Jan. 12, 1998
I am sick. The doctors won't tell me what I have, but only because they're self-righteous bastards who can't pull the stick out of their asses. Apparently they think I'm "mentally unstable". So they told me to send you letters, because they think it helps me focus.
Let's start with the basic facts. My name is Abigail Sheever, but friends (like I have any) call me Abbi. I wish they'd tell me your name, but they refuse to. Will you tell me?
I live in white. White walls, white floor, white sheets, white ceiling. My hair is light blonde and plastered against my head in a severe bun. I'm paper-thin, and the doctors try to make me eat. I can't though. I have no appetite, and even if I did, I don't trust them.
I don't trust myself.
My eyes are grey, like stone, like endings. Would you give me a hug if you saw me? I don't get many hugs here. They're lonely.
Um, I like to scratch myself. I have bruises and cuts all over my body; I don't know how long they've been there. I believe I turned 24 last August, but I'm not 100% positive. Time moves so strangely here.
I am confined to my white, windowless, loveless room for most of the day. From 9PM - 12AM they let me go outside in the gardens, feel the cold air on my face. I think they're trying to kill me; it must be 22 out there.
They poke me sometimes and ask if I'm improving. Sir, how the hell should I know if I'm improving? They're the doctors.
Oh well. Such is life here at this place which I can no longer remember the name of.
I wish, I wish, I wish.
I wanna go home. You know the place where your mommy fixes you warm chocolate chip cookies and sets them on the counter, saying, "Only eat 2, Abbi." and as soon as she leaves the room, I eat 6? Where the sun splashes me in the face and makes my skin pink, where my sheets are beautifully decorated and spank me with nice smells.
I want to go there.
Jan. 15, 1998
Watch me as I ache for your desire, as I brush my hair away from my eyes. As sweat beads on my forehead, I listen to my heartbeat pulse and shiver.
You don't know me. You don't know my name or my address or even if I'm really in this mental hospital, with some deadly disease. No one will tell me anything, nobody. I've said that before, but I only say it again because it frustrates me endlessly.
After my little walk, I come back to my cell and stare up into the blankness of my life. My arms quiver and goose bumps stand out on my flesh. But I am not cold. I am warm, oh so warm. I burn up inside, Sir. I have no friends here, none, nobody. The darkness cloaks and suckles me, expecting me to yield to its apathy. I only hurt myself to feel, Sir. Isn't that right? Reply, please. I never received a response to my last letters.
Jan. 22, 1998
I must apologize for my last letter. The drugs, they warp my mind and twist my words. They also have the unfortunate side effect of making me . . .. wet. And when I'm both delusional and aroused I -
i can't tell you, i can't fucking tell, not one word, not one whisper of my little agitations. they spy on me they monitor my dreams. they watch me FUCK myself in the early morning. they don't let me TALK to anyone; they're just always
I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's - they - I lose control sometimes, Sir. I slip into these periods of time where I can't control what I say or do. I'm sorry, they're so scary. I can't even see them; won't you help me?
I cried all over this page; I'll have to get another. I have to go now; I'm too tired to continue.
Feb. 14, 1998
Heh. Here I am again, writing you another letter, even after all my embarrassing breakdowns. I don't believe it matters anyway. I don't imagine I can shock you any worse than I already have.
I don't even think you read my letters.
So here's what I've decided. Since you have never replied to me, when I have been, quite frankly, emotionally and mentally in need of some kind of help, I think I can tell you anything and you won't reply. Ever.
So maybe this letter will be my absolution, my reprieve from these endless silences. Maybe I can find the strength to reach inside myself and pull out something beautiful. Maybe I can find the courage to tell you why I have been in a sanitarium for almost three years, why my letters are always either erratic ravings or restrained bullshit.
When I was 17, I met a woman. Her name was Claire. She . . . loved me. Yes, I can actually say it. Claire loved me, and my mother didn't like the fact that her little girl, her straight-A student, was having what she deemed "immoral" relations with a woman. My mother wasn't terribly liberal, you see. She was more of the religious fanatic variety. She used to drag me out of bed at an insane hour and make me pray outside in the darkness (in nothing but my flimsy little nightgown which had a rip down one side) for hours. "You must repent." she would say. "You have to burn away the sin. Burn it clean and you can live a normal life."
She used the candles when she was feeling cheerful.
You mustn't think my mother was completely Carried away. She had her moments. Sometimes she would lead my sweating, convulsing self back inside the house and bathe me, so tenderly! I took those moments and kept them in the surface of my mind when my mother decided to punish me.
No, that's a lie. I kept Claire on my mind during those times.
How do I describe Claire to you? I don't think I could ever adequately describe the "love of my life", forgive the cliché.
I won't try to. Simply this: chocolate skin, chocolate eyes, and the most beautiful curly hair. I'd sneak away from the house when my mother went to sleep, and meet Claire in an abandoned cemetery a few miles away.
We'd take off our clothes and she'd spread out a blanket and we'd lay down, and contemplate infinity. She would kiss my scars, and then we would . .. . would - I can't say it; even after all these years away from her, I still can't fucking say it. Thank you, Mother.
Oh, I hate this! I hate you, Mom! I hate this bane you have placed on me; I have that you make my love, the greatest thing in my life, feel evil! I hate you!
We made love, Sir. All night long until the sun came up, blistering our backs and burning our feet.
We lived in a paradise for almost three years before she found out. Then she beat me and moved us to another town, on the other side of the country.
