Clouds

Clouds

A Story by Rosalie Kempthorne
"

A young inpatient in a psychiatric hospital struggles to find herself and her way forward.

"

            The room they've given me is on the twelfth floor, it gives me a great view of the clouds.

�"        don't talk to her �" don't upset her �" don't say anything about Friday -

            I share it with three other people, with shadows, all dressed in blue.  I can hear the paper-like sound of their footsteps, each of them different; I never have to turn around to see who's coming or going.  My bed is just a foot away from the window �" which I know is reinforced glass, windows that can only be opened a fraction, a finger-width, in case we're tempted by the black and white paving stones below.

            The clouds belong to winter, and to early evening.  They have a woollen thickness, dark-grey, light-grey, near-black; with blushes of rose and peach; with white upper edges.  I can imagine easily enough being able to float out of here, right through the window �" unhindered by that reinforced glass that folds like liquid �" and onto the clouds.  I can imagine walking on them, as if they were as real and solid as they look.

�"        is she doing any better? - shouldn't we say something? - Is this right? -

            They say it's right. No visitors. Not yet.  This fragile mind would be upset by them, would tip over, spilling its lovely colours, its wretched, grey-drenched underside, all over the clean tiled floor. 

            And we wouldn't want that.  Who'd clean it up?

            I try not to laugh at nothing.  I seems to freak people out.  But sometimes I can't help it.

            It's this place.  It's the doctors and nurses with their trite little phrases, with their rhythms and patterns and pigeon-holes.  They're rehearsing a play, over and over, day in, day out; they've learnt their lines to perfection, and they like it better when we learn ours too.  It's the distance between here and the ground: not in the least bit tempting, far from it, when I want to live just as much as the next person.  Maybe more. 

            And I want to be me.

            From up here the cars are silent.  And the heads that halfway obscure the bodies of people walking under me.  When they wear a hat, it obscures even more �" a wide-brimmed hat envelopes them completely, stylish in black, encircled with white ribbon.  Umbrellas look as if they move on their own, bobbing along the street with such purpose and tenacity, struggling with their lack of weight when a gust of wind catches them.  Trees remind me of heads of broccoli, looking at them from directly above.  The vines below my window are more like hands, scaling the walls, creeping hand over hand towards the roof, or maybe towards one of us.  Because they have to feed.

            Imagine.  Sharing that thought out loud.  In here.  It's just about enough to make me do it.

            The clouds form a bridge between here and the sky.  It's just a fantasy that I could walk across it to freedom.  Just a fantasy too that I can see rainbows on it, hints of rainbow, just enough to tell me where to put my feet.

            A shelf.  For my memories to go on.  A place to store me.  It's that that I need because I can already feel my body shedding its memories; thoughts and feelings, understandings, pouring out of me and into the ether.  There's nothing to hold them back.

            I told somebody here: “I don't think I want them to do this.  I don't want to change.”

            “But don't you want to get better?”

            “Yes.  Better.  Not different.  I want to be me.”

            “They won't give you anything you don't need.”

            That kind of faith.  That's not for me. I don't want to believe in anyone that much, or in any little pill.  Smaller than my little fingernail, innocently white.  It has three letters carved in it, and a name I can't pronounce.  I would like to ask somebody, “why can't they just name a pill 'Bob', so we can say its name properly.”  But it's too much work cracking a joke around here �" it all gets taken seriously, with worried looks and reassurances to go around, maybe a fake chuckle or two, or maybe the time spent trying to explain that you didn't mean it, it was just meant to be funny.  Too much effort.  It seems like it might be fun, when you're sane: but here in the moment, in the chaos and delusion, it just seems like too much trouble.

            How are you feeling today Sarah?

            Is there anything you'd like to talk about with me, Sarah?

            Did you sleep well, Sarah?

            Always with the name.  As if it's a full stop in its own right.  The point is to get our attention.  Really?  Not to take the upper hand?  Not to establish a position of strength, superiority, authority?  Like my mother, in long-ago times, with her hands on her hips: Sarah Ernestine Sharples.  That's when I knew I was in trouble.

