Sunday, the 18th of December 2016.

Sunday, the 18th of December 2016.

A Chapter by Kibbles and Quips
"

A student writer, Devan, finds himself in the Mental Health Unit after a suicide attempt, but quickly remembers a girl he knew during his previous stay.

"

Sunday, the 18th of December 2016.

 

It is eight thirty in the morning and I am naked. Figuratively, of course. They might never let me out if that were literal. 

My nurse, Trish, says, “Now that we have you checked in, just follow me and we’ll have you meet with our resident social-worker and therapist.” Trish is nice and wears rouge on her cheeks and treads every question with an Are you okay? Are you comfortable? sort of tone. She wears a pair of nurse’s scrubs: the pants white and the shirt red, speckled with little Christmas trees. In fact, she had given me a pair of green scrubs and some yellow socks so, thankfully, I am no longer wearing the airy ER hospital gown I had pissed in a cup with. We walk side-by-side, she festive, me faded green, down the quiet, cold hallway. Trish directs me into room 304 and tells me, “I’ll have your breakfast by the nurses’ station when you’re ready.”

Two women sit at the nearest end of a long conference table. Papers and folders lie in front of them. I look to the windows. It is a gloomy morning and the open blinds do little to brighten this atmosphere. I sit down and say, “Hello,” to the social worker. I turn to the therapist, “Hello,” I say, “again.”

Lorin is our therapist; a cute, petite, sweet woman in her thirties, she is one of a select few faces I can or care to recall here. After a few of their preliminary questions (Do you have Medical Insurance? Are you employed?) and my subsequent hollow answers (Yes. Yes), the social worker leaves to allow Lorin and me some time for a quick one-on-one therapy sesh.

“So, what’s going on?” she asks, “How is being here again?”

“Well,” I start, slouched over and looking down at my intermingling fingers. I move my right hand to cover my left forearm and say, “I cannot say it’s… ideal.”

Lorin merely nods with her light-blue empathetic and omniscient eyes. With these green scrubs, there is no hiding; I am emotionally and mentally naked and she can see everything. However, there is some sort of comfort in being totally, absolutely exposed with no means, nor reason to hide. The great weight and burden of inner turmoil lessened. No fear of being seen, for I am already found.

“It’s funny, actually,” I say.

“What’s that?”

“Do you remember Dawn?”

Lorin warmly smiles and nods. She nearly whispers, “Yes.”

“Down in the ER, I was thinking about her, slightly hoping that she’d be here waiting for me. I know it’s been over two years, but I can still see her sitting at the other end of this table.” I look over, imagining Dawn sift through a pile of magazines with one hand while the other combs through her red ponytail hanging over her shoulder.

Lorin continues her nod and smile.

“I’ve often thought about her since, well, the last time I was here.”

“Why is that?” she asks.

“Well, she made me feel comfortable. I told her as much before I left,” I say as-a-matter-of-factly, “I remember walking into the front room with my breakfast tray that first morning. It felt more like I was in a haze, on a conveyor belt, watching everything unfold before me.” I pause, but Lorin keeps nodding, so I continue talking, “It’s an odd feeling, being here that first time, having to meet your fellow mental health patients,” I say with a sting, “There’s such a stigma; you don’t know what to expect: Are they going to scream obscenities? attack you? talk with multiple personalities? What kind of alien psychological disorders do they have?” I prattle then go on, “But instead, I was welcomed with her wave and smile. It was,” I smirk with the memory in my eyes and say, “comforting.”

Lorin warmly nods some more. I suppose she was taught this: to give me awkward silences, compelling me to talk, but I don’t have much more to say, yet I continue, regardless, “I know being a therapist, or employee here, you can’t talk about patients, but, being here, again, I wonder how she’s doing.”

Lorin faintly smiles and says, “Yes, I’m sorry; I can’t. She was a nice girl, though.” She quickly looks through her folder and asks, “Are you attending college?”

“Um,” I give myself pause to think and say, “I am enrolled.”

Lorin sees my reservation and elaborates, “I only ask because we can contact your Dean of Students. Deans like to touch base with any students who find themselves here and see what they can do to help.”

I faintly smile and say, “That’d be nice.”

Lorin sees my demeanor slightly lift and says, “Great. I’ll have your nurse contact him soon.” She looks at the time and says, “We can talk more about this later, though. You should eat, and Community Group starts at " “

 “Ten, I know. I’ll be there after breakfast.”

