I knew my eyes were open, but I really couldn't see. My mind was racing as I tried to figure out what had happened to me the night before. Very slowly, my eyes and my mind began to focus. It was funny really. It seemed like they were functioning of the same accord. My vision began to get fuzzy, but at least I could see a little. Then there were the fuzzy details that I was starting to remember. There was a bridge, a boy, and some police, and maybe a doctor? And then, everything snapped into place. My vision cleared and so did my mind. I knew exactly where I was.
"Good morning Nina. Did you sleep well?" A woman with kind smile walked in.
She was older, and everything about her was gray. Her hair was gray. Her eyes were gray. Her neat outfit was gray. Everything was gray. It was all pulled back into a ponytail. She had a kind face, but her eyes were just desperate to get into your head. From the looks of it, she knew how to do it too.
"Where am I?" I asked, doing my best to sound terrified, on the off chance that this woman had a sense of pity.
"Come. I'll show you." The woman held out a hand for me, and flashed me a warm smile, but her eyes gave her away. I had to give her points for acting though.
Slowly, I took her hand and pulled myself up off the bed. As I followed her out the door, I glanced around to make sure there weren't any creeps waiting to grab me. I could already tell that I couldn't trust anyone in this place.
"Do you remember why you're here Nina?" The woman asked me, her voice made me jump. It was suddenly cold, and steely.
"I don't remember where 'here' is, let alone why I'm here." I snapped.
"Well it's good to know you've decided to stop pretending to be scared." The woman gave a small sarcastic smile.
"Just tell me where I am. Is it that hard?" I snapped.
"You tried to jump off a bridge last night Nina. You were screaming about someone telling you to follow them. After we pulled you down, the police searched the water to see if they could figure out who you had been talking about. They didn't find anyone, so they called me. I sat with you and you talked on and on about how Alex needed your help, and how only you can help him because no one else can see him." The woman looked at me.
"I don't remember that." I said.
"You wouldn't. You tired to go back to the bridge while I wasn't looking. I tried to grab you, get you to stop, and you attacked me. The police had to knock you out to stop you. They hit you hard. It's no surprise you can't remember much." The woman looked at me, her eyes full of false pity. It made me wonder what was really going on in her head.
"What about the boy?" I asked.
"Who? Alex? I already told you he wasn't real. You were hallucinating." The woman said.
"No, not Alex." I sighed. "The one who pulled me off the bridge. I don't know his name."
"I never said it was a boy who pulled you off. The police did remember?" She was speaking carefully, because either I was fragile, or her lie was.
"No. I remembered it earlier. There was a boy. I remember talking to him and then being on the ground." I insisted.
"The police pulled you down. When they got there, you were talking to a boy, but you were still standing up on the bridge. You started screaming when they did, and the boy got you to calm down. That was when they called me."
"You still haven't told me where I am." I said.
"This place doesn't really have a name. It's just what it is. Welcome to the asylum my dear. I hope you enjoy you're stay. If you need anything, I'm Dr. Greyson, so just come find me OK?" And with a sickly sweet smile, the woman with the perfect name walked away, leaving me standing in the cold hallway that suddenly seemed darker.
I couldn't wait until visiting hours started. When they did, I could go. I could sit and hide in the library while everyone else was distracted with the family members coming in. It was kind of funny actually, how easy it was to distract a mental patient. I don't really get any visitors. After what I did, no one wants to see me. Well, after what I "did". The only thing that I really remember is seeing some kind of shadow, and I heard someone telling me to go find Alex. The next thing I knew, some woman called Dr. Greyson showed up and told me I had burned someone's house down. The next half hour was a complete blur to me. Dr. Greyson said she had been questioning me and I told her that I had burned the house because Alex had told me to. After I supposedly told her that I had seen that shadow before I heard that voice, she decided I was insane and took me her. The asylum without a name.
""You still haven't told me where I am." I heard a girl say.
"This place doesn't really have a name. It's just what it is. Welcome to the asylum my dear. I hope you enjoy you're stay. If you need anything, I'm Dr. Greyson, so just come find me OK?" I heard Dr. Greyson walk away, leaving whoever that girl was standing alone, looking very lost.
I shivered if only from the overwhelming sense of familiarity I felt. I could easily see myself standing there, talking to Dr. Greyson just like that. Her walking away after giving me the asylum speech, just like that. And, for just a moment, I considered postponing my daily library visit and talking to this girl instead.
