I AM ALONE
By Macca


********** Disclaimer: The characters of ER are not mine. I only borrow them every so often, put them through the wringer, and promptly hand them over to their creators. I'm certainly not making any money from it, that's for sure. *G* This started out as a writing sample for something else, but I decided it made a good, short, stand-alone fic. Feedback/constructive criticism is solicited, but this is the first fanfic I've posted on the 'net, so please be gentle; I've a fragile ego. *G*

I am alone.



Each night I drive home to my apartment, half-expecting to see my wife, my children waiting to greet me, running to give me a hug and ask how my day was. After a full day of work, it's easy to forget that they're gone. I have no family, not any more. Nevertheless, it doesn't keep old habits at bay. I still stop for a moment at my apartment door, making a little extra noise to let my nonexistent family know that I'm home. I always pause once inside, waiting for my children to come running to greet me, and I am always a little more disappointed each time nothing happens.

I am alone.

Once inside the door, I try to choke down some sort of food- usually cereal, since I can't often be bothered to make anything more complicated. It's funny, but I'm never hungry any more. I can remember back during the war, the way there was a shortage of just about everything. We could never get enough of things like eggs, chocolate, even water.... Now the thought of eating anything makes me sick to my stomach. I force something down, but only because I feel some misplaced obligation to practice as I preach, set an example for my patients, that sort of thing. If Ana were here, she would scold me for not eating well and then fix me dinner, telling me to eat it or I'll hurt her feelings, but she is not here. No one is here.

I am alone.

I always put sleep off for as long as physically possible, until my eyes slide shut, despite my best efforts to keep them open. It is like this every night; I hate sleep. I never get enough of it, and it seems I spend all of my time trying to avoid it. My coworkers would think that I'm crazy; bed is the ultimate goal of nearly everyone in the ER, but not me. I can't keep my guard up when I sleep. Sleep is when I am thrown back into the past, forced to relive the day my life ended again and again, helpless to stop it until my alarm goes off in the morning, when I awake sweating, trembling, sometimes feeling physically ill at the memories. I move as if to wrap my arms around Ana, to seek some comfort in her embrace, but I can't.

I am alone.

I used to go to church when I wanted some sort of relief, but even that is denied me now. I haven't been since I committed the sin of impersonating a priest at work. I tell myself over and over that I should go to Confession, that my heart was in the right place when I acted, trying to ease that woman's fear of dying without a priest by her side, but I remain unconvinced that such a crime can be forgiven. So I stay away from church, too ashamed to set foot inside, not only for play-acting at being a priest, but for all of the blood on my hands. The blood of my family, the blood of patients I've failed... the blood of revenge. Sometimes I wonder what Ana and the children would think of me now, wonder if I've really changed from who I was before. Then I shove such thoughts as far from my mind as I can, because thinking of what I have lost only reopens old wounds that are better left untouched. I have built a wall about myself for just such a purpose, perfect for keeping at arms length anything that could possibly remind me of them.

I am alone.

Work was once a way of distracting myself; by taking as many shifts as I could, covering for people and working late hours, I tried to ensure that by the time I was home, I would be too tired to remember my own name, let alone think or dream. That doesn't work any longer; the ER has become a place nearly as wrought with horrific memories as my home. I find myself unable to walk past Curtain Area Three without feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of what happened there. Kerry has long since apologized for her words that night, saying that she was out of line, but she has no idea of how right she was. It was my fault; two young lives were destroyed in that room, and I was the one responsible. I sometimes wonder what young Lucy thought of me, whether she liked or even respected me, whether she blamed me for what happened, but I guess I'll never know.

I am alone.

Even Carol Hathaway keeps me at arm's length now. I haven't been to her home since I repaired her hot water heater, and I often find myself missing it. Not just her, but the twins; they remind me so much of what I had- and what I lost. That was my fault, too, but I know I'm paying for it now. It's funny; whenever I hold one of Carol's children, I feel this sense of peace that's been lost to me since I lost my own family. I have no idea why this is- I would have assumed that holding a small child would bring back so many bad memories that I would avoid it like the plague, but it doesn't. I miss all of that so much; the feelings that come with holding a baby, giving them a bottle, talking to them... but no. I can't think of that; all of it is gone now, and wishing for it will not bring it back.

I am alone.

Each night I drive home to my apartment, half-expecting to see my wife, my children waiting to greet me, running to give me a hug and ask how my day was. After a full day of work, it's easy to forget that they're gone. I have no family, not any more. Nevertheless, it doesn't keep old habits at bay. I still stop for a moment at my apartment door, making a little extra noise to let my nonexistent family know that I'm home. I always pause once inside, waiting for my children to come running to greet me, and I am always a little more disappointed each time nothing happens.

I am alone.



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