This story is by Joanne Swain and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Being slung back into my room I calm myself down so the others don’t start taunting me, as they inevitably must! Looking out of the windows there are birds tweeting away in the summer sunshine in this late afternoon daytime, the bars on the outside of the windows are showing their age, but the dirt and grime is on the outside thank heavens. Sitting down on the bed it has been freshly made for me – the nurses do this every day without fail. The clean crisp sheets and cheap duvet have my favourite cover on it. This makes me smile widely – they know me well enough now not to even ask! The nurse outside my room asks that I sit down on the bed and relax before I get wound up … I don’t know what they’re referring to of course – but I am aware that I also have lapses in time, a lot of them.
Suddenly Cassie wants ‘out.’ She tells me I have sixty seconds to allow her access. Now, if I deny that access she starts getting all rowdy! She gets me into trouble fast – apparently by swearing a lot. I wouldn’t know how she presents herself because I get pushed back inside once Cassie is out. Lying on the bed now I give permission … “… go ahead Cassie, out you come …” I hear another voice in my head now, a jealous one that I have invited Cassie out. “Teacher’s Pet! Why Her! Why you letting her out?! What’s wrong with me!?” Cassie comes out to play and I retreat inwards, wishing none of them were in my head.
Cassie comes back ‘home’ after two hours and lets me back out quick. Rubbing my eyes it is darker outside – the clouds are dark, looks like a storm is brewing! “Oh My God! It’s a thunderstorm! I don’t like thunder storms!? Nurse! Please give me that injection so I sleep through it! Please I’m scared! It’ll kill me! … nurse!” Someone tells me to shut up from in the corridor and I fall onto the floor with a sudden squelch as my knees give way to the pressure as it builds inside of me. I build up the pressure so high by the time I feint that now Melinda comes out without an invite, without asking even. At least Cassie asked first! Melinda is a Dyke, the trouble with having Melinda break out of me is that I can see and hear everything Melinda says and decides to do! “Hey Frenchie?” ‘Yes Melinda …’ “… don’t worry about me. I love the thunder! I am saving your ass! So I’ll be here for a while … no need to sweat it girl! I haven’t been out in a while you know!” ‘I know Mel – just don’t embarrass me! Don’t do or say anything that I am going to regret it … please?’ “Relax Frenchie … it’s not as if I can invite any of the girls over into our dorm you know, now is it?” ‘Yeah I know … just don’t get into trouble with that nurse! She gives the sly look!’ “Hmm, really!? What sly look would that be Frenchie?” I keep quiet and pretend to sleep, shivering in here, inside my head. It’s dark, with my old bedroom wallpaper from when I was six plastered on the walls. The flowers and birds on the paper enabling some serenity. Melinda is shouting to the others down the corridor, encouraging mayhem as usual – well, it’s like virtual mayhem really as we can’t really ‘do’ anything. I hear that nurse coming over to our dorm and looking at Mel with ‘that’ look. She doesn’t come into the cell when Mel is out! ‘Mel, don’t encourage her! I told you!’ “Shut up Frenchie! – now, nurse, why don’t you come in here with me … I can keep you happy for a few hours nurse. I love nurses! I love the uniforms, hot damn!” The nurse just laughs, pitying me! I can see it through Mel’s eyes. She will torture me verbally tomorrow, I feel it. The nurse goes away again, still laughing. I notice a lapse in concentration and force my way outside of my head again – getting past Mel isn’t easy, but she is busy trying to work out how to get the nurse to come in to her when she doesn’t realise till it’s too late she is stuck indoors again. ‘Hey Frenchie! That’s not fair! Why so soon! Please baby … please! I haven’t been out for so long!’ “Mel! You have been out, the storm is over now … leave it be!” Mel is mumbling, she tries to get hold of Cassie, Cassie is too shy to talk to her I think!? I hope she is anyway … Cassie knows things about me, about us that Mel doesn’t need to know! Mel would use that information against me! I can hear Mel calling for Cassie continually. I would have to chat with Cassie later on, in bed! “Nurse … I’m sorry! Please ignore me from earlier!” Sitting on the bed now I remember the wallpaper in my old bedroom and quietly wish I could go back there. Stay there with my mother. The nurse and the doctors have told me that she made me the way I am … by allowing my father to ‘love’ me the way that he did. I don’t remember too much of those episodes – Cassie remembers all that! Cassie took me inside of myself when those things happened to me, she saved me the memories! “Cassie … are you there?” ‘Yeah I am here Frenchie. Are you ok?’ “Yeah I am ok. Mel came out and embarrassed me while the storm hit town! Then she started calling you – I don’t want you to talk to her!” ‘Frenchie, you know I wouldn’t do that if you don’t want me too. She scares me anyway! I won’t talk to her. I watched what she did though! She was trying to get with that nurse! I don’t think that nurse will hold it against you though – I think! Just ignore her in the morning when she takes you to get your meds … just ignore her! She isn’t your father, ugh! That man was a monster you know that?’ “Yeah … I’m sorry Cassie! Sorry you have to suffer because of … well, because of that monster!” ‘Frenchie! You talking to that wimp Cassie!? You tell her to talk to me! You’re talking to her without my permission!’ “Shut up Mel! Leave me alone!” The conversation’s going back and forth now between me and Mel, the arguments and verbal diarrhoea are getting to headache levels … which is what she wants. “I am going to ignore you now Mel, I’m not even going to respond!” She still keeps going for the next five hours. I suffer her torments and bullying and eventually there is silence. Now Mel knows I am scared of complete silence, but it’s better than I what I have been suffering with. The nurse finally comes back round at eleven at night, checking I am settling down. Asking whether I need something to help me sleep – I say yes. I definitely want to sleep tonight. Taking the little pill quickly before either of the others can complain at me I swallow the water with it and shyly thank her for the assist with the sleep. “That’s ok Frenchie …” Laughing after this, she obviously remembers Mel enticing her into our room from earlier. “… you sleep tonight dear … and Frenchie?” “Yes nurse … I am so sorry for earlier. Please forgive me, it wasn’t me … it was Mel!” I am really upset now, hoping she doesn’t get funny with me, hoping she doesn’t start flirting or something. She has tried this before … which is why Mel keeps trying to get out! “Nurse … You need to stop doing this. Please don’t … Mel will insist on coming out to play! It took me five hours to get her to shut up earlier, it’s not funny!” Nurse smiles then and says goodnight at last. As I sit on the bed the pill suddenly takes me under in about another sixty seconds.
The night passed quickly because I slept well but I nearly missed ‘roll-call’ because of it. I like breakfast time, it’s the most important meal of the day – mum used to say that a lot. Hearing noises outside the room I prepare myself for the door to unlock – and the nurse to comes to find me again. She is coming up towards my door, and sees me looking at her, then begins to smile at me again. “You ready Frenchie!? You ready to eat girl?” “Yes Nurse, I am.” As the door opens I hope for a good day ahead for a change.