You're high when you receive the phone call.
It's been eleven months. Nearly a year. You pretend to celebrate. Eyes heavy, colours and shapes dancing in every corner, you smile and press your mouth against the crook of her neck. She giggles, whispers your name, then reminds you your mobile is ringing. It's just work, you think. Just stupid work. You don't want work right now; you've had enough of fucking work. But she wants you to pick up; she's smiling and her cheeks are flushed –– she's drunk, she wants you, yet, for some reason, your damn mobile is too distracting.
So you grab the phone. Groan. She kisses your cheek, waits. You try to say something when you press the phone to your ear, but your voice is lost. You're so fucking high. Instead you laugh –– it's a funny laugh, and you realise you just don't care who's calling. If it's work, let them witness you stoned. Like it matters anymore. It won't do your reputation any good, but fuck your reputation. You're done with reputation. What's reputation? A waste of fucking time. You've tried too hard to win, and only lost.
A voice. A man. 'Is this Miss Vause?'
You don't know why, but being referred to as "miss" is hilarious. 'That depends who's asking.' You're already bored, the drugs are driving you crazy, and you touch the girl sprawled across your lap. She leans down to kiss you on the mouth, and she tastes disgusting. Dry, a strong, bitter aftertaste. The voice speaks over the phone again. You don't hear. You hate the way the girl kisses, but you kind of like it too. You like kisses that are nothing like hers. You like anything that is in no way associated with her.
Amused, grinning, you ask the man to repeat himself.
'We have a patient here. She's been asking for you.'
'Oh.' You know many patients. You know many shes who have been asking for you. Missing you. Wanting you back. It's so much fun. Running your hands through the girl's thick, brunette hair, you inhale her cheap scent, and she misinterprets this as enthusiasm. Starts kissing you again. Her tongue is demanding, and you suddenly pull away; the man is speaking again.
And he isn't happy. Not with you. No one is happy with you lately. 'Piper Chapman. Does that ring any bells?'
There's a bullet. A shot to the head. Then, the earth crumbles beneath your feet. The girl slips from your arms, and you fall. Everything breaks, rips into tiny, tiny shreds. Hell's angels drag you down into the fiery pits of the underworld, and you see her face. Her smile. Her blue eyes. Her blonde hair. Her pale skin. Her happiness. Her anger. Her betrayal. You see her holding your heart, cradling it between her sweet, pretty hands, and she squeezes, squeezes until your heart bursts.
You say nothing.
(You are terrified.)
'Miss Vause, I really do think you should come and see her. Piper was admitted into hospital yesterday; she was in labour, and gave birth this morning. She and the baby are fine but she's alone. No family here, and she wants to see you.' He doesn't hang up. 'Will you be able to come down and see her, Miss Vause? She's needs help.'
The girl tumbles from your lap when you stand. The drugs wear off so fast you nearly collapse. You lean against the wall, try to process what has been said. So much. Too much. You exhale, shakily. You're panicking. You're scared. You don't understand. Confused, you turn to the window. Look at the floor. Everywhere is a mess. Cocaine and heroin scattered everywhere, like snow. Panties that don't belong to you are strewn across a chair. Your bedsheets are dirty.
You catch sight of yourself in the mirror.
And all you see is a monster.
'I don't know who Piper Chapman is.'
Lies are sinful. You hate lying. You hate her name pass your lips. You hate the taste of her name. You hate her. You wish this is a nightmare; you wish you'll wake up suddenly. The man sighs. He's disappointed. Like your dead mother. Your head feels heavy. 'Are you sure?'
You've never been sure. You stop. Stare. Piper has been asking for you. The girl –– woman –– you loved, fell in love with, who turned away when you needed her the most. Piper Chapman, the woman who broke your heart, is asking for you. A mother, alone, needy. Is asking for you. You don't want to imagine what the baby looks like, who the baby belongs to.
Something cruel twists its way up your throat. 'Where's the father?'
Already, you hate him. You already know his whereabouts, you already know what sort of creature he is, and you want to choke him to death. 'He isn't here.' No, of course he isn't. You have stopped believing in fathers, in good men, in daddies who take care of their babies. Fathers do not exist. They are beasts who abandon women once they have had their fill. You know you shouldn't think this, but you consider your mother a victim. And you hate to see Piper on the same page.
The girl waiting on your bed calls your name. Impatient.
She becomes unnecessary background. Something shatters apart. You snatch your leather jacket, order her out of your apartment. She stares at you in horror; you ignore her, and you ask the man which hospital Piper is staying in. He offers you the address. You hang up. Moan a little. You want some heroin before you leave. Just a quick boost. Help you keep your head up. You don't think you can handle this. You can't handle this. You can't handle her. The woman.
You consider the child you've never met.
It'll scream when it sees your face. You're barely recognisable. You look like a ghost. Terrible. So, you restrain yourself. You take the baggie, stuff it into your pocket, but don't inhale any. You discipline yourself –– just this one time. The girl has gone. You reach the door, nearly collapse over it. For a moment, you catch your breath. Flashes of everything cover your sight. The girl at the bar, the hesitant touches, tender kisses, wild passion, the gasps and pleads for more, more, more, Alex, more. The doubt, the misery, the fear, the way she turned away, and never looked back at the damage.
Several choices. You know you don't have to do this. You can stay. Ignore the phone call. Ignore her. Ignore her asking for you. You feel a pinch. You shiver. Tremble. You think it's the drugs, but it's not. You know it's not. It's just her. Just what she does to you. When you open the door, step through, nothing feels real. The bannister blisters your palms, your feet burn against the ground, and you leave, head straight for the hospital, and with each step, the weight on your back gets heavier and heavier.
