by Dani Marie
A new twist on an old saying "love is blind"
|My eyes opened slowly, the darkness turning to a bright and fuzzy blur. I found myself lying in a bed. As my eyes began to focus I could see plain walls surrounding me. The room was bare. I turned my head slightly to the right and noticed a woman standing next to me. She was a middle-aged woman. Her long black hair draped over her shoulders. She was dressed in all white. Her dark brown eyes looked nervous, but kind.
"Where am I?" I managed to mumble.
"You're at the McHaven Behavioral Center" the woman replied.
I rubbed my eyes and felt a wave of emotions come over me. My heart started racing and my throat clenched. I was in a loony bin.
"Where's my mom? What's going on?" I asked, the panic taking over my voice.
"We are here to help you Denel. I am your nurse. You'll spend most of your time with me so that you can get better." The woman spoke calmly.
"I just want my mom, Where is she? Why am I here?" I cried out.
"Please just take this pill for me and you will meet with the doctor shortly."
She handed me a tiny, circular blue pill. I took it, hoping to numb away my confusion. She handed me a cup of water. I placed the pill on my tounge. It was bitter. I pressed the cup up to my dry, cracked lips and let the water splash over my tongue, down my throat. The nurse told me that it would be best for me to eat something. She offered to take me to the cafeteria. As we walked in I looked around the room. It reminded me of my middle school cafeteria. There were a lot of tables. A small breakfast line was displayed in the back of the room. I saw toast, oatmeal, and fruits. Nothing appealed to me. My stomach was clenched as it was. I decided to get a cup of coffee. As I was pouring the coffee into my mug a girl came up beside me. She seemed normal. I thought people in this place would be running around talking to themselves.
"You know they lie right?" she whispered to me.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Even the "caffeinated" coffee doesn't really have caffeine in it. They won't give it to us." And with that she walked away.
I didn't care though. I knew caffeine would just entertain my nerves. I poured in creamer and two packets of sugar. I sat down with my nurse at a table in the far corner. I stared at my cup watching the creamer swirl around my spoon. The strong smell of coffee reminded me of my father. Every morning I would wake up, and go upstairs, my father would be sitting at the island in the kitchen. He would have his muffin and a newspaper. All that could be heard was the occasional flip of a page in the newspaper and a slurp as he sipped his coffee. He would smile at me with his kind eyes, even though I was always a grump in the morning. He was quite opposite, he was morning person. My stomach twinged with a sharp pain. I missed him so much. I wondered if he even knew where I was. I heard a loud ping from someone dropping silverware. It snapped me out of my thoughts.
"Do you have to be with me all the time?" I asked the nurse.
"Yes" she replied.
"It's for your own safety."
"We're on suicide watch is what she means to say." I heard a voice say from behind me.
I turned around to see a boy with a mohawk and piercings all over his face. He was scolded quietly by his nurse.
"What the fuck?" I thought to myself. I'm not suicidal.
The cafeteria door squeaked open.
"Denel Freemen" I heard a mans voice call out.
I turned around to see a man in a long white lab coat. That must be my doctor, I thought to myself. I left my coffee on the table, pushed back my chair and stood up. I began walking towards the door. I could see the doctor already analyzing my every move. I followed him in hopes of finally getting some answers. We walked down a long hall. It was quiet. I expected these loony bins to have people screaming all the time. My nurse trailed behind us. He held the door open for me and I walked into a tiny room with a round table in the center. There were four chairs. A box of tissues sat in the center of the table. I sat down, as did he. The nurse shut the door and waited outside. He made small talk with me, then placed his clipboard on the table. He introduced himself as Dr. Nihad. He told me he had to ask me some questions.
"Well I have some questions of my own." I told him.
He assured me he would answer them if I could just give him some information. I was pissed. I began picking at the strings on my ripped jeans.
"How old are you?" he asked.
"You know know that nurse didn't even tell me her name" I sneered at him from across the table.
"Her name is Nurse Johansen. I apologize for that." he told me. Fair enough I thought.
"I'm 22" I said.
He continued with some routine questions. They seemed easy until he asked me for my address. My mouth began to reply but my memory was completely blank.
"With my... uh... my parents." I stuttered.
He didn't question me about it and moved on to the next questions.
"Do you feel like harming yourself or others?"
"No, what the hell?" I yelped defensively.
My face felt flushed and my hands started to shake. I unzipped my sweatshirt and pulled it off. As I crossed my arms my right hand grazed over my left arm. It was bumpy. I looked down in horror as I noticed slashes all the way down my forearm. I quickly folded my arms and sat back. I was so confused.
"Who did this to me?" I thought. "This has got to be a dream. I will wake up soon."
"Do you have an history of physical or sexual abuse?" he asked.
"No." I replied quickly.
Then my mind began to race. The thoughts were coming in flashes, like an old film reel. I remembered the feel of lying on a cold concrete floor, motionless. It was cold. I was naked. I remembered not being able to speak or move. I was handcuffed to a pole in the center of a room. I strained to try and remember how I got there. Another flash came. There was a large, bald man standing over me. His face was emotionless. But looking into his dark brown eyes I saw anger. He raped me that day. It was all coming back to me. At that moment in my life I felt inhuman-like. I felt like an object. I didn't have human emotions or capabilities. I was just there. So alone. In utter shock.
