XVI | Some Way Out

It’s evening,

Moonlight Sonata is pulsing through the walls.

We’re sitting
in the main hall,

waiting for our turn.

My head
is spinning.

I’ve spent

the whole day

thinking about

My memory of him



I’ve never talked to him,
scratch that,

I’ve barely seen him.

What has he done
that resulted in them

condemning him?

I don’t remember
about him.

Does it
have to do with our past?

Why we are here
in the first place?

I don’t remember
about me.

One thing is clear.

I catch Tammie’s eye
from across the hall.

She’s swinging her legs,

thumping them
against the plush cushioned sideboards,

staring at Mason.

If I’m going to escape,

I have to do it



enjoying this game.


I stand
and follow

the angmoh nurse.

He pulls a card
from inside the fold
of his vest

and taps it
on the card reader.

The door opens.

I stand with him
in that space

between two doors.

When it’s closed
behind us,

the door in front


I remember,
when I first came,
the doctor led me

through a maze
of such locked doors

and near-identical corridors.

I’d gotten disoriented
after the second corridor

but I don’t think

there’s any other way out.

I drag out my time

in this windowless room,

counting the pills
with one hand

while trying

to survey my desolate surroundings.

The nurses in masks
watch me

like CCTV cameras.


I’d thought of
other options.

Climbing a window.

The windows in the asylum
are large

but the glass is

all the same bulletproof variety
as the greenhouse.

The person
who built this institution

spared no expense.

Digging a hole
through the carpeted stone floors

is impossible.

So is breaking through the stone walls.

The only way out
is with that card

or by dying.

I’d like to avoid dying

if I can.


I swallow

of the twelve pills.

The two smallest ones
in the notches between my fingers

drop discreetly down my shirt
and wait at the waistband
of my pants.

I finish the water
in the cup

and let the nurses examine
my empty mouth.

When I return
to the main hall,

the angmoh nurse once more

pulls his card
from just inside

the fold of his vest.

He leans over
to tap the card on the card reader

and I see the extra fabric lining
of a pocket

into the vest

just for this

very important

Back in the main hall,
I fall asleep

to the melody of

Moonlight Sonata’s third movement

and dream of
tree roots

becoming legs
chasing me through City Hall,
screaming my name.

I awake
to the foul vomit stench

that comes with Tammie’s
very presence

and can’t help but feel triumphant

at my small
(though unknown)


She takes my hand.


Let’s watch the sunset again.


I stare at her blankly
and reply,

‘The sun set already.’

This doesn’t
faze her

even a little bit.

I’m taken
by the hand

and pulled into the greenhouse.

she says,

with the glass door firmly closed behind us,


It’s just an excuse
to check the note
hidden between the rowan trees.


It’s not there.

Like my plastic knife.

They’ve taken it away,
I guess.

But Tammie’s hand
comes back out

with a clump of dirt,

a white ear—
clearly paper—

sticking out of it.




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