___

Typically, at around eight o’ clock, a large cart arrives with our breakfast trays (of which we detail our orders the day before) and this day and stay is no different; I just came in a little late and will have to make do with whatever I get. So, I exit 304 and walk past 303, 302, 301 (my room), and 300 toward the nurse’s station at the T of the layout where Trish greets me again.

“Here you are, Devan,” she says as I take my breakfast.

Now that I’ve noticed her rouge, I can take note of the rest.

“Your hair’s different,” I say

“I suppose it is.”

“It looks good; it’s brighter.”

“Thank you,” she says.

Stupid. Of course, it’s different.

 

To my right is the shower and the memories of my wet naked body pressed up against the beige tiled wall attempting to -


the lazy streams idly falling against my neck, my cold wet a*s chilled by the hand rail that circles the room.


I blink and look away.

And to my left the lounge where we meet for meals and the first brief Group of the day. I can remember that first time walking here: the night before I had hidden in my room and ate all my meals. Trish was my morning nurse then as well. I’m sure of it. She had come in for that first morning talk and told me about the various Groups throughout the day. I had asked if they were mandatory. She said, “No,” with a face so I asked, “But if I want to get out, they’d take note of me holed up in this room, right?” She half smiled and said, “It shows you’re trying to get better.”

So, I take my tray and walk toward the lounge where the morning Group is already in session. A male middle aged someone is loudly talking at length and smacking his lips, “So, I’s go to the Seven-Eleven down the street there to get one of those scratchers, but I forgot my freakin’ wallet,” This doesn’t bode well, I think and enter the lounge. My fellow patients are at the crowded table, but there is an open chair - 

 

 and suddenly she’s sitting there: a white bed cloth over her shoulders, her light-red hair in a ponytail. Dawn’s elbows are on the table with a hand under her chin and the other is waving at me. She pokes her head out - she smiles, teeth gleaming unabashed and confident. Without any makeup, she spits at convention and is naturally beautiful. An awkward anxiety stirs within my chest as I sit down a few chairs away from her. She keeps smiling away and the nurse continues conducting the group, asking, “What’s your goal for the day?” I look over and, of course, she’s still staring. And, for the first time, I notice her deep-green eyes. Briefly, I look around at the vague, nameless faces barely imprinted in my mind because they’re only scenery to support her memory.

 

I sit down next to where she sat.

Different chairs, I observe, same table.

“Good morning,” the nurse who’s conducting the morning Group says. She’s a pretty, fit, dusty-blonde woman in her late twenties who has a casual air about her which seems to fit her plain blue scrubs. With a nonchalant hand she states, “I’m Cassie, by the way. We’re just doin’ this little paper. Write down one goal ya’ got for the day and answer the following questions, then share it with the group.”

“Hello,” I say. Mister Scratch-off lazily gestures a hello. “I’m Devan,” I say to the table with a right-handed wave. Names like Crystal, Sarah, Chris, Dale, April, are said from their seats and are quickly forgotten. I uncover my breakfast. Ugh, I hate their omelets. Keeping my left on my lap, I lethargically tackle my breakfast.

A large black fellow’s deep voice booms beside me, “Yeah, my goal is, well, it’s to go to ev’ry Group t’day… Why. is it. real… istic?” he quotes the paper, barely six inches from his face as I wonder which name is his. “Well, ‘cause I been feelin’ pretty good! Why is. my goal… worth.while?

He sounds like a Chris, I decide.

He says, “‘Cause if I go to Groups then I get outta here. An’ Lord knows I need the exercise!” He heartily laughs. I’m still struggling with my omelet.

“Good, Chris,” the nurse says, and I relish in my win, “Goin’ to groups not only helps you but can be quite fun,” and turns to the next person, “How about you, Samantha? What’s your goal for the day?”

“M-m-my goal f-f-for today is to go to at least one m-m-more group,” she says in a monotone, sitting upright with hands on her legs and no paper in front of her.

“Good, good. And, why’s that realistic?”

Samantha, blankly stares ahead. She answers, “’Cause, well, f-f-f**k, what else c-can I do? I can’t go outside, I can’t r-r-read ‘cause it hurts, I can b-barely s-s-speak.” Samantha eyes swell, and she chokes up, “This isn’t my voice!” and starts crying.

