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Sally - Part I

September 2, 2022


When they brought me up in the elevator to the long-term unit, which I didn’t know was the long-term unit until the day before I was discharged, my roommate, who I didn’t know was my roommate yet, came out in the hall and stared me down with her dark eyes.


“Hi! How are you?” I asked enthusiastically. I was manic beyond manic with all the stimulation from the transport. I’d been in restraints. I’ll save that lovely story for another post.


“I’m fine. How are you?” she responded flatly.


“Well, not very good! I’m in a psych hospital!” I quipped.


They got me off the gurney and took me down to intake where I was interviewed and in-taken.


When I returned to the unit, a mental health tech named Lyle walked me into my room and introduced me to Sally. He quickly retreated to return to safe harbor behind the high counter that protects staff from being out in the open with the crazies.


Sally sat on her bed across from me and continued with the stare down. My bed separated us, but I had no idea what to expect. I was agitated. I was mad. I was scared.


“So, what can you tell me about this place?” I asked, smiling, trying my damndest to appear light and confident.


“I know who you are,” Sally snarled, her dark eyes boring into mine.


“What? I don’t understand.”


“I know who you are. Let’s not pretend to be friends. We would be if you hadn’t tried to kill me when I was little. I know you’re Mary. You come disguised as different people, but I know who you are.”


“Well, I’m not Mary,” I said, shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I firmed up my stance, bracing for an attack.


“If you come over to my side of the room, touch any of my things, or touch me, I’ll kill you.”


“Wonderful,” I said over my shoulder as I turned and strode out of the room.

I went and stood at the counter barricade, waiting for staff to acknowledge me. Patty, the counselor, dropped her chin and looked at me over her reading glasses.


“Yes, Coco. What do you need?”


“My roommate just threatened to kill me,” I said. “I want a different bed.”

“No No No!” the nurse on Patty’s right implored in a heavy German accent. I dropped my head to read her badge. Margit.


“She’s a nice girl! She won’t hurt you!” Margit said excitedly.


“I don’t feel safe. I want another bed,” I responded, by now realizing full well my request was futile.


“There are no other beds. I will talk to her. She is a nice girl! She won’t hurt you!”

I turned away from Them. Feeling defeated, beaten flat by the system, I went and sat at the large table in the common area, directly in the staff’s line of sight.

She’s a nice girl? What, did I just hallucinate her threat? No. I didn’t. I’m not one of the really crazy crazies. Fuck.


I stared out the window for a while. It was a typical grey day, no rain, no sun. The kind of days I hate. I remembered fall was less than a month away and I shook my head resignedly, staring at the trees I knew would soon be bare. I pictured them there, black sticks in sharp relief against the grey sky. Death is the word that came to mind. I pondered on that for a bit.


I remembered what my niece said when I told her my counselor had died.

“No one gets out of here alive.”


At first, I thought she was making light of what I’d told her. After a second, I registered from her tone she wasn’t. She’s a hospice nurse. She was serious. I pondered on that for a bit.


A breathless Margit slid into a chair across from me. I turned my head and stared at her blankly.


“I talked to Sally. She promises she won’t hurt you. She is a good girl. She won’t hurt you,” she reported.


“Did you not hear what I told you, Margit? She threatened to kill me! I want another bed!”


Margit retreated behind the fortress and engaged in frenzied whispered discussion with Patty and Lyle. I turned my head back to the window and stared at the leaves that would soon lay on the ground; dead; wet, black, rotten.


“No one gets out of here alive,” I whispered to the leaves. “No one.”

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