Chapter 1: Claustrophobia
 
My brother and I were always together. Ever since we were young. He was my protector and I was the person who helped make sure he saw the fun things in life. We relied on each other through thick and thin. When both of us had cuts down to the bone on our knee he tried to soothe my tears as we bandaged each other up. He needed me too though. He never told anyone how he felt. Love, saddness and anger he bottled away on little shelves until the point where he'd snap. When he snapped I'd tell him to lay his head in my lap. We'd talk about the future and all it held as I hummed softly. That was our life. Inseperable and sometimes full of hardship but... we didn't want it any other way. 


 There was only one time where we had been seperated. Those were the days in which we spent in the hospital in our little town. It was a dim dank place which had a certain bad feeling around it. We were afraid as we sat in the waiting room. Both of us were smart enough to know what kind of place this was. Him probably more than me. I still had a small degree of trust at that time.


 "Mom wouldn't really do this to us" I mumbled kicking my feet along the carpet. He glanced over at me with a soft tired sigh. I knew the look in his eyes. He didn't know whether or not he actually trusted mom. I didn't either... I just wanted to hope. I tried to give him a smile best I could maybe to ease things.


 "She loves us so she definitely wouldn't do this to us" I declared "You ask to go home I bet she'll definitely say yes".


 "I already did... she said we have to do this" he mumbled "I got admit I'm a bit terrified... got a bad feeling walking up and down my spine".


 "I know but don't get down besides what are they going to do? Heckle you over how manly and protective you are" I teased "Its simple Min. We'll go in and be honest then they'll arrange something that works". He cracked a smile tugging me close a moment so my head laid on his shoulder. 


 "You're right besides anyway We've got each other so if anything happens I'll protect you. Like I always have" he hummed. I needed it, that soft humming. It was enough to stop my own shaking that had been going on as long as we were in that room. It made me think of different things like the way we'd lay beneath trees at home and take turns reading out the voices of different characters in our books. His favorite was harry potter and mine was inkheart. If we didn't have books we'd still end up telling each other stories. He loved going on about far away places and pirate ships with a grin on his face. I'd get so excited about the concept of the world outside our town that I'd just bounce with excitement. I loved those days. 


Memories of that were what kept me going. They melted away the cold doctor's office with its whiteness and the sobbing of children audiable. It eased the pain in my chest as my mother was still in there talking to the doctor. 


"tell me a story right now" I whispered.


"Hmm Once upon a ti-" he started but unfortunately was interrupted by the door opening and my mother appearing. It was our turn to talk to the docotor. I remember at the time every part of my brain telling me something was off about that doctor. I swallowed the bile forming in my throat nervously and clutched my brother's hand tightly. Our steps slow and hesitant we walked into that office. Hell lay behind that door. It lay in the clean scent and the tick of that devilish clock constantly ticking a sound I'd never forget. 


 Our doctor was towered over both of us. He was big and the way he spoke didn't match the look in his eyes. I felt myself become the panicked one. Those brown eyes filled with some kind of unsettling look the kind a villian might have. It was enough to make me feel like I could barely breathe. Min ran his fingers over the top of my hand. "its okay. I'll protect you... I'll protect you" he whispered. 


 "Were you in love with her, the girl named Mikalya?" those were the first words out of the doctor's mouth. I froze. Min sat up straight his eyes narrowing into a glare that practically demanded to know where the hell had the doctor gotten the right to ask that. I want to get up and leave already. Who had told him? No no no answering the truth was doom I could feel it. Min looked angrily glaring. He felt at that moment like mother had betrayed us. I would of agreed and tried to calm it if it weren't for the fear churning in my gut and squeezing my lungs shut. I had to reply though or Min did. One of us had to. 


 "No... but why does it matter" Min hissed. I held on to his arm. As that attempt at a friendly smirk turned into something more dark on the doctors face. 


 "so you did" the doctor hummed noting it on his little pad. I wanted to scream at him to stop. Thats all he wanted to talk about in that meeting... her. My first love. Our first love actually. The girl who was summer all wrapped up in human form. She was warmth, safety and the smell of honey suckle. She was the type who'd bandage my wrists when I got hurt and the type who'd watch min obsess over the bugs on the way home as they talked about movies. It was our happiness. Secret and important to be kept safe. She had tried to save us. 


