Lying in her tiny bed, Kamila wondered what time it was. She knew it was sometimes after five in the morning as the sun was crisping her salmon-colored blanket. Rubbing at her sore neck she considered asking for another pillow. She closed and reopened her eyes attempting to get away from her medicine-induced sleepiness. It was finally wearing off and her regular insomnia returned to normal. The snores of her roommate was a comfort, which was surprising to her. The young teenage woman across the room muttered something in her sleep and somewhere outside their room a phone was ringing incessantly.
The night had been long and, though she didn’t want to coin it this way, scary. Wasn’t first nights in new territory always that way though? It was worse though because of the dreams that made her toss all night. Maybe I can talk with my new shrink about my nightmare. Kamila smirked inward. She was confident any dream that involved gasping for air and drowning in dirty swamp water would make for good therapy.
The door opened after a quick banging on the outside. “Morning check.” A tech popped his head in and informed them that breakfast was in twenty minutes. Kamila watched her bedmate roll over and mumble something incoherently and then cover her head with the blanket.
Kamila got out of bed and went to the little sink that sat between their beds. She brushed her teeth and then her hair. Glancing over at the girl she pulled on a sweatshirt. She wanted to give her another warning to wake up but figured it wasn’t her place to do so. The girl had been sleeping so heavily last night Kamila didn’t even know if she was aware of her presence. As if shrugging to herself, Kamila opened the door and walked towards the cafeteria. She saw the cups of coffee and grabbed one instantly. It was watered down, weak, and her body fought against ingesting it.
“Line up against the wall.” A nurse shouted from inside the nurse’s station.
Kamila searched the walls for a clock and finally saw the time. 7:30. As the patients slowly made their way through the breakfast line, she scanned each female but never saw Elizabeth. People began perking up when they learned it was pancakes being served and Kamila found her own spirits lifting. She welcomed the eggs with cheese and bacon beside her pancakes and made her way to a tiny table in the corner of the open room. She was reminded of all her years in school and found herself desiring the breakfast pizza she had always opted for. Sausage pizza for breakfast was the best.
It was another fifteen minutes before her roommate wandered into the cafeteria. A nurse accompanied her through the breakfast line, forcing her to get various foods. When the girl fought against the food Kamila deduced she was here for bulimic purposes. The nurse didn’t console her when she began crying about the smell and threatening to throw up.
Once everybody was sitting down an orderly walked into the middle of the room. He began discussing in great detail the regulations. Kamila wondered if this was a daily thing.
“Those with permission may use the phones during lunch for fifteen minutes. Do not, I repeat, do not take food to your rooms. Do not, I repeat, do not have any physical contact with anybody else. That means you Alfred.”
Some people snickered and others laughed openly and Kamila looked around the room. She didn’t have to wonder long which one Alfred was because the man was fondling another woman’s hair.
“It’s so pretty.” He began twisting it and playing with it.
“No physical contact Alfred.” The orderly yelled out. “Also, whoever took Gone with the Wind, please return it to the library today. One last thing. New toothbrushes were delivered last night.”
A round of applause erupted. “What about soap?” Someone yelled out.
At this point Kamila tuned everybody out and thought about Elizabeth. She assumed the woman was still being restrained. Looking at the people here, she could tell those who had anxiety issues, some showed signs of post traumatic stress disorders. She properly assumed those who were already crying were there for depression but then decided she needed to quit judging people for their outside appearances. This place isn’t that creepy.
A young teenager started pounding into an older man with his fists and was tackled down by two orderlies. “Brad, stop beating up your friend.”
Brad fought back. “He stole my girlfriend. The bastard stole my pregnant girlfriend from me.”
“He did no such thing Mr. MacDonald. You need to calm down.”
Kamila hadn’t noticed the tall male doctor enter the cafeteria. She studied him and wondered how she could have not seen him. He was tall, with dark eyes that invaded most of his facial space.
