I wait until the nurse leaves the room before ridding myself of the medication I’ve tucked to the side of my cheek.
They think I’m so much better. Little do they know of my plan to rid myself of my demons by letting the healing waters of Medical Lake do their work.
I can’t remember how long I’ve been here at Eastern State Hospital. (That sounds so much better than “insane asylum”, the term the nurses use when they think we’re not listening.) Gordon comes to visit daily and brings the baby with him. But I’ve had to send little Gwenny away. Caring for her taxes me too greatly as she’s a troublesome little thing. Some days I don’t even think she is mine. But perhaps that’s just the demons talking.
The trip here was so peaceful I hardly imagined that I’d soon be sitting in this gloomy grey room, bars on the windows and all manner of loud voices and strange goings-on in the halls. But at least I can see outside to the throngs of bathers enjoying the healing waters of Medical Lake. One of the nurses told me that this past July, 1400 bathing suits were rented out for a nickel apiece.
We’re allowed out to the lake occasionally, but only when supervised. That’s when I feel most myself. I plunge into the cool water, confident that what has long held to be true, is indeed true…that the waters are magical and healing.
But the postcard I’m about to write to my niece is hardly healing-looking. It puts me in mind of the quote “It was a dark and stormy night”. Perhaps Ethel will be able to read between the lines and see that, although I pretend to be getting better, my thoughts and life are as stormy as the picture postcard.
But I will continue to play the game.
I will pretend to take my medication.
I will smile at all the appropriate times.
I will be a model patient until the day I make my escape into the turbulent waters of Medical Lake.
But until then, I write: Dear Ethel…
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