“Well, I didn’t finish.”
“Oh yeah?” Jack asked.
“I was just giving some background information,” she waved her hands over the floor letting the sleeves of her gown hang. “You know, just an explanation.
Marisol and the woman continued to eye each other.
“Besides, I was telling you how I got here.
Marisol reached across to pass Salome the bowl.
“Well,” she said giving her another onceover.
She covered her mouth with her hand and coughed. She looked directly at Marisol.
“Could I have that tea you promised?”
The day I arrived it was hot. It wasn’t snowing like I had thought it would be, or should I say, like I thought I had been promised or been promised, but scorching. I wore socks, always. It was gross not to, and combat boots with a sundress. My face was bare and so was my head. I had just shaved my head again and my forehead was full of beads of sweat. Walking for miles, my knees hurt and my legs hurt and my back hurt and I was tired. I carried nothing in my hand. I hadn’t drank anything for hours and was constantly opening and closing my mouth to feel how dry my tongue was; to feel my jaw open and shut. When I arrived at the hospital, I was on the verge of collapse anyway so the entire process went faster.
My knees buckled from exhaustion and anxiety when I walked in and I could barely stand so the attendings swarmed me to help. They brought me water and that’s when I spoke, for the first time to anyone all day.
“I can’t. I’ll choke.”
I fainted. I was so proud of my body for fainting. See, I can’t lie. I feel the constant need to confess so I had walked or miles until I fainted. They tried to ask my name. I whispered and they repeated back: Sadia? I could only nod. When someone has no ID, they use Doe or Smith. I was Sadia Smith. I was admitted to Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital for severe dehydration and exhaustion and later admitted to Presbyterian’s acute psychiatric unit for a dissociative fugue. The name on my file said Sadia Smith.
“Possible delusional disorder. Possibly a psychotic episode. She seems quite manic despite not sleeping all night and walking all day.”
I heard them say that the following morning as I waited for my special consult. I was excited for the consult, this new shiny name. They had tucked me in a room with an older white woman who screamed randomly in the night. She didn’t scream all night, just whenever the urge came over her. I felt I deserved that. I don’t know what it was about masochism that I was so drawn to but I liked that I couldn’t sleep. It also created a very warm and fuzzy glow in my eyes and as I walked the unit the following day avoiding drinking water, avoiding breakfast, avoiding comrade with my freshly shaved head and blue gown and the word “courage” written in permanent marker on my skull (I wanted to see if it would make a good tattoo), I felt giant. I felt like laughing in their faces.