By Marissa Frazier
I watch the clock on the car radio, ignoring the Lady Gaga in the background. It reads 8:24. We have thirty-six more minutes until visitors are allowed, but Hanna is hugging the Chevy, hoping for warmth. The sky is grey, showing the gloominess of this winter day. A snow storm happened the other day, making the roads blocked and they have only just now finished clearing them. While the drive was not traumatizing, people made it seem like I would die if I were to leave. My Dad, for example, told me to stay home for the weather and explained that it wouldn’t be worth crashing over wanting to see my brother. Personally, I disagree.
When someone goes through an addiction, leaving the alone only makes it worse. They need to have the support of family and friends, even if there are few of those. My parents shunning my brother aside forced him to move down a darker road, not that they want to admit that or acknowledge it; something I like to call passive parenting. Personally, I prefer being there for my brother and trying to help him. None of my attempts have been successful, but I’m not giving up yet even though there are many people who want me to. I think he does deserve to get help. Yes, he did lie and steal from us, but at the same time isn’t that the addiction? Before everything happened, he was happy. I want to see that happiness again.
The ride here was silent because of Hanna’s opinion. Being a cousin, she tries to agree with me more, but not when it comes to my brother. She agrees with my parents too, but she also supports me and what I decide to do. If I want to help my brother, she will help me help him, but she won’t help directly. Hanna’s view of my brother Daniel has changed significantly, mostly in the negative way too. If there are places such as rehabs though, why do we give up on those who have given up on themselves? All we need is someone to be that minor rock and we can overcome many obstacles. Why can’t they see that too?
Being at the facility Daniel is staying makes tornadoes fly around my stomach, but more fighting to be free and somehow clawing out than nervous fluttering. I have not seen him since he was transferred to this one due to a physical altercation at the last. This Turning Point Recovering Center seems okay, but that is only the outside as of now. The deep oak make the area feel more elder home-like compared to being a recovery place. Then again, isn’t that how they are supposed to be? Something homier for someone to successfully get better? I’ll never fully know, but that is only because it does not make sense either way to me. One must actually want to get better before actually being able to get better. And while Daniel is here, he doesn’t want to get better. We’re two hours away from home for someone who only plans to use once again after getting out.
Rain cries down on the Ford sitting crooked in its parking spot, with its engine turned off yet windows are cracked. I’m unsure when I’ll head in, but it will be after Hanna finishes her phone call with her doctor. There’s not much being said on the doctor’s side, but it’s easy to tell Hanna could face armies with her anger. It’s something about her contacts being off, but it’s not anything someone would rush to eavesdrop on. Her being here means everything to me. Even though she and I would die for each other, Daniel was the cousin she strayed from. Everyone did, naturally.
Hanna grumpily throws her phone down, signaling her giving up. “You ready? I’m tired of dealing with that jackass doctor.”
She aggressively twists her pale black mop on her head into a bun, stray hairs poking their ways through. Before leaving, she had told me it’s a bad idea to come here because of Daniel’s past, but we come from the same parents, so I have to see him. Mainly because no one else will and someone has to make him want to get better.
I gather my things, tying one of my grey lucky scrunchies in my hair, and hesitantly open the car door. “Sure, lets go.”
After making sure the white car doors are locked, we bundle ourselves up in our coats and brace the cold outside. It’s snowing slightly, which isn’t odd for Hannibal, but then again the weather in Missouri is considered extremely bipolar. Typically, there is a change of clothes in my car at all times too just in case the weather makes any unexpected changes.
The parking lot here is bare and almost empty. It seems like there’s not a single living soul here, but at the same time the yellow lighting reminds me of coming home on Christmas to warmth, family, and presents. The clashing of the atmospheres causes my stomach to turn, but Hanna seems fine. Well, she seems like she doesn’t want to be here, and that’s accurate. As we reach the doors, a Prius swings itself into the parking lot, seemingly trying to win a race. My eyes find themselves in a small trance as the vehicle screeches by me and Hanna, slightly running over the curb.
“Jesus Christ, learn to drive, asshole!” Hanna yells at the Prius and flashing her finger, showing just how annoyed she still is. I, on the other hand, barely move, unable to fully process what just happened. This really is a rehab.
“If he hits us, we can sue him and this place too.” I simply point out, yanking the door open. Goosebumps creep over my arms from the furnace warmth I face from the strong heating in here.
My comment earns a little laugh from my cousin before she leaves my side, letting me wander my way to the front desk while she sits with the other guests. The male behind the desk gives me a wide smile, from ear to ear. He’s clearly too happy for his job. There’s smooth jazz music playing quietly in the background, sounding almost like elevator music, with a television playing caption-only Christmas movies.
“Name and who you’re here for?” He asks, that smile still lingering, causing some uneasiness.