            So, the clouds, the rainbow walkway.  That's why I stand in the window, fingers tracing a line down its smooth surface.  Not dreaming of the hard kiss of the pavement as some of the nurses fear.  Each cloud has shelves, pockets, and I put myself away �" one delusion at a time, one out-of-step emotion, one sight that nobody else can see.  That person �" melting off my bones �" I don't know how much of her I can keep, how much of her I want to keep.  But I know she's slipping away.

 

            Ann-Marie was in here yesterday.  No �" the day before.  That was the night when they decided that visitors were a no-no.  She made the deadline by two hours.

            I like her.  She's been my friend for as many years as I can remember.  She's my cousin as well, a couple of times removed, but I think of her only as a friend �" the family ties are weak, the soul-ties, life-ties, much stronger.

            Or were.

            I don't know anymore.

            Yesterday �" the day before - she looked at me as if she didn't see me.  She saw a woman sitting on a bed, with her hair unbrushed, with a knit jersey worn over hospital blues, but she didn't see me.  She saw a freak.  A crazy person.  My reflection in her eyes was a horrible thing: a broken mind, some pitiable creature like you see on the streets sometimes, forever walking, muttering, dressed badly in too many layers.  Unkempt.  Unfocussed.

            She felt sorry for me.  And she didn't understand.

            Worse: she tried be gentle.  “How are they treating you in here?”

            “Like twelve kinds of moron.”

            She didn't know what to say to that, looked awkward, looked away.

            Forgotten how to laugh?

            “Do you need anything?”

            “Rope.  Grappling hook.”

            “Sarah....”

            Too much effort.  Even with an old friend.  It would seem that a sense of humour is a luxury forbidden to crazy people.

            I said to her: “What about it?  Can't we get out of here?”

            “They say no.”

            “Screw them.”

            “I can't....”

            “Of course you can.  We snuck out of your house all the way downtown, onto a late-night bus and as far out to Greg's.”

            “We were fourteen.”

            “You were with me.  Unconditionally.”

            “Right now you need help.”
            I don't remember: I think it all welled up inside me �" pain, patience, agony, the feeling of being helpless inside these walls, forgotten about, tossed onto the scrapheap.  There are people around me reduced to vegetables, people who've no hope, who don't even think about leaving.  Who don't think at all.  Whose day is about walking in circles, counting steps, waiting for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner.   I think I couldn't stand to see her lumping me in with all that, blind to the lifetime friend sitting right in front of her.  They tell me that I got agitated, begged, waved my arms, started raising my voice �" a broken jug is one scar from that outburst.

           

            So now.  No visitors.

            Just the shadows sliding gradually down the walls, becoming greyer, pinker, blacker �" diffusing as the lights come on.  Like clockwork.  We live in clock-work world.

            This person: she isn't the girl I was a month ago, or the same one I was a year ago. Her brain is tangled up, I know that.  Things come in, get mixed up, get bonded to the wrong other things, and something comes out the other side that doesn't make sense.  I get it. I want to be well.  There's a merry-go-round �" okay, a roller-coaster �" set to spin too fast.  I'm dizzy.  I want to walk straight.  So yeah, each night, a white pill, another in the morning.  But this person: she sees things I didn't know before were out there to be seen.  I don't want to lose her altogether: I'm not sure what might be left.

 

            The sun is almost gone down.  Just a last few bits of purple and maroon tugging at the horizon's edges.  The clouds are amorphous against the dark of the sky, I can only just make out their shapes, I can only just see my carefully designated shelves.

