What about her?
That tiny one. The cute little Hispanic girl.
I’m not really sure. I don’t think she speaks English. I haven’t heard anyone else speak Spanish so I don’t know that anyone else knows either.
And him? Where are his clothes?
Oh Mike? I guess he came in without clothes. They gave him those scrubs to wear. He’s been here almost as long as me.
I recognize him. Do they give him different ones to wear?
I hope so. It would be pretty gross otherwise. He says he drained his bank account and drank until he was out of money then called a cab for a ride to the hospital because he knew he wouldn’t be about to sober up on his own without getting help or getting sick.
He was naked when they found him?
I guess. He’s on some kind of medication that makes you sick when you have alcohol in your system. He can’t even use hand sanitizer.
I assume that’s a problem for you.
Byron put his hand in the pockets of his sweatshirt. Yup. He’s a super nice guy but I try not to get too close to him.
We sat on a short brick wall. Before us was an open field. I think it was late October but the weather had not turned too much since the end of the summer. The grass was sprinkled with leaves, but was still thick and green.
What are they doing again?
I’m still not really sure. Walking through a maze, I guess.
The field wasn’t too big, but was big enough that ten or so of them could kind of have some space of their own if they wanted it. It was on the hospital grounds behind the parking lots and just before the wooded area that sort of fenced in the entire backside of the complex. They had laid a curved path throughout the field in the grassy area using a sort of sandy gravel. The other patients wandered through it.
They all look pretty normal.
They kind of look like zombies, though, walking though that maze.
He shrugged again.
It was only his second or third time outside since he had been in the hospital. He told me the better they felt you were doing the more stuff they let you do. Like eating meals in the cafeteria instead of the locked floor or going on late night visits to the vending machines or going on daily walks around the hospital grounds.
I finally got my shoelaces and belt back.
I guess doing better meant going to the groups therapy sessions and taking the medication without arguing or fussing and in general not acting like a crazy asshole. Byron said the last part had been the hardest for him because he was not acting.
What about her? A tall, dark haired woman was waving at him from the middle of the field.
She’s cool. A little nutty. She kind of takes care of everyone. She fills in the gaps. The nurses and counselors don’t always do a great job of telling you everything when you first get here. She’s like the mom.
Yeah, I thought she was a nurse or something at first.
I did too.
What’s her deal?
Tried suicide a bunch of times. Pills, drinking, whatever. I guess her brother molested her when they were younger. Her mom just died recently. The usual.
All the stories are the same after awhile. It’s normal stuff.
There was a breeze that blew at us where we sat on the wall watching the crazies wander around. It was still a warm breeze, but there was definitely a chill behind it.
He pointed at the rest, some that I knew and some that were new. The one girl had slit her wrists recently. Her stitches were big and black and I tried not to stare at them. There was the woman who was addicted to crack and prostituted herself to support it. Byron said she was pretty nice and not what you thought a crack ho was supposed to be like. He said they were all nice and that they were his friends.
Yeah, they’ll probably kick me out pretty soon. They don’t really let you stay too long. I’m probably the longest one. They want to make sure the medication has kicked in before they let you out.
Do you thinks it’s working?
The counselor said that it was time for them to go in. They all broke off from the path they were on and started walking toward us. Byron hopped off of the wall.
Bring me some cigarettes or something next time.
I nodded at the ones I knew and the ones that were new as they filed past. I didn’t watch them walk towards the building. I sat on the wall for awhile, feeling the breeze in my face and enjoying the quiet of the grounds.
I started to go and noticed that Byron had left a yellow folder on the wall. At least it had been yellow before he had drawn all over it. It had a bunch of papers and stuff on how to cope with depression, anxiety and all those other words. They all had spaces for notes but they were all blank.
There was a little notebook in it too. It didn’t have any notes in it either, just a bunch of pictures that Byron must have drawn. The only words in it were a list of names. It seemed like they were the names of the people who were in the hospital with him, but I didn’t know all their names so I couldn’t be sure.