Barbara squirmed with violence. Her eyes went wide open and her pupils moved backwards to meet her skull. The pain digging in her chest was not something she could have properly described. Not then. And probably not ever. Her mind felt hazy and confused. Every single one of her muscles was tensed with the efforts of struggling. Later on, if anyone asked her, she could only say that it was frightening.
Around her, tall doctors in white robes were shouting with urgency. A nurse was trying to hold her head still. Barbara opened her mouth trying to breathe and found with panic that she couldn’t. ‘Go on, pass me the oxygen mask,’ a male voice said somewhere. It must have been close; maybe just some steps away from her. But it sounded far away, like in a dream. Was this a dream? Barbara wondered. ‘Girl, I need you to tell me exactly what you took. Listen to me. You need to…’
She couldn’t hear it. In her chest Barbara’s heart was pounding faster than it had ever done it. She couldn’t think. Another convulsion in her body made her want to vomit. In her chin she could feel a foamy liquid dripping to her throat, getting lost in her clavicle. If she could have done it, she would have screamed.
‘I didn’t take anything,’ she tried to say. But the insides of her throat were starting to swell up, quietly swallowing her tongue. She would choke if it kept going. She would choke, she was sure. Around her the voices started to speak louder. Everything was shiny and blurry.
I’m going to die, was the first coherent thought that appeared on her mind. And the only one that remained with her, repeating itself like a sick mantra. These doctors would kill her. Their hands touching all over, their featureless faces leaning above her threateningly told her so: They would kill her.
Then Barbara felt a tiny pinch on the side of her neck and all of her limbs went motionless. Suddenly she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. The world around her faded. And she did it too.
Maybe she passed out. Maybe she died.
Surrounded by darkness, it was all the same.
Barbara woke up in some moment of the early morning, when the sky was still grey and dull. At the beginning, she hadn’t even been able to move. Her whole body felt weak and useless. She tried to look around her, bending her neck. The room in front of her was large and it had white walls. Above her there was a ceiling fan. Everything seemed quiet. Across the window, a ray of sun was silently entering to the room.
It was a hospital, Barbara realized. What had happened? On her head she could feel a strong pounding. Her stomach was growling with both hunger and nausea. She hadn’t been this sober in weeks. The feeling was awful.
Barbara made an attempt to sit on the bed, but found herself unable to. All her body was trembling. The air around her was warm, but still she felt cold as ice. She tried to remember how she had end up here, but her memories from last night were mostly brief and incomplete.
She was calmer now, at least.
Barbara turned her head at to the side. The bed following hers was covered by a blue curtain. She could see the silhouette of what seemed a man lying face down. His deep breathing was the only sound in the entire room. He was sleeping.
Such a mess she had made this time, Barbara thought.
Looming on her head she could still see Renee’s face when they brought her in. It was one of her most lucid memories: her black hair falling on her face as she looked down at her, following the hospital gurney, her dark lips moving to tell her something. But Barbara was unsure of what it had been.
She didn’t want to know either.
No. She didn’t have to.
After a while, Barbara ended up getting under the covers again. There was no rush on standing up just now. So she lay semi-awake in the bed during a while. Not too long, judging by the brightness of the sun in the window. She felt calm like that, despite of knowing herself to be trapped in a very piteous situation. Yesterday she had reached a limit, one she didn’t knew herself capable of; and now, at least for a time, she felt both light and empty.
When the nurses came in Barbara asked for Renee. One of them, a brunette woman that was checking her IV, told her she had left as soon as the doctors stabilized her. She left no message for her.
‘Do you want us to call anyone else?’ she asked.
Barbara said no.
Inside her a light stir was starting to make her ill.
‘Why did you wanted to kill yourself, Barbara?’
That was the first question the doctor asked her.
He was a tall man in his late thirties. His hair was brown and combed backwards with gel. He had a strong expression. Barbara thought he was handsome.
