There was nothing different about this woman, this Blanche DuBois she was a mess. LeAnn had seen this all before; a middle aged woman caught up in alcohol after a divorce or death of her husband, riches run out, all drained on the substance abuse. However it'd been a long time since she'd seen someone as gone as her. Blanche came in dressed very nicely, her figure was curvy and her lavender dress hugged her a little snugly, her dirty blonde hair was curled very properly, her hands neatly encompassing her clutch while the male nurse brought in her large bags of luggage, but her eyes, her eyes were wild. The woman was very apparently uneasy and LeAnn watched a bit detached as the emotionally disheveled woman was taken to her vaguely decorated room, leaning on the nurses station, ankles hooked while she flipped a long brown bang from her vision. She was a tall and strikingly lovely woman in her 30's, a young lass who'd never had much direction but found herself drawn to the idea of helping others, which in turn got her through several tough years of nursing school only to end up at a mental hospital in the outskirts of New Orleans.
"Tsk, tsk." Brenda, a plump and well seasoned woman with short and curled red hair muttered under her breath.
LeAnn looked back at the woman behind the desk and stood upright. "What?"
"Oh, just our newest acquisition. Poor dear, she looks a fright." She re-situated the glasses on her nose and leaned forward to see her disappear down the hall. "Best keep a good eye on that one, who knows what she might pull to get out of here."
"I don't know, she seems pretty calm, she came willingly." LeAnn assured.
"Well, sometimes the ones who come in calm end with a real storm."
Brenda was not wrong, they'd had several patients who lost their minds more violently than they already had when the realization of where they were sank in. No one wanted to be in a mental institute, no one wanted to be sick, and that was a harsh reality to live with. LeAnn shrugged her shoulders and grabbed her clip board, glancing down her white nurses dress to be sure she had no smudges from leaning on the counter. The place wasn't the cleanest, but definitely the best facility this side of New Orleans. As she meandered down the hall her steps slowed as she approached the room where their newest member would be staying and glanced in. She was very beautiful, much unlike most of their patients who had ruined not only their lives but their bodies, and LeAnn sucked in a breath when wild but empty grey eyes found her dark hazel. Excusing herself she went on to her duties, Blanche DuBois a reappearing thought as the long hours of her day lingered on.
Reality was a whole new animal all of a sudden; things were so different and she didn't know why, her entire world hitched and rocked on in a new way. Blanche didn't remember much, only aware that these nice people were giving her a very bland room to stay in, her sister had left her with them so obviously they must be nice. Stella only ever had the best intentions for her older sister, they both did, they looked after each other, right? But why this place? Why did it feel so empty? Blanche flinched when she felt a hand on her arm and she nearly scared herself.
"It's ok Ms. DuBois, just need to get around you." Said one of the young males.
He was dressed in all white, very clean shaven, a nice young man but Blanche's body tensed, so much so she felt herself getting a headache. Her eyes flicked to the hallway briefly to see a female nurse in the shadows, a sudden calm washing over her at the sight of her pretty face, but it didn't last long. "Please, my bag?" She asked pointing to her lilac satchel, her thoughts starting to dash here and there. The young man handed it to her and she opened it with almost a panic, her fingers pawing through the lipsticks and other items, not finding her bottle of pain pills. "Where are my pills? I need my pills."
"We had to take them when you got here Ms. DuBois, don't you remember?" An older male nurse interjected.
"N-no?" She said looking at him unhappily. "I need my pills, where are my pills?! I have the worst headache comin' on, I need something!"
The other nurse came over and reached for her but she backed away hastily, her eyes more wild than before, breath getting short as she hit the wall with her back.
"Don't touch me." Blanche whispered, her eyes dropping down her body unsure of the panic she felt crawling all over her. "Please just get me something for this headache!" She covered her face with her palms and leaned on the end of the bedpost, her body and mind were in a shadow of something she couldn't see, a feeling she couldn't escape, it was like trying to find a word on the tip of the tongue but it's still out of reach. Blanche started to sob.
A little over a week had passed and LeAnn went out of her way to check up on Blanche, she wasn't sure why, she didn't know her from Adam, but something about her snagged her attention. Maybe it was her beauty, her wild eyes, her mild almost childlike manner, or her sporadic bursts of liveliness she'd seen here and there when she forgot where she was, but whatever it was LeAnn couldn't deny the pull she felt towards her. Blanche's therapy sessions were less than progressive, LeAnn didn't know exact details but whenever the doctor tried to bring up her issues she'd break down, sob that she didn't remember why or how she got there, that there was a big hole in her memory they couldn't patch. But there was plenty of time and Blanche was not going anywhere.
LeAnn was on the last legs of her shift when the ruckus broke out down the hall in Dr. Bordeaux's office. A woman began to scream and holler and her nerves perked up immediately, she reached for the roster pages and flipped through them and there was Blanche's name on the list. She heard the footsteps pouring out of doors and down the hall, when the door was opened her wails sank deep into LeAnn's belly and she cringed. She'd heard women cry and shriek before but somehow hers were different. Working her way into the scene her eyes found the woman in a pool on the floor, sobbing and clutching herself, thrashing whenever a man tried to touch her, her persistent denial of their hands making LeAnn's heart race even more.
"We need to get her off the floor, move!" One of the burly nurses bellowed, shoving past the others that respected her refusal. When he grabbed her up she gasped as she looked at him, the fear in her eyes made LeAnn's hand fly to her mouth, watching as Blanche's tears overflowed and in her body's defiant defense collapsed in his grasp, begging not to be hurt. He hauled her out and to her room, the sobbing woman so tense it made even LeAnn wince at her rigid features. This woman had been harmed, she was sure of that, she didn't want to tell herself stories but she'd seen this sort of thing before. Blanche had not calmed down in over half an hour and they finally gave her a very potent shot of tranquilizer. She hated that, LeAnn absolutely hated when they did that to patients that weren't physically endangering themselves or others, this woman didn't need to be knocked out, she needed to be cared for. She stood in the hallway and listened as her cries turned to whimpers, her whimpers to silence. The men filed out of the room and she lingered, gazing over her limp body that was clad in a lovely light blue summer dress.
"Hey, you were off over an hour ago, you should get outta here." Brenda stated, startling LeAnn out of her thoughts.
