By Monica C. Voskamp
Sabrina’s head snapped up from staring at the ugly green hospital floor. She pushed her dark raven hair behind her shoulders, uncovering sunken cheek bones and solemn face. Her eyes were an intense brown yet sparked no life light. She struggled to hide her rising anxiety as she followed the nurse’s movements towards her. Sabrina had to get out of this place, she couldn’t stay another night in this depressing room. There was a cot. That was it and herself. Literally. She didn’t even have a blanket.
“Sabrina?” the nurse’s voice broke into her thoughts. “This is Dr. Kaug. He’s going to help you feel better again.” The nurse motioned to a tall slender figured man. Sabrina took him in a glance. He was polished but his person was aloof. He was there to do an assessment on her. That was it. They had similar goals…give and get the right answers and get out of this hospital cell as fast as possible. At least this they had in common. Sabrina sighed inwardly, but gathered her composure and sat a little taller on the edge of the cot as the doctor came close to the hospital bed.
The nurse left the room allowing the security guard to bolt the door behind her. In Sabrina’s mind, the sound of the clicking bolt echoed louder than the doctor’s voice. It reminded Sabrina how she felt inside, bolted out from life, from herself, from the outside world. No one really tried to venture into her dark heart. Yes, they gave the civil attempt, but all the people she knew ended up walking away and nothing ever changed.
“Hi there. I’m Dr. Kaug, do you remember who you are? ” Dr. Kaug greeted her as his eyes skimmed over the papers on his clipboard. He paused a moment. Sabrina didn’t answer right away, so he continued, “How are you feeling this morning? I heard you came last night with a bit of disorientation. You couldn’t remember where you lived or your name. Can you tell me anything about yourself so we could help you better?” He gave her a smile. He was pleasant yet something about him felt very fake.
Sabrina gathered her strength inside and returned the same, a fake forced smile, “Yes, my name is Sabrina,” she replied forcing a bit of life into her voice. “I remember where I live…on Clarke Avenue. I already told the nurse this morning. I just felt confused last night…” She faltered for a moment remembering the bizarre night, but then continued. “It’s a bit of a blur, but I feel much better this morning. I think I just needed a good sleep. I didn’t eat or drink much the past 2 days. The stress of life just got to me, I guess…” Sabrina rambled on a few more words doing all she could to convince the doctor, but more so herself, that she was fine.
The doctor continued to ask questions. He wasn’t a mean person. He was nice enough and asking questions that were needful, yet the way he interacted with her stopped her from divulging how she really felt. Dr. Keug talked to her like she was a small lost child, like she an incapable person. He didn’t address her as an intelligent woman. Perhaps she was like a frightened lost child at the moment. Still, Sabrina was also a grown woman not to mention human being. To be given respect would be nice, that would be a healing gift. Couldn’t a doctor do that? Couldn’t a doctor address her with dignity while acknowledging the fact she was in a hard place in life? It seemed not. At least not this man. Sabrina was already struggling to uphold her sense dignity in the depressing locked padded room of a hospital cell. She hadn’t showered and hated feeling unkempt.
Sabrina had been admitted the previous night to a locked room in ER after she had met with her friend for an evening coffee. Her friend, Crystal, had quickly taken her to the hospital after Sabrina began rambling incoherent phrases. Sabrina’s actions of confusion and paranoid frightened her friend. Rightly so. Sabrina couldn’t remember the directions to get to her place, couldn’t even remember her friends name, never mind her own.
Sabrina’s lower lip trembled. She felt betrayed by her friend; Crystal brought her to this hospital…and then just left her here, in this God-forsaken place where dignity for humanity was not. A feeling of abandonment stirred, it was a familiar feeling, one she had long known and come to trust as a fact in life. Sabrina sighed. Crystal was just doing her best, she couldn’t hold that against her.
“That’s good you remember your name. And your address too, that’s wonderful.” Dr. Keug’s voice praised and broke into her thoughts and hidden emotions. He asked a few more questions which Sabrina answered as politely and confidently as she could. The man suddenly smiled and stood up. Sabrina was surprised at his next words.
