Getting To Know Us

Getting To Know Us

A Chapter by Amy

The first chapter; getting to know the characters. Chris, Melissa, Jasper, Cassie, Finn and Nuts are all introduced, and Chris specifically is introduced.

There is screaming on the ward. We all look at each other, wondering who it is. I count the others: five, including me. Then I check their faces, and it is obvious. Really, it should have been the first thing I thought of. It is Nuts. It is always Nuts.

She doesn't mean to, Vi tells us. She doesn't do it on purpose. We sometimes get angry at Nuts because she always seems to have tantrums when we are about to do something fun, like the time we went to the park for a whole hour. She thought a squirrel was looking at get and screamed and screamed and screamed. In the end, she had to be sedated and we all had to be picked up in a van that said 'NORTH LONDON PSYCHIATRIC FACILITY FOR ADOLESCENTS'. That was embarrassing.

Chris stands up, and I think he is going to try and help Nuts. He's only been here for a week, and he tries things like that sometimes. Conscientious, my grandmother would call him. A thoughtful young man. Maybe he is, but thoughts can get you into trouble here, so it's best not to have too many.

I stand. If Chris goes to intervene, he'll end up attacking someone and that will only end in us all losing our dayroom privileges, which means we have to spend the whole day on the ward. The ward is where we sleep, and there ate six beds, all partitioned off from each other by curtains. There's never any chance of us doing the naughty, though. The nurses station is right at the end of the ward, and someone is always watching us. Besides, none of us are exactly interested in sex.

After the nurses station comes the dayroom, which is where we spend most of our waking time. Some of our sleeping time as well, because Nuts and I sleepwalk. The room isn't very big, but it has books and windows and no interfering nurses, which means it's pretty much heaven for us. There's s TV as well, but we can only watch pre-selected shows and they're all rubbish.

As well as the ward and the dayroom, there's a huge dining room where we eat our meals and a therapy room. Oh, and a bathroom, but I don't think that really counts as a room (despite the name). The dining hall isn't just for us six, which is why it's so big. There are other crazy people at the hospital, and different age groups live in different bits. Kids, teenagers and adults. Out meals are at different times, so we theoretically aren't supposed to meet the others, but we've seen a few of the adults - who eat just before us - once or twice. There was a man sitting on the floor and crying, which scared all of us, because grown up people aren't meant to cry. Then his nurses came over and injected him and they took him away so we could eat our lunch.

There I go again. Off the topic. Vi - the psychologist - says that I do it as a defense mechanism, to stop conversations that I don't want. I think I just have a busy mind. After all, I want to tell you what happened with the screaming, don't I, or I wouldn't be writing it all down. Vi is nice but she can be stupid at times.

Anyway. I stood up when Chris did and pulled him down again, onto the sofa. "Don't be an idiot," I told him. "We'll all lose the dayroom if you go and get into a punch-up again, won't we?" He did it once before, when Melissa made fun of his scars. Melissa is the oldest person in the unit, seventeen, and she is about the same size as my arm. She is here because she won't eat and she has Anorexia Nervosa and Low Self Esteem and A Need For Control. Personally, I think she's attention-seeking. She's been on the ward [i]forever[/i], longer than any of the rest of us, four months. Loads of people come for just a day or three, when they've tried to kill themselves, but the six of us are Long Term Patients in need of Intense Psychiatric Care for a Unknown Period Of Time.

Chris glared at me and pulled my arm off his like it was a piece of dirt, holding it with just two fingers. Chris can be alright, but at times he can be really moody. It isn't Bipolar Disorder as the doctors first thought, but plain old Depression and Anger Management Problems and Suicidal Tendencies. His wrists are horribly scarred from when he tried to kill himself, and that's what Melissa laughed at. She called him Emo Boy and he punched her, and it was his first day as well. It wasn't really much of a fight, but she hit her head when she fell and got Concussion. We were in lockdown for a week after that.

I don't think it's fair that we all get into trouble when one person does something wrong, but Vi says that it helps us all to Learn And Grow. Mainly because we refuse to speak to the idiot that got us all into trouble for a bit, so they don't do it again.