Mister Scratch-off comforts her, saying, “Hey, it’s alright, darlin’,” and Samantha calms down and says, “Thanks, D-Dale.”

My mouth notes the soft, rubbery texture of the eggs. I poke the omelet and observe the gelatinous reaction.

“What’s your goal for today, Devan?”

“Oh, well, um,” I stammer, unprepared, “to finish this omelet.”

There are a few chuckles and Cassie smile and asks, “And why is that realistic?”

“Honestly?” I say, “I don’t think it is.” I put aside my omelet and take to the coffee.

___

 

The next Group, Community Group, is about to start but I need to go number one, so I go to my room first and use the toilet. I finish and wash my hands. I look up, and for the first time in two in half years, I see my green reflection again. I close my eyes as my mind slips into another memory,

 

So, this is my room, I think as I enter and close the door. My two beds, I suppose. I even have a restroom. I look outside, beyond the hospital’s high, white fence and across the street. There is a redbrick house with a white roof and somebody is home. I pick up a book my roommate, Matt, brought me and say to myself, “I'm going to finish this while I'm here,” and carry On the Shortness of Life into the restroom. I catch sight of myself in the mirror. I look pale with heavy circles beneath my dark eyes and my curly hair’s a mess.

Heeeelp!” a harsh female voice cries. I stand paralyzed in the restroom as heavy footsteps pound down through the hallway. They stop. “Get off me!” she screams, “F**k off! What the f**k! Heeeelp!” Sounds indicative of two people wrestling and restraining her echo throughout the hall and into my room. Her loud, angry, confused shrieks and curse words are stifled beneath their weight, “Fuff yuf - imm… hel -hmmf…”

And she's subdued.

Silence.

I close my restroom door.

 

I open my eyes and wonder aloud, “Who was that?” and step out of the restroom. Hm, this is the same room, I observe, That’s the same house. I wonder if the same people live there, too.

BEEEEEP, sounds the intercom, “Good morning, everyone. Come join us at room three hundred. Community Group Therapy will be starting in two minutes.”

Sounds like Lorin, I think and with a shiver I look at the bedsheet. I fold it up several times and put it over my shoulders, covering my arms.

___

 

Our procession of various green body shapes meanders into the room and we each take our seats in the various chairs lining the walls. Lorin is seated near the entrance and greets everyone personally, “Hi, Chris. Hello, Dale. Good morning, Devan.”

“Good morning,” I say and sit down at the nearest chair, closest to the entrance, or exit, depending on how you look at it.

Lorin keeps quiet, for the moment. It’s not yet ten, so she calmly awaits the clock and any stragglers with a patient smile. She sits upright with her legs and wrists crossed and wears knee-length leather boots covering her fitting blue jeans and has a nice unbuttoned black cardigan over her white undershirt. The digital clock hits 10:00.

“Okay, I think that is everyone,” Lorin says somewhat to herself before starting with a smile, “Good morning and thank you for coming,” and looks at each of us in turn, “Well, I see a few new faces, so I will just begin by explaining what this Group is: This Group is called Community Group Therapy. It is a time when we all can come in here and just talk about whatever we feel like talking about. There are only a few rules, though: When someone is talking, please do not interrupt them, and please refrain from harsh or obscene language, also, no touching. If you feel like hugging someone, just say, ‘I would like to give you a hug, but I cannot right now.” She looks around, meeting everyone’s eyes then pauses, “Am I missing something?”

A girl with dark hair and a round face meekly raises her hand and apathetically states, “Participation,” and slouches in her chair.

“Oh, right. Thank you, Brooke,” Lorin says and goes on, “Just because you’re here, please do not feel you must speak up throughout the Group or even at all. Your presence, by coming here, by listening, is participation, enough.”

My eyes move from Brooke over to Chris who is spilling over in his seat, then to Dale who is looking around just like me, although a little more animatedly. He scratches his dirty blonde hair and rubs his stubble. He looks at me and my eyes dart to an empty chair -

 

Dawn’s waving at me, sitting there sideways with her legs up inside the chair. An elderly woman cries, “I don’t want to be here!”

 Lorin, dressed in a grey business suit with no tie, nods empathetically. I’m barely paying attention, though. I wave back at Dawn, and Lorin asks, “Yes, Devan? Do you have something to add?”

“Oh, er, yeah,” I stammer, and Dawn stifles a laugh, “I guess I don’t get why I’m here.”