 I didn't want that man to even try to touch our happiness. It was like he'd incarcerate us for it. It was even more frustrating though that he wanted to view our happiness as something bad rather than believe either of us on the reason why we came there.


 "We were sent here after the cops were called because our parents were...." I mumbled my voice trailing off.


  "Abusive" Min finished off for me taking the truth head on. A lot braver than I could be. Abusive seemed so harsh even though it was the truth. It was just such a black and white seeming word. It only included the bad parts of our life. Neglecting the times before our mother hit us and dad smelled of alcohol. It just seemed to overtake the days mother curled up with us watching dramas on tv. The smell of fried chicken from our take out filling our room along with the gasps about what ever turn had just happened. It felt like it might erase the memories of her laughter and smile with that fear of when she was angry. 


  The doctor nodded jotting down more notes on his pad with a look that just showed he didn't believe us. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Why did no one ever listen to us. Why did every time we reached for help end up falling to pieces? The school consueler who had listened to us everyday couldn't do anything. The police refused to do anything in fact they had recommended we go for psychiatric help. We weren't crazy. Minnan was different from me though. He took everyone of those experiences with rage. He was angry the world was so cruel.


 Anger though wouldn't change that we were probably going to get called liars again. It solved nothing in the end other than wasting his energy. I took my brother's hand giving it a squeeze. I'd always be here to ground him. No matter what the world threw at us we had to be there for each other. His deep grey eyes softened and he clutched my hand back.


 "I think I've heard enough" the doctor told us before sending us out to the waiting room and calling our mother in. 


 In the waiting room I glanced at Min. He was shaking. Tears streaming down his cheeks. Oh god did he look scared. I was scared too though. I could feel my heart beat like a drum against my ribs threatening to break out, but I wiped his tears away, forgetting to wipe my own away. He cracked beneath my fingers turning into a sobbing mess. He couldn't even breathe and I pulled him in close. Holding him to my chest I wailed with him. It felt like it might be the end of things for us. 

 

 Fear bound us in our spots as the door reopened and the doctor stepped out with his dreadful notepad in hand. My hands were still clutching my brother close to my chest. His fingers had begun to run over my hair soothingly. Our mother had both brows furrowed in a worried expression, looking paler than her normal ghostly complexion. The doctor beckoned us over. A deep urge welled up in my heart to run. I felt my hair stand on end as the doctor put a hand on my back guiding me silently to a set of doors. 

 

 "Just this way please." Doctor Ferdinand said with that smile again. Oh god that smile unnerved me. I wanted to pull away as they led us to a set of big glass doors. I grasped for my brother's hand. I needed him. I needed to know we'd be okay. My fingers came up empty though and instead my mother intercepted my reach grabbing my hand. I couldn't pull away. I could barely even breathe. The doors swung open and they pushed us in. Min dug his heels in resisting every bit of the guidance looking wild eyed and scared. 


"we'll be okay" he tried to promise me. Another doctor grabbed him though and began to lead my brother away. I grasped and grabbed at the air my mother holding me back. Her fingers felt cold on my arms. I just wanted to go home. I wanted warm blankets, hot cocoa and movies with my family. I wanted it all to be alright. Why wasn't it? What was happening to us? Why were they taking my brother away?  


"Where are you taking him?!" I demanded as I saw him disappear down the long white hall into another room. The fear in his eyes stuck in my brain. If he was scared what chance did I have? 


"You're both going to be in a program here at Kingsburrow" the doctor said putting his hand on my arm. I yanked away. 


"Let us go home" I insisted. 


"No this is for your own good" Doctor Ferdinand insisted his eyes narrowing as he gazed down at me. I wanted to yell. I could feel rage bubbling up inside. It painted my cheeks red. I clenched my hands in fists tightly. How could he pretend he knew what was right for me? He didn't even listen to me. He didn't want to listen to me. I knew what kingsburrow was afterall. It was the local teen asylum. They'd rather lock us up in here than deal with how my mother was acting. We didn't deserve this. 