            There've been times in recent months when I've seen a lot more than that.  I can still imagine it, bring the image into my head, even though I've stopped seeing these things, but I suspect that'll go in the end as well.  The window was even larger: a sliding patio door.  Beyond the patio, in amongst all that late twilight, I'd seen them start moving.  Shapes.  They had the rough proportion of humans, but blurry, very thin, and the air around them was visually noisy, like the constantly fluttering of feathered wings.  These things melted out of the air, moved liquidly, airily �" the wings were like a pencil, scribbling rapidly against the sky, turning the world into an animated pencil sketch.  Colours, behind it all, deepened.  A red swing-set suddenly bleeding bright wax.  The moon, more like the sun.  The sky dark; the sky deep blue behind it.

            It goes on the shelf.  Those sights: half frightening, but half awakening. A glimpse behind an iron curtain, an x-ray of the universe, even it wasn't entirely real.

            “Sarah.  Why don't you come and watch TV with the others.”

            Because they'll all a bunch of crazies.

            Unfair.  Who am I to talk?

            “Sarah....”

            “Okay, coming.”

            It's not such a bad room �" ten times the size of most people's lounge.  There's a motley collection of couches lining the walls, plenty of magazines, a few tables, a box of toys for visiting children.  The light is warm, and the carpet's only a little bit hideous �" a little bit threadbare in places, but you don't roll out the good carpet for the crazies.  It's not like they'd notice.

            Odd.  I want to fit in with these people.  We have to assume that we're the dregs of society, a bit higher up in the pecking order than prisoners, but not by much.  Within the last week I would have set my sights so much higher.  I look at some of them and I can't quite quickly smother an instinct for contempt.  Quintessential crazies �" rocking back and forth, drooling, shaking, with their heads down and their backs stooped.  Their limp hair and hospital blues make them seem unbelievably wretched.  But then another, sitting beside them, could be mistaken for a normal person.  Some of us could infiltrate the real world, go out there as spies.  The sane people would let down their guard and spill their secrets, never suspecting.

            Or am I not in that category, any more?  Since Friday.

            Angelina is one of my room-mates.  A former anorexic who's in here for depression.  But her body still carries the scars of the older condition �" knife-like shoulder blades, bladed cheekbones, her eyes seem too wide in her face, a green shirt looks awkward over her thin arms.  She's still pretty �" thanks to her golden hair, thanks to her red, full lips and blue eyes.  Hair that colour is natural, it's not a shade you can fake properly.

            She gives me a brief smile as I come in.

            I don't say much.  It's not how I am, and in here I let myself say even less.  But it doesn't bother her, she talks to me as if our conversations are two-directional, fairly weighted transactions.  She talks cheerfully for a depressed person: “I wasn't sure if you were going to come out or not.  You didn't have the beef pie for tea, did you?”

            “Macaroni cheese.”

            “You were lucky.  The beef pie's horrendous.  Don't ever order it.”

            “What's on?”

            “Don't know.  We turned over to this channel twenty minutes ago.  You know, I don't even know whose idea it was now.  It's some movie.  I think that girl there wants to do it with the guy by the fountain, except that he's a got some bimbo of a girlfriend.  She's trying to work out how to get her out of the picture so she can move in.”

            With a bullet, I feel like saying, just loud enough for the nurses to hear, with a machete, a meat cleaver.  But of course that would end up involving way too much effort.

            Angelina is saying.  “I'm not sure who that guy is.  I think he's meant to be the other guy's grandfather.  He's awful.  The whole thing sucks a bit really.  But I think I've seen it before, or part of it.”

            I think I have too.  I feel as if the scene is something I recognise.  I feel as well as if I could insert myself into the middle of it, go walking around inside the screen, around that park, maybe dive into that fountain, lay back, wriggle my toes in the water.  I suppose I'm not well yet, am I?

            Angelina makes room for me on the couch.  She hugs a pillow as she watches TV.

            To my right is Gerald.  He's a schizophrenic, and one of the really far gone ones.  The constant twitching of his feet and fingers is a side effect of medication that I haven't seen do him any good.  But then who knows what he might have been like before they gave it to him?  He's one I can't talk to, one whose conversation is barely made up out of human words.  When he talks he looks away from you, looks past and through you.  Whatever he says is for himself, and the people around him just make noise by coincidence.

