Diary of a misunderstood patient

"Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice messaging system." Sometimes when I can't stand being alone I try to pick up words in the whirring of the ceiling fan, the only other thing in this white, empty room that appears to be alive. I am startled by the way my shadow falls on the wall, towering above my own self. I form a little cave with my bed covers and sit in them silently, listening. Unfamiliar sounds startle me and strange lights make me uneasy. I grow very still when I hear voices: I am fascinated by the conversation, but terrified of the people. I imagine myself unzipping my skin and stepping out of who I am. Tomorrow will be better, I think, or worse.

I have been reading Bukowski lately, and some Dickinson, Poe, Hemingway. I admire how their words make tragedy beautiful. My tragedies remain tragedies. Sometimes I picture your death, pretend I was standing right there, memorizing the details of an event that I sometimes still refuse to believe ever happened. There was this one day when I looked out the window and saw a single, lonely cloud floating by itself in the blue, blue sky. I looked away, for the briefest of moments, but when my gaze returned out the window, my lovely little cloud had already vanished from sight. I don't wear seatbelts anymore because yours never saved you anyways.

I don't have visitors very often, but today I had a visitor from the past. What is the worst thing you've ever done? I keep asking myself this question, as if it will define me. I keep asking others this question, hoping their sins are worse than mine. My feet cannot touch the floor, I am flailing, and my eyes are blurred by the waves of the ocean, or maybe they are just my tears. I cannot eloquently communicate what I want to say, so I will just memorize your words, each one, with impeccable accuracy, until someday my vocabulary can describe this blood-red tangle of synapses and neurons that the doctors will probably deem "crazy."

*This is a mostly fictional piece, written from the point of view of an institutionalized patient. I don't claim to know what it would be like it all; I was just thinking about it idly and started writing, and this is what came out.

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