The doctors keep their promise. I stay in the hospital until I calm down. It takes a week.
My mother and my sister, three years younger than me, come and pick me up. They do not understand what has happened to me. I don’t understand either. We agree that on December first I will move to my mother’s house in Markham where my sister and brother live too. For now, until the end of November, they take me back to my apartment.
Circles of red blood stain the flat green carpet, and the Aztec design of my duvet cover—jagged black, red and cream lines on a copper background—is broken by slashes of blood. A stain as big as the sun from a distant view darkens the middle of my futon, and smashes of black soot smudge the kitchen walls, the aftermath of my burned paper, my burnt wants.
I feel someone at the door before I hear the rumble of knuckles against wood. I
peer through the peephole and see a distorted image of my father. “What do you want?” I shout through the door.
“I have money to give you—for your last month’s rent.”
I open the door and before he can enter I pull the money from his cracked-white brown hands and quickly push the door closed. I wait to hear him leave.
My eyes are watery.
I creep to the door of my large balcony and peek out to make sure that he leaves. Noticing that my aloe plants are dying, I pick up the white plastic watering can and fill it with cold water at the sink, then step outside to water them.
“Donna.” I hear a voice call from below. “You are back home.”
I look down over the side of the balcony at the five-foot seven-inch, black-haired man who, as of December first, will no longer be my landlord.
“Donna,” he repeats my name. “It is a wonder you are alive. I watched everything. You could have died.”
In anger I throw down the money my father just gave me. “I’m leaving December first, Mario.”
Before I move at the end of November, I break down again. This time the doctors diagnose bipolar affective disorder. They put me on lithium, a mood stabilizer, and risperidone, an antipsychotic drug.
In early December, I settle into my mom’s home. Every morning, after I shower and brush my teeth, I reach into the mirrored vanity for two lithium tablets and one risperidone tablet, then release them, like freed prisoners, into the toilet.