teacup

allexandar Gherke

I am Allexandar. I typically go by Allex, but this story isn’t so much about me, but more about a specific event that I have experienced. I plan to have this published and for that reason I feel it necessary to include some type of trigger warning or a warning that graphic content is to come. For the record, I have asked everyone in the story if they were alright with this being shared. Now, onto the story.

My older sister, Bailey, is my half-sister. Despite this, I’ve known her my entire life and consider her a full sibling. This is not to say that any other sibling is not real, but Bailey has been in my life longer than any other sibling, including my one fully biological sibling. My strongest memories from my very early ages all include Bailey in some way. We were always near each other, even if she didn’t quite want me there all the time. I can never tell from memory if I actually had a considerably large house in these young years or if everything just seemed larger as a small child. We didn’t always get along the best; we’ve had our times of not talking, or not caring. I was never sure. At this point in our lives, we seem to have come to an understanding that we will live our own lives and never get as close as we used to be. I think we are both fine with this. 

Around the age of 16, I was working at Burger King as the quintessential crew member. I could work the kitchen, the front, or the drive thru. I moved where they needed me. I wasn’t very happy, but I made money and enjoyed that part of it. Who else could be one of my managers but Bailey? I always like to imagine that they let us work together because our last names were different, like we sneakily cheated the system. Logically, they probably just didn’t care because we were good workers and eventually, they forgot it was even a thing. I worked there for just over a year. Conversely, Bailey still works there and has moved up the chain since. She does well for herself and continues to clock-in at that horrid place almost daily. I envy her perseverance.

While we worked there, we were never as close as we once were, but we were closer than we are now. Our relationship was exactly as I imagine any sibling-as-your-manager relationship would go. We would go through days where we preferred to only mention work related things; other days we would talk about anything but. The latter were definitely the better of the two. No matter what, either were at least fine. 

We closed the store a lot together, as we made a pretty good team. Business always slowed down at night, but we still had many closing duties. We were almost always busy. If we weren’t, we should’ve been. On a night where we all planned to close just as we had a million times before, things weren’t quite right. It was hard to tell, but something was wrong with Bailey. After asking and being told the requisite, “I’m fine,” multiple times, I decided she really was okay. I continued washing the cooking areas as half-assed as any 16-year-old does when they think they don’t care about anything. 

Bailey continued her closing duties too. Hers’ were different than mine, of course, because she was the manager. She had to focus on the money and the safe and keeping everyone else in check. She mainly stayed in the oddly raised manager’s office near closing time, but she wasn’t usually this quiet. I checked on her often, but she continued to assure me that she was fine, and I should finish my work. Soon, as I was cleaning, I noticed that she was sitting on the step that turned into the floor of the office. I asked what was wrong and I didn’t get a reply. I went and sat next to her.

“Bay, what’s going on?”

Nothing. 

“Hey, I’m serious! Are you good?”

“Yeah, I just feel off. Like nostalgic.”

“What do you mean? That’s not really how you use that.”

“I don’t know, I just feel nostalgic.”

At that point, something came over her and she began crying. Obviously, something was seriously wrong. I wasn’t going to let her drive home, so after some discussion, we all decided that my stepbrother, who happened to work there as well, would drive her home and then come back and continue helping me close. We finished, went home, and tried to sleep. I’m already not a great sleeper, but it didn’t help to be full of worry for Bailey.

A few days passed, me going to school as normal, everyone in the household living their own life. I was extra sleepy and distracted for these next few days. 

On another dark night, as if my life was trying it’s hardest be as scary as possible, Bailey had her big breakdown. She wouldn’t talk but I could clearly tell something was off. However, I had absolutely no clue what had happened. Out of need, she began looking in the drawer full of kitchen knives. Being an awfully long time, I went to go check on her. 

“Hey, what’s up?”

She did not answer. 

Instead, she looked at me with wide eyes, then walked away. I was a little spooked, and rightfully so. She walked towards the laundry room and stared at the bleach. 

“Bailey, what’s going on?” my voice clearly getting serious, but not quite raising it.

Still silent. 

Again, she looked at me in the same way, then walked away with no intention to interact with me. Because of the way our house is laid out, she could only go out the garage. Typically, I’d be fine letting just about anyone walk away from me, but this situation was definitely not typical. I continued following her, watching her closely and constantly trying to get her attention. As we continued down the sidewalk, we ended up next to a slightly busier road. She looked for cars to pass. Throughout this, she muttered that she was Kevin. Who is Kevin? No one actually knows. Between the odd actions and muttering, it finally hit me. She was trying to end her life. 