She shook herself from the trance and she cleared her throat. "I think I'll pick up that night watch shift tonight, no one's offered to take it yet have they?"
Brenda narrowed her brows. "You hate the night shifts."
"I could use some more hours, I'm saving up for that trip to see my momma in a couple months you know."
"Well, I'll go tell Ned." Brenda began to walk away then stopped. "You alright doll? This seems awfully odd for you."
LeAnn smiled. "Yeah, I'm fine Bren, I'd like the hours." She watched as she nodded and headed down the hall, her eyes going back to Blanche who was out like a light.
The night went on and she did the rounds, and Brenda was right, she hated night shifts. But she couldn't bring herself to leave after today, something inside of her could not bare the thought of leaving Blanche unattended with nothing but male nurses. None of them were bad men, not at all, but she saw right from the beginning she was calmer around the women, which just solidified what happened earlier today and LeAnn's assumptions. Whatever happened to this woman would spill out eventually, she hoped, she needed to be able to heal and get on with her life.
As LeAnn rounded the corner back down the hall Blanche was in she saw the lamplight coming from her window. She rushed to the room and peered in the window and saw her huddled on her bed with her knees to her chest, shocked beyond belief she was even conscious. LeAnn very carefully knocked and twisted the door handle and allowed herself in. "Hey." She called quietly. Blanche didn't respond right away but after a moment her dull eyes followed the motion of her head in her direction and LeAnn smiled warmly, inching forward. "How are you feeling?" As she reached the bed she sat and eyed the woman, seeing how out of it she still was. "Listen, you're alright... Why don't you lay back down and try to rest." LeAnn noticed Blanche's gaze drift down to her body and slowly start to budge. "Would you like me to help you out of your dress and into your night gown?" When those grey eyes peered over at her she noticed they were green, a lovely green, and with the faintest of nods from her LeAnn rose.
Blanche wasn't very cognitive but LeAnn did her best to steady her as her dress was slipped over her head, trying to avert her eyes from the beautiful form in front of her. LeAnn realized halfway through that Blanche was staring at her and when she situated her gown around her body she locked her eyes with hers. "Are you alright?"
There was a good silence before Blanche was able to swallow and speak. "You were there..." She uttered very quietly. "I saw you."
LeAnn blinked. "What do you mean?"
"Today." She stammered. "All the men... But you... You were there." Her hand shakily reached for LeAnn's face, just grazing her cheek before her legs started to give out.
She grabbed her up, most of her body weight coming down on her, LeAnn moved them back to the bed but didn't release her when she felt Blanche's arms holding tightly to her shoulders. "Yes, I was there. And I'm here now." She replied feeling her molding into her.
"Don't go." Blanche whispered.
LeAnn clenched her eyes shut, securing her arms around her, knowing she should not be getting this close. "I can stay for a little while." She replied with the same tender tone. "Let's get you settled in bed." It didn't take much to pry the weak woman's arms from her and she laid her back, watched as her dirty blonde hair splayed out on the pillow, those eyes looking at her like she was some kind of beacon in the darkness. LeAnn had to look away, her heart was pounding hard and she didn't know why, she didn't know why she felt so attached to this woman.
Blanche was in a numb buzzing world as she watched the tall brunette above her, fitting the covers around her body, sitting there on the ledge of the bed like a caring mother. But she was no mother. She sighed long and hard, she wasn't sure where she was, she wasn't sure what day it was, she knew her name but that was about it at this point. A panic started to rise in her spine and it soon settled in her chest and she started to shake, tears unwillingly trickled down her cheeks. "I'm scared." She choked.
Her heart crashed into her rib cage, LeAnn almost lurched forward to scoop her up but she held back, her fingers reached for the kleenexs and brought one to Blanche's face carefully wiping away the trails of despair. "It's ok, we're going to take very good care of you, no one can hurt you here."
A shaky hand reached for the other woman's that was drying her tears, gripping it securely as she brought it to her face and nuzzled into the knuckles. Blanche closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to settle, the warmth of this woman making her more at ease. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out, her mind went blank and suddenly a blanket of black engulfed her.
LeAnn watched curiously as the event unfolded, surely she was so exhausted she could easily fall into slumber like that, but she still worried. She didn't pull her hand from Blanche's grasp just yet, she studied her as her lungs took steady breaths, her face finally peaceful without emotion. It didn't occur to her how much time had passed until she gazed at the watch on her wrist. LeAnn hadn't even felt tired until that moment, but now Blanche was asleep and she felt better about leaving her alone. She knelt down to the floor and leaned forward and kissed the back of Blanche's hand delicately. "Find some peace, starlight." LeAnn whispered as she rose and left, tossing one more gaze over her as the door clicked shut.
When Blanche woke her eyelids fluttered open as the sounds of the ward puttered in through her closed door. She swallowed, her throat was very dry and her head ached still. Suddenly her heart sparked into life and she sat up with a jolt, reaching for the woman she remembered from last night. She was no where to be found. Her sudden movements made her dizzy and before she knew it she toppled off her small bed onto the hard floor with a thud and groan. The entirety of her body ached, it was coming out of the numbness from whatever drugs they'd given her and she felt nauseous, her head pounded and she had terrible vertigo. Blanche began to call out for the woman nurse but it dawned on her she didn't even know her name. Again she started to cry and soon after the door to her room was opened and another female nurse, much younger, came to her side.
"Oh lord honey, are you alright?" She asked grasping her arms and helping her sit up.
Blanche whined and looked at her, it wasn't the face she wanted to see. "Where is she?" She inquired without much voice.
The nurse looked at her puzzled. "Who honey?"
"The woman from last night, where is she?" The vertigo hit her again and she would have fallen over if the nurse hadn't a hold of her. "God, my head, I - I don't... Please!"
"What's wrong, what are you feelin'?"
"Dizzy, so dizzy, my head hurts!"
"Did you fall out of bed?"
"I... Yes, I think." Blanche had to think about it, her memory was so sporadic. She nodded. "Yes, I did."
"Did you hit your head?"
She shook her head with annoyance, and a very bad idea, she felt her body spinning down another black cavern with no bottom. "Ohhhh..." She moaned. "Please, where is she?" Blanche asked again.