“Juniper Davidson, I’m here with Hanna Spears, we’re here for Daniel Davidson. I’m his sister, she’s a cousin.” I quickly give the basic answers the male will ask for to speed up the process. It is constantly tiring to visit this places, but it gets severely irritating continuously hearing the same questions.
Moments later, I’m handed wristbands, and swiftly move next to Hanna. She quickly stands out compared to everyone else. The people here seem formal, but she does not. There’s a mother sitting two seats down from us with a coral dress, and white heels. It seems out of place, but everyone is wearing related articles of clothing. From another woman wearing a dress, this time deep green, to a father wearing a suit and tie. They give Hanna’s ripped jeans distasteful stares, and I’m glad I didn’t wear mine today. The thought of sticking out as much as her terrifies me, and I would much rather avoid it as much as possible.
It’s not long before we’re called to move to what they call the “meeting room” where they all socialize, and we get to just waltz in. I’m unable to recognize Daniel when I first see him. His arms are covered in manmade scabs from imaginary bugs, the life in his blue eyes are gone. Is it possible for eyes to lose their color? How sad must one be for it to reach that point? Can anything actually be done about it?
“Daniel,” I try to smile, “How’s everything?”
One of the worst feelings is seeing someone you’re supposed to love struggling. Daniel shines a smile at me, his teeth yellow, rotting off, all from his addiction.. What else can I really say to him, ‘You can do it?’ Hanna’s silent, staying in the distance. I wonder if she also doesn’t know what to say or if she simply doesn’t want to say anything. It could be from the people around us staring. I’ve never been somewhere that seems so happy, yet acts so troubled. Hanna doesn’t seem to notice, am I the only one paying attention to it?
“I‘ve been better, a week clean as of today.” His voice is raspy, like he needs a cup of water.
I forgot about when he first escaped and relapsed, it happened a little over a week ago. Now, no one has been told a lot about what happened, but Daniel claims someone planted a laced Xanax in his meal, whatever that may be, causing him to last out. Hanna called bullshit on it and said he was just wanting to escape to get high. I’m not sure though. Do addicts really function like that? Only an addict would know for sure.
Glancing towards Hanna, she hesitates before walking over, sitting next to her cousin. She still doesn’t say anything, her eyes being firmly planted on the muted television. The table begins to shake as her leg bounces, hitting the bottom with each upward motion. Her pale can’t outmatch Daniels sickly appearance, but it’s whiter than the woman sitting in the far corner of the room, constantly glancing from side to side as if someone is going to snatch her and run away.
“Did Izzy come with?” Daniel gives me a curious look with his question, but the mention of our sister drops a ten pound weight on both shoulders. It quietly breaks in my heart. For someone to wish and hope for people to be here, people they love, and them not show. It’s always the ones they want to see the most.
Daniel hasn’t seen Izzy in years, mainly since the beginning of his addiction. She was only four, I don’t even think she remembers much. He would always be sneaking out anyways, so she wouldn’t have noticed from being too young. I often think about the time beforehand, wishing I could’ve done something more, but everything I did wasn’t good enough. It’s still not good enough either.
Hanna finally decides to speak, after what feels like hours of silence, “No, and she’s not going to either.”
If there had been any emotion on Daniel’s face, it’s gone now. Hanna’s voice echos through my ears as if they had been said to me. If I wasn’t allowed to see Izzy, I don’t know what I’d do. Plus, everyone wants to see her curly bedhead, they go crazy over it. My brother hasn’t seen anyone in our family in years as they refuse to see him. Dad gave up on him and threw him out, without mentioning it to the family. He’s alpha in our household, per his words.
Daniel shifts with his knees pointing towards an unknown male in dirty clothing as if he had just been sloppily eating. The two make eye contact, but it’s quickly broken as the main security guard, one too guarded for a rehab, screams about keeping to themselves. It happened because the two elderly patients borderline fondling, but there seems to be something else hidden with them. Hanna sees this, giving me the look of ‘Are they serious?’ I only shrug, paying more attention to my brother, who’s now tapping his hand against his leg, with the fingers aggressively moving up and down.
“Hey, are you okay?” I ask, not knowing what he’s going to say or if there’s a point to asking. The whole reason he became involved in drugs was because he was dealing with a lot and keeping it all to himself. Eventually, he grew desperate.
I don’t think about what could’ve actually happened to provoke this. My parents never mention his name anymore, and they have all the rehabs that call blocked, so I have to give them my number. There’s no reason for me still caring about him. In fact, I don’t know if I love him. Can you really love someone who is so selfish and only cares for themselves? They’re aware of what they’re doing, so at some point it’s easy to grow numb to it. Hanna did, we all did.
