I’ve been here just under twenty-four hours and I’m just about sick of this place. I’m sick of them pretending I’m sick. If they would have just accepted things they way they inevitably are in the first place, then none of this would have happen. The last month would not have happened. I take a quick glance and the clock, almost 7am. I pull the covers over my head, shuffling to lean on my right side, no longer caring about the way the bed whines when I move. I wonder what’s going to happen from here... I don’t really have a clue about how things work on psych wards. A few thousand possibilities, stemming from movies run through my mind and I drift back into an uncomfortable sleep.
“Lauren Foster. Miss it’s time you got up. And now, we don’t laze about on this ward, we have rules.” What better way to start a morning to have some bitching nurse, wake you up. Use the wrong name. And the wrong pronoun. Instinct tells me to correct her; Riley... male... or tell her where to go. Sense tells me to get out of bed and take this to somebody later.
“Yes... m’am?” I get up, and realize the other three that were here earlier aren’t in bed. And she continues to talk.
“We expect you to be out of bed by eight. You’re expected to wash, you have no excuses to keep poor hygiene... Breakfast is at nine” She looks at her clipboard. “You specifically are booked to see a psychiatrist twice a week. That starts today. Activities run throughout the day and I encourage you take part in as many as them as possible. Isolation doesn’t get you out of here any faster.” She looks down at the clipboard again, longer this time. “If you decide to put yourself or anyone else at risk then consequences will be met.You are being watched.” You are being watched? Jesus, she makes it seem like I’m some kind of serial killer. I have only ever been a danger to myself. I couldn’t hurt anyone intentionally. Unfortunately, I think my news hurt my family a little, a vicious cycle formed. By the time she’s left the room with a reminder that I ‘ have just ‘15 minutes left to shower and 30 after that to get to breakfast.’ I’ve gathered something to wear, not that I have much choice at this point.
I always shower quickly. 15 minutes had been more than enough time.
Going down to breakfast was needless to say, nerving. I dragged my feet across the floor, never having been one to show confidence. This is not like school, there’s 4 of us. I can’t sit somewhere quietly without everyone seeing me. I can’t ignore them. I’m forced to sit with them and it’s a minor comfort that they don’t look much more comfortable than I do. We’re left to introduce ourselves. Nobody talks at first, and I just stare at the food pushing it around my plate, occasionally eat something, then go back to pushing it around. I don’t have any issues with food. I’m just not comfortable. Finally, someone breaks the silence.
“Damien, eat your food.” A nurse stands behind the guy I suppose is Damien. He’s sitting there with his arms crossed. I wonder why he’s here. He looks fine to me, like a moody teenager. But fine. Then again, why the hell am I here? Damien laughs at the nurse, and I try not to look up so obviously.
“You can fuck right off” Ballsy... I wanted to say the same earlier. I think I could like this kid. Like him or really fucking hate him.
“You won’t be asked again, watch your language and eat your food.” He shoves the food away from him.
“No thanks. I gotta keep this figure somehow”. He smiles sweetly. I try my hardest not to snigger and cough instead. Definitely going to like him. I can hear ‘bitching’ nurse from earlier drop her things on her desk and sigh. Damien glances over at me and I keep the eye contact, giving him the subtle smile of approval. I shouldn’t really encourage him, but I didn’t tell him to start. The two other kids have finished their food, they took their plates away and left. Now I catch them silently watching from the other side of the room.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” Damien says to me.
“Yeah, you’re not are you?”
“Been in and out of this place for years”
“Oh, I see... we-” And that’s all we get to say before the bitching nurse is over, tells Damien that if he doesn’t take his plate back and ‘stop being difficult’ that she’ll have to ‘sort this out’ with Janet. Whoever the fuck she is... Damien looks at her, unimpressed, not even startled by her threat.
“C’mon, you know Janet’s been dealing with me for years. She’ll give me a slap on the wrists and send me on my way. You know what happened the last time you tried to discipline me.”
The nurse walks away... just like that. She gives up and walks off... I’m sort of - impressed. Damien looks over to me again once she’s gone.
“I was acting up and they tried to sedate me, only I broke out of the ward, found a way up to the roof and threatened to jump.”
“Wha-” I’m not sure if this Damien kid is a true nutter or a true joker. Maybe a bit of both.
“Why are they still trying with you then?”
“Because my mom pays them to.”
“Fair enough.” I glance and my plate, I haven’t eaten half yet and it’s stone cold. “I’m done here. Are we allowed back in our rooms? Those two have been staring expressionless for ages. They’re seriously giving me the creeps.”
“No, because now we get activities” He informs me with utmost sarcasm.
“Great...” I let out an exasperated sigh.
He prods with his food a little bit more.
“I never got your name.”
“Oh yeah... Riley. And you’re obviously Damien.” He nods.
“I thought Riley was a guy’s name?” And he gives me that confused look they all give me. How could I forget that I still pass so badly.
“It is. And well I am. But it’s less simple. Clue, why I’m here” His expression changed from slightly confused to dumbfounded.
“Familiar with the term transgendered?” My throat aches a little.
“Yeah... but don’t use that word. It’s really fucking offensive.” He bites his lips...
“I didn’t know.”
“It’s cool. I guess you’re lucky I told you and not someone that’s aggressive...” He lightens a little with a slight laugh.
“I guess I am. I’m pretty used to getting beat up, though.”
“Needless to say... that sucks. Want to tell me a bit about yourself?”
“Not especially. What about you?” I tell him we’ll hear more about me later.