The nurse tucked her arm under Blanche's arm and with a good swift movement had her back on the bed, her head thudding against the wall as she slunk into the mattress, legs dangling off the side. "Who do you mean Ms. DuBois?"
"The woman from last night! She stayed with me!" Blanche whined, angered she didn't know who she was talking about. "Find her please!" She pushed at the younger woman and tried to open her eyes and find a solid stance on where the earth was, to no avail, and she flopped back to the bed and cried some more.
"I'm goin' to go an' get somethin' for your head honey, I'll be back."
Blanche listened with an aching heart as the footsteps echoed out of the room, her door clicking shut, her palms balled together in her chest as she saw her face over and over in her mind, the soft touch, the gentle perfume, her soothing voice. Who was she, where had she gone, and when would she see her again?
Suddenly the quiet world of darkness LeAnn had secluded herself in was rattled into a grey waking reality. Her eyes blinked several times, her shoulder now screaming at her as she tried to shift out of the bed in the back nurses station. In front of her was Andrew, a scruffy balding man who looked the worse for wear, but a heart made from the richest gold.
His lips moved around the usual toothpick he had in his mouth. "Hey, d'you spend some time with that new patient of ours?" He drawled.
LeAnn rotated her aching shoulder and again tried to recollect some barrings. "What?"
"The new ward, DuBois."
That name flicked her memory and suddenly she was much more awake. "Blanche?"
"Whatever." He replied, reaching for the toothpick. "You been spendin' time with her?"
"Why?" She inquired wondering where this question was coming from.
Andrew put a heavy hand on his hip and shifted his stance. "She's been askin' for ya all morning, won't let anyone tend to her. Brenda got the confusion sorted out once she came in." He paused for a second and tilted his head. "Have you been here all night?"
LeAnn was preoccupied with her thoughts and completely disregarded his words at the present time. Blanche had been asking for her? She shook her head carefully and refocused. "Uh, yeah... I uh, I took the night shift." She combed her fingers through her long brown locks that had been taken out of their regular bun. "Shit!" She exclaimed. "Am I late for my shift?!"
She began to rise but Andrew grabbed her shoulders. "Whoa, calm down turbo, your shift ain't for another two hours." He chuckled looking her over. "Since when do you take night shifts? Damn girl, you didn't even bother goin' home, huh? Guess it wouldn't make much sense since you'd just have to be back here in five hours." He was really talking to himself than anyone else, he did that frequently, but Andrew slowly meandered to the door and sucked on his toothpick again. "Well, anyway, wanted to clear that up and let ya know DuBois's been askin' for ya. See ya out there." And with that he was gone.
Sitting there still slightly stunned LeAnn finally rose and wondered if she should go and see Blanche. Was it a good idea? She felt awful not rushing out to her how she wanted to, but she didn't want to get into trouble, she shouldn't have stayed as long as she had with her in the first place. LeAnn couldn't stop thinking about it so she calmed herself, put her hair back up on her head and methodically left the room.
Brenda caught her as she was coming around the corner and nearly drug her by the arm behind the counter. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here!" She exclaimed. "Blanche won't let a soul touch her, they've been trying to get her to come out of her room all morning for breakfast and to take her meds but she just won't for nothin'! She's been persistent about seeing you! I tried calling the house but you didn't answer."
LeAnn took a step back and tried to calm the fitful woman. "I was in the back room sleeping, I didn't bother goin' home last night, er well this morning after the night watch, I've got a ten hour shift ahead of me in an hour and a half." She straightened her nurses dress and cleared her throat. "I'm on my way to see her now, I'll get her settled." She wasn't solid in that affirmation but she hoped she could. If Blanche wouldn't listen to her she didn't know what would happen.
She saw the food tray sitting outside of Blanche's room, her door was closed and two of the male nurses were outside talking amongst themselves. As soon as they saw her they shrugged their shoulders with a sigh of relief and started to explain the dilemma. LeAnn held them off and reiterated the situation and that she'd handle it, they left her there and she took a deep breath and looked in the door window to see Blanche sitting there staring out glossy glass of her bedroom window. Finally twisting the knob she allowed herself in, being met with a flip of blonde hair and a defiant face until she realized who was there, the softness that returned to her features making LeAnn falter a little in step.
Blanche shot up and came forward a few feet. "You're here!"
LeAnn smiled and met her half way. "I am. Are you alright?"
She wobbled her head to and fro, unsure herself. "I... I don't know, I think so, I just..." Her green eyes were dashing back and forth and she wrung her hands. "I panicked when I woke and you weren't here, it's so silly, I don't know why, but I... I needed to see you." Blanche stepped in closer and studied her features, realizing now just how beautiful she was. "Is your name LeAnn?"
Her voice was soft and mild and hearing her name come from her lips rattled her. LeAnn nodded mutely.
"They told me that was your name, it's very pretty."
She sighed and smiled. "Yes, and they tell me you won't eat or take your pills."
Blanche's face dwindled from slight elation to a saddened frown. "I've been silly, I know." She studied her hands briefly. "I'm just so uneasy, I don't like it here, I don't like being caged like a bird. I feel so... I don't know, like I'm suffocating!" Her voice almost reached a panicked whisper as she mused through her feelings.
"Have you told Dr. Bordeaux that?" LeAnn inquired gently.
"Oh..." Blanche groaned. "He doesn't care about me, no one in here does!" She stated quite matter of factly. "The only person whose shown me any resemblance of genuine interest or care has been you."
She wasn't sure how to react at that point, LeAnn had only spent those brief moments with her last night and shared maybe three or four short conversations since she'd been in. But she was right, she did care about her, for reasons beyond her awareness. "I can assure you everyone here cares about you, it may not seem like it but they do."
"Oh please, don't fill my head with that, I just... I want to talk to my sister, I want to talk to Stella!" Blanche whined. "Why won't they let me call her? Is it so awful that I want to reach out to my sister?"
LeAnn's heart dropped, all of a sudden things got dark for her because now she knew they were withholding information from her. She reached out for her hands and clasped them gently. "Ms. DuBois." She started.
"Blanche, please call me Blanche, I hate that Ms. DuBois business."
