It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood
The taxi pulls up in front of the elegant mansion.
"Twenty-two fifty, miss." says the driver. I look out my window. It looks just like the on line pictures. It is a beautiful sunny day after a record of a week of rain. It feels warm and summer is right around the corner. The driver turns around and looks at me bringing me back into focus. I need to pay him and get out. I need to walk into the scariest chapter of my life. Someone is walking out and heading toward the taxi. I busy myself getting some cash out, I just shove the twenty and five dollar bills into his hand as if I am feeding an alligator and pull back quickly before he could grab on and not let go. Then he could have teeth growing out of his hand and he could start to eat my arm.
I guess I read too much sci-fi. No, the door to the cab is opened for me. I'm just crazy and I'm checking myself into Blossoming Flowers Estates (aka 'lune-ney been' in French.) I grab my bag and step out of the cab. The door is closed for me and the car speeds away as if something here was contagious like zombie-itis.
"Hello, you must be Maryse. I'm Kathy, a nurse here. Let me help you check in." says Kathy.
"Hi." I answer and follow her up the steps. Once inside it was pleasant looking, again just like my virtual tour. They spent a lot of money on their website to make the 'transition' as unalarming as possible. But I know where I am and why. We walk up to the front desk.
"Hi Maryse, we've been expecting you. I hope you found the place alright." said the next woman. Kathy is standing right next to me. I don't know if she is there to protect me from other residents who may be on the attack or me from myself. I did feel like running and running fast.
"I took a cab, and he seemed to find it alright. Thank you." I said.
"Good. I'm Carol and I see you met Kathy. Kathy will help you settle in to your room. And then she will show you around a bit." said Carol. I look at Kathy and she smiles at me. Carol is typing on her computer and I look around the lobby. I don't see anyone. I don't see any wheel chairs or other hospital looking equipment.
"I know this place can look over-whelming, but you'll learn your way around in just a day or two." said Kathy. Then Carol stands up ad gets some papers out of the printer.
"If you can just sign these papers. You are signing yourself in and you have the right to leave at any time. We are responsible for your safety and if you act irrationally we will call your family. Otherwise, you and your doctors make all of the decisions." said Carol in a dry, but clear tone. I sign the papers and give them back without hesitation.
"Just make me better, OK?" I ask.
"OK" answers Carol. "Kathy, Maryse will be in room 211."
"OK, thanks. We have steps to the left Maryse, let's put your bag in your room and let you freshen up." said Kathy.
"Sure." I say. And we head off into like I said my next chapter of my life. As soon as we reach the stairs I look up at the grand staircase. It looks out of Gone with the Wind. And on top, no not Rhett, rather the fair Ashley Wilkes.
"Good morning, Morgan. How are you?" says Kathy to the handsome stranger. So, his name is Morgan, well, he'll always be Ashley Wilkes to me. Wonder what he's in for. Five to ten, it looks like. Yeah, an old-timer, bounces in and out of rehab I bet. (Mentally slaps hand) Now, now, YOU have just checked yourself in missy. And this is a very costly establishment. The two doctors that own this have been on the New York Times bestseller list for 72 weeks straight.
I start up the step and pass "Ashley (swoons)" yes, that is what I will think every time I shall pass him.
He looks at me out of the corner of his eye, keeping his head straight, as he descends. Wonder what he is thinking of me.
I look in each room as we pass. They are all neat and quiet. I don't see any people. More sci-fi images flash into my head. Then Kathy explains everything, very convenient.
"Not many people here on a nice spring day. We are having a cookout for lunch and we encourage everyone to get out into the sun and fresh air." said Kathy. "Here is your room, 211."
We walk in and it is a nice, bright room, with the window open and the sheers billowing in the breeze. I walk over to the window and look out. No bars and I'm on the second floor. I try to open the window some more, but it won't budge. Ah, it only gives about 6 in opening. Kathy doesn't say anything. She just busies herself. I look into the bathroom.
"Mind if I use this?" I ask.
"Go right ahead, take your time." says Kathy. I go in and close the door. I take an involuntary deep breath. I reach into my pocket and pull out a Valium and pop it. I use the toilet and then wash my hands. It doesn't seem too bad. Everything is clean. I hear talking. No, not in my head, outside. I listen and Kathy is speaking with someone about lunch. I open the door and my doctor is standing there and he smiles.