 I bit back my words and looked around. The hall was creepily sterile without an ounce of decoration. Everything was white from the floor to the walls, even the furniture. Ferdinand placed a hand on my back again pushing me forward. This time I dug my heels in. He pushed harder though and I took a stumbling step forward. He wouldn't stop pushing me towards the double doors at the end of the hallway. I could see through the glass, a little common room. It'd be where I'd live for the next few weeks. I wasn't going easy though. I kept digging my heels in and forced them to push me along. As the doors swung open as we got closer I dug in as hard as I could. 


 "Mom don't do this" I begged taking a last look at my mother's face. Her soft brown eyes looked hesitant and she looked almost wisp-like in appearance as she stood there hands wroung. Her freckled face was as pale as a sheet and while she usually was a bouncey big woman , she looked so small. I felt like my heart might break seeing her like that. Yet also I was angry. How could she just do this to me? To us? What about her son? Didn't she care about him? Didn't she care about me, her daughter, her miracle as she always called me? 


 "baby I can't" she muttered in a soft tone on the verge of tears. My resistance faltered then seeing the tears in her eyes and I went tumbling into the common room. I whipped back to face the closed doors. I tugged on the handles meeting my mother's brown eyes. She turned away from me and I felt my heart shatter in my chest. It was a burning pain as I kept pulling on the handles. I watched my mother turn away as the doctor led her to another room leaving me in the empty common room just a nurse to watch me. I felt my knees give in and I fell to my knees right there.


 I was all alone for the first time in my life. It was terrifying. It felt like I had been abandoned. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks in rivers. My fingers clutched at the carpet as I curled up in a ball. "this must be a nightmare" I sobbed "please let me wake up. Please Please Please". No one would listen to my pleas though. 


 My heart felt like it had been carved out as I stood up after a while. I made my way shakily to the couch and sat down. It was uncomfortably lumpy beneath me. I drew my knees close. Minutes felt like hours as I just sat there, waiting and hoping to see someone... my brother, Mikayla or maybe even my mother. Where was everyone when I needed them? I couldn't even see the outside in the common room. It already felt like a prison and I hadn't even gotten a fair trial. Did Min get to go home? They had to let him go home right? I wished with all my heart he was that lucky. 


  My hopes were crushed when the doctor returned though. Doctor Ferdinand stood imposingly over me with that grin still on his wrinkled face. He looked like a vulture waiting to pick me apart. He kneeled down close to me. I shivvered wanting to scoot as far away as humanly possible but there was no where to go. 


 "Your sister and you will be staying here at Kingsburrow. During the time you are here. It was decided to seperate you. Understand you're here until you get better. The relationship you had with that girl was toxic and you need to acknowledge that" he said his eyes staring into mine. I felt my body go cold for a moment just listening to his words. No... this had to be a nightmare. I was going to wake up right? Min and I had to wake up. I'd definitely wake up in bed surrounded by my stuffed animals and the thick sheets. Mom would be there too she'd have my favorite breakfast ready with a smile. Mom wouldn't let this be real. She loved me. This had to be just some nightmare. Mikayla was waiting for me and so was Min. Why wasn't I waking up though? No matter how much I blinked, Doctor Ferdinand was still there grinning and staring like I was the main course. This was reality. We were going through this because we loved a girl. 

 

 I thought about Min a moment. What would he do? He wouldn't break no matter what they did. I wouldn't break either. I owed it to him. They weren't going to change me. I wasn't going to budge for my brother and for me. I'd stay strong and when everything was over Min would be waiting for me, ready to comfort me with arms open. I had to remember that. Even though I knew these things, I wanted to run and hide with my stuffed animals. Min always used to tell me when ever monsters came out my stuffed animals would protect me. Especially my parent's stuffed bear. He was soft and white. Min would pick snowy up and tell me he was a brave knight. Every night he'd tell me stories of Snowy's brave adventures. That was so far away right now though. 


