Asylum

I remember the last time I was outside.  I was in the car driving to work.  It was Fall, the leaves were changing.  Rounding a wide curve, I was overcome with the fear of losing control, flying off the road.  I’d had this fear before, but never like this.  Instead of braking, I floored it.  Everything switched to slow motion.  The fear was gone.  I couldn’t go fast enough.  I saw an oncoming truck at the top of the hill pulling out to pass.  I saw that I would hit it.  I don’t know why I didn’t care.

Now I’m in an airport waiting but the plane never comes.  A fat guy with drool on his chin keeps trying to touch me.  He’s wearing a stocking cap, a bathrobe over a hospital gown and red rubber sandals.  I notice the other travelers and I are dressed just like him. 

There’s a hallway in this airport papered with posters.  They’re attached to the white cinderblock wall with sticky rubber gum.  I am obsessed with trying to pick them off the wall.  A large woman keeps trying to stop me and I am vaguely aware that I don’t want to make her mad.

I find myself in the doctor’s office with my mother.  She doesn’t know where she is.  She won’t take her medicine.  No, wait, it’s my husband; no, my neighbor.  No, it is my mother.  She’s always trying to confuse me like that.  I don’t know why I’m here with her after what she did to me.  The doctor is very sympathetic as I tell him.

The doctor speaks to my husband while I watch the birds in the sky, or are they men with parachutes?  No, they are birds.  I can see them because the roof is gone but no one seems to care about that.  It’s blue dusk up there.  The silhouettes of the bare tree limbs are black like the birds.  The birds get larger and larger.  Now they’re in the room with me.  Now there’s only one.  It’s an eagle with while patches under its wings and a white tail.  It has a message for me.  I look deeply into its eyes.

The doctor asks me where I am, where I have gone just now. 

I tell him about the eagle.  It’s still here, but I can see through it now.  It’s bigger than he is.  Maybe it’s my spirit guide.  I need to talk to someone who knows about these things.  I ask the doctor if he’s an Indian.

There’s no privacy in this hotel.  People keep coming into my room and stealing my things.  I find a new room with pretty furniture and big windows but that guy with the drool on his chin is following me.  He’s going to get me in trouble again. 

Here comes that woman.

I pretend to be arranging the silk flowers on the table but she takes my arm.  I keep turning to look at the trees through the big windows.  Their leaves are a haze of tiny green buds.  I want to stay and look at them, but she leads me to a room full of people watching TV in their pajamas.  The guy with the drool on his chin follows us.  This is a very strange hotel.  I try to explain that I was only looking for the swimming pool. 

It’s morning and I wake knowing my husband is coming to see me today.  I’m wearing his favorite dress.  My hair is down.  I can feel it on my shoulders.  He likes it that way.  I need to check my makeup in the bathroom mirror, but it’s a struggle to walk, like the air is made of Jello.  Finally, I’m there but the bathroom is too bright.  There’s a skinny old woman in here with short gray hair.  She stares at me, moves when I move.  There are stains on her hospital gown.  I look down and see vomit on my red rubber sandals.  I don’t want my husband to see me like this.  I try to wipe it away with the hem of my gown.

I’m in the doctor’s office with my mother again.  She’s still telling those lies.  I tell the doctor I don’t want her here.  Doesn’t he know what she did to me?  Whoops, I’m yelling.  He’ll never let me out if I keep doing that.  I tell the doctor that I know where I am, that I’m really okay now, that I can be calm even though my grandparents are dead.  My mother says that they’re not, that they’re here and they’re very angry with me.  I can see them sitting here now, but I won’t say so.  She’s trying to trick me.  She’s pretending to be them.

I wake up and it’s over.  It was all a dream.  I go outside into the woods beside my house.  It’s such a beautiful summer day and I feel so relieved.  Then I see the bear.  I stand very still.  It will chase me if I run. 

The bear comes up to me and I touch it.  It’s not a bear now, it’s an anteater.  It can’t hurt me.  But what if I’m wrong and it’s really a bear?  Yes, it is a bear.  I should climb a tree. 

I stand on a chair.  

It seizes me, it’s dragging me out of my yard, into the street, but I won’t let go of the chair.  The neighbors are coming out of their houses now.  Someone will see and help me.  I fight as the bear drags me down the street, but the neighbors only watch.

The bear is speaking softly to me in a voice I recognize.  The street becomes a white cinderblock hallway.  The bear becomes the doctor. 

I stop fighting and start to cry.


One Response to “Asylum”

  1. Wonderful…terrifyingly slippery

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