"Blanche..." LeAnn restarted. "I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this but we've not been able to get a hold of your family since you came in, we only recently found out they've moved and they didn't leave any contact information." She watched the drastic changes in her face range from disbelief, to nothing, to sadness, and then utter heart ache. Tears started to fall and from a mute mouth that she knew wanted to wail a silent sigh spilled. LeAnn didn't let go of now shaking hands and before too long Blanche collapsed to her knees and sobbed. She didn't think or care if people were watching, she dropped to her side and cradled her as she asked why over and over, questioning why no one loved her and why she had to be left with the fate of abandonment. LeAnn held her close, those trembling arms grabbing her and holding to her as if to keep herself from falling through the floor to the depths of a lonely hell. "I've got you." She whispered in Blanche's ear. "I've got you."
Blanche's depression hit hard, she spoke to nearly no one, and would do nearly nothing for anyone but LeAnn. It took LeAnn all she could do to see her everyday, her pain sunk directly into her heart and to see her so broken made her weep at night alone in her own home. It was hard to leave her; every time she walked out the door to go to her car she would feel her feet trying to turn her around to go and be with her. Eight days passed and Blanche was finally talking to other nurses, but only little, but she would still only eat if LeAnn was present. They'd threatened to send her to the more intense unit of the psyche ward and it was all LeAnn could do to talk them out of it. But things were progressing, at least between the two women. Blanche had smiled twice in the last three days and LeAnn was more than pleased that they could sit and chat. Their time wasn't enough as far as either of them were concerned but LeAnn was not in a place to request things, and Blanche simply wouldn't, if they wanted her to do something or she wanted something she would only utter LeAnn's name and that was it.
A month had passed since Blanche's slight melt down and LeAnn found herself in the general manager's office sitting in a chair that was almost as uptight as this man, hands folded in her lap freezing cold with her anxiety, nibbling the inside of her bottom lip waiting for him to show up. When footsteps echoed outside the door her spine tingled and her back muscles became so tense she thought she heard a vertebrae pop. She stood when he walked in and he waved her to sit back down and he claimed his spot on the other side of his very expensive red wood desk, her brown hues eyeing the easily over 6 foot tall well groomed and intimidating man with anticipation.
"Miss Walker." He stated, his voice oddly free of any emotion. "Am I correct in the knowledge that you have been tending to Ms. DuBois almost solely for the passed month?"
LeAnn swallowed and tried to bring her tongue back out of her throat. "Yes sir." She nodded.
He nodded in return. "I see." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "And is it also correct that she is uncooperative with any other nurse, also including her psychiatrist Dr. Bordeaux, except for you?"
"Well..." She started trying not to jump to her defense. "She's not - she's not entirely uncooperative, she just..." LeAnn felt cornered and she tried to find her voice. "Ms. DuBois doesn't trust very well." That wasn't her best defense but she didn't want to test her luck with this man.
He chuckled a little under his breath and nodded, reaching out to reposition his expensive name plaque that read "Mr. John Lennox". "Well my dear, don't we all." He looked at her long and hard finally tapped his finger on the table. "Unfortunately that's got to change. Dr. Bordeaux and I have decided you two need to split up, it's unprofessional, and it's unhealthy for her to rely on just one person, you specifically."
LeAnn's heart began to race, her face flushed and she felt her knuckles crack as she clenched her palms.
"We're going to move Ms. DuBois to the third floor so she can get more intense treatment and she can get out of her habit. We thought of weening her off of you but I think the cold turkey measure would be best, get it right in the bud."
"No!" LeAnn shouted startling not only him but herself. "You can't do that, it'll kill her! She doesn't belong up there with those loons, she's sane, very sane, she just needs a tender touch!"
He was taken aback by her rebuttal and he sat straighter in his chair. "I'm afraid you don't get much say in this Miss Walker, I simply requested you here so you could hear it first hand."
"Please, Mr. Lennox." LeAnn pleaded. "Don't do this to her, it won't work, it'll kill her!"
He pondered briefly but was unmoved. "Then you're going to be re-stationed to the first floor."
LeAnn's face dropped again. "What?" She whispered.
"You two can no longer continue this. She can't be dependent on you. So, either she moves to the third floor or you go to the first."
Her heart went cold, she felt light headed, all of a sudden the weight of the world pressed down hard on her shoulders and Blanche's fate, along with her own, resided there also. She swallowed back her tears. Blanche would kill herself if she were moved to the third floor, she was positive about that, and as much as she didn't want to be demoted to walk in's and answering phones she didn't seem to have a choice. Blanche needed to be taken care of. After a long silence she looked him in the eyes, cold as stone and muttered as her heart shattered. "I'll go to the first floor."
They didn't allow her back onto the second floor after the meeting, she was told her things would be brought to her at the end of the day. She was also denied her request to say goodbye to Blanche and she felt herself fighting off tears harder than she had in years. She knew this wasn't going to end well and she was terrified for Blanche's well-being but she had no control over anything, all she could do was accept her belongings from Andrew with the best poker face she had, even though she knew he knew very well this was going to wound both women deeply. He cared for LeAnn, she was nearly like his little sister, and though he didn't understand what it was she and Blanche had, he saw the way they communicated; how well Blanche responded to her, and how much progress she'd made from LeAnn's tender care. Andrew gave LeAnn a small but affirming nod that he would do his best to keep an eye on the woman in question, without a spoken word that he would sneak her any information of what happened whenever possible.
As LeAnn made it home and stood there at the counter looking down into the contents of the box she felt the warmth behind her eyelids, the heat on her nose and suddenly the flood gates opened. Why this was so hard for her she would never know, but suddenly her little apartment was now more lonely than ever and she cried for Blanche, she cried for her sanity, for her heart, and wondered if she would be safe and pondered how she would react when she didn't show up tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after. The guilt of feeling like she had abandoned this poor gentile woman along with every other person Blanche had held close to her. LeAnn prayed she would not hate her or feel betrayed, all she wanted to do was care and be there for her with every fiber of her being, and now that was stripped from her along with Blanche's security and hope.