“I’m going to the car, I’ll be back with things to actually to. This place is depressing.” Hanna says to us before standing up, not letting Daniel say anything else. I hope she is going to come back with other things to do, we have puzzles and board games. Though the people here don’t seem like the ones to enjoy those. Daniel doesn’t usually. I quietly pass the keys to her and she leaves, making sure to give me a secret middle finger in the process.
“When are they going to come visit me?” It’s a simple question that leaves Daniel’s mouth, him ignoring my question from before Hanna left. There isn’t anything I can say to him that wont break his heart. He has to know they don’t want to see him.
I take a deep breath, hoping my voice refuses to become shaken, “They’re not going to come visit you.” My words ring out, I can tell. Immediately, my brothers posture shrinks almost to a limp man. His eyes seem to switch slowly hollow, empty, like he has no hope anymore. What about me though? Were my visits not enough?
“That’s fine, it doesn’t matter.” There’s a smile on Daniel’s face, but anyone could look at him and tell it was a gigantic lie.
Talking to my brother feels like talking to a bully. They’re going to be mean and say things you don’t want to hear whether you like it or not. Telling them to stop could bring them over the edge and make it worse, or cause a relapse. Growing up during the fights, something Dad always said was to never provoke Daniel, especially on withdrawal days. Many times when he was trying to get clean, someone would provoke him and he would run away, disappearing for sometimes months. I caused it at one point after wishing we would leave after destroying a stuffed elephant in a fit of rage. If I knew he would immediately speed to his meth dealer, I wouldn’t have acted the way I did. Now, I would never react the way I did because it’s a stuffed animal, but I can’t change what’s already happened, I can only try to help it.
“You still want me to visit, right?” I try to make sure as his reaction to my parents and sister not being here seems to have mess with him. I notice the sky has grown darker, not too pitch black, but more depressing. The rush of color that previously left his face slowly comes back as I mention myself. A realization, I think, happened. Maybe Daniel is getting a little better.
“Oh, yes, yes. Please keep coming if you don’t mind.” It’s almost a plea from him, as if someone is trying to use a visitor as a means to escape their prison. I can’t tell whether he actually needs me, or if I’m just there for part of his recovery.
Thinking about it more, he could need me, just not as much as he may need a parent. Siblings can help you with a lot, but nothing relates to the amount of love a parent can give. If there is a way, I’ll do it in a heartbeat, but I remember what our Dad said: You can’t throw yourself over a bridge to help someone when they don’t want to be helped. Does Daniel want to be helped, or does he want to keep living this life? That’s not a question I think I can ask, and knowing the answer could hurt me more.
“Do you want me to bring anything the next time?” I ask, hoping to move the conversation to a lighter subject, buy feeling my phone vibrate, shaking my leg. I know it’s Hanna, she isn’t going to come back inside, and she’s definitely not going to bring games for us.
Daniel’s posture loosens, knowing I want to change the conversation, “No, I think next time will be fine with nothing more.”
I wonder if I said something wrong, seeing as his reply is dry. Actually, he stands, moving away from me and to someone else staying here. It’s clear that I offended him, or had said something wrong. Although, I’m not sure what I could have done. Throughout my life, Daniel and I have never been close but I have always tried to do whatever I can to help him. Yet he always tosses that aside because I’m not the person he wants me to be. I’m not our dad who’s telling him he loves him, or cheering him on. I’m not our mom who’s hugging him while he cries through the hardest withdrawals possible. I’m not who he wants, but I was always the one who wanted to help him the most. It never got me anywhere, though. I don’t think I could ever be enough to help him either.
When we were kids, the two of us would always play together on the playground near our house. Our parents told us to be careful because we could encounter strangers or fall and hurt ourselves. Around the fourth time we went, he didn’t listen to them. Daniel thought he would be bold and jump off the top of a slide, not thinking about the hard ground below, or the rest of the slide either. I remember him screaming and crying in pain, with me running to his side. Being younger than him, I didn’t know what was happening. I was scared something bad happened to him. The other parents were trying to help him, but he pushed me away when I would try. He would say I’m too dumb to know what to do and it would be impossible to actually help him, unlike everyone else. Now isn’t any different.
“I think I’m going to check out, please.” I say to the receptionist in the room. I see Daniel watching me from a distance, not sure what I’m doing, before beginning to walk over to me. But he doesn’t want me, and while I want to help him, some people don’t wish to be helped. You can’t do anything about that either.
Simply having to take off the name badge, I hold my arms close, ignoring my brothers questions. My heart beats out of its chest, like it could break out at any point, wanting to turn back and beg him to let me help. I don’t, though. I’m not helping someone who refuses to help themselves, or anyone around them. So I keep going, not looking to see who might be staring. And especially not to Daniel, an addict who has no intentions of recovering.