The Legends of Ward 16Mature

It was late autumn and raining. The season had brought with it a torrent of rain, unusual for the region. The auburn refuse of a broken summer lay in large dirty heaps, lining the ward’s windows in a thick black grime.

It’s inhabitants, the “incorrigible youth”, remained isolated in their rooms, watching the dark skies and endless sheets of rain throw themselves with merciless vehemence against the earth. As on most days, I sat on the windowsill, starring out of Ward 16’s only window.

 

These were not the translucent colorful stained glass windows of my previous youth. No, these windows were barred with locked wrought iron centennials that cast their ominous shadows every morning with the rising of the sun.

Ward 16 was oriented to the east, facing the hulking Male Ward and main hospital buildings. Directly below the window of Ward 16 was a basketball court, it’s dark pavement surface pockmarked with weeds and weathering cracks. On this particular day, it’s faded black surface had darkened with rain and contrasted so sharply with the patches of grass below my window that it appeared as if a gaping hole had spawned beneath the antediluvian brick hospital, threatening to swallow up our sheltered existence.

I traced my fingers on the glass, lightly running my fingernail over the thin line formed by the horizon, beyond the hospital complex. I knew very little of the world that existed somewhere over that line that marked the boundary between my confinement and another completely different life. At that moment, my world was the world of Ward 16.

The walls of Ward 16 were a pale, sickly-looking blue. The nurses had told me that the color was therapeutic, instilling a feeling of calm associated with the bright hue of an open sky.

This I did not feel whilst I remained alone behind the barred windows of Ward 16. The glass, though thick with grime and dust, still yielded a blurred reflection of a young women. Her eyes were framed with dark circles; their youthful shine lost beneath a thick film of jaded cynicism.

 Her hair was long, slightly frayed at the ends and wild about her shoulders, veiling them in dark brown waves. The skin was pallid, taught across her high, almost elegant cheekbones from which more shadows draped, hanging low into her hollowed cheeks. The lips were plain, chapped, small and a faded pink.

 Her youth was faded, yes, but she was still, in some odd sense, clinging frightfully, instinctively to adolescence though it strained her to do so, waiting for time to strip her of the years so that her body would match her broken mind. But her wide green eyes were always watching, processing, remembering, though the lips said nothing and the face maintained a fragile veneer of indifference.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

 There were other patients in the ward, but they too were lost in the grays of their own worlds, living in the personal disillusioned vagaries they cast over the abyss of confinement and despair within their hearts. Some cried, most buried their faces in their dirty hands, others choose to sleep on the hardened stone floors, surrendering to the whims of their dreams. Few conversed with one another; for there was nothing to speak of.

Many patients were transient in Ward 16, and were remembered only as fleeting faces or names before they were transferred to another unit.

 Occasionally, one such patient would let out a cry of agony, many times betrayed by their own mind, overcome with violent tremors and falling to the unforgiving floor, only to be escorted out of the ward by nurses on a dreadful gurney, never to return.

Or at least, never to Ward 16.

The End

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