LI | Something Like Normal

There is


with her.

there’s no point

telling her that.

To her,
I am an experiment,
I am a game,

I am a serial number on a chart.

My patience should be

because I am

a patient.

I sit in the chair
on other side of her desk—

like I’m supposed to.


So…how are you?


‘I’m better,’ like you said.

The doctor’s
businesslike smile


and she shifts her glasses
slightly up her nose.

But then
she pushes it
back down.


What have you been doing these days?


Is this
a trick question?

She knows.

She’s clicking her mouse,
scrolling through notes

on her computer.

They watch

everything we do.

She already

What I do all day.

It’s like I’m back at
the other hospital

where they ask me these pointless questions

every morning.


Some typing.

And excessive nodding.


Why are you painting?


Is she dumb?

Do you think
I’m doing it because I want to?

‘There’s nothing else to do.’

More typing.

More nodding.


Nothing else?


I think about
Tammie’s pole dancing

but that’s not what
I am doing.


Typing. Nodding.


Is there anything you’d like to be able to do?


Die. I want to die.


the first thing
I think of.

She types

even though
I haven’t said


The typing continues.

I don’t want

following me around.

will call me

and tell me to stay
far away

when she’s practising.

‘I want to be normal.’

The typing stops.

She turns
to look at me,

a serious look

on her face.

Was I

Isn’t this

the correct answer
they are looking for?


What do you mean?


I’m careful,
pronouncing each word


as if it’ll help
sort out the deluge of assumptions

now clouding my mind.







Her smile
(this time)

is faint, uncertain.

I can hear
my heartbeat

echo off

the shiny grey walls.


You can, you know?


I try to read
the printed letter

pinned to the notice board

behind her.

Other than the


all the other words
are too small.


This is your home from now on,

but it doesn’t have to be
your home forever.

Recovery is possible.


I laugh.

I can’t help it.

I laugh
and it echoes

in the empty


This “doctor”


by my reaction.

She leans her arm
on top of her papers.

They’re blank.

Did I tell you that
when I looked at them earlier?

They’re blank.


You can recover.
You will get better.

Many patients

leave our asylum
and lead

a normal life.


‘I don’t believe you,’ I say,

wiping tears
from my eyes.

She begins typing again,

her businesslike face

the many masks

she’s already wearing.

The eight patient rule.
The people who have disappeared.

Does she think

all of us don’t know about that? 


You can be normal.
Be like normal people.


She shifts her glasses
slightly up her nose

and pushes it
back down again.

I leave

even though she hasn’t said I can go

I’m starting

to believe her.


You can be normal.
Be like normal people.




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