by Max Barry

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by The Not Kenneth Branagh of Western Fardelshufflestein. . 42 reads.

Regret Chapter 2

A continuation of the Alastair Saga

Chapter 2: 19 January 2021

11:25 am

He refuses to meet the psychologist's eyes. There is too much shame roiling within him, too much disgust. All of it directed at himself.

He vaguely recalls feeling this way whenever he drank: worthless, selfish, disgusting. And he's started to have these feelings again. Ever since his rash went away, he's been more...aware. He's taken the time to think. Maybe it is because his pain is not as bad as it used to be, or because...because he knows he needs to get better. If he does not get better, he will die.

"'Tis alright if it's hard to talk about, Your Majesty." The psychologist is still here? Yes, she is, because yesterday they announced they were evaluating him. They're still doing that today. Marie and Mother have noticed that he is becoming sad, and that he is frustrated and cries often. He thinks negative things about himself, and he sometimes says them out loud, so now they have more reason to worry. His depression is showing itself to them.

The psychologist wants him to describe the things he says and thinks about himself. The negative things. She wants to know what he thinks of himself so she can help him.

Alastair sighs deeply and fiddles with the quilt Mother gave him. How is he supposed to tell her how he feels? He is so overwhelmed by self-loathing that he does not know what to say.

"I think..." he trails off. He is ashamed, so ashamed, that he hates himself so much. That he has all of these reasons to hate himself. He does not understand why his family still loves him, and he does not know why they are always here, but he is glad they are--but he knows he does not deserve them.

"What are you thinking, Allie?"

Allie. His nickname. His family and the nurses call him Allie. "Um..."

He searches for the right words. What words is he looking for? He does not know. He cannot put names with the feelings he has. So he swallows and continues doing nothing with the hope they will come to him.

"I am...stuck," he mumbles. "On words."

"You're stuck on words?" the psychologist repeats. Alastair dips his head. "Okay. How about I ask you some questions and you give me a yes or a no?"

That will require less thinking, which will make him less tired. It sounds like a good method to him. "Okay."

"Do you often think negative things about yourself?"

He does. All the time. "...yes." Gott, his voice is so weak.

The psychologist waits a bit, then asks him a second question. "Do you tell yourself that you are in any way a failure or worthless?"

How does she know? His stomach twists. He sniffles, too scared to answer her. "I...yes."

"Do you believe that you are worthless, Alastair?"

He wants to weep, but he does not want to be any more pathetic than he already is. He clutches his blanket harder. He is breathing heavily, his chest is grinding. He does not feel well. "I am worthless." Is he panicking? His heart is racing.

"No, Alastair, you are not worthless. You have never been worthless. I know you are in a tough place right now, and that you have an incredibly negative self-image, but please believe me when I say you are not worthless."

He shakes his head. She's wrong. He is worthless, and he is a burden on his family. They should have allowed him to die when he hit his head.

"Do you tell yourself that you are worthless a lot? Is it something you think every day?"

He thinks it over and over again because 'tis the truth. He's a disgusting waste of space. "Ja."

"Do you feel better when you tell yourself you are worthless?" The psychologist takes his left hand, squeezes it. Her skin is less dry than his own. Would Marie approve if she knew this woman was holding his hand?

How does he feel when he tells himself these things? He feels terrible when he thinks them, and he feels terrible afterward. No, they do not make him feel better. But they are the truth, and he does not want to lie to himself.

Alastair shakes his head again.

"Do you feel worse?"

He pauses. Sighs deeply. Listens to the machines and the sound of his own breathing. He wishes he did not need so many machines. Their noises sometimes make his head spin.

"Do you feel worse after thinking these things, Alastair?"

He needs to tell the truth. "Yes."

She gives his hand another squeeze so that he will feel better. The word is...reassured. "Do you control over these thoughts?"


"Do you control when they happen?"

Does he? "They happen...lots."

"Okay." She must feel badly for him. That is why she is holding his hand.

"Are these thoughts like a broken record in your head, Allie?"

They are. They are, and he believes them because he knows them to be true. He needs them to remind him of what he is. "They are...but they are what I am."

Today's talk is a continuation of yesterday's talk. When Marie was there for a bit. She said how Alastair would say all of these bad things about himself, and how he was very depressed, and he needed help seeing that he was a good person.

"No, they're not. They are just thoughts. They are just nasty thoughts inside your head."

"They're true." He swallows. He still won't look at her.


A pause. He realizes he's trembling. He wishes he didn't think horrible things about himself, but he does, and he can't stop them.

"Why do you think they're true?"

He shuts his eyes and pictures all of the faces of the people he's hurt. There are so many of them. He'll never be able to ask for their forgiveness before he--

"Why do you think they are true, Alastair?"

His hand twitches. He won't clench his fist, or maybe he can't, and he is not sure...

"Be...because I...." He cannot say this out loud. It is too awful. He's already said and done so many awful things. He let himself end up this way: sick, hurting, alone. He's surrounded by people, but he always feels so alone. "Look at me. Look at...what I am." Deprived of air, he draws a breath. "I...did...this...." His eyes well with tears, and there is nothing he can do to stop them.

"No. No, you did not. You have an illness, and it is not your fault. It is not your fault that you are sick."

"It is." Why is she lying to him? To make him feel better? 'Twill not work, not this time. Her lies will not make him believe he is anything but what his thoughts tell him. "I chose drink...and...and use it to make...myself...forget what a horrible person I'd become."

Alastair is sobbing, sobbing into his hands. Everything hurts, from his middle to his head and to his chest and throat and legs. And he cannot make the pain stop anymore or make his thoughts go away, because he has no alcohol to numb them, and he needs...he needs it. He is tired of remembering how dreadful he is. Even though it always makes him feel guilty, it will make him forget, and it will make him not aware of his surroundings. He will not know who his is anymore. He doesn't want to think about who he is, and that is why he kept drinking and drinking, and because his father...


How had had he not been thinking about that? His father was gone. The man who had raised him, who had taught him how to run the nation and handle politicians, who had encouraged him and played chess with him and loved him. Who had seen...who had talked to him countless times about his alcohol problem. And Mother, Mother had to watch him...had to watch him do all of these things while caring for Father, and she must have been so disappointed when she saw how he was. Because all he felt was grief, and numbness, at least from what he could remember.

If Father knew how he had turned out, he never would have been proud of him. He never would have let Alastair assume the throne. He was probably looking down from Heaven and watching Alastair mess everything up, and he would feel so guilty for letting...and he'd think...he'd think he was to blame for Alastair's being so useless, but 'twas all Alastair's own fault. 'Twas all his fault, and he was a shame to his father, and to Mother, who thought he was amazing and wonderful even though he wasn't. He had hurt his parents, had hurt them because he was selfish and disgusting and just a waste of existence. Why does no one see, why does no one see that he is not worth it? Why do they still love him? He does not deserve their love. He is a burden to them. To everyone.

There is a nurse comforting him, rocking him back and forth. She is hugging him and whispering in his ear. 'Tis going to be alright, she says. He is going to be alright.

No matter how hard he tries, he can't believe her.