"Hey, Maryse, made it in OK. And you met, Kathy, she is the best." says Dr. Herman.
"Yes, it seems very comfy here. I only hope this place works." I say.
" It will work if you want it to, and just getting to this point shows how seriously you want to make it work. I want the same thing." says Dr. Herman with a sincere smile.
"Want to rest or walk around Maryse?" asks Kathy.
"Can I speak with Dr. Herman for a few minutes?" I ask.
"Sure." says both Kathy and Dr. Herman in unison.
Kathy leaves, telling Dr. Herman to page her when he needs her.
"Want to sit?" asks Dr. Herman as he takes a chair leaving the bed for me to sit on. I sit down and look at my feet.
"Everything OK?" asks Dr. Herman.
"I'm exhausted." I say. "Smiling seems like too much of an effort. And I feel like I've just boarded a cruise ship and I must be pleasant to everyone. Do I have to go to the picnic?" I ask.
"No, of course not. The only requirement is to make your scheduled appointments. Everything else is optional. No mandatory classes of "Pottery for healthy minds." he says with a chuckle. That is a relief.
"I just want to chill." I say. Can I lay down?
"Sure, why don't you take a nap. I'll send Kathy back in a while to check on you. If you need anything you can find your way to the front desk or phone it by dialing zero. Want me to call you family?" asks Dr. Herman.
"No, no phone calls. I said my good byes. I'll be back in a few weeks." I say and close my eyes. I hear my door shut and I sleep. I am woken up by some yelling outside my window. I don't know how long I've been sleeping, but there are two teens fighting over a Frisbee. I watch as someone comes over to moderate. There is a knock on the door and I expected Kathy.
"Come in." I say.
"Hi Maryse, I'm Ginny." says the younger woman.
"Oh, I was expecting Kathy." I say.
"Yeah, I'm here for the evening shift. Kathy will be back in the morning. All settled in?" asked Ginny.
"I didn't unpack." I say.
"You don't have to, whatever. Want to have some dinner? I can take you to the dining room." says Ginny.
"I never had a tour." I say.
"Oh, would you like one? Dr. Herman left a note not to push too much on you. " she says. "So, if you only want to have dinner I can bring you down and introduce you to some people."
"I." I barely say. I'm lost for speech.
"Would you like to eat here in your room?" Ginny asks.
"No, lets walk a round. I think I'm hungry. How was the picnic lunch?" I ask.
"Very lovely day. I wasn't here but they are usually great." Ginny says.
We start to leave and she closes my room. It locks.
"My room locks? I ask.
"Sure, you should have privacy. The staff have keys, but you may not want to be bothered by other patients. Especially at the prices of private rooms." says Ginny. We make our way back downstairs and as we pass the library, the computer room, the game room, and a nice sitting area with a huge window with a window seat. I immediately called that window seat mine and planned on reading there every day.
We make our way to the dining room and a man walks up to us. Ginny introduces me and he waves me on to follow him. Ginny comes with me and we walk over to a table with a woman and two other men sitting. As they look up to see me I look right into Ashley Wilkes' eyes. I smile an uneasy smile. Everyone else introduces themselves and I look at them and smile a hello back. Then it is his turn.
"I'm Morgan. Nice to meet you." says Morgan with the sexiest voice I have ever heard. I sit down to join them, but really, I sit down because my knees feel like giving out on me. I look away from him, but I can't help sneaking looks and watching him. I can't help thinking that he is watching me too.
Oh, this is good and I smile. I always forget when I'm fantasizing not to let my myself do that.
"What's so funny?" asks Morgan. I look up and his magnetic stare holds me gaze on his face. He is watching with an odd curiosity as if he partially is reading my mind. And that is not possible. Can he just be used to women checking him out. Is he the psych ward Casanova? Has he done every nurse in the place, making them call him doctor? 'Oh, yes, doctor, yes, I want it. ' I smile again.
"I'm sorry. It's nothing." I answer. The salad is served and dinner begins. We speak among the four of us and it is nice. We have some quiet time too. No questions like 'Why are you here?" thank goodness. I need rest.
After people leave and say goodbye. Others in the dining room look at me as they pass. They don't introduce themselves. I stay until the room is empty. Then Ginny comes by for me.