Like you’re full of shit, really.
“It makes me feel…normal,” I lie.
Ever the dutiful ward. I haven’t felt normal in a long time. I say only what they want to hear lately.
The truth is, I’d just told her of my problem with accepting change and my ultimate fear of being angry and alone. And she thinks it’s awesome that I’m actually expressing myself today. She looks pleased.
I inwardly smirk at my success.
Lately, I’ve been feeling empty, lost, like there’s this unattainable feeling of dread in the near future. I haven’t felt whole in a long time. It’s like I’m in a bad film, one with only sad scenes. And I’m the feature. The class act. I’ve been angry, so angry that it scares me. It’s an anger so strong that it consumes me. But I’m trapped because this is how my life is now. I don’t know who I am anymore, not while being in this place for so long.
The psychiatrist leans forward and fixes me with a stare. Her dark brown eyes are beseeching. She’s waiting for me to say more. I, as always, don’t have much more to say.
“That was an honest answer, Parker.”
She mulls that over in her mind for a second, then she seems to settle to a conclusion within herself.
She nods slightly as she says, “Honestly, I think you’re ready.” Ready for what? I close my eyes and wait for her explanation.
It’s like she could see the question lingering behind my closed lids as I lay on the cold leather couch in her office because she answers, and my heart races at her next words.
“I’m releasing you. I think our morning sessions are done, Parker. I think you’re finally ready to leave.”
I open my eyes and sit up in disbelief. “You…you think I can get out? How soon?”
Is she fucking with me? Alright, humor me, Cho.
See, my life consists of this—wake up, take pill one; wonderful little orange things, always slow me right up. Also known as typical antipsychotics. I feel sedated. I hover, wander, play chess with Mike, the schizo…or something like that. I’ve never asked, never really dared to ask what got him in here. No one’s really ever asked me why I’d ended up here either, but he’s even more likely to get out than I am.
I don’t usually eat much, don’t have the desire for it anymore. I pick at my lunch, wander the white antiseptic halls, go into my room, grab my sketchbook.
Go outside, take a walk.
I wander. I read books of stories and poems, only the greats of course. My favorite is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. It’s a huge fucking book with the whole collection of his plays and poems, but this week, it’s Harper Lee and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I speed through their books, disappearing into the stories, turning them into my own.
I eat dinner because I must put something in my stomach out of essentiality and nothing else. I usually work out: push-ups, sit-ups.
Helps me clear my mind.
Take pill two. Large and blue. Also known as atypical antipsychotics.
It prepares me for the night, gets me ready to take it down. I go back to my room and pass out. Tomorrow, I repeat.
“It’s been quite a ride, Parker Stevens.”
Cho’s watching me now. Judging me. It’s what she specializes in.
She scribbles something onto her notepad then continues, “I’ve enjoyed our time together, and after all of these years, you have shown to be a great improvement. Of course, I’d like to schedule some additional outpatient treatments, try hypnosis again, but I’m signing your discharge papers. You leave at three in the afternoon.”
She smiles warmly and leans over to shake my hand. There’s a cynical glint in her dark brown eyes. Just a quick flash. I don’t miss it.
It’s like she’s daring me to screw this up.
But Cho’s always been warm-hearted. She’s been good to me, always offering me kind words, looking at me with soft eyes, pitying. It makes me sick every time. Then again, I haven’t had anyone look at me in any other way. See, the doctors, they know what I’ve done.
What got me here.
I notice things, minute details that I often overthink. I’m quiet, I sit back, and I observe. Been that way for as long as I can remember. Since the moment I’d set foot in this place, they’d known I’d spend the better part of my twenties here. They’d all looked at me with such sad eyes, averting their gazes when I’d walk by, lips in a straight line, turned down at the corners. Eyebrows furrowed in compassion. Every time I saw it, I hated myself even more…and the anger would get the best of me.
But hell, what can I say, no? Of course, I want to leave. I lean over and look at her hand dubiously. It’s an open invitation dangling in the air, waiting for me to take it.
I shake it, quietly musing everything over in my mind.
Who do I call?
What’s the real world even like anymore?
Dr. Cho is releasing me. Me. She thinks I can handle this?
I almost turn around and let her have it, tell her she’s fucking crazy to let me go. Tell her the world is simultaneously too big and too small for me. To let me stay here, miserable and alone and without feeling.
I’m not ready, but I am ready.
I numbly leave the office and walk out into the hallway. The same hallway I’ve memorized for eleven years now. Twenty steps down. Left turn. Fifty-six steps forward. Pass all fifteen rooms along the way. Right turn now, and I’m in my room.
I escape the bland white halls, walking fast in case the Doc changes her mind, and shut the door behind me.
And I cry.