Finn stands up behind us and puts one hand on my shoulder, gently pulling me away from Chris. I'm not likely to try anything, but Finn cannot help intervening. "Let him go, Cass," he commands. "It's too late, anyway. They've just knocked her out." We all listen to the cries and realize that he is right. They are gradually getting fainter, meaning the sedatives are taking effect; you go all woozy for up to a minute before you're actually unconscious. I've had it done once, on my first day. Everything was scary and new and a nurse caught me smashing at a window with my shoe, determined to get out and go home.

Chris walks towards the door anyway, and I think he is heading back to the ward until I see his fist slam into the wall. It is a hard hit and blood immediately springs to his knuckles. Instinctively, we all look around for Nuts, who goes ballistic at the sight of blood, but she is nowhere to be see , obviously. "I f*****g hate this," Chris growls, turning to face all of us. Melissa is sitting on the floor by the television, and Jasper is on the armchair next to her. Me, Finn and Chris had been squashed together on the couch until Nuts had her fit. We all look at him warily, wondering what he hates and if he is going to elaborate or just punch more things. Out of the corner of my eye, I can just see Melissa edging away subtly. She probably doesn't want to be on the wrong side of a punch again.

He does continue. "I hate the way they just sedate us the second we get upset! I hate how they control us so absolutely! We can't even piss without their permission!"
Jasper speaks up. "That's because Mel isn't allowed in the bathroom by herself," he states knowledgeably. We all glare at him and he goes quiet. He has only been here one week, and he is the newest. Plus, he's annoying, and always says stupid stuff. Vi says that's because he has had Limited Interactions With Peers, 'cause he was homeschooled.
Melissa stands up and walks to the other end of the room, her arms folded. I guess it is the mention of control that angers her, and I am right.
"You're right," she mutters. Mel hates Chris, and it is probably excruciating for her to agree with him. "We can't do anything without their say-so!" She is only saying this because she isn't allowed to leave one calorie on her plate after meals, even just one baked bean, which is something we all think is silly. One baked bean won't change her weight that much, surely? But Vi says that she needs to get into the habit of eating everything, and we should Do As We Are Told and not Defy Authority because they are there to Help Us. She says lots of things that sound like I should write them in capital letters.

I sigh. This looks like it's turning into a riot, something I have no desire to be a part of. Ignoring the discussion that is getting into its stride behind me, I leave, ignoring Chris who is standing by the door. As I slam it shut, I hear their voices behind me, getting gradually louder.

I walk down the short corridor to the dorm and smile at Red Hair, the nurse. I can never remember their names, there are so many of them, so I remember their interesting features instead. "Everything okay in there, hun?" she asks, closing Nuts' curtains. "Sounds like you're all getting worked up." She gives me her Concerned Face, one all nurses are trained to show when they're thinking 'f**k, does this mean extra work for me?' I shake my head in reply. The others are idiots, but any talk of rebelling and we'll all be in s**t. Looking grateful, Red Hair nods and heads back to her glass-fronted office. I lie on my bed and pull the curtain shut around me, closing my eyes.

Jasper once asked me why I always slept in the middle if the day. 'Why not?' I replied. 'I like sleep, that's all.' It's not true, though. I hate sleep. Sleep is when dreams come, and I prefer to wake up from a nightmare during the brightness of the day than at night. I do my best to keep awake when the sun isn't out, but always end up falling asleep at around three am. That gives me two or three hours of lying as still as I can until it's safe to move.

I pull the blanket over my head and curl up tightly, the safest position. If you're gonna get a kicking to wake you up, it's best not to leave your stomach exposed. If you do, it really, really hurts, and it's hard to stand up because you can't breathe and there are always a few seconds where you think you are going to die. I'm not like Chris. I don't want to die, not really.

© 2010 Amy

Author's Note

I'm a little unsure of the dialogue in this scene, and I'd really appreciate feedback on that.
Thanks! <3

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Added on October 24, 2010
Last Updated on October 24, 2010
Tags: psychiatric hospital, mental illness, anorexic, anorexia, anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia, schizophrenic, teenagers, the misfits



Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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