Blanche didn't sleep well at all, LeAnn had not come to see her before her shift ended as she always had and she didn't eat her dinner, she denied it mutely from Liz, a young nurse who had taken up to helping LeAnn some days, and went to her window to watch the sky. Darkness fell and she sat on the bed, knees tucked to her chest and peered at the door that never sounded with that gentle knock or showed a pretty face on the other side of the glass. Blanche felt a strong pang of despair hit her when the hours rolled on and even when the morning broke LeAnn had not shown. She found herself saying nothing but her name to anyone and everyone who came in to tend to her, refusing their help indignantly as the evening approached, her frustration growing as no one seemed to know, or was willing to tell her, where LeAnn was and why she wasn't there. She started to worry she had been hurt or fallen ill, that something awful had happened to her and no one would tell her and finally Blanche began to lose it.
Flinging open her room door with haste she rushed passed Liz and Arthur and down the hall to Dr. Bordeaux's office, one of the more burly nurses catching her by the arm in her rush to slow her down, the sudden and slightly violent action causing her to shriek and collapse to the floor calling for LeAnn. The disturbance caused several nurses to come rushing in and Blanche shoved them away with grief, Liz stepped in to calm the advances and sooth her to the best of her ability. Dr. Bordeaux finally appeared from his office and walked over to the withered looking woman and stood over her, folding his arms and nodding to a male nurse to pull her from the stone floor.
"Ms. DuBois I need to you cooperate with us here." He stated sternly. "Your behavior is unacceptable."
"LeAnn!" She whimpered, eyes closed tightly as she was held rigid in the nurses grasp.
"Miss Walker is not on this floor anymore nor will she be tending to you any longer Ms. DuBois, your special treatment is over."
Wild eyes shot open and sought out the man whom the words were expelled. Her heart fell and the noises around her became muted muffled garble.
"By my judgement I found it unfitting for a worker and a patient to be so close; Miss Walker is no doctor and you are no longer dictating who gets to treat you. As your tending psychiatrist I've taken matters into my hands, a bit too late I'm afraid, but things are changing now Ms. DuBois."
His words struck her like an oncoming vehicle, she felt numb and limp yet every nerve in her body was screaming and suddenly so was she. The pain was too great, everything and everyone she loved had been taken from her and the last bit of light in all this darkness was now snuffed out and she wanted nothing but death. Her lament left her as a silent sobbing bag of bones, the nurse scooped her up with no protest and took her to her room, laid her in her bed and the last thing Blanche could recall was the slight sting in her hip from the gouge of a needle and her dreaded blackness of abandonment suffocated her.
It was all LeAnn could do to focus on the phones, sitting behind that bland desk trying not to think of Blanche every second and rushing up those stairs down the hall to the second floor. It was day five of their parting and Andrew had not been down to see her, she was impatient and fidgeted nearly nonstop, the other ladies at the desk questioned her frequently if she was alright. Oh how she wanted to tell them the truth, but she forced a smile and nodded, trying her very best to keep collected.
Another long day pulled itself by and she was walking out to her car fiddling with her keys, numb steps taken before she stopped and turned to look at the building behind her. She knew Blanch was in there and she knew she couldn't get to her, she knew if she so much as showed her face anywhere near that floor her termination was imminent. Considering briefly how bad of a thing that would be LeAnn shocked herself at the thought of what she would be willing to do to get to Blanche and hold her one more time. Her internal shock was now replaced by an outward voice calling her name from far off. Her tired hazel eyes shot in the direction of the sound and saw Andrew rushing towards her, her feet acting on impulse and taking her swiftly to meet him half way.
"Lee!" He rasped quite out of breath. "I'm so glad I caught ya."
"What's going on?" Her tone was drenched in concern.
Andrew shook his head. "I don't got a lotta time, if they knew I was out here talkin' to ya I'd be out of a job quicker than shit through a goose, but you gotta see Blanche - not now, not now, but tonight. I took the night watch so I can let ya in."
"Wh-what's happened?" LeAnn questioned as her blood began to pump through her at an alarming rate.
"She's in a bad place, very bad, they're movin' her to the third floor at daylight tomorrow."
Her hand flew to her mouth and choked.
"Look I gotta get back, please just be at the east entrance 'round midnight, alright?"
She nodded and Andrew dashed off back into the building, the blood rushing in her ears made her deaf to the otherwise noisy birds overhead in the trees and cars whizzing by on the street behind her. LeAnn swallowed and with quivering hands fumbled with her keys and got in the car, drove home without recollection of really getting there, changed clothes and sat on the couch and watched the hands on the clock mock her as they meandered leisurely in a very slow circle over and over.
The night was unnervingly silent, the city was still and there was no wind, no life, only a stale air engulfing all and she felt like her quiet steps on the pavement echoed through the silence like a hammer in a tin shed. The lamp lights flooded over her and she felt as though she was walking through a horrible judgement scene in a movie. Blanche Dubois had come into her life as nothing more than another patient, but somehow she'd gotten caught up in this woman over the last three months and thought of nothing but her now. Whatever ailment this was no amount of vaccines or pills could cure her, and truth be told she didn't want to be. She didn't know what she was doing, she didn't know why she felt so protective of her, why she wanted to be with her, and why she was risking her career for her, but she was.
Her heart slapped her rib cage with force as her quivering knees lifted her unsturdy legs up the cements steps to the east entrance, eyes darting around to see if anyone was around, to her avail she saw nothing and no one. LeAnn was unsure if she should knock and as her vision turned back to the door she gasped and jumped at the face before her, the startle nearly knocking her backwards down the stairs. Her hand laid fast to her chest as she swallowed and listened to the loud clicking of the lock on the door, the creek making her cringe as it sounded through the darkness. "Bren?" She inquired carefully as she was ushered in quickly.
"Hush love." Brenda whispered. "C'mon, hurry."
"He's upstairs with Blanche."
"How is she?"
Brenda's usually calm and relaxed features were now pinched and slightly tight, she shook her head and pulled her in close. "She's not eaten since you left, she won't talk, she won't do anything, she's not well. The poor bird only cries, I don't know how she's got any tears left."