You should not be driving. But, maybe this is all a dream, so what does it matter if you drive? You drive. You just drive. And, oh, you need a boost. Your body is aching. Screaming. It makes you sweat a little, makes you freeze, makes you panic. Or, maybe it's just her. The road is winding, ongoing –– it doesn't seem to stop. Until it does. You park the car. Wait. Inhale. Glance to the left. Right. No one is watching. Feverishly, you search for the baggie. You're gasping. Desperate.
Stop, stop, stop. You zip the pocket. Step out of the car. Wobble a little. The hospital glares at your arrival, and you suddenly feel so fucking ashamed. Whore. Cruel, manipulative bitch. Unloved. Unwanted. The only person who ever cared about you has abandoned you –– dead. You've got nothing left. Your life is a waste, and you know it. You are nothing.
Patients walk past. Doctors hurry onwards. You're invisible. Irrelevant. You're still high. You can't see very well. You say you're here to see Piper Chapman, and your entire body stiffens at her name. You haven't uttered such beauty in months. Your cheeks flush with life. A nurse escorts you to the ward. Up a staircase, down several hallways. All a blur. You regret not having a boost. You need one. Damn it. Oh, God, you want a boost so bad, you'd kill for a quick one.
You smile suddenly. For no reason. Quickly control your expression.
Then, you both meet again.
Your mind stalls. There she lies, looking at you, wide, blue eyes, strapped –– chained –– to an IV drip, to so many fucking wires. She's tired. Beaten, and so fucking tired. You forget, for a moment, why you ever hated her. She looks so lovely. Pure. Innocent. Real. Alive. You stumble. She moves suddenly, scared you may hurt yourself, and she winces at the sudden action. That annoys you. You walk over, and her body is boiling beneath your palm. You look at each other.
Neither of you say anything.
There is too much to reveal, too much to talk about. Too many questions, too many answers. Her eyes are so bright, it's killing you. And she studies your face, studies so closely, then she swallows, inhales, because she knows. She knows you're using. But she doesn't mention it. She can't talk about the drugs. She can't talk about the breakup. She can't talk. Yet she needs you, wants you to be here, and, despite everything, you stay. The baggie feels like a ton in your pocket.
A baby dozes.
Wrapped in white. Small. A fragile little thing. You stare at it.
(Her baby. Her child. Hers.)
You're here for a reason. The fragile little thing is the reason. You walk past the corner of her bed, approach the tank the baby lays in. It has such small hands, tiny feet, bald, soft head, and there's a teddy bear resting beside it. You don't know what to make of this fragile creature. You feel dizzy. You feel faint. It's probably the drugs. Too much, too much. The baggie presses against you. You want more drugs. You look at the baby again, turn away, look at Piper.
It's time to talk.
'The nurse keeps asking if he has a name yet.'
He. The baby is a he. You lower your gaze.
'I can't think of one.'
You don't care.
'I know I'm the last person you want to see.' She's guilty. 'But... I didn't know who else to call.'
This makes no sense. She has a family.
'Right now, I can't face going home. Not with the child. Will you let me stay with you for a while?'
Finally you're sober. You glare. You remember what she's done to you, how she makes you feel, what she has reduced you to. You can't believe her. How dare she? After leaving you when your mother passed on, does she really expect you to welcome her back with open arms? What's the matter with her? You want to tell her you hate her. You want her to fuck herself. You loathe everything about this woman. But your words are lost; you can't speak –– you are speechless.
Because she is pleading. Eyes heavy with burden, fear, dread. She is alone. She has a baby. And she's asking for you. She has all the people in the world to turn to, and she chooses you. Even after all this time, she turns to you, because she trusts you.
You can't imagine that child inside your apartment. The drugs, the alcohol –– the shame.
(... you hate yourself, because you still love her.)
This is so fucked.
Your lungs are suffocating you. She knows you want the drugs, she knows you're murdering yourself by not taking any right now. She knows you're impatient to get out of here, but she also knows you care, you're considering. If you wanted nothing to do with her, you would have walked away by now. There is so much you want to tell her, so much you want to do to her, but you stop yourself. For now, there is no time for arguments, for hatred, for toxic words.
She shakes. Trembles. Tears. She's close to crying, and you turn away. You can't watch her weep. You can't witness what a state you have both become. A crumbling disaster. Look what you two have done to each other. The baby stirs, but doesn't cry. It scrunches up its face, opens its eyes –– they're blue. The baby sees you, loses interest, falls asleep again. You don't know what to expect.
With her, you no longer have any expectations.
You cut her off. Sharp. 'I know.'
Hearing an apology, a thank you, is too much to bare. You'll break if she says another word. Moving away from the baby, you look at her one more time, take in everything beautiful and wonderful about this woman. And you fall in love all over again. And it's the most agonising torture you've ever experienced. A Hell you have walked away from, and willingly returned to.
Neither of you say farewell. You silently promise to see her tomorrow. Suddenly, she and the baby are your responsibility now. You leave the ward, leave the hospital, nearly slip at the stairs, walk into a bin, pull out the baggie, struggle to tip out a little heroin. It scatters across the surface, and you desperately inhale as much as you can before the wind steals the rest. You already feel better. Your body feels warm, cosy, disgusting. And you tell yourself over and over again –– you fucked up.