            Talking about you not to you.

            Mandy is depressed as well.  The old guy �" I don't know his name �" could be in here for anything, he sits so quietly, almost camouflaging into the furniture.  The woman beside him can be violent sometimes, she gets emotional.  Val.  And on the next couch is Stevie, and Rook, and Kaley.  On the floor, with a jigsaw puzzle, there's a girl whose name I don't know, whose ragged blond hair makes a waterfall over her face, dripping down onto the puzzle pieces as she works.

            The old guy surprises me, reaching suddenly for the remote �" as sudden as a snake strikes �" and turning to a different channel.  I would never have thought he had it in him.

            And Gerald doesn't like it.  This is a new side of Gerald to the vegetative haze I've credited him with until now.  He's up on his feet at once.  He strikes with the speed and practice of a falcon, snatching the remote right out of the old guy's hand.  The old guy's confused.  Gerald: wild, shaking his head, almost hissing, fumbling at the buttons but not knowing which ones to press.

            What if I'd been like him?

            And now Val's on her feet.  She's in Gerald's face: “Leave him alone!”

            Gerald hisses at her.

            Too crazy to be afraid of him: “Leave him alone you psycho!”

            “Belinda- Belinda- Belinda!” He screams.

            Who?

            “Give me that” Val reaches for the remote.

            “Belinda- Belinda -Blinda �" Blunda �" Blinda”

            Was one of those characters on TV even called Belinda?

            “They should lock you up properly, that's what they should do.  Away from the rest of us.  Let him watch what the hell he wants to watch.”

            And now the nurses are on their feet, restraining the pair of them.  Gently, soothingly leading them away.  A mixture of honey and force, iron grips and reassuring baby words.  I'm sure you didn't mean to upset her, did you?  Appropriate talk for a baby or a dog.

            Woof.  I could say, just to inflame things.  But who'd get it?

            One of the nurses turns the TV off.

 

            I remember: being alone.  I'm in my house at midnight, all the doors are locked, the windows are locked, everything's turned off, the power switched off at the mains.  It's a test.  I'm sitting in the dark, in the centre of the room, breathing as little as I can.  And sure enough, the noises begin.

            There's nothing that could be making them.  No trick of the ambient sounds �" there are none.  There's just my breathing.  And scratching.  The scratching is high-pitched and metallic.  It doesn't take long until it becomes surrounded by a dull hum �" not quite like bees swarming, more muffled, more intense.  The words take time to form, take time to build themselves out of the hum and become real.

            Sarah.

            Like nurses, and psychiatrists, they love my name.

            Sarah.

            I'm listening.  I apply my entire will and soul to hearing them.

            Help us Sarah.  Help us.... Help....

            I don't know how to.

            Please.... Please.....

            I don't know how.

            Just open the door, just open the door and let us pour through.  Quickly.  He's coming.  You've seen him before.  You know. You know.  He's made of fire.......! 

            They're right.  I have.  Dark underneath.  Human.  And he walks wreathed in curly orange flames.

            The girl I was in that moment knew it was real.  She wanted to help them, she would have, if she'd known how.  She would have done anything.  The girl I'm going to become will know that these were just hallucinations, symptoms of a diseased mind.  This girl, now, is caught between the two of them: she knows it doesn't make sense for what she's seen to be real, she's a good girl, applying reason to the things she sees, to try and catch them out.  Just like she's been taught.  But the feelings are still raw �" their fear, and her helplessness.

            So, these find their way onto morning-pink clouds, a place, where I hope they won't be lost altogether.

 

            And I remember: a man transforming in front of me. 

            I was just going down to the corner shop for some milk.  The guy behind the counter was of east Indian origin, thin and curly haired.  He had a nice smile, and he talked briefly about the fact that they were digging up the road outside.

