Hubert was sitting on the ground, hugging his knees in the late hours of the night, just before the approach of dawn. Tears, there were still a few of them left, were very slowly tracing lines down his cheeks as he huddled as though trying desperately to hold the bits and pieces left of his broken heart. His mind kept going over and over again the scene from yesterday afternoon at the Ottawa General Hospital, the moment when he saw Gisèle being wheeled off into the elevator flanked by her mother and her step-father. Hubert had wanted to go with them as Gisèle was taken to her room in the psych ward but the family was adamant that he would not be permitted to see her at all, at any time. They blamed him for her having to be hospitalized.
When Hubert had talked with her doctor, Dr. Michaels who was a psychologist, earlier in the afternoon when Hubert had taken Gisèle to the hospital, Hubert had told the doctor of the events that had led to him bringing her to the hospital. He told the doctor of the history of sexual abuse by her step-father and the emotional abuse by her mother and of Gisèle’s frequent descents into darkness. Hubert showed the doctor a few of the drawings made by Gisèle that told of that inner darkness, and he told him of how Gisèle had mentally collapsed while in a Jesus freak commune in Vancouver just a few days earlier and how he had taken her to the hospital in Vancouver where he found out that she needed some long-term psychiatric care. Borrowing some money for train fare, Hubert then took Gisèle home to Ottawa and straight to the hospital.
Doctor Michaels talked about the legal requirement of having to contact Gisèle’s mother. It was the law. He wasn’t happy with the law, especially when it was frequently the parents who were the cause of youth having to be admitted to hospitals for trauma, physical and psychological trauma. The doctor was gentle with Hubert, impressed that someone his age could already be this mature and wise enough to reach out for help.
And now, Hubert had lost Gisèle. Not knowing what to do next, he has returned to his parents’ home in the countryside. He hadn’t been able to fall asleep in the old house his parents mad moved to just three years earlier, and like other times when he was feeling helpless, he had retreated to this small meadow in the wooded area far enough from the house as to be ignored. It was his safe haven where he would often retreat to when upset, when things were rough. And like other times when the weather was warm, he abandoned his clothing in a pile next to the tree.
It was chilly and Hubert hugged himself into a tight ball in order to find some warmth. The idea of putting his clothes back on hadn’t entered his mind. This was his sacred and safe place and unconsciously he removed his clothing when entering it as he would have removed his hat upon entering a church. He had discovered this small opening in the wooded area two years earlier, in the first spring that his family had lived on the old farmyard a few miles outside of Ottawa. He didn’t remember what had happened that sent him out of the house in search of sanctuary, a place where he could nurse his wounds; and it didn’t even matter. There had always been things happening that wounded him. Usually it was his father, Laurent, who was responsible for the wounding. It was because of his father that Hubert had left home three months earlier to take Gisèle and head west in hopes of building a new life for both of them.
As the sky began to show a thin thread of light, Hubert felt the chill increase and became aware of the twigs that were digging into his butt. He stood up and put on his pants and tee-shirt and slipped on his cheap sandals. He knew that he had to return to the house and gather his things together. He had to leave again though he wasn’t too sure where he would go yet. He wanted to go back to Vancouver, but he didn’t want to leave Ottawa either as he still hoped that somehow, Gisèle would be allowed to see him again.