The next day the vultures came to my room and got me out of bed. They listened and knocked continually as they stood outside the bathroom door. Eventually they led me to a little room where the man with the accent was sitting and looking through files. Somewhere in my memory I remembered the accent and the dark circles around his eyes, but I didn’t know who he was. What I soon discovered is that I still couldn’t understand him.
Instead of trying, I spent my time staring out the window. I didn’t recognize anything. I thought I had been transported to a foreign planet by aliens and perhaps I was being interviewed by the head of command.
I wrung my hands harder, afraid.
The sound they made as one washed over the other fascinated me. It was dry and rasping and whispered strange words into the air. If I wrung them harder - I could feel the energy of my anxiety warming my stomach. I felt as if I could almost direct the flow of my anxieties into my hands and wring it all away.
I worked at it.
Those dark circled eyes stared at me and through me. I checked the corners behind me but there was no one else in the room. They stared some more. Eventually he wrote something in the file and let me out of the room.
And suddenly, I was lost again.
The vultures took me to a large bathroom and forced me to undress. They ran the water and tested it, making sure I wouldn’t get scalded, and then they put me under the shower and made me wash myself. It had been a long time. Somehow I had forgotten about washing. In fact, I was told later I hadn’t bathed in almost two weeks. When I was finished, I promptly forgot that it was something I was supposed to do.
I wandered the hall again, lost and alone. There were many others that wandered that hall with me and we would bump into one another in surprise, so lost in our own little worlds that we didn’t see each other.
As long as I was in sight of one of the vultures, they didn’t hover in my face. But as soon as I entered a room, they were there. I couldn’t understand it. Why did they have to follow me around like that? What did they want? It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that I was on ‘close supervision’. I was considered to be a threat to myself. And much later I was told that I had been suicidal before they had admitted me.
I didn’t know any of that.
Meals were delivered to the hallway and we joined in one large communal room to eat them. In the beginning I never noticed just how many people were in that room. I was just happy to be able to eat something once more. One of the vultures sat beside me while I ate because of the utensils I was using. I thought she wanted my food and I hunched over it while I shoveled it into my mouth.
While the light faded out of the foreign sky, I sat listening to my hands as they talked, and stared out the windows. Slowly the lights came on in the buildings that surrounded me, and I suddenly had a revelation. I wasn’t on a foreign planet! I was waiting for a cruise ship! I could see its lights in the distance and I knew they would be coming for me to board it. Obviously dress for this cruise was casual. My pajamas and housecoat were what was required. And everyone else on that hallway? They were going on the cruise as well!
Recently Stephen King published Lisey’s Story. In that novel, he takes us to a place where there are depressed or mentally ill people sitting and watching a ship – waiting for it. When I read this – I wrote to Mr. King and asked him if he had done research on this. Had he found that this was a common thought among those who were suffering mentally? Unfortunately he has never answered me. But how I would love to know!