LeAnn's heart made an audible moan in her ears and she had to keep it from resounding from her own throat. She slipped passed Brenda with an alarmingly swift motion and flew up the steps and through the second floor corridor, down the hall and straight for Blanche's room. The light was on and Andrew stood leaning against the wall, arms folded and jaw dropped, half asleep. The doorknob squeaked as it turned and LeAnn was through the threshold in a blink and at the resting woman's side. She looked frail and very pale, she'd never seen her look this awful, not even through her roughest bit. LeAnn held onto her tears with whatever strength she could find, biting her bottom lip hard enough she felt a hot liquid explode into her mouth, the metallic taste an oddly fitting embellishment for the scene in front of her eyes.
Her hand caressed Blanche's cool cheek, the stir was so very little she thought the woman was dead and her breath escaped with a timid whine. "Blanche?"
Eyes that were once a beautiful green were grey again and exhausted, they met dark hazel after a solid fluttering of heavy eyelids, a smile tugged at sagging lips and through a muted breath of her own Blanche spoke wearily. "Hello."
Her voice was the meekest whimper she'd ever heard, the reflection of a broken woman. She sniffed back her tears and brushed her cheek ever so gently. "I'm so sorry, please, I'm so sorry..." LeAnn had to force a breath into her lungs. "I'm here now." Her hand trailed down her neck to her shoulder, to her arm and rubbed it lovingly.
Blanche, as exhausted as she was, tried to prop herself up on the bed. Andrew was at LeAnn's side and they both tried to help her up but it wasn't working, instead they propped several pillows under her which allowed her to see everyone in the room, most importantly LeAnn. Tears strolled down the sides of her face and a weak arm reached for her, cold fingers holding tightly to LeAnn's blouse as she smiled through the glassy vision. "I miss you."
LeAnn's heart lurched and she scooted closer, leaning in to press her forehead to Blanche's, uncaring what Brenda and Andrew thought of the action. "I miss you too, so much, I'm so sorry I can't be here with you. Please know this isn't my choice, please know I want to be here." She felt the gentle nod from the other woman and she pulled back and looked at her long and hard.
"They're taking me away." She whispered as her face released the slightly happy facade.
She went to grasp Blanche's hand that rested on her belly and felt a strange protrusion. LeAnn's eyes looked down the woman's form and noticed that though the rest of her body seemed to be nearly withering away, her belly was oddly round. She inched back and tried to get a better look not even thinking as her hand went to her stomach and caressed it. LeAnn's eyes shot back to Blanche, her face twisted into fear and concern, her hand not leaving the swell. "Blanche... Are you pregnant?"
The wilted woman looked down her body to where LeAnn's hand rested, her own overlapping it and shaking her head. "I... don't know."
Watching as her face reflected the same concern as her own LeAnn threw her gaze to Andrew and Brenda who, by the looks on their faces, had apparently already been aware. "Why didn't either of you tell me about this?" She nearly scolded.
"We weren't sure, they took her in yesterday for tests, we won't get the results for a while." Brenda replied softly.
LeAnn wanted to ask Blanche a thousand questions but she didn't know if she was in a state for that, she turned back to her and grasped her hand firmly. "Honey, who..." The words died in her throat, Blanche looked so weak and helpless and she watched as the tears rolled down her face again, her free arm reaching for her. She gave into her advance and LeAnn scooped her up in her arms and held her tight. Her mind went to the dark recesses of how Blanche flinched when touched by men, how that "hole" missing in her memory was oddly convenient and now this. LeAnn was now certain what had happened to this woman and she boiled with rage.
Without pulling away from Blanche LeAnn swallowed her angry tears and asked for Brenda and Andrew to leave, when the door clicked shut she let her slip from her grasp and laid her back on the pillows, stroking her dirty blonde hair and capturing her eyes for a long stare. "I don't know if there's enough time now but if you try to persuade them tomorrow that you will cooperate with them, really make an effort to get better, they may not move you to the third floor. I don't want to see you there, you don't belong there, you'd be so much better down here."
Blanche's face distorted as more tears began to fall. "But you're not here!" She whined. "Why does it matter where I am if you're not there?"
She sighed and fought off the pang of guilt once more. "Because you don't belong up there with those people. I want you to be in good company in a better atmosphere, you aren't going to get that there. If you can stay here on this floor these late night meetings might become a possibility, if you go to the third floor we'll never see each other again until you get out." Her tone dropped to a somber note and LeAnn felt a hot bullet run down her left cheek. "Please! Please try to work with them, please."
Blanche's face softened and she studied LeAnn's drastic change, the shake in her voice as she pleaded, and now realizing how dire being moved was going to be. Her being started to quiver with anxiousness and she held onto LeAnn's shoulder tightly. She wanted nothing more than to see LeAnn and if she could get away with late night visits, sporadic as they might be, she'd take it, not being able to see her at all would kill her. Blanche didn't know why but she was sure of that. Slowly she nodded. "Ok, ok I'll try."
A breath of relief graced LeAnn's lungs and she pressed their bodies into another embrace. It didn't last long enough but she could tell that Blanche was utterly spent and she helped get her tucked into bed, kissing the back of her hand gently as she watched her doze off eyeing her swollen belly cringing at the thought of it all, whispering the same phrase she often relayed to her when she slept; "Find some peace, starlight."
She joined Andrew and Brenda who were yawning in the hallway, her face painted with worry. "I need to be kept informed, please, whatever it takes." LeAnn almost begged. "Bren, call me at home when you get off work, tell me what's going on. I need to know how she is, I need to know the test results, I need to know if they move her." Her eyes darted back and forth between both of them.
"This is dangerous ground Lee." Andrew warned. "We're all riskin' a lot."
"I know, I know. I don't expect you to understand, I don't really know myself, but please for me... Please."
Brenda unfolded her arms and rubbed her nose. "I'll call you, I will let you know what happens."
LeAnn reached for her older friend and hugged her hard. "Thank you, thank you both." She said pulling back. "Can you get me in again?"
Andrew scratched his balding head and thought hard. "Depends what happens tomorrow. Thursday's and Sunday's are about the only times they have just one night man, it'll be iffy but I'll do my best if all turns out."
"Thank you, you don't know how much this means." LeAnn sniffed. "She's going to need to help tomorrow convincing the floor staff not to move her, both of you please try and tell them you had a good night with her, that she talked to you and worked with you, if they move her up there... She'll... She won't last, I can guarantee it."
