Seven-thirty AM.

Get up.

Make the cot bed.

Take a shower.

Brush the teeth.

Be convinced that it'll be a good day.


Eight AM.

Be in the cafeteria.

Ingest half-cooked -or burnt- scrambled eggs.

Ingest gross orange juice.

Ingest the pill in the cup next to the juice.

Pretend to be interested in conversation with Marlene and Angelina.


Nine AM.

Walk outside.

Pretend the flowers are pretty.

Pretend the fresh air does some good.

Stroll some more.


Ten AM.

Walk to Arts and Crafts class.

Paint a meadow.

Include the sun.

Include pretty animals.

Include flowers.


One PM.

Enter Recreational Room.

Join Marlene, Angelina, and Natalie in watching reruns.

Beat Natalie at billiards. Again.


Three PM.

Meet with Therapist, Ruth.

Tell Ruth you feel better.

Tell Ruth you know what went wrong.

Tell Ruth what she wants to hear.


Six PM.

Back to the Rec. Room.

Pick from knitting, chess, billiards, and board games.



Pretend this is fun.


Nine-Thirty PM.

Lie in bed.

Dream of Richard.

Resent family and friends.

Resent Richard.

Say "Nothing" when roommate Marlene asks what's wrong-

"It's okay, you know."

"What's okay?" I asked, because Marlene had come up with her statement out of nowhere. I'd only been looking out of our bedroom's window. And she usually asked me what was wrong.

"Being here. It's okay that you got sent here." I'd begun to be able to tell when Marlene was saying things for her own benefit. Maybe she wanted to hear that said to her.

"Yeah. It's okay that we're here," I gave her the smile she wanted, the nod she wanted. The response she wanted. I'd gotten good at that. "We'll get better. And we'll go back. Everything's okay."

And it was what she wanted to hear. Marlene was hurt all over, even now. A solid year after all the cuts on her skin had been administered. By herself. And from the months I'd been here, I could see her making progress. She was starting to accept her situation. She took her medicine religiously. She smiled –really smiled. What right did I have to tell her I didn't feel okay? Things were working out for her. And she deserved that.

So I lied to her. Maybe it was okay for her to be here. But I felt no need for this place. I was here because they believed Richard wasn't real. That I maybe had a multiple personality disorder, and hallucinated Richard in order to make sense of what the 'other me' had done.

But Richard was real. Wasn't he?

He was warm, and welcoming, and safe. Wasn't he?

He was always dependable, and trustworthy. But where was he now?

Where were his promises of 'forever'?

Was it just a coincidence that he'd disappeared when I'd gotten here, and started taking the medication? Or were they right? Had I made him up?

Did it matter?