XI | Something Changed

My name wasn’t always

The things that
happened to me
that resulted

in my coming here

before you


An unwanted voice.
‘Are you alright?’

One of the nurses.

Or both.

It’s hard to tell
above the sound of

the water falling.

covers her mouth
with both hands,

grey eyes

with laughter.

I don’t find this very funny.

‘What should I do?’
I ask her.

She shrugs,
water dripping through her bedraggled hair

like loose threads.

You’d look pretty
in long hair.


No way.
It’ll make my eczema worse.


Our clothes
are soaked.

For the first time,

I realise
she’s wearing different clothes already.

Did she bathe
before waking me up?

I must have slept

a long time.

You’ll need to bathe again.


It’s okay.


Her giggling is like music.

the nurse’s voice again.

‘What are you doing in there?’

I motion for Tammie
to keep

absolutely silent.

‘I’m bathing!’
I yell over the sound of water.

‘Without a towel?
‘Did something happen?’


My mind is blank
with confusion,

wondering what
made the nurses

when they were



Something’s definitely wrong
with this place.

‘Can you get me one?’
I say.

‘I forgot.’


Tammie has both hands
over her mouth,

water still cascading

down her head.

She watches me
take off my clothes,

throw them in
a wet corner,

waiting for the nurse
to come back

with a towel.


There’s a knock on the door.

I open it a crack.
A towel is stuffed through.

I mumble thanks,

switch off the water

and leave Tammie
in there

The nurses check me over

for cuts and bruises.

Then, they fling
the cubicle door open

to check inside.

Tammie stands there

in her soaked clothes,
dripping hair,

grey eyes stormy
and haunted,

staring right at me.


What have you done?


I sneeze.




After letting me
get changed,

I sit with Tammie

in the study room
until bed time.

We stay silent,

curled in the warm chair,
fan stirring our damp hair,

waiting for 9pm.

Only the plain nurse
watches us.

(The pretty one

I’m worried about
what happened before

but the plain nurse

catches my staring
and smiles reassuringly.

‘I didn’t do anything,’

I say for the

She nods.

And the three of us

lapse into silence


When the rooms 

I lie on my bed


to stay up till the morning.

But the pretty nurse returns,
switches off the light,

and the next thing I know,

it’s morning.

I’m woken by
the nurses

because it’s medicine time again.

I sit up,
rubbing my eyes.


isn’t here.




I eat the dozen pills
on the paper plate in front of me

and follow the angmoh nurse

to wait for

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
to end.




I spend the day
in the study room,

drawing pictures
on scraps of paper.

Writing captions

for the abstract, undecipherable images.

Time passes
in a blur.

And Moonlight Sonata

is seeping
through the walls again.

The nurses follow me
to the main hall.

They stand behind me
as I wait for my turn.

Familiar eyes watch me
from another armchair.

My name is called.

A dozen pills and a paper cup.

Bathing time.

Bed time.


The sun rising,

a dozen pills.

The sun setting,

some more pills.

Time passes by like this.

Until one day,
I wake up

and there are no nurses
in my room.

I eat breakfast alone.
I wait for medicine time alone.

For the first time in a week,

I go to the greenhouse




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