            These things, before they happen, there's a subtle change in the whole world: the angles all go askew, and the colours shift in their shades, there's a heartbeat during which everything looks as if it's a drawing, simple, sharp, two-dimensional.  It's another thing the doctors tell me I should be vigilant for �" a warning sign that what's coming next isn't real.

            What came next, was the way his eyes bulged.  They grew from ordinary human eyes into huge, white globes, glowing from inside, trembling like jelly.  I was sure that were going to explode.  His face puffed out; his hair hardened �" a knobbly helmet with spikes beginning to grow out of it.  His mouth fell open, all red and bloody inside.  Then the flames came. I recognised him, and I ran.

 

            MY FATHER:

            He's a figure on a mountaintop.  So hazy at times that you could see right through him, with only a little imagination you could believe that he wasn't there.  A hologram, a projection.  The real him would be faraway.

            I feel bad sometimes, to think that my inconvenient insanity has so disrupted his routine.

            A great man.  An intellectual.  It annoys me that he's so determined to play the part.  His buttoned shirt, finely chequered waist-coat, the tweed jacket with leather-patched elbows.  He's a caricature whose greatness lets him get away with his farce.

            He's a professor, and an author, a world-class expert on 19th Century literature.  It's a role that he revels in, far more than he could ever revel in the secondary role of father.

            Don't get me wrong: I love him, and he loves me.  He can be tender, and sweet, considerate, generous.  He has an odd sense of humour that I think only I get.   And he's certainly always been good to me, always done what he thought was in my best interests: the best schools, best clothes, best food.  If he keeps me at arm's length, it's not on purpose, it's just that when he's with me �" hell, when he's awake �" he's back in some past era, in some book he knows by heart, understanding it to its deepest depth, understanding the world that produced it.

            Second fiddle to genius.  I think that was what my mother could never stand.

            But he did visit me.  Before the embargo.  He brought flowers, and cake.  He talked about the latest theories on mental illness, talked a bit about the book he's working on.  He left me a painting, a charming miniature, that I'd liked ever since I was a child, brought it in from his office for me, a tiny reminder of the outside world.

 

            The clouds are almost invisible in the dark.  But it's better than yesterday, when there were no clouds, when there was nothing but a blue sky, and nowhere for me to store anything of this collapsing self.  I was terrified yesterday.

            It may be the middle of the night, but the sky has clouded over, and I feel at peace.  I can see the clouds by little more than the absence of starry night sky.  But it's enough.  There's shelves up there, and thank God, because there's so much slipping away.

            I remember when I knew I could fly.  It was something that came over me suddenly, but it wasn't a revelation, not shocking, not jaw-dropping, because it had been true all the time, and I'd always known it, even without knowing that I knew.  If you think I'm going to tell you now about how I ran straight up to the highest roof I could find and tried to leap off, then prepare to be disappointed.  I did nothing like that.  Why should I?  What did I have to prove?   I already knew what I could do.

            But I imagined it.  Sitting in the back garden, in amongst the roses, I focussed on the blue sky and pictured myself soaring.  There was so much freedom up there, so much warmth, and the world beneath me, that looked like a jigsaw puzzle, suddenly made perfect sense.  From above, from high enough, the patterns were manifest: every human act, even bird's choice to fly or perch, every spider, every grain of sand, every leaf.  Of course!  It was the secret staring back at me, the inner workings of the universe.  And all the things that had confounded me recently were beautifully, crystal clear.  The people who'd been avoiding me, the things my family had been saying of late.  The tendency of the mail-man to be three minutes late and to suddenly grow donkey's ears.   It was all just part of a deeper pattern.  The pattern was green and grey, punctuated with street lights, with road markings, bronzed by the raw sunlight, and threaded through with blue-ribbon rivers, and with the set-piece battle of a million or more human interactions.

            I can't remember, now, what the secret was.  Just shreds of it.  Just ragged, bloody survivors of a perfect epiphany.  I collect them, piece them together, find what places I can for them on the shelf.  How many truths did that clear night cost me?  I don't know.  These fragile remainders cling to life and sentience, huddled, trying to remember themselves.