‘I didn’t,’ she tried to explain. ‘It was an accident.’
But the doctor didn’t seem to believe her. He simply gave her a skeptical look and proceeded to keep reading her diagnosis file. When he finished, he looked lightly surprised.
‘You had an impressive amount of different drugs in your system when you came in, Barbara,’ he told her. ‘If you weren’t trying to kill yourself, I don’t know what you were thinking.’
Barbara didn’t take the words by heart. She could realize why someone would believe she was lying. Still, she wasn’t. It had been an accident. But how could she make someone understand that?
Maybe she couldn’t.
She folded her hands across her lap. Above her the ceiling fan was blowing soft air, making her hair move in waves. The doctor had put the file down on his lap and was now looking at her with his eyebrows frowned. He seemed concerned.
Barbara didn’t like that expression at all. It was empty. Featureless like the ones of the paramedics that had attended her when she arrived. She couldn’t dare to face him. In front of her, she could hear him still talking. But she had decided on not listening to him anymore. She didn’t need to. Instead she thought that a couple of months back, she would have never thought that she would end up in a place like this. Sitting in a bed from Gotham General Hospital, with a doctor talking nonsense to her about good and bad choices, about life and death and everything they meant.
Yet she was here.
A feeling of shame climbed to Barbara’s cheeks, brightening them with a pink color. She had come all the way here just to find herself as lost as in the beginning, when during yesterday afternoon she inhaled that first white line.
Barbara felt better after having eaten something, even if it was just a cheese sandwich and a juice from the hospital cafeteria. No coffee. She didn’t felt capable of drinking that yet, not even sweet and milky as she liked it. When she looked at the hospital watch, she was surprised to see that it was almost nine at thirty of the morning. She felt as if she had been awake for hours. Time again seemed to pass utterly slowly.
It wasn’t pleasant.
It was like coming back from a parallel universe in which she was numb and everything moved fast. That she felt like when she was stoned. And to come back here was like been slowed down, painfully aware of the outside world. It was both soothing and terrifying.
She now knew that in order to make her wake up, the doctors had had to put her in several doses of Narcan. After this Barbara’s heart had stopped beating during 30 seconds, before going back to a normal rate. They said this was why her body was hurting so much. Anyone else would have surely had some thoughts about this half minute, about what it represented. But Barbara didn’t. Death was a part of life after all; little did it matter if it was at the end of it or in the middle.
When she finished her breakfast, she tried to stand up from the bed. She still felt weak, fragile, but she didn’t care. The window in front of her was closed. The floor under her feet was cold and solid. Her legs were still shaking. Barbara put apart the curtains and glanced at her reflection in the glass. Her blond hair was in completely disarrenged. Her usually radiant face now looked pale and sad. She drifted her gaze. No need to see herself like that.
She opened the window and her skin was hit by cold air. Outside the city wasn’t different from any other day. People walked down the streets for taking the bus, cars crossed the avenues and disappeared on the distance. Barbara wondered how it would feel to be there, wake up early, make a good breakfast, go to work, the kind of stuff people did every day.
But she wasn’t like those people. She was, apparently, slightly different, as today she was here in the hospital after having suffered an overdose of narcotics, with every doctor and nurse thinking she had tried to end with her life.
Barbara breathed, in and out.
She didn’t have the slightest idea of what she was going to do once she was out of here. She couldn’t go back with Renee, that was plainly obvious now. Her apartment, so spacious and yet so empty, didn’t felt like a real option. She wondered if Jim Gordon was still there. She wondered if he would care she was here.
She couldn’t tell.
She hadn’t had any news about him since months ago.
Barbara bit her lips. Her parent's house, big and menacing, emerged in her mind like taken out of a nightmare. They wouldn’t care if she was here, that she knew. She closed the window and turned once again to her hospital bed. Yesterday Barbara could have died. But that hadn’t changed the world or the persons on it in any important way.