Through the wire infused glass I can see the midday sun burning down on the roughly landscaped gardens. I lounge on a cream, fabric-lined armchair in the designated TV room. The sun lightens the entire room. I stare at the dust thrown about by a gentle breeze flowing through an open window behind me.
I know the number of threads sticking out of every piece of cheap, worn-out furniture, every paint crack on these yellowing walls. I stare at the dying Peace Lily placed by the television. A poor attempt to evoke a happy environment in a room destined for a source of depression.
I’ve been trying to appear normal, but how normal can I appear, when I’m on a cocktail of drugs and wearing my pyjamas all day. The constant refusals to release me have brought me to my wits’ end. I’m sure the gravy mush I covered the stern nurse in today won’t help my leaving.
Is this how the world will end, with me lounging in my pyjamas, on a worn-out armchair in an aging mental ward?
I’ve told them over and over again, I didn’t mean to start the fire. The fact that the person I like least was in the house at the time had nothing to do with it. It’s true, I did hit one of the other patients, but only after she had asked for it, and yes, I refuse to eat my food, but so would you, if you knew that the cook had it in for you.
SMACK. The Peace Lily comes crashing down with thud that splits the plastic pot. It sprays dirt all over the already stained, white, tiled floor.
If I had my reflexes, I would have jumped, but I haven’t moved an inch. I raise my eyes back to where the plant was placed by the television to find a pair of green eyes staring back at me.
It’s a silly, shorthaired cat.
It jumps to the floor and walks past me, rubbing its soft, furry body against my leg as it goes, heading for the open window behind me. I raise myself just enough to see over my chair. Could they possibly have made these chairs any larger?
It stops at the window and meows. I think it wants me to follow. I get to my feet, reaching the slightly opened window, as it crawls through the gap, and leaps to the lawn below.
I watch as it walks, disappearing behind the over-grown Bird of Paradise bush in the far corner of the fenced-in yard. It reappears on the other side of the fence, takes a seat, and looks my way as it cleans its feet.
“Hope! What have you done now?” the stern nurse yells. Her face is red. I honestly think it’s about to blow.
“I didn’t do it.”
“You never do anything, Hope. So, tell me then - who did?”
“That silly, shorthaired cat,” I say pointing out the window.
“How can a cat on the other side of the fence have broken the pot plant in here? Do you not listen to a single word the doctor tells you? If you want to get better, you need to start taking responsibility for your actions. There is no way a cat on the other side of the fence could have broken the pot plant in here,” she says tapping her foot, while I stare out the window at the cat, now cleaning its belly.
“It jumped out the window, and –”
“I’ve heard enough! You are going outside for a walk. I need to call in the cleaner, and don’t even bother trying to talk your way out of it. I will not tolerate any whining from you today. Some sunshine will do you good,” she says with folded arms, and a twisted face. I swear her nostrils are flaring. The cat continues to stare, almost smiling.
“Yes nurse. Come to think of it, today is the perfect day for a walk.”