Thursday March 3rd, 2016

The exercise:

Today, without any warning whatsoever, we make our third visit to House of Mercy. Sorry about that, it just totally slipped my mind while writing yesterday's post.

Kat and I took a trip up to Penticton this morning for a midwife appointment. We'll be doing that every week until baby comes, as tomorrow marks one month until the due date arrives. Everything went well, as has been the case all along with this pregnancy.

Also tomorrow? I'll be working at the community centre from 2 until 9. I ran into one of the ladies who is higher up on the relief seniority list at the park yesterday and she mentioned she'll be unavailable for all of March while her daughter and her family is in town for a visit.

So hopefully that means more calls for me this month.


Julie opened her eyes. Not with enthusiasm, but with great reluctance. Those days, that was always how she woke up. She didn't know what she was going to find waiting for her, and she didn't want to know.

This time there was only blackness. It was a relief. But only briefly.

"Have I gone blind?" she whispered. She closed her eyes and then opened them again. She could discern a slight difference in the depth and texture of the dark. "No, I suppose not. Must be night then."

Julie talked to herself a lot during those days. She knew it must only encourage the staff's diagnosis of Full Blown Crazy, but she didn't care. At least when she was talking to herself she knew there were no animals or inanimate objects involved in the conversation.

She wondered idly how long she'd been in the hospital. Days? More than that. Weeks? Maybe. Months? Not out of the question. She no longer wondered when she would get out.

There was no getting out. Julie knew that. Not for a person as crazy as herself. Anne hadn't even bothered to visit her. Just dumped her there and then returned to her happy, normal life. Probably had a nice long shower to wash the insanity off of her.

It wasn't as though Julie wanted to stay. She had just begun to realize the mental hospital was where she belonged. Try as she might, she couldn't seem to stop seeing impossible things everywhere. She didn't want to talk to the animal people anymore, but they kept talking to her.

"Doesn't mean I have to answer them," she muttered with a shake of her head. She paused, mulling this observation over in her head. Was it as simple as that? Maybe it was worth a shot. Sitting up in bed she announced to the room, "I'm done talking to the animals. They can't make me talk to them."

With a satisfied nod, she lay back down and closed her eyes. Sleep had almost returned when a noise at her window startled her fully awake.


Julie propped herself up on one elbow and turned to the barred window. She didn't know what she was expecting to see... but a giant owl's head was not it. With a resigned sigh, she flopped back down and closed her eyes again.

"Julie! It's me, Anne!"

"I am not interested in talking to you anymore," Julie told the owl. It had really gotten to be too much. She was ready to go home and try to be normal again. "Please go away and don't come back."


Greg said...

Surprise visits! I think I like it, but maybe I shouldn't encourage you ;-) It sounds like the midwifery and the part-time jobs are co-ordinating nicely, so that's something. I guess you'll be thinking about starting the planting for the farm soon as well, since you've been mentioning the spring-like weather?
I like the idea of the shower to wash the insanity off, that little detail (along with all the rest) make this a fascinating chapter to read. I like how you've conveyed Julie's resignation to her fate, and referenced the ongoing problems. And I admit I was a little surprised to see Anne return as well... as an owl no less!

Anne would have stepped from the barred window then, but it was a third floor window and she was standing, precariously, on a narrow concrete ledge that ran around the building as an ornamentation. Her arms were already burning with lactic acid build-up, she was breathing more deeply than she felt comfortable with, and she was wishing that she'd spent more time practising on the climbing wall and less time chatting to David Shapiro back at school. The shock of being told that Julie wasn't interested in talking to her any more was like a dish of cold water in the face, and she was trying to accommodate it.
"Julie," she said again, trying to pitch her voice loud enough for her friend to hear and yet not so loud that she would attract attention. There were security guards patrolling the grounds but they'd seemed plump and complacent. This high up she could hardly jump down and run away if they saw her though. "Julie, I've been trying to get in to see you! They wouldn't let me!"
Julie turned over on her side so that her back was to the window. The thin covers of the bed pulled away slightly and she could see the knobs of her friend's spine; she looked like she'd lost weight.
"Julie! Please, you have to talk to me. I think I'm going to fall off!"
Overhead the clouds drifted past the moon and the world got a little darker. Anne felt grateful; the guards might not see her now. In the room Julie turned over again and Anne saw that her wrists were tied to the edge of the bed with soft rope.
"Why don't you just fly away?"
Julie's words had a hint of madness to them, definitely, but her eyes were clear and lucid. Anne was sure that Julie really believed what she was saying – but why was she saying such weird things?
"You're an owl, even if you are talking to me." Julie wasn't smiling, she looked... well, bored. "Owls can fly, so why don't you fly away instead of falling?"
"I'm Anne," said Anne. The pain in her arms was getting hard to ignore. "I'm not an owl, I'm your room-mate. Ex-room-mate. Well, maybe I still am, I–"
"You're an owl," said Julie. "A wise owl who's trying to trick me." She twisted, and after a moment Anne realised that Julie's ankles must be tied to the bed as well.
"I'm Anne," said Anne. "Not an owl. Look Julie, do you remember Martin? I was there on your first date with him, I was two rows back in the cinema. I threw my popcorn over him when he tried to undo your blouse."
"Wise old owl," said Julie. Her voice was singsong now. "Wise old owl, sitting in a tree. Telling tales about you and me."
Julie turned away again, tugging against the restraints and moaning softly, and the pain in Anne's arms became overwhelming and she realised she needed to get down from the window before she really did fall.
As she started down the wall the clouds uncovered the moon again.

Marc said...

Greg - great continuation from where I left off. Really liked the singsong craziness you gave Julie. Now, what to do about the guards and the escape and the returning light of the moon...