I think I am going to try and have happy days at least three times a week. This is not one of those days… But hey, Sunday was pretty good right? This A.B. I’m better now.
I shifted around in the chair for about an hour before they called me back up to the ring of desks. A blonde man was going to further process me now. He asked for my insurance card, which was in my wallet. After the whole ordeal of retrieving the card, he went through more paperwork.
“He’s got private insurance,” he explained to the others, mostly women, working with him.
Apparently that was rare, most had Access healthcare from the government I thought. Once I was processed, the blonde man, whose name I don’t remember, started to treat my wound. He put rubber gloves on, removed the tape and sprayed it with antibacterial spray. I grit my teeth as it fizzed.
“What did you use?” he asked.
“A razor. I took it apart.” I stumbled over the words like I would walking through a hallway full of trip wire.
“Why did you do it?”
“I was nervous.”
“Why didn’t you try to do something else to cope?”
Because nothing else gets attention like sliced flesh. Some were for show and the hidden ones were for punishment. Years of religious upbringing had taught me that the way I thought about death, and most other simple aspects of life were wrong. So, cutting was a correction.
But I said, “I dunno.”
He shook his head, disappointed I suppose.
At about this time, the women he worked with were talking about some breathing test they had taken.
One woman with a gruff voice said, “Yeah, it told me I had the lungs of a seventy year old. I couldn’t believe it. Then my friend said ‘Well, it’s because you smoked meth for all those years.’”
I didn’t belong here.
After that or before, they realized I still had a belt on. They took it from me. I walked back to the big recliner holding up my loose pants.
One of my fellow… Prisoners? Patients? Nut jobs? Went up to the counter and asked for a sandwich. “Cheese or PB and J?” the lady asked.
“Cheese,” he said with confidence, holding up his pants.
I knew I couldn’t ask for that yet.
And then I waited. I went to the bathroom. The urinals metal parts were covered in plastic, and the faucet was covered with ceramic. No one was killing themselves here.
“Go wake her up.” I heard when I returned. “She’s been sleeping for twelve hours.”
“Well, she is sleeping off a meth bender.”
They went and tried to wake up a black lady with a shaved head from one of the bed/couches below the blaring televisions. She didn’t look like the meth heads you see on TV or in movies. She wasn’t emaciated or covered in sores like the after pictures they used to scare children in schools like a drug themed boogie man. No, she just looked tired. But then again she was sleeping off meth in a place that I was slowly learning was designated for drug induced people.
I was a sad little mental patient just trying to get help. Maybe if I came here with track marks instead of little cut marks, then I would be treated better.
Still waiting. They brought in a man that never crossed the threshold of the true clinic. I heard them talking, they said he blew something like a .3 on a breathalyzer. They said it was crazy high, but that they heard about a guy that fell into a ditch with a .45 and that man had died.
I had never touched alcohol and still haven’t, I had thought about it before. In my high school days my peers had talked about alcohol like it was the nectar of the gods. It was the solution to all life’s problems. In the brief year and a half I had managed to stay on a swim team, I learned that even the coach’s son drank, a lot. Some of my friends did as well. One of my friends cut as well as drank. Religious upbringing again told me that I shouldn’t have such friends. Life has taught me there are very few saints at my age. Then again if I didn’t have friends like them in high school, I would have had the world crash down on me wearing the mask of a lead bullet through my temple. And that’s the kind of thinking that lead me here, also that scares my mother something fierce.
Then came the time for the TB test and blood draw. The lady administering the test had the personality of a stone wall. I asked for a post-it note, she somewhat begrudgingly agreed. She kept asking me about my medical history about all these infectious diseases and what not. With the small piece of paper I folded a little butterfly. I have many talents, I am just a master in none of them.
She didn’t care about the paper butterfly. All she cared about was getting some blood. Which she did. Next was the TB test. Oh boy, was that fun. You see, a TB test requires that a needle go mostly horizontally into the skin then move up and then inject a tester fluid into the skin. It leaves a bruise and a lump the size of a raisin. At least that’s how she did it.
Why again, did I come here?
After that torment, my left arm now full of fun stuff, I worked up the courage to ask for a sandwich. Man, I deserved one now.
I tried to think of anything besides why I was here while sitting there. I even tried to change seats to help. I had a blanket they had given me. I tried to sleep, to do anything but wait. The TV was boring garbage stuck on the network channels. They offered me paper to draw on. I drew some, but the pens they had were rubber and bendable. So I returned to my chair just a step behind purgatory.
My mind kept trying to retreat to my other stories. These ideas of far off lands and magic and something else beside here. I have tons of unfinished stories that I think I may never finish completely. I always get an idea for a new adventure, a new kind of magic or wonder I could create. Then I start to write it down, get to the actual story building of the story and get bored with it. I put the idea down like an incomplete painting. The colors never fleshed out, the sketch unclear. I think I just imagine too far ahead and then can’t stand to write the beginnings when the end has already happened in my head. I always blamed my inconsistent moods. When they changed my inspiration changed. For years though I would imagine stories before I went to sleep, just so I could sleep. They were my coping method for so long. Until I found more comfort in a sharp knife.
I was back in my recliner. About four hours from the time I showed up at the clinic, I had a family friend show up to try and pick me up. He had such a happy face. I couldn’t stand to see him and still had a shred of hope that I could find some manner of help here. I didn’t talk to him. Like many adversities in my life, I just could not do it. It was like his smile was a day of school I never attended. Something I was never able to meet.
I sent him away by signing a few forms electronically that let them talk to him on my behalf. I hate forms, but I would have hated to talk to him even more. He looked so serious as they sent him away. It was like all the light from the sun went dark through that doorway.
A while after that was the first counselor. She was nice, I can’t remember her face much, because at that time I didn’t look up much at people’s faces when they talked. At least not people I did not know well.
She had a room right off to the side of purgatory. She listened very well. She became very worried at the description of each symptom. I told her everything I could, I gave her more information than I had the evaluator.
She was brief, I waited eight hours for a brief pity party. I left her office with streamers still in my hair and that small shred of hope a little bit bigger.
Then the bad news came. The nurse, the one that writes the scripts for little pills that might actually help me, was gone for the day. I don’t know why I couldn’t have left, looking back on it now. I didn’t, I stayed. I was transferred to the beds part of the clinic.