Jimmy closed his eyes, tried to block out the imprisoned world around him. He knew fighting and yelling wouldn’t do him any good. Their notions of his insanity were only reaffirmed when he acted out.
He could hear the orderlies breathing as they stood beside him, but he didn’t care. It’s not like they were here to make pleasant conversation. “Oh, how’s the weather today, fellas?” he could ask. Yeah, right.
His thoughts gave way to dreams. Danielle’s auburn hair and infectious smile dangled in front of him. She giggled and reached for his hand.
When he looked down, Jimmy’s hand was gone. He was himself again, Randall. He felt the smile on his face, the muscles out of practice. “I’ve missed you,” he said to his wife. “Please tell me you’re okay.”
Danielle only laughed more and swung their clasped hands as they walked.
Wet sand squished between his toes. He looked down at the beach, then toward the water. The sun was setting. A breath caught in his throat. “This is where we went for our honeymoon. Maui.”
Danielle stopped walking and faced him. “We are on our honeymoon, Randy. Why else would we be here?”
“But- but this isn’t… I mean, this isn’t real.” He swallowed thick saliva.
The breeze blew, the smell of salt water wafting over his face. Overhead, palm branches rustled.
“Why wouldn’t it be real?” Her voice held a teasing undertone.
He kissed her pert, freckled nose and led her to a nearby hammock. They lay in it, side by side. He ran his fingers through her hair, down her shoulder and bare upper arm, kissed her on the lips. When he drew back, he said, “Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that?”
“Sweetie, you kiss me all the time. You aren’t making any sense.” Danielle stared at him with concern in her eyes.
“This, right here, is the only thing that makes sense. I want to hold you forever. I need you back, Danielle. Someone’s taken you from me, and I can’t–”
He began to cry. Danielle blurred and disappeared. The sun set, and darkness claimed the world. Randall or Jimmy or whoever he was bellowed, “Danielle!” Over and over again.
The hammock flipped and dumped him onto a firm mattress. He opened his eyes to Nurse Nora’s plain face.
“Well, Mr. Williams, it looks like you’ve calmed down so much that you’ve fallen asleep.”
“I’m tired, so tired.”
“Well, that makes sense. It’s the middle of the night, after all.”
“I mean, I’m tired of this. All of this.” He tried to lift his hand, but the resistance of the restraint held him back.
The nurse straightened and gestured toward the orderlies. “You can release him.”
The two men nodded and undid the restraints on Jimmy’s arms and legs, then stepped aside.
“Goodnight, Mr. Williams,” Nurse Nora said. She was out the door, followed by the orderlies.
The door closed with finality. Jimmy sat up in bed and rubbed at his hands. In the dark, he couldn’t see the bruising, but he was sure he would have the marks to prove his disobedience for days to come, sure he would be teased by several of the other patients, including his friend, Charles.
“I’m Jimmy again,” he whispered. “That’s all I’ll ever be to them. No one will ever believe me, Danielle.”
He grew silent, listened to the darkness, as if expecting a reply. His sore, dry eyes slid shut as he lay back down. If it was only in his dreams that he could see her, could be himself, then he would go there.
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