            I can imagine: flying through that dark night, the world dark under me, except for pools of red and yellow light, except for splashes of neon.  An equation spelled out in them, but I no longer remember what it means.

 

            MY MOTHER:

            My first visitor following the embargo.

            She's as perfect as ever.  She's made a study of perfection, devoted a life to her own slick faultlessness.  So, she parades herself in glossy, very high heels, in the elegant skirt that comes just to her knees, a bag to match the shoes, a hat to complement the bag.  Her make-up is applied just so.  She looks a little bit sadly at the crude fact of my unpainted face.

            “How are you?”

            I shrug, “Not so bad.”

            “They said I could see you if you stay calm.  Can you?”

            “I can.”

            “Good.  I've been told you're making improvements.”

            Improvements.  Slipping away.  It's all a matter of perspective.

            “It'll be time to think about you coming home soon.  Have you thought about it?”

            I shake my head.

            “I've prepared the guest room in any case.  And I've made enquiries.  A good psychologist, for the long term.  Highly recommended.  Honey, you need to say something.”

            “Okay.”  And I mumble, just for effect.

            She purses her lips.  “But you do want to get well?”

            When I consider the alternative: “Yeah, I want that.”

            “We'll talk about a job later.”  But she has plans.  And she can't help but look at my dishevelled hair, my naked face, a loose jersey over hospital pyjamas.  She's already working out in her head how to reconstruct me, in her image, nearly perfect: not perfect altogether, because that's a territory she knows that only she can master.

            So many years of wanting to be like her, to be as admired as she is.

 

            One of the others, Kaley, is always scribbling away, even at breakfast, in a worn little leather book.  She sits with her lips pressed, concentrating hard.

            “What is it?”  I ask her.

            “A diary.”

            “Can I see?”

            She shakes her head.

            “What's in there?  Stuff about the nurses?”

            “Me.”  She says.

            Another kind of shelf.  I'm impressed.

 

            They bring in the new guy.  He doesn't want to be here, he's fighting it with every breath, trying to tear at the nurses, but unable, because of his restraints.  He's riddled with animal �" all that tidy humanity burnt away by something, and now his curses are something not dissimilar to howling.  A thin, dark, beautiful man, who was once beautifully groomed, but whose designer clothes are dirty and sweaty, hanging indifferently from a lean, lithe body.

            I could jump a guy like that.  Even crazy.  Even so.

            We all gather round, at the TV lounge window, to get a look at him.  He can't see us, I'm sure of it, his demons are taking up his whole visual field.  We can stare and point and whisper without becoming the objects of his attention.  We can watch him shaking his wet hair, straining at his shackles, as if we were scientists hidden in the bushes, observing a wild tiger, a charging rhino.

            Lately I have this stinging impatience.  These walls are a trap.  I can see from my window a whole world out there, brimming with people, experiences, things that I need to do with my life.  The world in this clock-work place slows to a crawl, it's a river laced with ice, viscous, deep, barely managing to flow as the winter sinks a grip into it. 

            Last night it snowed. I sat at my window for hours and watched the snow-flakes come down.  They’re unique, every single little one of them.  The way the catch the colours of the streetlights as they drift to the pavement �" a different set of colours every time.  It's peaceful, there's a lullaby inherent in the way the snow comes down, without hurrying, and in the stillness of the world it lands in.

            But at the same time, I think I should be out there: making snowmen, taking photographs of icicles, shopping in those malls that cast coloured light on the snowbanks.

 

            Hometime.

            It's a cold, sleety day, and I'm going back to my mother's house, to the neatly manicured spare room.

            Of course I ask them: “What about my place?”

            “We don't think you're ready to live alone just yet.”

            “I like my place.”

