They took me to a little room. Compared to the bedroom I inhabited back at home it was huge, almost twice the size. The walls were white but the steel, modern bedframe was covered by a large multi-coloured quilt. There was a similar rug on the floor. The curtains were green and the doorhandles of the cupboards orange, so that they looked slightly like tictacs.
I looked up at the nurse. "Is this my room?"
She nodded. "All yours." Gulping down the tears that rose to choke me I put my small, black holdall on the floor and sat down on the bed, kicking my legs. "Do you want to be alone?" asked the nurse.
I thought for a minute, not sure. "Yes," I decided at last. "I would like to be alone." It didn't sound like my voice at all. Gone was the innocence and childhood. I knew now that parents weren't infallible. They'd left me here, after all.
"We'll come and get you at dinner time. Is that okay?" I nodded again and she left.
I actually intended just to sit and think, and perhaps have a little cry, now that I was alone and there was nobody to see my weakness. Imagine that! Even as a nine-year-old girl I was ashamed of tears!
But I couldn't. No tears came to my eyes and I felt awful. Did I have no heart? I learned later that in times of great grief, true misery seems to desert us. We're just too numb to let it go enough, and we've been holding it back all this time until it stays there. So I turned to my thoughts, in turmoil and confusion.
And then they came back, whispering to me.
~Now look. They've taken you here and how do you think you're going to get out again? You need to get away from this place~
~I thought it was my home that you said I had to get away from~ I argued, trying to ignore my growing fear. ~I thought this hospital was far away enough. That's why I didn't struggle. Did you never wonder?~
~Who can wonder at what goes on in the mind of a human?~ they replied. It still chilled me to the bone whenever they referred to humans in the third person. I knew, of course, that they weren't humans--but to have it confirmed was frightening. ~This place isn't right for you. They will try and make us go away.~
~I don't care. I don't want you in my head. My brain is mine and not for you to take over! Can you never just leave me alone?~
~If you do not want us here we will stay even longer. Mark my words, Michelle, they will never succeed in getting rid of us. You can never be normal. We will not allow it.~