Welcome to Rosewood -- part one.
“It’s gonna be good for you, Jude,” Nathaniel calls from the front seat of the car. Jude sits in the back, staring lackadaisically out the window. He’s already fought his case and lost. He’s already sitting in the car, so he doesn’t understand why his dad is continuing on about it -- trying to convince him as if he has any say in the matter.
“Did you read the pamphlet at all?” Katherine chimes in. “It looks like a really good place, Jude. They’ve got all kinds of programs set up to get you back on your feet.”
“Don’t you want to feel normal again?” Nathaniel adds.
Jude grits his teeth. Every muscle from the neck down locks up. His hands, which had been fidgeting in his lap the whole drive, cease to move. “I don’t think this feels very normal,” he says flatly, then goes back to picking at his fingernails. He was told to dress plain -- no jewelry or outrageous clothing. He doesn’t have his bracelets to fumble with, so he’s been picking at his cuticles.
“Well, right now it isn’t normal, but once you’re feeling better, it will be,” Nathaniel reasons.
Katherine takes the opportunity to tag-team, even though it wasn’t requested. Jude hates when they do this. “That’s what this place is designed to do. Right now, we can’t help you overcome this, because we’re not professionals. We want you to get the help you need, and I know you’re upset, but this is what’s best for everyone.”
“We can’t keep doing the back and forth, Jude. We can’t have you living on the street either.”
“I know…” Jude gives in. He keeps hoping if he stays quiet, they’ll both stop, but every half an hour -- like clockwork -- they steal an opportunity to remind him. Rosewood is only a few cities over, but it still feels far from home. It still takes almost three hours to get to, but to Jude, it could have been down the street and it would still be too far. To Jude, it feels like entering another planet. Nathaniel pulls the car up to the front. “Kath, why don’t you two go ahead in? I’ll park the car.”
Jude stares at the old plantation home -- just as it’s pictured in the brochure -- in silence, making no attempt to climb out or even unbuckle his seat belt. He just sits, and stares, continuing to exhaust his cuticles to the point of bleeding.
His door opens, and he springs into some kind of alertness, as if alarms are sounding in his head, but only he knows what to do about the. While he spent most of the drive in a state of indifference, now that it’s real -- now that it’s right in front of him -- he wants nothing more than to jump out of the car and take off down the street. The door on his side opens up before he even registers it’s time to go, and when he sees Katherine standing before him, he shudders and scoots away from her.
He feels like a feral animal. Katherine tries to reach a hand out to him, but he recedes a bit further into his cage.
Nathaniel turns to look at him. Jude gets a flashback of the many times he’s said “Don’t make me turn this car around” with that same expression, but this feels more dire. This is much more crucial. Instead of a threat, he asks, “What’s going on?”
“I don’t wanna do it,” Jude spills. “I told you I don’t wanna do it, why are you still taking me here?”
He’s riled up. Trembling, and flinching at every unexpected movement from Katherine or Nathaniel. His heart is ricocheting back and forth off the walls of his chest while his stomach does somersaults. “I told you I don’t wanna go here, I just wanna go home. Why are you making me do this?”
“Jude, we’ve told you --”
“And I’ve told YOU,” Jude cuts her off. “I don’t want this, I can’t do this.”
Katherine’s face reddens. She and Nathaniel both expected obedience based on his silence, and the meltdown that ensues instead has her flustered. “Jude, we’re not doing this,” she snaps. “You have to go. Don’t you want to get better? Please.”
She reaches her hand out again. It’s familiar, the way she grabs for him. It brings him back to Utah, when Paul would grab him from his hiding space in the corner, or underneath the bed. When she does, he backs all the way to the other side, to the other door, and climbs out of the car. He does it. After imagining it several times, he works up the nerve, and starts to take off. He doesn’t know where he’ll go, but it’s not the facility. It’s not Rosewood.
At that point, Nathaniel jumps out and grabs him before he can get too far. Nathaniel’s stronger than him. In high school, he was a star foot ball player, so he’s stronger than Jude too. When he latches onto him, Jude yells out and starts to push on his chest. It’s familiar too. It’s too familiar. It’s so sickeningly familiar.
“God damnit, stop touching me!” Jude crumbles in an instant. His knees threaten to give, but with Nathaniel latching onto his shoulders, he can’t even make it to the ground. He’s stuck, shaking and panicking, and begging while Katherine continues trying to reason in the background. “Get off, stop touching me. Please let go, dad, I’m serious! Why are you doing this to me!?”
“ENOUGH,” Nathaniel roars, silencing all three of them -- silencing Jude’s entire world, or at least it feels that way. “You think we don’t want you to come home, Jude? You think we wanna bring you here? You think I want everyone to know my son is locked away in a loony bin somewhere? I don’t, but you need help, and we can’t help you.”
Jude stares at him with tears streaming down his face. He sucks in a deep breath, feeling like there’s something caught in his throat. “I wanna go back home,” he insists, running his fingers through his hair, to keep it from sticking to his face. The more he speaks, the more shrill his voice gets. “I promise I’ll try harder, I just don’t wanna be here… I don’t wanna be here, why are you doing this to me? I hate you, why are you doing this to me…?”
A voice in the other direction stifles their argument in an instant. “Is there a problem?”