Brenda and Andrew looked at each other, nodding in agreement that LeAnn was probably right, if they could make a difference in this poor woman's life they would try, especially since it meant so much to LeAnn. After a brief goodbye they all parted ways, LeAnn thought about finding Blanche's sister the entire drive back, surely she had to know something about what happened to her, it might give her leads to help Blanche mend. It was 3 AM when she got home and she crawled into bed with nothing but Blanche tip toeing on her thoughts, a vivid image behind dark eyelids.
Blanche woke to rustling in her room, she was still so exhausted she could barely open her eyes to drag herself into consciousness, but finally after fifteen seconds of fighting the urge to submit to blackness her eyelids fluttered open. There was Andrew packing her clothes into a large duffle bag, he looked tired himself and yet he pushed onward with his tasks. Her memory slapped her more into the waking world when she remembered the happenings from last night, at least she thought it was last night, her awareness of time was somewhat lessened of late. LeAnn was the first real thing on her mind, she could still smell her cedar scented perfume and her soul warmed at the thought, oh how she'd missed her, seeing her was like taking in the sun after a long and brutal winter; what she'd give to see her right now. Taking a struggled breath into her weary lungs she just barely choked out Andrews' name.
Halfway through stuffing a dress into the duffle he peered over to the stirring woman, he offered a small smile but his heart settled against his back, today was not going to be a good day. "Mornin'." He uttered continuing his business. "I'm just gettin' your stuff together for the move."
Her heart leapt sporadically only to flump back to the pit of her stomach. "The... the move?" She croaked trying to sit up. Andrew was to her side immediately and got her propped up, looking into his eyes with a budding fear of her own she opened her mouth to speak but couldn't.
"I - I'm sorry Blanche, we did everything we could, Brenda and I fought with 'em all morning... They're movin' ya."
Tears started to seep forth in those big eyes when suddenly commotion could be heard coming down the hall, she was sure she could make out Brenda's voice and a man's. Before she knew it her door was opened and in filed two large male nurses with a wheel chair that had leather straps to the arms and legs, her anxiety shot her nerves full of flight but her weary body did her no favors.
"Alright Ms. DuBois, lets go." Commanded one of them as the other intervened on her, it was no fight at all to get the withered woman hoisted in their grasp and plop her down in the chair.
"No no, please." She whimpered trying to stand. "I - I want to stay here, please, please don't make me go - I promise to work with you, I promise - I promise to make an effort, please!" Tears started to roll down her hollow cheeks and through her blurry vision she could make out Brenda's plump figure.
"Listen, ya see?" She rebutted. "She said she's willin' to work with us, give her a chance, we told y'all we had a good night with her, don't move her." Brenda had a hold of the third floor charge nurses coat with purpose, pulling at it as she went on. "Louis god dammit listen to me!" She barked at him.
"I'm just doin' my job Brenda." He warned. "I don't have rights to say what is and what ain't, I get given orders and I get 'em done." Tugging his arm from her grasp he began to fasten up Blanche's unwilling wrists.
"Don't do that! Dammit! Don't tie her to that damned chair, for god sake she's not a lunatic, look at her!" Brenda protested only to find herself being escorted out into the hall.
Blanche was in a fit of tears and could barely breathe, this is exactly what she didn't want to happen and now the possibilities of seeing LeAnn again were slim to none, her world was once again being torn apart bit by bit, the cabin of whatever shelter she'd tried to make for herself was getting ripped down log by log. "P-p-please..." She whined trying to get this Louis to look at her. "Please don't move me." Her voice was barely audible through her choked breaths and soon she felt the chair being pushed and the room disappeared behind her. She tugged at the restraints on her wrists but to no avail, her heart started to scream but her throat wouldn't echo it.
"You'll be alright Blanche!" Brenda called after her, a shaky hand fastening over her lips as she stood there in the hall at the looming sight of her being taken away. She shook her head all the while praying to god she would be ok, she would manage, and that she would be taken care of.
Andrew came out a few seconds after she'd gone from sight and patted Brenda on the back and leaned near her ear. "LeAnn may not have strings to pull but we still do, I sound like a damned fool but shit, for some reason I'm about to do anythin' I can to make sure she's alright."
Looking up at him she nodded carefully and cleared her throat. "LeAnn's gunna be beside herself, this ain't good, this ain't good at all."
"I know, but we'll figure it out."
With that he left and followed after with the bags of clothes and Brenda was left to find her composure, before long she retired to her desk and looked at the clock; it was going to be a long day.
The third floor had a strange smell, a sterile smell, a smell that foretold of the coldness and emptiness of the place and not by sense of people, there were plenty of patients but they were all completely inside their own little worlds. Blanche held her breath as they wheeled her down the long hall, pale and withered looking men and women were meandering about slowly and mindlessly, some of them were carrying on full conversations to partners unseen, others were babbling and muttering under their hushed breaths while their limbs would twitch or spasm, some were sitting in corners or on chairs staring into oblivion and suddenly the panic in her breast forced her eyes shut to keep from coming undone. More tears trickled down her stiff cheeks and some of the salt made its way passed the crease of her lips and seeped into her mouth, it was bitter, reeked of damnation and she felt ready to hurl herself from a window and find a sweet relief of death, the only thing stopping her was LeAnn's soft smile and warm eyes that flitted into her mind before those thoughts could conquer.
Some comfort came when she felt the leather around her wrists release, she opened her eyes hesitantly to find herself in a barren white room with a window so small her thought from earlier could never come to fruition, the bed was much smaller here and didn't look as close to as comfortable. The nurse that accompanied her offered his hand to her and she took it carefully, he put his hand to her lower back and helped her sit on the bed. He looked at her with indifference and turned to leave with the chair. The breath she'd been holding tentatively finally left her body with a shudder, she whined as she brought the back of her wrist to her lips and held her cry at bay, she was sure she was about to scream until the door opened. "Andrew!" Blanche nearly sobbed.
He almost had to throw the bags to the floor as Blanche stood with haste and nearly tumbled over, he grabbed her up careful to avoid her stomach and tried to get her back to the bed but she refused to let him go. "Blanche it's alright, I got ya."
She nuzzled her face into his chest and clung to his uniform desperate to fall into him. "I'm scared!" Her voice cracked.
