“My face was bare and so was my head. I’ll interject to admit I could have been a little dramatic about  the heat but I felt like I was peering into the center of the sun and so did my skin. My forehead and face were streaked with sweat. Walking for miles, my knees hurt and my legs hurt. My back hurt and I was tired. Not just tired, but consumed, oddly barren but so heavy and so hot.  I carried nothing in my hand. I hadn’t drank anything for hours. Obsessed with the way my mouth felt, I was constantly opening and closing it, feeling how dry my tongue was against the roof. Opening and shutting my jaw to hear the click, to see how much I could open it, to feel it tense and lock near shut. Rubbing it with my hand, sort of humming, cajoling it to open, it was on the verge of close without my input. When I arrived at the hospital, I was on the verge of collapse anyway so the entire process went faster.
My knees buckled from over exertion and anxiety when I walked in. 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.  I can’t lie. I feel the constant need to confess so I had walked for 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 as a last name to keep everyone separate. 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. “Manic. Possibly psychotic.”
“Wait,” Marisol held her hands out.
“No, you can only ask one question in between stories.”
Her counter was sharper than Marisol’s interjection. David grinned again. A robustness. I knew it. The flames had leapt from her shoulders to head to Marisol. I knew it. She’s the howler.

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