The elderly woman nods in teary-eyed agreement. Lorin asks, “And why is that?”

“Well, I came in voluntarily because my insomnia was so unbearable I became delirious and was having suicidal thoughts. I got scared so I went to the hospital seeking help, but, instead, I got thrown in here, involuntarily.”

A thin, blonde, twenty-something-year-old named Tyler does a self-conscious, nervous snicker. He lolls his head from one side to the other and says, “Yeah, man. I jus’ told’em I was hearin’ these voices and, like, they just threw a straightjacket on me! I don’t even listen to’em or nothin’.” He does another series of awkward snickers and hangs his head limply.

I look over at Dawn and she waves again and Lorin asks, “Hey, Dawn, have something else to add?”

Dawn rolls her eyes and says, “Nope, just wavin’ at curly-top over there.”

 

“Yes, Devan? Do you have something to add?” Lorin asks.

I look at my waving hand and slowly put it down. I say, “I’m sorry, I spaced out. What was the last thing we were talking about?”

Lorin explains, “Oh, Dale had just asked what anxiety attacks were like.”

“Yeah, like, I get anxiety,” Dale quickly says with a gesture, “I get anxiety all the time, can’t say I get those attacks, though. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Just curious, ya’ know. Seems like something I should know.”

“Well, I guess I can fill you in then,” I say and calmly begin, “They can be random or triggered by certain things. Just imagine a circular thought gaining momentum and sprinting around your mind, unchanging, yet persisting, now screaming at you from all directions inside of your head. And now you’re spinning - a vertigo sense of dizziness. You’re out of breath, gasping for air, but all these thoughts are growing in volume and urgency,” my voice becomes louder, my words faster, “and suddenly you’re acutely aware of everything that’s happening around you, and it’s all so loud and sounds so abrupt, but you can’t make sense of anything because everyone’s voices’ are just muffled, empty words - you can’t focus on any single one of them - but the thoughts don’t relent, ‘Bills,’ they say, ‘You’re failing out of school,’ they scream, ‘You haven’t been to classes,’ but you can’t go classes because the anxiety’s so crippling, you can’t even go to work!”

“Devan.”

“and you feel like you’re dying ‘cause there’s no escape!”

“Devan.”

“you wanna die, you should die ‘cause nothing’s ever changed!”

Devan,” Lorin urges, “take a breath.”

Panting, I say, “I’m sorry,” and look around at the eyes of Brooke, and Dale, and Chris, and the nameless others watching me. My hands tremble as I take a drink of water from my Styrofoam cup, “I’m sorry,” I say again, “I think I’m gonna take a Neurontin and lay down,” and there’s silence.

Woo!” Dale yelps, “So, that was one, right there? Looked intense, it did. Can’t say I’ve had one of those. Freakin’ intense. I bet if I had one of those, I’d swear off coffee and prob’ly even -”

Dale,” Lorin urges and turns to me, “You don’t need permission to leave, Devan.” She looks over the room and says, “No one does.”

There’s a pause, and I take a deep breath and a drawn-out exhale. The differing colored eyes dressed in their differing shades of green watch me. I don’t budge, and they look away as Dale starts up with a bouncing knee, “Reason I was askin’ was because this one time when I was younger, after I dropped my daughter off at school, probably back in the early nineties when that grunge crap was just startin’, and I don’t mean it was crap, I just didn’t get it, ya know? Smells Like Kurt Cocaine, or whatever that song’s called, just noise alls it is, and it’s still on the radio all the freakin’ time. I’m a fan of the classics, right? Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Stones. Hell, even The Doors,” he says as he counts them off with a hand. “Point is I go to switch my radio to B-96 in the mornin’ to listen to Man Cow, ya’ know - freakin’ hilarious smart guy - on my way to work and suddenly that guitar! Buh-na-na! First time I heard it nearly made me jolt off the road.” He looks at me and chuckles, “Now that I say it out loud and having seen Curly Fries over there and his milk shakes maybe it wasn’t one of his anxiety attacks but a heart attack.” He laughs.

Lorin sternly says, “Dale. Be nice. And His name is Devan.”

“Yeah, and he looks like one, too.” Lorin doesn’t look pleased

                Knock-knock-knock

The door opens and Trish steps halfway inside. She says, “Hi. Sorry, Lorin. May I borrow, Devan?” and I am relieved for a semi-normal excuse to leave.

