With my wits back,
I watch and listen to what is going on here. It was never brought to my attention how asylums were run. It is a dark spot on society that people in our class never spoke. On the outside, we were to understand the only people committed were truly sick or unable to care for themselves. Asylums kept them away from the public, and in theory were rehabilitated back into the population once well. In actuality, many of the women in here are victims of bad circumstances, just like me.
We are victimized daily in many ways. We are forced to strip in front of the doctors and each other. We wait naked in long lines to take cold baths in the same water as the previous woman in line. Our food is limited to small portions that even the healthiest of us have trouble surviving on, let alone those of us who are ill. In truth, if you are truly ill, you will have a hard time recuperating due to the dank and moist living quarters we are forced to cohabitate.
I have seen several women disappear just in the short time I have been in the general population. One day they are very sick, unable to eat, and then the next they are gone. We are not truly sure if the women die or they are removed from our eyes. It is not for us to know.
It is almost unimaginable that I have overcome my issues in a place like this. The asylum is not a place they send you with the hopes you will be cured from whatever your ailment. The doctors do not listen if you try to tell them you are better. I have stopped trying. I will have to find another way to leave this place, and it will not be the same way I got in. That feeling has passed.
I have tried to reach out to both William and my father to tell them how much better I am and that I am ready to be removed from this place, but I have not seen or heard anything from them since I arrived. I am not sure if it is due to my letters never being sent or they merely do not care to write or visit. After all, I am now merely a stain they wish to discard from their family history. I am on my own. For the first time in my life, I must do this on my own.
I begin to investigate if anyone has ever left this place. Everyone I talk to, including staff, eludes the only way out is in death. I have a daughter, and I will not do that to her again. She must be just about old enough to walk now. I really would love to see that. Experience that. I crave to see her smiling face again.
On a very cold night as I stare up at the ceiling listening to the moans of the women around me fighting their own demons, I hatch a plan. The only way to leave here is to run away. To escape. Then I realize if I do that, I would be a criminal. I would never be allowed to see Ruth and would probably end up right back here. This is a cycle I am unsure of how to break.
That is when it happens. A scream I have never heard before. It is different from the ones that keep the quiet at bay. It is hauntingly pained. After only another moment, screams of several other women begin. They all sound so scared, which heightens my senses. The women in here, myself included, have endured many a painful thing both inside here and outside. It takes a lot to scare any of us now. I feel a shiver down my spine, unsure if I want to discover what makes these women scared.
I see the nurses running down the hall and the place is lit up like Christmas despite the dark, moonless night outside the windows. I find myself slowly following the commotion. As I peer over the others’ heads, I see a woman hanging from one of the lights. Her neck was wrapped with a sheet from her bed and tied to the frame of a light. Her body was twitching, but all the color from her face and neck had been replaced with a gray pallor. Her eyes were still open and from where I stood, I could see the cold hollowness within them.
My mind began to race. Considering those cold eyes, I could glimpse what my future may hold if I stay. This cannot be the only way out. I cannot live this way. I had to find a way.
Around me, more and more people began to gather. I saw all the nurses and orderlies on staff pushing through the crowd. Now was my chance. I would never have a better opportunity to leave than now. I quickly turn, and start to walk away from the mass watching to see if anyone noticed my movements. No one paid me any mind. Everything was centered around the woman who had found no other alternative, and thus ended her pain the only way she knew how.
As I made my way to the front desk, I tried to think how I would get out of the locked door to the always empty and unused lobby that was built to create an illusion that family members visited their committed family. In actuality, family members were either too embarrassed or non-existent to use the cheerful area. Adrenaline pumping through my blood stream, I heard footsteps approaching me. Slowly at first, but after seeing me, the footsteps grew faster and closer. They quickly approached standing between me and what would be my freedom.
“Hey!” the orderly yelled at me. “Get back to your bed. No one is allowed in the halls at night.”
Not sure what I was going to do. I turned back just as he reached me. As I looked him in the eyes, something came over me and I slapped him. My frail hand did not do much to hurt him, but I could see the shock come over his face. That look somehow gave me more confidence. I lifted my foot connecting to his male sensibilities, and unlike my last attempt, this one took him down to the floor. Reaching for his keys, I unlocked the door. My last obstacle to escape now overcome, I flew open the front door and was immediately hit in the face by the cold night air. It sent shivers down my spine, but one breathe and I was rejuvenated. It had been so many months since I had felt the air on my face. It was like being reborn. I was a different person. I smiled, and ran and fast as I could, as far as I could.
To Be Continued…