 Everything was so far, a distant image on the horizon as I sat the vulture hanging over me. Doctor Ferdinand probably knew I was uncomfortable but he didn't budge. I glanced away just wishing for space. My eyes darted to the tv in the room as it played static. It was enough to try to divert some of my attention from the man staring at me. I still couldn't help fidgetting uncomfortably. Say something. Please. Maybe he could prove my bad feelings wrong. Maybe I was just being a pestimist, right? Definitely. There was still lots of things to hope for! 


"So" I mumbled softly "When is dinner". It was a great change of topic even if I do say so myself. 


"you'll be eating up here alone. We'll bring you food when its time" he said tone cold. 


"Okay so what time is it and when is dinner" I asked trying to smile. There was no way of telling time in the room. There was just a tv buzzing with static and two couches. There wasn't even so much as a decorative painting. I wanted to just draw something for the walls to brighten the place up. It seemed like it needed it. I wondered if Min's common room was better? I sighed realizing how uncomfortable he must be with people calling him a girl. I'm sure he'd correct them though and they'd respect his wishes, right? Just keep up optimism. 


 "Dinner is when Dinner is" he said. 


 My brain refocused on the doctor and I raised a brow. He definitely seemed like he wasn't going to tell me when dinner was.


 "So wheres my room? I think I might want to lay down a bit" I said again flashing my best attempt at a smile. Be cordial and sweet , that was my life rule afterall. That was why I was of course mother's favorite. The doctor's expression remained the same as before, grin plastered on his face still looming. 


 "Yes your room" he said standing up. I let out a sigh of relief, slipping off the couch as soon as he stepped away to show me to the room. He was about to show me down the hall when he glanced at my feet. 


 "Shoes take them off" he ordered his voice stern. I raised a brow. Why would they want my shoes? I mean they were adorable of course! I always wore cute converse in a shade of soft teal with pink shoe laces. My mother had picked them out with me during one of her better moments. I shrugged though and slipped off my shoes. Maybe shoes just weren't allowed in the room. 


 He bent down and picked up my shoes. Doctor Ferdinand handed them off to the nurse who rather quickly took out the cheerful little pink laces I had picked out myself.  The laces went into the nurse's pocket and I frowned. It was a weird feeling, a bit angry,and sad with two cups of uncomfortable. I didn't like it at all but at least they'd give me back my shoes. I hoped at least. 


 They did give me back my little teal sneakers. I slipped them on over my bright pink socks quickly before they could find another reason to take them. They were so floppy without my laces. They kept slipping off my feet too but I wasn't going to take them off again. 


 Finally now that I was laceless, the doctor began leading the way down a long hall just off the common room. The hall almost looked infinite just row after row of doors all open. I glanced from empty room to empty room. They all had a tiny bed with no sheets, no other furnishings. At least the beds had pillows! That was a major plus. Although I did usually prefer more than one pillow. They all had the same shade of ruby on the sheet too. 


 Eventually he stopped and I looked into the room he had stopped infront of. It was the same as all the rest. One sheet, one pillow on a singular bed in the middle of the room. I poked my head in and grinned a bit seeing we got our own bathrooms. How incredibly lucky! They didn't have a door though. Peeking in a bit I took a few more steps into the room before making my way to the bed. The bed was definitely hard as a rock but I could just look at this as a really crappy hotel! Yeah! I'm just on a small vacation. 


 "You're never to close your door. In fact you are not allowed in your bedroom between 8 am and 8 pm. You also only have exactly five minutes to shower" the doctor said. I raised a brow. What about when I shower? I needed privacy then and a lot more time. I felt my optimism dampen. There had to be something good to take from right?


Doctor Ferdinand hearded me back to the common room where I hoped dinner would be waiting for me. The nurse had gotten out a small bag of animal crackers and a little milk carton. I guessed it was snack time. I hoped to finally see other friendly faces. Since I came here I had only seen the big tall nurse and doctor Ferdinand. It would be nice to finally have someone to talk with and maybe get the feeling for what the place was like. 