Lorin smiles and says, “Of course, you can, Trish.”

I eagerly exit with Trish. She closes the door as I follow her out and into 301 - my room. I sit on my bed and say, “I like your Christmas trees.”

Trish makes a face then looks down at her shirt. She chuckles, “Why thank you, Devan.” Her smile starts with her eyes and she’s always watching. There is a clipboard over her lap. Trish says, “But I just need to ask you some questions. How are you feeling, Devan? Any symptoms of withdrawal?”

“Um, I don’t think so. But I am pretty anxious, though,” I admit.         

“On a scale, one to ten, what would you say?”

“Probably six or seven,” I state.

She writes my answer down and asks, “Can you hold up your hands flat? Hm. Do you think the shaking is from anxiety or from withdrawal?“

“Anxiety, I believe.”

“Okay, and how’s your depression? One to ten.”

“Five?”

“Okay,” she scribbles the number down, “any thoughts of suicide?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Good to hear. Any thoughts of self-harm or hurting others?”

“Nope,” I readily say.

 “Great. And when was your last bowel movement?”

“Uh, yesterday? I don’t know,” I say and try and ascertain when I might have pooped, “Maybe the day before?” I truly have no idea, too. The past few days, and even weeks, are meshed together in a swarm of vague memories, a fog of thought with no confident answer to their order and even their accuracy.

“I see,” Trish says. She writes on her clipboard. “Oops! Sorry, I forgot to bring your medications. Doctor Aruni just prescribed them. Can you wait here for just a few moments?”

“Sure,” I say as if there were another option. Trish says a quick thank you, and she with her tiny Christmas trees leave in a hurry. I’m left to my own devices. The thought is unsettling. I tighten the white blanket around my shoulders and distract myself with my eyes.

This room is so… bleh. Bland. It is very much cubic. White on white and grey on white. The lights shine in very much the way that says I am in a hospital. The bed creaks as I shift. At least there are chairs; one in front of each bed. And a bedside table beside each as well, but neither have drawers. They’ve been removed, and I can see just how hollow they are. I lay down and look out my window and across the way and over the tall white fence and past the grey, icy streets, to that snow covered redbrick house. Again, I wonder if it’s the same people. Regardless, their house is festively decorated. Colorful lights outline their windows and along their roof where, perched atop, there is an obscenely red and white Santa waving at me. I wonder if Dawn is home.




© 2017 Kibbles and Quips



Author's Note

Kibbles and Quips
This is the updated first "chapter" to the novel I am working on, The Circus. What are your impressions? what did you enjoy? what did you not enjoy? Any feedback is welcome, so long as it's constructive, of course.

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Featured Review

Seems like a good start to me. Good enough that I read it all at any rate. It is fast paced, in terms of the narrative perception although not that much physical action is really going on. Probably that's a plus since we are getting an inside look at a psyche and the surrounding nut house is just background scenery.

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kibbles and Quips

10 Months Ago

And you did read this! Sorry, I didn't see this, somehow. But thanks for reading this! This is my ma.. read more



Reviews

Seems like a good start to me. Good enough that I read it all at any rate. It is fast paced, in terms of the narrative perception although not that much physical action is really going on. Probably that's a plus since we are getting an inside look at a psyche and the surrounding nut house is just background scenery.

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kibbles and Quips

10 Months Ago

And you did read this! Sorry, I didn't see this, somehow. But thanks for reading this! This is my ma.. read more
really enjoyed it! i thought it was consistent and it kept me thoroughly engaged

Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kibbles and Quips

10 Months Ago

haha any feedback is good so long as it is well intended and not self serving. Even if you don't fee.. read more
Olivia

10 Months Ago

i thought he was a nice addition, i'd like to read more and see how the characters develop
Kibbles and Quips

10 Months Ago

Great! Thanks! I am about 40,000 words in so I might post another chapter or two.

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Added on December 11, 2017
Last Updated on December 11, 2017
Tags: Depression, anxiety, bipolar, mania, memory, loss, mental health, hospital


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Kibbles and Quips
Kibbles and Quips

Chicago, IL



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Follow me @Kibbles_n_Quips Like me on FB https://www.facebook.com/KibblesandQuips/ Howdy, friends. I'm a writer who is still figuring out what he likes to write and, to be honest, I hope that nev.. more..

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