Monday, November 2, 2009

Chapter One

Apologies are only hollow when followed by a 'but...'

     I write that on a sheet of hospital paper, emphasizing words for typography. Exhale. I stick it on the wall.

     My arms drop down by my sides as I lean back in my chair, gazing at my new sign. God, I would kill for a cigarette.

     Two weeks ago I settled on a beautiful, foolproof plan to fall off a building and my therapist ruined it for me with the phrase, "We're going to the hospital." One dazed stumble later and I'm in an ER waiting for a bed in a psychiatric ward.

     What am I doing here? I just did some cost-benefit analysis on my life and came up short.

     "Attention, attention. Lunch is here, lunch is here."

     Begrudgingly, I push back my chair and force myself to stand. On my way to the day room I pass by Martin and try to make eye contact. He's shuffling along, staring a mile beneath the floor. Glad I'm not schizophrenic. We call it, 'the schiz'.

     As I queue up for my tray I stare at the bland watercolor to my left.

     "Ms. Starks"

     They're so respectful here. I take my tray and enter the day room. The old men are at my usual spot by the window, so I sit next to Nancy and Hanna with raised eyebrows and pursed lips, an expression reading, 'Hello, people I barely know but have seen cry. I'm going to eat my boring hospital-rationed lunch with you.'

     A loud little bell rings behind me and I flinch.


     Damn that old man. Can't even open his pudding by himself. Deaf as a doorknob and loud as a fire truck. I hope I have the good sense to off myself before I can get like that. Hannah catches me making a face and clucks disapprovingly. Judgmental bitch.

     I have no drink. I glance at Hannah's tray and see she has three tubs of grape juice.

     "Could I have–"


     She hands it over, looking me in the eye to find some sense of appreciation for her charity.

     "Thank you. I like your necklace." It's okay.

     "Oh this? It's not so great."

     I love this place. Everyone has issues and keeps them in a glass display case, like an art gallery of depressed, legally insane people.

David opens his passenger door for me.

"Let's go."

My heart flutters.

My tray hits the floor with a loud crash, peas and grape juice everywhere. I wince, blushing and squeezing my eyes shut, and embarrassedly peek with one eye. Yep, they're all staring at me. I stand up and make for the door, where a nurse intercepts me asking what happened and I shake my head as though that answers the question, avoiding eye contact. I glance up for his reaction.

     "An aide will clean that up. Let's go to your room and talk."

     I share a room with a girl around my age. She's unconscious, her face buried in a pillow.

     "Elena can you give us the room?"

     She grunts, not knowing which direction is up.

     "Sandra and I need to talk."

     I smile weakly at her. I just got her in trouble, we're not supposed to sleep during the day. She rubs the back of her head.

     "Right. Yeah."

     With a sudden life to her she marches out. Eric, the nurse, closes the door.


  1. Glad you are writing again. I'll be reading along, may not always comment but you know I'm here.

  2. It's a maybe. I don't know if I want to write it. I wrote the first chapter just to help me to think it through. I hate existentialism.

  3. this gives me a better sense of just how low you got. It is wonderfully written, so sparingly but you see the whole picture including what is in your head.