"I know, I know." He cooed looking over his shoulder concerned someone might see, finally he tugged her from him and sat her down and knelt before her. "Listen you gotta be strong, I know you ain't in a good place, I know this is god damn terrifyin' but you gotta be strong." His eyes were firm but warm. "This ain't over, ok? Not on my watch."
Blanche nodded a little shakily and wiped the tears from her face. "What do I do?"
"Whatever they tell ya, be good, do as they say and sooner or later they gotta see this ain't where you belong."
"LeAnn?" She questioned as another wave of tears hit her.
Andrew through briefly and took a deep breath. "I'll... do what I can... I'll do what I can." He stood hastily and went to the bags and began to put her things in the drawers of the small bureau and closet.
Watching him with lingering eyes she hated to see him leave, he was the only familiar thing she had right now and when he left she was alone, all alone. When the door latch clicked the silence of the room set in hard, one hand went to her belly and her mind became chaotically distracted. Blanche tried to focus on her breathing and as if her senses knew she needed saving once again a waft of LeAnn's perfume filled her nose and she was able to calm a little, after a few minutes she looked down her body and tried to remember anything. Was she pregnant? How could she be? The black hole in her memory just laughed at her, that laugh was so familiar, but deep down she knew this enemy had a weakness, nothing was impervious, but while she turned her back on it she could feel the tangible string was close to pull and unravel it. Suddenly as if someone blew out the flame of a candle her entire body and mind protested the last half hour of events, exhaustion hit her like an avalanche and she flopped onto the hard mattress and succumbed to the darkening of the room, she was so tired, so weak, and so alone.
Some people talk of an internal clock, a biological tick for women that got louder and louder as they got older, but this ticking clock of LeAnns' wasn't for maternal purposes, no, it was the mocking hand of time for this day to linger on until she was about to rip the clock behind her off the wall. The ringing of the phones had nearly driven her mad as it was, she had never been so tense in her entire life, she had never had her nerves bundled so tightly that at the flick of switch a string would snap and it'd unravel like a ball of snakes. She'd picked her fingers raw and a few of them were bleeding, finally after she couldn't take it any longer she left the desk and took long strides down to the small mess hall. LeAnn fumbled in a cupboard for the first aid kit and pulled out three band aids for the most damaged fingers, her annoyance growing as she struggled to even get them open. Once she'd bandaged herself she planted her palms on the counter and took several deep breaths, closing her eyes and trying to find the ground beneath her.
By the time 3 PM hit she couldn't take it any longer, she was about to go out of her mind. Faking a headache LeAnn went home early only to find herself in more comfortable surroundings as the impending insanity clung to her back and picked at her scalp. Evening finally came around and she sat at the counter next to the phone willing it to ring so she could have some closure as to what was happening with Blanche. She'd thought of nothing else since the moment she went to bed last night and woke up this morning, but the thing that was weighing on her the heaviest was the probability of Blanches' possible pregnancy. Her mind had mulled and chewed and spit out and regurgitated so many thoughts over the past how ever many hours she was almost sick of it herself, she was angry and upset, she hated that she couldn't be there with her and that she didn't have any answers. LeAnn buried her face in her palms with a groan, not two seconds after the phone rang. It barely choked out another before her hand clobbered it to her face and answered with a hasty hello.
"It's Bren." Came the voice at the other end.
Her heart sputtered into overdrive and she stood from the stool. "Is she ok, what's happened?"
There was a long pause and a clearing of a throat. "I'm so sorry LeAnn... they moved her, we did everything we could, really we tried so hard but they just wouldn't listen. Andrew and I both fought for her, even she pleaded, I... I don't know what Andrew has up his sleeve but he said he ain't gunna give up on her and if I trust anyone to make that claim it's him."
She was pretty sure she could hear the audible crack in her heart and feel the blood seeping into her stomach, LeAnn put her hand to her mouth and her feet planted to the cool tile floor. What were words? She could barely think.
"Lee? You there honey?"
Nodding to absolutely no one she sniffled. "Yeah... yeah I'm here." She whispered.
"Oh honey, I am so sorry, but you can't give up hope, you can't."
"Yeah... I won't, I can't, it's just... she... she's all alone!" LeAnn whined feeling her nose get hot as the tears finally fell. "God she's up there with them crazies where she doesn't belong, and possibly pregnant! I just... I just can't bare to think of it!"
"Lee, listen... the results came back today, much earlier than we were expecting..."
The pause made her hair stand up and LeAnn held her breath, Brenda didn't say anything and finally she blurted. "And?!"
Her heart sank with a thud that echoed in her chest. She wanted to know who, she wanted to know why, this was the key to the hole in Blanche's memory and she absolutely boiled over with rage, the only problem was there was no way to know who the father was, there was no telling who had done this to her and this only made her more furious. Her jaw clenched so hard she gave herself a headache.
"Lee... you don't have to respond, I can feel your upset from here but listen to me; we're not givin' up on her, none of us, this little lady is a special case and I dunno why, neither does Andrew, and neither do you I don't think, but it is what it is. I promise ya there's light at the end of this tunnel."
Chewing on those words LeAnn again started to nod. "Thanks Bren, you're right... and she's gunna get outta there and move on with her life."
"That's right, but in the meantime we'll do everything we can to help that along. Is there anything I can do for you honey, I can't imagine the state you're in."
"I'm fine, just continue to keep me updated as much as you can, anything you hear, anything at all. And tell Andrew to give me a call sometime, I'd like to meet up with him, in fact maybe we should all meet up at some point."
"That's a good idea, I'll tell him. Listen try to relax, one day at a time, I'll talk to you soon."
She hung the receiver as she stared blankly at the counter top without blinking. LeAnn hit a wall emotionally, the cacophony happening inside stalemated itself and all she could do was stare and listen to the silence. Before long her memory began to start up and flash images inside her head like an old movie screen and all that was there was Blanche; her smile, her laugh, her tears, her sorrow, every event over the last three months from the moment she saw her until the last came flickering across her mind and her knees gave out, she hit the floor and began to sob. Her starlight was now completely out of reach and her night sky was getting darker by the moment. LeAnn curled into a ball on the floor and wept for her, all she wanted was to once again get to her and rescue her, and yet she still had no idea why.