I watched her for a moment longer before reconsidering. Better to learn early that you're always alone in this place. Whoever this girl was, she'd better get used to it.
"Sit still." I snapped at Jason. He always made it extremely difficult to draw a picture of him when he was here.
"I wasn't doing anything wrong!" He protested.
"You were moving. That counts as doing something wrong." I told him.
"Not my fault you draw slowly." Jason flashed her a smile.
"I'm sorry. I would like to have my only visuals of the outside world to be good ones. Not like I'll actually be seeing much else for the rest of my life." I muttered.
"They'll let you go eventually. You've been here for a year. That isn't that long." Jason assured her.
"Can I ask you question?" I set down my sketch pad until further notice.
"Why do you come and visit me?" I asked.
Jason just shrugged. "You're all alone. You need someone." He replied.
"But why at first? You didn't know anything about me at that time, but you still came." I persisted.
"I guess I felt responsible for you. It's because of me you're locked up in here, so I guess I felt guilty." Jason spoke softly, but I could hear every word.
"You didn't feel guilt." I said. "No one feels guilt for putting a crazy person where they belong. You just felt pity." I said with a small smile.
"I suppose so. But I still felt responsible." Jason replied.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because no one else seemed to."
I sat for a minute, facing Jason, not saying anything at all.
"Why don't we finish your drawing another day." Jason suggested, standing.
"That might be good." I nodded.
"Yeah. I'll see you next week." Jason smiled again, but this time it was tighter, more forced.
I just nodded.
Jason walked out, and I couldn't help but wonder if he would actually be coming back. In the year I had been here, Jason was the only one who had come to visit. If he stopped, I really wasn't sure what I would do. I wouldn't have anyone normal to talk to at all.
"Selena, Dr. Greyson wants to see you." Lydia, the woman who came to take us everywhere stuck her head in the door.
"My session isn't until 3. It's not even noon yet." I said.
"This isn't one of your sessions sweetheart. She wants to talk to you about something else." Lydia said. Her voice was often sour when she spoke to any of us, and anyone could see that she needed a new job.
"Fine. May I shower first? Otherwise I won't make it in time." Yeah, we have assigned shower times. It's supposed to be more organized, but all it does is create conflict for those of us who have problems with our time.
"Look, it's not my problem if you don't get a shower today. Most people don't shower anyway. Just take one of their times." Lydia snapped. "But it will be my problem if you don't go talk to Dr. Greyson, because that means that I wouldn't be doing my job, and that means that I could get fired. And if you're the reason that happens-"
"Lydia. Don't upset Selena." The voice was dreamy, and a little unfocused. Without looking, I knew immediately who it belonged to.
"Lauren. You're supposed to be with your brother." Lydia crossed her arms at the girl in the doorway.
"He left. He had lunch plans with his new girlfriend." Lauren said, twirling a strand of her black hair.
"Then you should be in the rec room with the others." Lydia said.
"Can I go to the library?" Lauren asked.
"You're library privileges were revoked darling." Lydia said with a smirk. I remembered how she had been all too thrilled to sign Lauren's "punishment slip" as it was called.
"Oh right." Lauren pouted a little. "Oh well." She said after a moment and then skipped away.
"Now, let's go Selena." Lydia grabbed my arm and dragged me to the office of the Queen of the Crazies herself, AKA Dr. Greyson.
She was right. Selena was right and I knew it. I came out of pity. Sure, there was a little guilt there too, but mostly pity. I mostly felt guilty because the more times I came to visit her, the more I began to realize that she wasn't crazy at all. Actually, she was the opposite. Selena was one of the most sane people I had ever really met. She was an incredible artist, and she was pretty level-headed most of the time. It took a lot to get her really mad.
Lost in my own thoughts, I bumped into the girl, or rather, she bumped into me while she was skipping down the hallway for no apparent reason. She fell backwards with a thud.
"Sorry." I muttered, reaching out to help her up.
The girl took my hand and pulled herself off the ground. Looking at her, I realized that I had seen a picture of her in one of Selena's sketchbooks. Apparently, she was one of the few patients who would sit still long enough for a picture. However hard he tried though, he couldn't remember her name at all.
When she stood staring at him for a moment longer, Jason began to fidget slightly. The girl didn't seem to notice his discomfort at all though. She smiled an eery smile before saying, "find Alex. He can help you. He helps everyone." Then, with a glint in her green eyes, the girl skipped away.