I kept her from doing anything, necessarily pushing her around rougher than I was comfortable with. During our struggles, I texted my stepfather where we were and that I needed him immediately. He was much stronger and eventually coaxed Bailey back down the road and into the house, all while I filled him in. When we got back in, we sat her on the couch and tried to figure out what was going on. She continued to just mutter senseless phrases and words, “admitting” that she was using drugs. I say “admitting” because we later found out that she was definitely not, and it was all part of the nonsense. 

As if another wave of evil came over her, she began to scream and claw at her own face. She was burying her nails into her skin, including her eyelids, as if it were a layer that she must remove. Blood began to seep out from the contact points. My stepdad and I were on either side, so our first reactions were to grab each arm and hold them down. As we pulled away, she clung on, making scratches down her face. Blood continued to flow slowly from her face. As we held her arms down, I began to bawl. My mother commanded my stepbrother to call 911 and have them come get her. As we waited, my mother, being heavily religious, put her hand on Bailey’s forehead and prayed violently. It is impossible to describe the sound of my crying, Bailey’s murmuring, my mother’s praying, and my stepbrother’s voice from the other room explaining the situation all at once. Luckily, during all this, my little sister was forced to stay in her room.

The paramedics arrived and put Bailey on a stretcher as we all sporadically explained to the best of our ability. They had me put a rubber glove on her had to prevent her from hurting herself further. She was tied down and taken away. I was prohibited to go along and was told to wait. She came back that night on some medication, but that didn’t last long. The next day, she was taken by my parents to the emergency room, and eventually, the psych ward after a small breakdown. This leave wasn’t as short as the previous one. At this point, this situation was all I could think about, making it difficult to function for the next while.

Within a week my I was at the hospital to visit her. After checking in, I was escorted down different halls filled with rooms, all filled with different people with different situations. At the moment, I had no care for any of them. After some time, we went through a very specific hallway. This one wasn’t filled with rooms or people or really anything. Just windows on both sides showing that this specific hallway was only connecting two separate buildings by the second floor. We finally got to the doors at the end of the hallway where the worker had to unlock and open the door, allowing us in. 

We had officially arrived at the psych ward that Bailey was kept in. I saw some of my grandparents already waiting to see her when I arrived. We spoke to kill time, but we all knew we weren’t really saying anything. We were all worried about the same thing: Bailey. After an unnecessarily long wait, I was finally allowed to see my sister. After walking with another worker through a locked door, I was asked to place all my belongings in a small, square locker. I was directed to go through a final set of doors. When I walked in, my eyes wandered the room, seeing many different people until they locked on my sister.

She was sitting in light blue scrubs, messy hair, clearly out of it. She wore some type of paper bracelet and those fuzzy socks with the rubber nubs on the bottom. My grandmother was speaking to her, getting no reply at all. I was finally face to face with her, but I couldn’t get any words out. We stared at each other for eternity. Then eternity was shattered by my grandma speaking prayers to Bailey. I spoke little singsong-y words that truly meant nothing and were really to comfort me, not her. Her face was as blank as the day this all started, somehow with less emotion. I eventually had to leave; it was Bailey’s rest time. 

Her face continued to plague my thoughts, leaving me a functionless creature. I later found out that much of the reason she was like this was due to the antipsychotics that she was constantly fed. She was a shell of a human, a walking nothingness. 

Weeks passed while I tried to act like I wasn’t dealing with any of this. I decided that I needed to focus on some of my own things, so I would visit rarely. When my father asked if I wanted to go, I caved and said yes. This time, she was in a different area. My father had been multiple times before to visit Bailey, so he led the way to her. When I arrived, I gave her a Snickers that had “PRINCESS” printed on the back. She loved that she was being called princess, even if it was meant to be an insult for when someone was hungry. She didn’t understand anything other than she was a princess at the time. We played tic-tac-toe and she always won, sick or not. She presented drawings that she was trying to do, one of a teacup. It was a cute little drawing, but nothing close to the top of her ability. Per her request, I left my phone number, so she had someone to talk to.

She began calling me frequently, talking on a regular basis, sometimes many times in one day. I loved these calls, but I missed my actual sister, not her drugged self.

In totality, two months passed. Bailey moved from ward to ward, different hospitals, different drugs. All in two months. I was told she was coming back. Finally, she was coming back home. When she arrived, she was neither like herself before she left nor when she was in the multiple institutes. She was different, though only slightly. My mother continued to tell me that she was happier; changed for the better. Of course, only Bailey can say whether that’s true or not. We continue to be siblings with an understanding that we will never be as close as we used to be, and that is okay. She continues to live her life, not remembering the two months she had missed from her life. I continue to live my life, remembering all too well the two months she had missed from her life.