Cybil couldn’t quite remember when it was that she stopped rocking, but by the time dawn filtered through the window, she was stiff and every joint hurt. As soon as she heard the nurses in the hallway, she scrambled jelly-legged off the bed desperate to join the living. As the blood flowed, her entire body tingled with pins and needles, rendering her motionless and in agony in the middle of the corridor.
A nurse eyed her with concern. ‘You okay?’
Cybil nodded, every bit of her relieved to hear someone’s warmth filled voice. ‘Couldn’t sleep.’
‘You often can’t sleep?’ She came forward to give her a hand to the nearest chair.
Cybil shook her head. ‘Nightmares, more likely.’
‘Hmmm, and how long have you had these nightmares?’
Cybil didn’t really have to think about it. The nightmares stared since the night she realized she was scared of height, on the Ferris wheel at Luna Park overlooking the gorgeous Sydney harbour. It had been her best friend, Anna’s birthday and they’d met there as a group. Cybil had screamed and between the vision of the ground crashing up at her, she’d fainted. ‘It’s been more than a month.’
‘Hmmm, I see.’
And no, Cybil didn’t see. She wished she could, but all she knew was she was far more miserable now than she had ever been even while using. She’d loose days, at least not her mind.
‘Go to the chapel at 10 today.’
‘Why? What’s happening at the chapel?’ Cybil couldn’t help but ask. The last time she’d gone anywhere religious had been quiet a few years ago with her family. She hadn’t let it become a habit, not by a long shot.
‘The hold a group there every Thursday’s for any one dealing with stress and anxiety.’
‘But I’m not anxious!’
‘Hmmmm, of course you’re not. But go anyway. You might like it.’ with that, the nurse walked away, letting Cybil deal with her fading pins and needles.
Five hours later, Cybil curiously found herself walking to the chapel. Perhaps spending a little time I’m God’s house might make her feel comfortable. Maybe even let her feel relaxed. She pushed the door open slowly, not wanting to disturb the group, but to her surprise, only the group facilitate was there, setting up few pews with pamphlets. She slid into the back row hoping the woman wouldn’t notice.
‘Oh please, don’t feel shy. Come on up and join us at the front.’ The woman was elderly, and reminded Cybil of her Gran. ‘The others shouldn’t be too long.’ She smiled. ‘They like to pretend they are ambling on in here disinterested, but they all love it. One of our oldest member has been coming here every Thursday without fail whenever he is here.’
Reluctantly, she moved herself to one of the last pews the lady had readied and busied herself with the information on the pamphlets for want of a distraction. People started coming in and taking seats at random and soon enough the woman was calling them to attention.
‘Welcome back everyone! It’s lovely to see you again,’ she was saying while Cybil buried her face further behind the piece of paper. ‘As I always say, when we have new people in the group, let’s do a round of introductions so we all feel acquainted. So how about we start with you dear, tell us a bit about yourself and we will all do our intros following.’
Cybil focused on the words on the paper at hand, just wishing the person would get it started already. She was beginning to think the group was a bad idea.
‘Ahem, we are waiting dear, don’t be shy.’
Someone sitting behind Cybil clawed at her shoulder and she jumped. ‘Ellen is talking to you.’
Cybil’s jaw dropped and she turned her attention to the group, and true enough, all eyes were on her. She wanted to shrink away and run out the door.
‘Go on,’ Ellen urged.
Cynics throat suddenly felt dry and she tried to swallow but found no spit. ‘I…I…’ She took a deep breath, ‘I’m Cybil and I only came here yesterday,’ she rushed through.
‘And, how long since you last used?’ Ellen asked gently.
All eyes and ears were eagerly tuned to Cybil. ‘Um, I haven’t used for 5 months.’
Heads turned here and there to one another, wishers floats and gasps. ‘So what brings you to the rehab my dear?’
Cybil felt the eyes pin her down again. ‘Um, I. Things are shot right now and I wanted to use again.’ She lied. So she her. She didn’t really want to tell a chapel full of people that a string of repeat nightmare was what bought her here.
‘Now that, my beauties, is one strong young woman. A lesson to be learned there for everyone here. It’s not the temptation but how we fight it that counts, that lets us grow strong.’
‘You here for me, ain’t you?’ a raspy whisper sounded right behind her ear, and suddenly, Cybil could feel hot heavy breath on her neck. It made the hairs on her neck stand up. ‘How about you and I both skip this like old times and go have our own fun?’ Graham teased, sneaking a cold hand beneath her jumper and caressed her supple back. Cybil recoiled from the touch.
‘No, I’d like to stay here and see how this goes.’
‘Fine, have it your way,’ Graham jumped over the seat and slid himself next to her, his arm resting behind her on the seat. ‘We’ll sort us out later,’ he winked, squeezing her shoulder. ‘I’ve missed you.’
Cybil took a staggered deep breath and closed her eyes. How had she landed herself in this mess?