I didn't even get to say goodbye to Claire.
One night, a few years ago, I got brave, just for a few hours. I packed up all my clothes and ran away from my mother. For good.
I tried to get back to Claire, God how I tried! But it was so hard! I didn't have much money, and I couldn't hold any job for long; I was consumed by my desire to find her. I hitch-hiked and walked back to that small Texas town whose name I can no longer remember.
But somehow my mother's influence still affected me. She cursed me, I'm sure of it. I caught a fever and collapsed, twenty miles from my destination.
When I awoke, I was here. Friendly People Sanitarium. I have to wonder what kind of drugs the owners were on when they named this place; could it be anymore hokey and misleading? I tried to leave as soon my fever broke, but they told me my mother had given directions to have me committed as soon as I was found. I tried to argue that, as a 21-year-old woman, I was an adult and had legal rights. They had none of it. They told me that my mother said I was "borderline schizophrenic" and couldn't be trusted to say anything coherent.
So, just like that, I was stuck. I've been here ever since. I lied about being sick; I'm as healthy as a horse. I've lied to you about many things. They let me walk on the grounds at normal hours, but the time is so deceiving in this place. It rains often, and when I'm outside, I honestly don't know what time it is because of the cloud cover.
As far as I know, I don't have any mental illnesses. Unless you count being a lesbian, of course. Hahaha, I couldn't resist. I didn't mean it; I'm very proud of who I am.
I wrote letters to her, at first. but she must have moved, because she never replied.
Kind of like you.
You know what a crazy person in this joint once told me? "Stop saying you're sorry." He was right, for once. I won't apologize to you anymore. You or anyone. I haven't seen Claire in seven years, my mother's had me committed; why the fuck should I apologize for that? I'll just explain things to you. I bet you're wondering what else I've lied about. I never scratch myself. With my scars, scratching would be agony.
You probably think I'm crazy, despite what I've said. Well, maybe I am; I have the right to be, after what I've been through. Try living my life, and tell me if I'm crazy.
This letter will be one of my only truths.
They keep me sedated most of the day, and under restraints. Double security! Thanks guys! I've figured out how to break the locks though. I've hidden a steak-knife under my pillow. I sharpen it everyday with this great stone I found on the road.
I wonder what it would feel like on my wrists.
Claire, I love you. I hope I find you where I'm going.
remember when we danced on Valentine's Day?
Feb. 15, 1998
Medical Examiner's Log
We found Abigail's Sheever's body this morning. She slit her wrists with a steak-knife, made razor sharp by something we haven't been able to identify.
The patient was in a state of extreme agitation, demanding that she be allowed to see some Claire person. We did find the name "Claire Reeves" on many of the patient's papers. We called the operator and fortunately Claire lives only 20 miles away. She has been informed of the patient's death, and should be here within the hour. I do hope those damned clerks broke it to her gently.
A search revealed several letters addressed simply to "Sir". One of the patient's doctors suggested she write in a diary, to keep herself amused and busy. It seems she took the idea a step further and wrote to a specific person, though I can't imagine who it could be. This may need investigation.
It's my medical opinion that the patient simply snapped from isolation. She'd been allowed no contact with the outside world in her entire time here, an order from her absentee mother, which I have never agreed with.
M.E.'s personal note:
Abbi, I hope you're at peace wherever you are. You deserve to rest.
Feb. 16, 1998
How? How could I have not known? You've been so close to me, 20 miles away for 3 damned years, and I didn't know? Is this a trick? Will I wake up tomorrow with you in my arms? Will I wake up? Help me, baby. I need to wake up.
I can make it real, you know. I can turn back time and make your blood leave these sheets. I can MAKE you come back.
Please tell me I can. Please walk me back to that graveyard, that graveyard made beautiful by your touch, your eyes.
They let me have your letters. Your mother hasn't shown up yet.
I've read them all. Why was I so blind? I knew your mother abused you, but I never knew it was that bad. Why didn't I help? Why didn't I see it? Your scars were always so fresh; why didn't I do more than kiss them?
I loved you, I LOVED YOU!
How could you give up? You shoulda waited for me; I was coming.
At first I thought you'd abandoned me. You just left without saying a word, not ONE word! How much was it? How much did you pay for our relationship? What did she do to you?
Someone make this be a dream. Make my lover's blood fade from these sheets. Make the body in the morgue be my Abbi again.
Make this not REAL!
Feb. 3, 2002
Epilogue - Present Day
MID-AFTERNOON. A GRAVEYARD LONG ABANDONED. STONES ARE CRUMBLING.
ZOOM IN ON:
Two graves side by side, fairly recent. A woman kneels in front of them, weeping softly. The camera briefly focuses on two photographs, young women staring blankly at a hostile photographer. The dates of death read Feb. 14, 1998 and Feb 14, 1999.
The woman stirs from her grief and stares at the first stone, her daughter's.
(softly, completely drained of energy)
Abbi . . .
Her eyes are red and bloodshot, her skin pale and wrinkled. She looks like someone who has made many terrible mistakes without realizing, then had them all hit her on the head, one after the other. She has paid dearly, with the death of her daughter.
You were always
a good girl. Always.
Slowly she stands and kisses the first stone, then the second. After staring at them for several minutes, she walks away.
The two photographs, the girls' faces emotionless. Hold on their mouths.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain.
I am the soothing, gentle rain.
When you awake in morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.