Dr. Miles looked slightly alarmed. “You don’t need to do that.”
I looked at her, “I’m not a danger to anyone so you can’t commit me.” I glared at Emily, “If I’m not under arrest, you can’t stop me either.”
“Please Elizabeth, for our sake-” my mother started.
“I have to be alone now,” I said. I found Chris’ truck keys and turned to my father, “My car is at The Herrington. Can you and Mom pick it up? Oh, and call the security firm and tell them not to bother installing the rest of the system?”
He nodded, accepting my mind was set. “Call us so we know you’re okay once you get where you’re going.”
I hugged him, “Thanks, Dad.”
My mother started again, “I don’t think you should be driving. What if you have an episode?”
Emily said, “I can’t let you drive if you’re blacking out.”
“I’m not blacking out.” I glared at them, “You believe an anonymous note over my word. I had a bad reaction to my medicine but I’m perfectly able to drive.” I turned back to Emily, “I made it to the hotel just fine last night, didn’t I?”
She conceded the point but I could tell she still didn’t want me to drive. I quickly packed a bag and left them all standing in my living room. I backed Chris’ truck out and started down the road still in a daze. I hoped Emily wouldn’t reconsider and report my license plates number and have me pulled over.
I gripped the wheel tightly. How could they think I had schizophrenia? It was unbelievable. Was one strange note all it took to convince everyone around me I was unbalanced and delusional? But you have had trouble focusing. You have been confused. You did see things that weren’t there.
I pushed the uncomfortable voice away. That had been due to stress and new medications I wasn’t used to. What about the day you only took the Tylenol? That wasn’t due to the new medicines. It was expired, I told the voice. Yes, but do you really think expired Tylenol would cause the reaction you had?
I pulled the truck over. Was it true? Was it all true? My mind swirled in confusion. I couldn’t trust my feelings or instincts. Was there a part of me hidden away from my everyday normal self?
I’m not sure how long I sat there but I finally decided to push all the troubling thoughts away. I needed to focus on something concrete. Where was I headed? I realized I’d drifted onto a highway that led nowhere for miles. It eventually connected to the interstate though if I remembered correctly. I decided to continue on it. I stopped at an ATM when I eventually hit a small town. I drained my bank account and then hit the freeway.
I pulled off the exit when the gas needle showed a quarter of a tank. The truck was a gas-guzzler and I didn’t want to risk being stranded. I looked around as I pumped the gas. A sign advertised a campground with cabins. The sign looked old and worn. I wondered if the place was still in business and decided to drive out and take a look.
When I stopped at the office at the end of the gravel road, I thought the campground was closed but then I saw a light on inside. “Hello?” I called.
“Come in,” an elderly lady answered.
“Do you have any cabins available?” I asked.
She grinned, a plump grandmotherly looking figure dressed in clothes that went out of style two decades ago. “We sure do.”
She asked me few questions other than my name and how long I intended to stay. “Sherri White,” I said in response and I’m not sure. I just left my husband and I need some time to think.”
The answer seemed to satisfy any curiosity she might have. “Is cash okay?” I asked. “He cancelled my credit cards,” I said in explanation.
“Cash is fine by me, honey.” She winked, “What the tax man doesn’t know about won’t hurt me now, will it?”
I smiled back at her. By the condition of the place, she could probably use every break she could get. “That’s always been my take,” I lied. I’d always kept meticulous records at the store. I’d never had the nerve to take the more ambitious deductions my accountant had suggested. I should have, I thought. Apparently, I could plead I hadn’t been responsible now that everyone around me thought I was ready for the mental ward.
I shook off the grim idea and walked back to the truck. I followed the lady’s directions to a remote cabin further down the road. I’d asked for the most secluded one she had. The rest of the cabins had been nestled close to each other but this structure stood alone. I picked up the small bag I’d thrown a few clothes and essentials into and started up a footpath. I laughed aloud when I saw the dilapidated small sign made out of a log and a piece of a plank. ‘Honeymoon Cabin’ had been crudely engraved.
I used the key she’d given me and pried the sticky door open. The smell of mildew hit me in the face. I sneezed. It was a far cry from The Herrington Hotel. There was a bed shoved into the corner. A dark blue bedspread with huge pink flowers adorned it. I wandered to the sink and saw an ancient refrigerator and stove. I opened the fridge and was surprised to find it actually cold inside. I ran my hand along the shelf. I looked down at my palm. The thing might be old but it appeared clean. I felt more hopeful about the bed now. There was still a high likelihood of spiders and critters in it, though. I pulled back the bedspread dramatically and waited for something to scurry out. Fortunately, nothing did. I sat down on the bed. No one would expect to find me here and I was glad it wasn’t the roach motel it had appeared to be at first glance.
I pulled the sandwich I’d bought at the gas station from my bag. I was so hungry it actually looked good to me. I wolfed it down to taste it as little as possible and chased it with a Coke. The Coke burned my throat as I gulped it. After my stomach stopped grumbling from hunger, I kicked off my shoes and lay down on the bed with my clothes on. I was exhausted but I doubted I would rest. I was wrong. I fell into a deep sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt good-no dizziness or crazy patterns of color. I realized I’d also made it through the night without any bad dreams. My head was clear as I recalled the events of the previous day. I shook my head in disbelief. My parents actually thought I had schizophrenia. How can you be sure you don’t?
It was a troubling thought but after a good night of deep sleep, my mind seemed sharp and focused. I blinked in surprise and pulled out a novel from my bag. I read the first few pages and took in every word easily. I seemed to have no trouble concentrating at all. I hadn’t been able to do that for weeks now.
Why had the problem suddenly disappeared? Had my body finally learned to deal with the tragedy? Did I subconsciously believe that my husband had just left with our child so I no longer worried about them? Neither explanation satisfied me.
What was different? What had changed in the last few days? With a jolt, the answer hit me. I’d been away from our house. I’d slept at the hotel and then I’d slept in the cabin last night. I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything from home, including medicines. The kidnappers hadn’t taken items from the house when they broke in the first time-maybe that hadn’t been their intention. I wondered if they could have exchanged my medicines for something else or perhaps tampered with my food?
The whole idea sounded crazy but then again, nothing that had happened made sense. How could I feel this different after only a short time away from home? I had to be able to trust myself again and there was only one way to do that. I needed proof.