The Present

All around me, the world had lost its color. Everywhere I looked there was white; all I could think of was death. As my eyes searched the room of drooling patients and comatose invalids, I knew once again that I belonged here. In every direction there were white walls, white suits, and ashy pallor. The windows were barred at the risk of my companions’ wills to propel themselves through the glass.

The only sound was that of the squeaks of wheelchairs. At regular intervals, the gravelly voice of the nurse disrupted the silence to distribute the medications to their appropriate psycho. Towards the end of the list, she called my name. In her croaky, unattractive voice, she rasped, “Ms. Taylor!” Unhindered by the various physical disabilities possessed by the other occupants of this ward, it took a fraction of the time taken by others for me to get my anxiety medication at the counter.

Nurse “Sunshine” flashed me a fake smile, which faded almost as quickly as it had appeared. I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt, turned my face away from the window, and pulled my hands into the sleeves so that no flesh met the sun. Sheltered entirely by a bulky layer of clothing, I was still freezing. I had grown too habituated to my prison cell in the Anne Klein Forensics Center for the Criminally Insane.

“You know the drill,” she muttered, turning me away.

The pills were issued daily to be followed immediately by therapy. It wasn’t something I enjoyed attending…at all, even if it was there to ‘better’ me. Even prolonging the span of a moment it took to down the pills dry, I was being dragged to the ominous, pallid door at the end of the hall by two brawny men in colorless scrubs, too soon for my liking. It was a routine I was well accustomed to, yet every time, being carried away brought me to fighting. Knowing the effort would be to no avail, I thrashed against the arms binding me. Kicking just irritated the once-broken ankle; eventually, my legs stilled, and I slumped into them to nurse my pained, past-injury.

The mahogany furniture was a stark contrast to the otherwise bland rooms. The wooden arm chair reserved for me was uncomfortable, but it was familiar; I liked familiar. The desk separating me from my doctor was long enough to make me imagine making business deals with the Godfather. At first, the tall back of his chair faced me. The sound of the door closing with the departure of the nurses’ was his signal to turn, which was how he turned every day; having something routine in my control was comforting, especially when so many things went on outside of my control.

Dr. Christianson was a young man with red hair and grey, eager eyes. He oozed inexperience from every pore, but he was the only one to volunteer to listen to the things I had to say about my severely screwed up life. At our first meeting, he had practically begged me to tell him what I had done to land myself in the psychiatric ward, but, after the constant refusal on my part, he had resorted to listening to me rant about my feelings until I was ready to talk about the events of last spring. I had worked with fresh-from-school therapists since my arrival in the hospital and had decided long ago that they were all the same; they were childish. They didn’t sign up for this job for the sake of helping people, they did it to be told a story, and they had a very poor way of showing anything in the contrary.

“Good morning, Ms. Taylor, how are you feeling today?” he greeted politely. He was obviously anxious, as was per usual for our appointments, but he made a valiant effort at hiding it.

“Comfortable,” I mumbled curtly. “I’m very comfortable with our appointments.”

“That’s great,” he nodded thoughtfully.

“Where did we leave off?” I kicked my crossed ankles up onto the surface of the desk in the ultimate show of equanimity. The memory of the break reverberated through my bones.

He flipped through a small notepad hidden discreetly in his coat pocket. He pointed to a note I couldn’t see and countered, “You are always afraid?”

“Right,” I began, as if I were picking up on an interesting conversation we had been having in our previous session instead of the paranoia I had been diagnosed with. “I’ve been having dreams lately.”

“What about the dreams?”

“They make me feel less afraid,” I grinned. I began to feel the pills kick in, relaxing my tensed muscles, and my aching brain. It was a nice sensation, to be freed of the constant eating feeling of guilt and unadulterated terror!

“What happens in these dreams?”

I ignored his question. “I think today’s the day, Chrissy,” I garbled, almost incoherently in my daze. He stopped short of writing something in his notepad and looked up at me over half-moon spectacles.

“Are you sure?” he mumbled timidly, but his eyes put on display his masked excitement for a good story.

“Ya, there’s no point in hiding it. It’s not like it would help me to keep it a secret anymore,” I shrugged lazily.

“Okay, give me one moment,” he requested, pulling an ancient-looking tape recorder out of his desk drawer. He pressed two loud buttons and then urged me to start.

Taking a deep breath, I began:

“There is no doubt in my mind that you have already been informed of the events that transpired last spring. If not, Fox news had a few interesting documentaries that play every Saturday. Wes Craven has been calling me nonstop; he wants to make a movie out of my life, ‘The Only Survivor of the Margaretville Massacre!’ he says. With a few minor alterations of course to make it more ‘believable.’ No one believes me.

“Why would they? I’m locked up in the freaking nut house! What’s more believable than the truth? The mayor thinks I should give him what he wants. What could be a better tourist attraction than a slasher movies based on a true story there? Because that’s really gonna make them flock here, y’know?” I threw in sarcastically. “Stupid. So freaking stupid.”

“Anyway, it was a cold day last March when our favorite punching bag finally broke. Courtesy of my boyfriend, Marshall, so was his nose….”

Alyssa Adamson