I was always worried about Tam. There was always something to worry about.
So, naturally, when I heard her voice, slightly raised and strained, I rushed to see what was happening. She was on the phone, the loud voice coming from the end was no doubt her mother's.
"Mom, what on earth are you talking about?" she asked. I raised an eyebrow. I'd heard that same tone of voice from actors that used this theater. Tam was acting now... but why? And for what?
"Mom, no! You've got it all wrong! I'm not-"
Not... what? What could your mother be accusing you of that you're so frantically objecting to, Tam? What do you have to hide?
I made my way over to Tam and put one arm comfortingly around her. "What's wrong?"
Tam shoved her way out, not even with a glance in my direction. That definitely rose my suspicion. Tam started pacing back and forth, a nervous habit. She was rambling on about muffins, granola bars, skinny models, and...
Had my ears heard wrong? Pro-anorexia CD?
What kind of conversation could lead to the subject of a pro-anorexia CD?
"Mom, would I do something so stupid as have an eating disorder?"
Tam slammed the phone shut and sank to the floor, her back up against a wall. I rushed over, a thousand questions bounding in my mind.
"Tam, what was that? And don't tell me it was nothing! What is going on?"
Pro-anorexia CD... have an eating disorder...
There it was. The truth staring me right in the face.
It couldn't happen. Tam wouldn't... no. The idea was too strange.... too... unbelievable.
"What?" I asked, for I had heard Tam whisper something. "What did you say?"
Tam stared straight ahead, her eyes blank. "Tape measure."
After she spoke, her body became limp. Her head dropped forward and whatever breath she had been holding escaped in a woosh.
Immediately, my mind went on autopilot. Gently, I took Tam and laid her on the theater floor. Thank God she was already on the floor.
"Mrs. Collins!" I yelled. "Mrs. Collins, call 911!"
Suddenly, Mrs. Collins was at my side, staring down at Tam. "Ari? What happened?"
"Never mind! Just call 911! Please, hurry!"
With shaking hands, I set Tam's head gently on my lap. Mrs. Collins whipped out her cellphone and punched in those three numbers. "Yes, there's a girl here. She's unconscious, we need an ambulance right away. I don't know what happened..." Mrs. Collins looked at me for an explanation.
"She's having a seizure," I said.
"She's having a seizure," Mrs. Collins repeated into the phone. "Oh, please hurry. We're at the theater, you can use the backstage entrance just off Folkham Lane. Thank you."
She closed the phone and joined me. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Massage her limbs," I said. "We need to calm her down."
Mrs. Collins obeyed without question. I leaned down, my face hovering inches from Tamar's.
"Listen to me," I said, my voice thick with unshed tears and determination. "You listen to me, Tamar. You stay with me, okay? Listen to my voice, focus on my voice. The ambulance will be here soon, alright? But I need you to listen to me and stay with me."
I kept talking to her, my voice so low even Mrs. Collins didn't have a chance of hearing it. When paramedic's arrived, I very reluctantly released Tam into their control.
"I'm riding with her to the hospital," I told them. That was not up for a debate.
Soon, they had Tam strapped to a stretcher and loaded into the ambulance. I followed behind and climbed up beside her. I grasped her hand prayed. When we finally arrived at the hospital, I was forced to leave. I couldn't go where they were taking her. A nurse followed me and began asking me a series of questions. I lost track of time and answered with as few words as possible.
The nurse eventually left and returned a short while later with a doctor.
"Are you family?" he asked.
"I'm close enough," I said. "How is she? Can I see her?"
"She's sleeping, for the moment -"
"What's the damage? Will there be any memory loss?"
"Hard to tell at this point," the doctor responded. "We did, however, discover something."
Please, don't let it be true. Please, God, please. Let me be wrong.
My voice shook. "And what's that?"