            My mother tuts and shakes her head, assuming I've forgotten what a hole it is, what a flat, and how ungracious and un-charming it is.  I'm still paying rent, though nobody seems to care.  My bank account is haemorrhaging rent, but it seems to be of no matter.  Somebody will take care of that I suppose, or my landlord will toss my stuff on the street, to be collected by homeless people and students.

            My mother says: “You'll be happy at home.”  Her home.

            The doctor says, “I think it's best you remain in the care of your mother for now.”

            I wonder if Ann-marie will ever forgive me; if she'll ever come to see me again.  And when she does, if she'll help me sneak out of the bedroom window, and onto a midnight bus.  Probably not.  So perhaps I'll turn into a copy of my mother, and maybe my father's eyes will sadden watching it happen.

            Maybe I'll remember how to fly �" and this time I'll do it.

            There are shelves above my head as we walk towards the car.  They're imposing, grey shelves, filling in the whole sky.  In this guise it's hard to see that they're even shelves at all.  But I know they're there, and I know there's parts of me up there, safe, and that I'll be able to find them again should I ever need to.

© 2018 Rosalie Kempthorne


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Featured Review

You have a nice style and I liked your turn-of-phrase:

"This fragile mind would be upset by them, would tip over, spilling its lovely colours, its wretched, grey-drenched underside, all over the clean tiled floor."

"The vines below my window are more like hands, scaling the walls, creeping hand over hand towards the roof, or maybe towards one of us."

And I think you give a good impression of what day-to-day life in an institution might be like:

"How are you feeling today Sarah?
"Is there anything you'd like to talk about with me, Sarah?
"Did you sleep well, Sarah?
"Always with the name. As if it's a full stop in its own right. The point is to get our attention. Really? Not to take the upper hand? Not to establish a position of strength, superiority, authority? Like my mother, in long-ago times, with her hands on her hips: Sarah Ernestine Sharples. That's when I knew I was in trouble."

I liked that analysis of something as subtle as the us of language.

I have to confess, I lost my way with it a little. I wanted to understand more of why Sarah is in the institution, and what was at the heart of the hallucinations she describes. Perhaps that's the point? That these things aren't always easily explained like they are in the movies?

I did like the main character, she was a good point-of-view in the institution because she seems to be reasonably lucid and also fairly self-aware. Kind of "the only sane person in an insane world" which can be a bit of a cliché, but I think you judged it well and she had depth and colour.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

You have a nice style and I liked your turn-of-phrase:

"This fragile mind would be upset by them, would tip over, spilling its lovely colours, its wretched, grey-drenched underside, all over the clean tiled floor."

"The vines below my window are more like hands, scaling the walls, creeping hand over hand towards the roof, or maybe towards one of us."

And I think you give a good impression of what day-to-day life in an institution might be like:

"How are you feeling today Sarah?
"Is there anything you'd like to talk about with me, Sarah?
"Did you sleep well, Sarah?
"Always with the name. As if it's a full stop in its own right. The point is to get our attention. Really? Not to take the upper hand? Not to establish a position of strength, superiority, authority? Like my mother, in long-ago times, with her hands on her hips: Sarah Ernestine Sharples. That's when I knew I was in trouble."

I liked that analysis of something as subtle as the us of language.

I have to confess, I lost my way with it a little. I wanted to understand more of why Sarah is in the institution, and what was at the heart of the hallucinations she describes. Perhaps that's the point? That these things aren't always easily explained like they are in the movies?

I did like the main character, she was a good point-of-view in the institution because she seems to be reasonably lucid and also fairly self-aware. Kind of "the only sane person in an insane world" which can be a bit of a cliché, but I think you judged it well and she had depth and colour.

Posted 2 Years Ago


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Added on July 28, 2018
Last Updated on July 28, 2018
Tags: mental illness, healing, family

Author

Rosalie Kempthorne
Rosalie Kempthorne

New Zealand



About
I am a writer of a variety of genres, novels, short stories and some poetry. I joined WritersCafe in the hopes of sharing my work with a wider audience. I also have stories on ABC Tales, Every Day F.. more..

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