When Brad didn’t stop she heard the doctor tell the nurse to give him 3000 milligrams of Seroquel. “He tried to slit his wrists again. The place was a mess.”
Kamila straightened up when he stopped looking around and stared directly at her. He walked towards her and she braced herself.
“Ms. Garnet, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Dr. Mulligan, your psychiatrist.” He offered his hand. “You and I will be meeting in my office at 9:30 this morning. Don’t be late.” He smiled and turned away. She realized she’d held her breath the entire time and finally exhaled.
“You’re so lucky.”
Kamila looked at her roommate who snuck to her table. “How’s that?”
“Dr. Mulligan is so hot. And he’s very kind. He is one of those doctors who actually care about his patients but then, he’s only been here for seven months.”
“Code one. Code one.”
Kamila watched as three orderlies and four nurses ran down the hall. “What is code one?”
“Oh, that happened every day. Stupid Cherry. She is this tiny little girl who goes bonkers every time someone pees in the bathroom beside her room. She’s shizophrenic, weighs like seventy pounds, and can still take down three of the staff.” The girl laughed. “I’m Megan by the way. I heard you come in late last night. Welcome welcome.”
“I’m Kamila. Nice to meet you.”
“So what are you here for?” she grabbed a piece of bacon of Kamila’s plate and crunched into it. “I suffer from anorexia and depression.”
“And she’s a compulsive liar.”
Kamila looked behind her. A handsome man sat at the table behind her. She almost didn’t recognize the orderly uniform because he was so damn good-looking. He tilted his head and then nodded acknowledgement with raised eyebrows. “I’m Dustin.”
Megan stood up and walked away. Kamila watched her go and wondered what was up with her. She was about to ask when her eyes caught the clock and she realized she was going to be late if she didn’t leave that moment. “I’m sorry, I gotta go.” She shoved her breakfast into the trash and slid the tray on top of it.
After asking two staff where to find Dr. Mulligan’s office Kamila finally reached the open door. She knocked hesitantly and then entered. Looking around the room, she appreciated the various art decor and family pictures on the walls.
“You like the pictures?”
She nodded. “I want an office like this one day.”
He smiled. “Really?” Sighing he replied, “I like to work outside of the office. I prefer more of a hands on approach but if I have to work in an office I damn well want to feel comfortable in it.” He laughed. “What kind of work will you be doing when you have an office like this?”
Kamila almost responded honestly but bit her tongue. Instead, she shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She stopped looking around and stared at the doctor. “What?”
“I’m sorry. I make it an effort to simply remind my patients when I feel they are lying to me or to themselves. I’ll use that one word and never offer more or judge you. It’s just my technique.”
“So you call people liars?” She asked as she sat down.
“I only tell you what I believe. Just as you will tell me what you believe.”
Kamila sat back. “Does that approach work well?” She tried to get comfortable but found she couldn’t. Not in his presence.
He ignored her question. “So, let’s go through the basic questions.” He opened a file and picked up his pen. “Do you feel like hurting yourself?”
He raised his face briefly and then returned to the file. “How is your mood?”
“Lately or overall?”
“Right this moment.”
She sighed. “I’m okay I guess.”
“Okay is not a feeling or a mood.” He pointed to a poster with a lot of faces with emotions beneath the images.
“Um…I’d say a bit uncomfortable. Nervous. Anxious.”
“All those are normal for this being your first visit. Do you feel like hurting yourself?”
Kamila opened her mouth and then closed it. She wasn’t going to argue with him. She was quite confident he would be able to spin whatever she said around and make her out to be a liar.
“You’re judging me.”
She sat up. “I’m not.” She looked at her hands. Before he could say lie again, “Okay, yes. A little.”
He did not smile or reply. “How are you sleeping?”
Kamila sat back again. “Well, now that you asked.” She finally got comfortable and told him about her dreams. This was something she could do that was easy. After the conversation she left with a prescription of Ambien. At least she would sleep well tonight.