XLI | Some Spell

I wake

with a start.


The familiar
foul stench of vomit.

Tammie’s perched

on the arm of my chair,
smiling at me.

Moonlight Sonata plays
but only inside my head.

The walls are silent.


For a while,
I’m disoriented again,

lost in that world
of blankness—

I can’t remember why I feel frantic.

I stand,
feet unsteady.

I think of the extra pills
I ate absently.

My reflection
stares at me

in the wrought iron windows

asking me

if that’s why.

‘You have to move, Zuraida,’
the plain nurse’s voice

cuts through
my noisy thoughts
like a knife.

‘It’s almost bed time.’

I turn to look at her.
The ninth patient

with hair over her face,

standing before her armchair,

one arm lifted
by the nurse, refusing
to move.

‘You can’t stand here forever.’

The pretty nurse—
who never says much—speaks up,

‘I know you can walk.’

Not that it matters.

not moving.

Tammie’s laughing.
But I don’t find

it very funny.

There’s a sadness emanating from her,

a numbness
I’m familiar with.

A numbness
that makes you lose



to live.

I escape to the bathroom,
so I don’t have to see

what happens next.




Tammie enters
the cubicle with me.

I have

no energy

to protest.

The warm water
muffles all my confusion
and strips them from me

like rain.

The ninth patient.


That’s why
she spoke to her, right?


What makes you think that?


I’m stunned
a little

when Tammie says that.


She might have just said



I turn
to face her.

She’s taken off her shirt.

(Even though she told me
she didn’t want to bathe.)

a large black bruise

like ink
dropped onto a spider web,

across her chest.

I reach out,
and touch the

dark red patches—blood clots.

‘Does it hurt?’ I whisper.

only laughs.


You’ve forgotten this too?

They must have
given you

a high dose of the medicine.


Her chest
is cold to the touch.

My fingers

as though

burned by fire.

What do you mean?

Did I…

Did I…

Do this to her?


I was pole dancing.
Krishna came to watch.

You were with Fatima.

You’re the last
to see her.


I remember Krishna

talking, casting some spell
that made Tammie slip

and hurt herself.

It’s not me.
It’s not me.

It’s not because of me.

I don’t remember…


There’s a dull ache,
a frantic


I turn off the water
to hear my thoughts

but they’ve all fled.

And Tammie’s laughing again.

Even though
it’s not


I plead
with her grey eyes
locked on mine.

I’m worried.

There’s no

in her eyes.

‘Who… is she?’


She’s not very nice.


Tammie comments.

She takes
the fresh set of clothes

I took for myself

and wears them.


Gavin told you, remember?
The crazy ones

get replaced first.

I’m glad
she’s been replaced.


She’s been replaced…
I echo her words,

but actually, I’m thinking

about how

I’ll have to walk out

because Tammie

took my clothes.




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