convo. I was worried about the Counselor, which sounds silly as she’s a stranger to me. But she didn’t deserve anything that had happened to her.

After a while, I shot a text to my mother-in-law asking if she was awake and she replied yes.

So, I rang her and told her what happened.

Me: I try so hard to forget Alison. And I feel guilty about that. But I just wanted you to know that…I loved her so much, mom. (deep breath) I loved her so much.
Her: (gently) I know, Logan. Try to get some rest.

Location: just north of Solas, being tossed out like garbage
Mood: don’t even know how to begin to tell you
Music: I’m gonna need somebody (Spotify)
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