I arrived to the unit unrested, unkempt and generally still dehydated, not to mention completely apathetic to the presence of everyone around me. It was all a blur. The fluorescent lighting doesn’t help. It felt like day but how long had I been in the ER? They gave me an IV of water, took my vitals, made me answer questions.

“When was the last time you ate?”

And the pause between the question and the answer alarmed them.

“I didn’t eat today actually.”

I had no problem getting to the unit. Well, I was escorted but I mean I was voluntary. Well,  I was on suicide watch but that felt normal to me. I had to eat so I was placed at a table with a big, black man with no hair named Aaron. He put a cup of chocolate pudding in front of me and a spoon.

“They’ve already had dinner.”

What time is it?

“I’m vegan.”

I looked down when I spoke, ashamed at my request. I should be grateful for anything right now. He kind of eyed me for a second. I guess he was waiting to see if I would eat it and out of my periphery I saw him nod so he may have been planning this all along. I had a red bracelet on so no one could leave me alone. I looked over directly at him whisper to the man outside who stepped in.

“Hey.”

He kind of politely waved, bald head too but slimmer than his friend and had a goatee. He never told me his name. Aaron returned with applesauce, sat down in front of me and slid it across.

“Vegan.”
“Yes.”
“They said you don’t eat.”
“Yes.”
“I’m gonna watch you eat.”
“Well aren’t you an angel.”

I hated being watched. It took me one whole minute to pull the tab off if we were counting but Aaron didn’t say anything. I was slow when I was watched. You can’t make a mistake. I placed it neatly next to me and picked up the little plastic spoon and took the tiniest bite I could for fear of my jaw locking closed as I felt the sugar hit my teeth and then the viscous goo. I placed the spoon back on the table.

“What, no way, uh uh. You gotta EAT.”
“I am eating, Aaron.”

He froze. When you say a man’s name back to him like that, hey lose control. I picked the spoon back up and took another bite to show him.

“I’m eating.”

I took a few more bites to assuage him and then stopped.

“I don’t like to be rushed.”

He was immediate with his returns.

“I see that.”

I sat with my arms crossed in my lap waiting for him to leave but then I glimpsed at the red bracelet. He caught me. I will call you astute Aaron.

“So…is starvation the way you want to go?”

I rolled my eyes and looked out the window. What to say here. You have to be careful in hospitals. You have to be careful in court and with doctors and with landlords. You always have to be careful.

“Of course not. I would always jump off a bridge. Be dramatic about it.”

I shrugged like I really meant it and was cool with it.

“Oof that would hurt,” he leaned back in his chair a little, crossed his hands over his lap.

“So does everything.”

I finished the applesauce in front of him and he didn’t ask any more questions.He escorted me to my room and I saw that I was sharing the room with an older white woman who I knew immediately was trouble. I could tell because when I walked in she said,

“Get the fuck out of here you polak bitch.”

It was hard not to react.

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