“…just, try not to stress her out too much. We still aren’t sure on the details, but she’s having a hard time coping with the trauma. It’s almost like it just happened.”
Mikhael opened the door to Sam’s hospital room. Sam was sitting on the bed, staring half-vacantly at the opposite wall. Her breathing was rapid and shallow, and her hands shook in her lap. Mikhael knew the symptoms; he’d struggled with them for most of his life.
“Sammy!” he called, feigning cheerfulness, although he wanted nothing more than to go find somewhere to throw up. “How are you doing?”
Sam jumped, clearly startled, even though he hadn’t entered the room quietly at all. She’d clearly been lost in thought. Upon seeing him, she began to cry, hugging her arms together in a feeble attempt to comfort herself.
“Mik! It was all my fault. Everything that happened that night. I’m so sorry!”
Mikhael sighed, sitting down in the room’s one chair. He’d expected it to go like this, but it didn’t make things easier. Regret, over getting her wrapped up in James’ schemes and over ever getting involved himself, gnawed in the pit of of stomach.
“No, Sammy. It wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could do.”
“But if I’d just hid in my room, if I hadn’t gone into the living room after they broke in…”
“You don’t know that. You can’t know that. It could have just made things worse.”
“Blueberry…she killed her foals to protect me. She died to protect me! Your scars…they’re all because of me! If I hadn’t have gotten caught…”
“Samantha! Let me ask you something. Did I ask you to apologize?”
“What I did, what Blueberry did, we did because we chose to. I knew the risks, I still made the choice.”
“Just listen. I have a lot of regrets, Sam. A lot of things I wish I hadn’t done. But one thing I NEVER regretted was what I did that night. You’re too fixated on blame. If you can’t blame someone else, you try to blame yourself. It needs to stop.”
Mikhael continued, speaking over Sam’s attempts to interrupt.
"I’ve had to do a lot of things working at the shelter. For a long time, I thought the hardest thing was telling a fluffy that their owner, their mummah or daddeh, didn’t want them anymore, couldn’t take care of them anymore. I hated that so much, almost as much as I hated the owners who left their pets. I always avoided talking to them; I didn’t know if I could hide that hatred.
"Maybe I was curious, or maybe I wanted to try to justify my hate, but I actually started talking to these owners. I saw how much it hurt them, how much they were putting on a brave face so their fluffy would have at least some comfort, how they would break down once they were out of sight. Then, I thought comforting them was the hardest thing.
"But eventually I realized the real hardest thing was accepting that nobody was at fault. That sometimes, everyone’s just fucked by circumstance and there’s nothing anyone can do. That for all I wanted to, placing blame was just cowardice. I still can’t accept that. I think I’ll always just tolerate it until I’m too tired to care or too old to remember.
“Listen, Samantha. There was nothing you could do. There was nothing I could do. We were both lucky to make it out of that shitty situation. So stop blaming yourself. Let me at least take credit for my own bravery and stupidity.”
“Do you really think that?”
“I try to. It’s much better than blaming myself for everything I can’t do. It’s better than blaming you for what I chose to do, and the consequences. It’s not much comfort, but it’s all I have.”
“But if I’d-”
“NO! Don’t think like that! Don’t let the regret be all you feel! It’s going to be a long road from here, don’t make it harder on yourself. I know what you’re going through right now, I know how you want to blame someone, anyone, even yourself. But you can’t do that, because it’s the worst thing you can do to yourself right now.”
“I…what should I do, then?”
“Fight. Fight to overcome what you’re feeling right now, because it’s the only thing you can do. Try to recover, if not for your own sake than for the sake of the people who care about you. Take as long as you need, I’ll take care of your fluffies. But whatever you do, don’t blame yourself.”
“I don’t know if I can.”
“Thank you, Mik.”
“I’m just telling you what I wish I could have been told myself.”
“Not for that. For helping me that night. I don’t know if I can ever repay that.”
“Well,” Mikhael said, hating himself more than ever. “There’s something you can help with…”
“Your plan…” Sam mused, calmer now that she had something, anything else to think about. “I don’t know if it’s possible. But I’d like to help if I can. But why do you need my help?”
“Originally when we made the plan, we thought you remembered that night like I did. When I found out you didn’t, we tried to find an alternative, but so far we haven’t found one. Since you remember now, I thought maybe the original plan could work.”
“There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Well, my partner in this plan isn’t the kind of person I would normally work with, but he was the only one who brought his expertise and was willing to listen. But he’s done…things I’d prefer not to discuss right now. Maybe one day, but not now.”
“That doesn’t inspire confidence.”
“I know he’s at least devoted to the cause. That’s all I can really ask from him.”
“Mik. After that talk about blame, asking me to do this… I don’t know.”
“That’s another thing I found hard to accept. We’re all hypocrites. Most of us are just too proud to admit it.”
“Mik, you’re really cynical sometimes.”
“Blame working in an animal shelter for that. Anyway, we can call it square if you’re willing to help with this, I promise I’ll do what I can to make it as painless as possible for you.”
“Mik, even if I didn’t owe you anything I’d help with this.”
I just hope you still think that when we’re done, Mikhael muttered internally. You might not know it yet, but this is going to be hard.
Great chapter, glad a lots was addressed…but now I play the waiting game for the next chapter.
Im worried bout that asshole drug shit experiment on her really…I do hope it could help…but I dont trust crazy greedy pharmacist who thinks everyone as a tool and test subject.