"Okay, one time I guess." I told the Dr.
"Was it a rape?" He asked.
"Yes." I replied.
Then my eyes began to feel warm. Tears formed. I choked them back. I hadn't cried in so long. It felt so weird. At that moment I realized this wasn't a dream. It was all too real.
"Do you abuse any substances?" he asked. It was so routine. He was getting paid for me to spill my heart out on the table. He didn't care about me or my life. He has probably heard the same shit from millions of others. I just wanted to get this over and get out of that room. The room felt like it was getting smaller and smaller with each question.
"I drink, I smoke cigarettes, and occasionally weed." I informed him. Then the cravings began. How I longed for a cigarette that moment. Just to feel the smoke push out between my lips, and the nicotine fill my bloodstream and calm me down.
"Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?" he asked next.
My mind was totally blank. "Do I?" I thought to myself. I must not. That'd definitely be something I'd remember.
"No." I replied.
He continued on with more questions. I stared out the only window in the room. It was tall and skinny, certainly not big enough to escape out of.
"We're going to have to go into court later." he informed me.
"But why?" I asked.
"To see if you are able to stay here."
"Well I obviously don't need to be here." I told him confidently.
"I don't hear voices, I don't do bad things. I don't want to kill myself. I'm normal, this is bullshit." I yelled at him.
"If you refuse to stay here, you may end up somewhere worse." He said as he stood up to leave.
I shook my head. The court will see I'm fine, I told myself. I knew I'd just have to act normal and I'd be out of there soon. As I stood up and walked out the door the nurse met me, cup and pill in hand. I grabbed it and shoved it in my mouth. I slurped the water and followed the nurse. She brought me back to the ugly room with the plain walls and one bed. I plunked myself on the bed. She allowed me to be in the room alone, but was not far from my door. I laid down on the bed and stared at the cracks in the ceiling. I felt exhausted. I think it was from the pills. My eyelids felt heavy and I drifted off to sleep.
As I was sleeping I had the most amazing dream. I was coming down an escalator in an airport. It was somewhere beautiful because outside the windows there were palm trees and sunshine. As I reached the bottom of the escalator a guy came from around a tall structure in the baggage claim area. Apparently I knew him because the butterflies in my stomach went crazy. I ran up to him and he gave me a kiss on the cheek and a warm embrace. We made small talk, but we were giddy and nervous like school-children. He grabbed my suitcase off of the conveyor belt for me and we headed outside. We made our way to an elevator inside a parking garage. I couldn't help myself, I just wrapped my arms around him and pressed my lips against his. I had never felt this good in my life. This guy made me feel so happy, so safe. We stepped off of the elevator and walked to his truck. Unfortunately as he put the truck in reverse I awoke from my sleep. I laid in bed with a smile on my face.
"Was he real?" I asked myself.
There was a knock at my door and the nurse came in.
"Denel, we are going to the court room now."
I stood up and followed her. I thought we were going to an actual courthouse, but instead we made our way down the same long hallway. We turned into a room on the right. It was like a mini court room. I saw five cops standing in a row. On the other side stood my doctor. He motioned me over to him and I took a seat. My anxiety hit me full force. Something was seriously wrong. I kept trying to remember how I got to this place. My throat became so tight I could barely breathe. My hands were shaking uncontrollably. My vision was blurry and my thoughts were jumbled. I barely remember what happened in that court room. All that I could comprehend was a lot of questions about this boyfriend I supposedly had and questions about places, and times, and knives. Knives, I didn't understand. The last thing I comprehended from the meeting was that I declared unstable or something and they weren't going to take me to jail. I walked out of the room with my nurse after the meeting was over. The tears were flowing. I couldn't even speak, I was so wrapped up in my jumbled thoughts. The nurse told me to go freshen up in my room and she would take me to lunch.
I headed straight to the bathroom. As I walked in I could smell the lemon scent of cleanliness. It was almost a comforting smell. It reminded me of my mother. Our house was always smelling fresh. She liked to clean, maybe even too much. But, it benefited me because I have inherited that quality from her. The same twinge irked my stomach as when I thought about my father. I didn't even need to use the bathroom facilities, my focus was on seeing myself in the mirror. As I turned the corner towards the sinks I was startled to see the girl staring back at me in the mirror. Her once long, beautiful blonde hair was now a tangled mess of frizz and bumps. Her once intriguing brown eyes had become sunken in and puffy. He once perfectly tanned and done-up face was now pale and blank. This couldn't be me, I thought to myself. I ran my fingers through my hair. I was disgusted. For a women who once took pride in her beauty, I had now become a no more than a walking being. I wasn't me anymore. I turned on the faucet and splashed cold water onto my cheeks. I wet two paper towels and damped them with the ice cold sink water. I pressed them against my eyes in hopes of reducing the swelling around my eyes, I brushed my hair the best I could with my fingertips and pinched my cheeks to make them more flush. It was as if all the colors had drained out me. I took a few deep breaths and started towards my psycho cell.