What she had come to think of as her secret on those rare occasions she surfaced in the fog, she realized was no secret at all. Everyone knew why she lay on the third floor of The Cavanaugh Psychiatric Hospital. And right now, “everyone” was solely comprised of an orderly or the occasional nurse poking their heads in and out, reminding her of the whack a mole games she’d loved at the fair as a child. Sometimes one would venture in, patting her arm, checking her temperature or blood pressure, doing all of the nursey-type things that nurses do. It would have been ridiculous to try to hide it here. The reason for the angry lines running down her arms, now wrapped in white bandages from wrist to elbow and the why of her journey in an ambulance she’d called herself were laid bare and completely open for discussion; only there wasn’t anyone to discuss it with yet, so she gave life to the inanimate objects all around her. The bed was a mouth, yawning wide, her feet and head stretched from top teeth to bottom, holding it open; the lamp accused her whenever night turned from day, her Cyclopsed interrogator and the only signal that morning had come. There was a high window to the right, but its curtains were always closed.
That morning, when she woke from the fog thinking that her secret was no secret at all, she wondered if the lamp could be trusted; it was on now, but it could be lying. How would she know if night had given way to day with only its fluorescents to tell her? She sat up in bed, suddenly desperate to open the curtains and see the moon, the sun, anything large and outside of herself, anything outside of this green-walled room. Her head was throbbing with the slight movement of easing up on the pillows. She raised her hands to her temples and realized her left wrist was attached to the IV pole at the bed’s side. How long have I been here? While she couldn’t recall exactly how many times the lamp had been turned on, she did remember several occasions of just that. Her will to wake up, to permanently join the present had been smothered beneath the weight of her secret. She might have been in this room for days, weeks, dear God, years? The panic took a bright and fevered hold, and she willed herself out of the bed, feeling weak and on the verge of crumpling, hanging onto the IV pole and staggering across the room to the window. Once she reached it, she lay her forehead against the green cinderblock next to the curtain, thankful she’d made it. She reached for the cord hanging near her and pulled. The curtains opened, and she made ready to shade her eyes, but there was no change in the quality of light in the room. Blinking, she edged directly in front of the window and looked outside – except it wasn’t outside. There was only brick. Not the green cinderblocks of her room, but a wall of red schoolhouse brick – no moon, no sun, no stars or clouds.
She opened her mouth to scream, but the vocal chords were sore, rusted wires producing a squeaky croak, and she merely fell with a non-dramatic plop to the floor.