Respite, the oasis. Ever an illusion out of reach. She possessed an overwhelming yearning to escape the dunes of her self doubt. Each grain: regret, anger and sadness; creating the towering hills of her internal hell. The landscape never changing. Up one sandy crest, only to slide down to the foot of another. How long had she wandered through this desert?
Sometimes, she would get enough energy to run. The sand fell away beneath her dirty bare feet as she raced towards the peak. Her chest burned with each breath, and the dryness in her throat felt like swallowed needles. She kept her focus on the summit before her, pumping her arms in determination. As she reached the apex of the ominous ridge, she jumped, and spread her arms out to take flight.
“Colleen, are you all right?”
She blinked slowly, shifting her eyes to take in her surroundings. The familiar furnishings of her living room enveloped her.
A hand touched her shoulder, causing her to jump. She turned to face Joel, whose furrowed brow and frown conveyed his concern.
“Am I here?” she asked hesitantly.
Joel let out a sigh and grabbed her hand, squeezing it gently as he did so, “Yes hun, you’re here.”
“Joel, you’d never believe, I was stu—“
He pulled on her arm, sternly, but not enough to harm her, “Colleen, just stop. We’ve talked about this. I know about the desert.”
She gaped at him, “But how?”
“Don’t you remember what Doctor Robins said yesterday?” he let go of her hand and walked to the table, grabbing a small paper bag, “This is going to keep happening if you don’t stay on your meds.” He pulled out a bottle, opened it and offered her two small blue pills.
She looked at the pills, something in her stomach churned as she regarded them suspiciously. “Joel, I…I don’t remember seeing a doctor…”
“Shhh, it’s okay honey,” he placed his free hand on her shoulder, “this is what happens when you get anxious. We saw the doc for your three month checkup. She gave you these to continue healing.” He placed the pills into the palm of her hand.
“What happened three months ago?” she asked, glancing down at her hand.
“Hun, take the pills,” he made a waving motion with his hand. “It’s been three months since your break down, remember? When that pitch fell through at work?”
She brought her hand to her mouth and deposited the pills, swallowing as he finished speaking. A fuzzy image of her office flashed through her mind, and her chest tightened with anxiety. She imagined the pills falling into her stomach, like a rock thrown into a well. As the pills hit her stomach, she could feel the contents splashing out to assault her body like paint splattering against a canvas. Her stomach churned and she doubled over.
And then she fell.
She was tumbling, head over heels down the sandy bluff once more.