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