 "this is your dinner" the nurse told me shoving the small bag and carton into my hands as I was day dreaming. I couldn't hide my surprise or the frown that once again appeared. This was all I was getting? Surely this had to be a jest. I waited for the punchline as I sat on the couch. No other kids came either. I was alone with my animal crackers. A wave of nausea hit me as I tried to choke down the food. I sighed realizing how uncomfortable he must be with people calling him a girl. I'm sure he'd correct them though and they'd respect his wishes, right? Just keep up optimism. 


 "Dinner is when Dinner is" he said. 


 My brain refocused on the doctor and I raised a brow. He definitely seemed like he wasn't going to tell me when dinner was.


 "So wheres my room? I think I might want to lay down a bit" I said again flashing my best attempt at a smile. Be cordial and sweet , that was my life rule afterall. That was why I was of course mother's favorite. The doctor's expression remained the same as before, grin plastered on his face still looming. 


 "Yes your room" he said standing up. I let out a sigh of relief, slipping off the couch as soon as he stepped away to show me to the room. He was about to show me down the hall when he glanced at my feet. 


 "Shoes take them off" he ordered his voice stern. I raised a brow. Why would they want my shoes? I mean they were adorable of course! I always wore cute converse in a shade of soft teal with pink shoe laces. My mother had picked them out with me during one of her better moments. I shrugged though and slipped off my shoes. Maybe shoes just weren't allowed in the room. 


 He bent down and picked up my shoes. Doctor Ferdinand handed them off to the nurse who rather quickly took out the cheerful little pink laces I had picked out myself.  The laces went into the nurse's pocket and I frowned. It was a weird feeling, a bit angry,and sad with two cups of uncomfortable. I didn't like it at all but at least they'd give me back my shoes. I hoped at least. 


 They did give me back my little teal sneakers. I slipped them on over my bright pink socks quickly before they could find another reason to take them. They were so floppy without my laces. They kept slipping off my feet too but I wasn't going to take them off again. 


 Finally now that I was laceless, the doctor began leading the way down a long hall just off the common room. The hall almost looked infinite just row after row of doors all open. I glanced from empty room to empty room. They all had a tiny bed with no sheets, no other furnishings. At least the beds had pillows! That was a major plus. Although I did usually prefer more than one pillow. They all had the same shade of ruby on the sheet too. 


 Eventually he stopped and I looked into the room he had stopped infront of. It was the same as all the rest. One sheet, one pillow on a singular bed in the middle of the room. I poked my head in and grinned a bit seeing we got our own bathrooms. How incredibly lucky! They didn't have a door though. Peeking in a bit I took a few more steps into the room before making my way to the bed. The bed was definitely hard as a rock but I could just look at this as a really crappy hotel! Yeah! I'm just on a small vacation. 


 "You're never to close your door. In fact you are not allowed in your bedroom between 8 am and 8 pm. You also only have exactly five minutes to shower" the doctor said. I raised a brow. What about when I shower? I needed privacy then and a lot more time. I felt my optimism dampen. There had to be something good to take from right?


Doctor Ferdinand hearded me back to the common room where I hoped dinner would be waiting for me. The nurse had gotten out a small bag of animal crackers and a little milk carton. I guessed it was snack time. I hoped to finally see other friendly faces. Since I came here I had only seen the big tall nurse and doctor Ferdinand. It would be nice to finally have someone to talk with and maybe get the feeling for what the place was like. 


 "this is your dinner" the nurse told me shoving the small bag and carton into my hands as I was day dreaming. I couldn't hide my surprise or the frown that once again appeared. This was all I was getting? Surely this had to be a jest. I waited for the punchline as I sat on the couch. No other kids came either. I was alone with my animal crackers. A wave of nausea hit me as I tried to choke down the food. It was so dry and there was barely any sweetness in the crackers too soothe my mood. The milk was thick and almost lukewarm. It made me almost gag. I suddenly felt more homesick than ever. Even though my parents had their faults they always had a warm soothing dinner at the end of the day. Mother's warm potato soup that melted in your mouth sounded so good. I wondered if they were eatting happily without me there. Did they even miss me? I could barely breathe as I wondered that. Tears fell down more and more.