“Well Sabrina, you sound like you’re doing much better. I’m pleased. I’m going to write you a prescription for a sleep aid, so you can get some better sleep and then I think you’ll be feeling much better.” Dr. Keug scribbled on a paper and handed her the prescription. “The nurse will help see you out.” Dr. Keug shook her hand and then left. Just like that. In a few short minutes, he gave her a bill of health and some prescription that was the supposed gateway to it. Dr. Keug paused to talk to the guard at the door who nodded and held the door open.
“Sabrina? You can follow me, I’ll take you to the nurses station, ” the security guard said. Sabrina liked him. He addressed her with kindness in his tone.
Sabrina slid her frail body off the cot and followed the man. She hadn’t eaten in days. Her stomach growled. She tried to smooth out her wrinkled shirt. At least it felt good to be out of the depressing room. They walked in silence until they reached the nurse’s station. The guard gestured for her to have a seat on one of the waiting benches. “A nurse will be with you in a moment to discharge you, you can wait here, ” the security guard told her.
Sabrina nodded, said a quiet ‘thanks” with a small smile at him.
The security guard paused, “Sabrina?” He asked. She looked at him, curious. His eyes connected with her for a moment and then he said, “You know you have a beautiful smile. Don’t lose that okay?” Sabrina’s heart melted a little, her shoulders relaxed and her gaze locked on his face for an extra moment. “Thank you..I’ll try my best.” Her mouth curved into a bit of a soul smile as she watched him walked away. That man was more helpful than the doctor, Sabrina thought. He talked to me like I’m an equal person. He made me feel…like I matter.
In a few minutes, the nurse had discharged her and Sabrina was free to go. Sabrina didn’t understand how she could be locked and under hospital guard one moment and then released and free to face the world in the next moment.
She wasn’t free. She wasn’t feeling better. Sure, she remembered a few things. But Sabrina knew she was still unwell. The doctor probably did too. But with the amount of patients they had coming in, they probably had need of the room. Need of the room, but no need for her.
Sabrina pushed open the exit doors. She was leaving that locked hospital room, but she hadn’t left the torture behind. Nothing had really changed. No one had took the time to unearth the pain inside. No one took the time to explore the why she got delirious and acted so strangely. More so, no one took the time to assure her she would be okay and she could get to a healthy place. Yes, sedatives would help with getting sleep…but not soul healing. Sabrina knew this much.
A wall in her heart rose. Another door locked over her wounded soul. She wouldn’t let in people who didn’t care. Why trust people who just lock you up, don’t give you dignity for simply being a human and don’t even help the hurt deep inside? It didn’t make sense. Sabrina walked away from the hospital and as she did put another piece of the mask over her being. Slowly, she was building a masquerade to lock out humans, just like they were locking her out.
Sabrina didn’t realize it, but soon her heart would be walled too strong. With her feelings and self so deeply covered, no one would ever reach the real Sabrina again.
If the doctors, the healing people, didn’t have faith in her, why should she? If they didn’t have answers for her, she’d do what she knew. She would mask. She would do life alone, pretend happiness and do whatever it took to convince the world she was okay, when in truth she was still an aching wounded soul.
The hospital didn’t help her. Instead it only created another piece of the fast growing mosaic covering her true self. She had another resolution to hide her true self. For if the so called healing people of this planet couldn’t help tear off the mask and love into her soul, they wasn’t hope.
Sabrina walked down the city sidewalk, and a resolve grew. She would learn how to blend in with the crowd and work harder to shut down her true self. She would learn the art of masquerading.
Last night Sabrina had desperately wanted someone to reach her soul, she had been vulnerable with her state, she was pleading for the nurses to just listen to her…yet she had been locked away and left alone all night in a empty barren hospital room with a security guard to boot. She almost laughed at ridiculousness of that. The hospital didn’t even give Sabrina a blanket, food or drink and was only let out once she knocked hard on the door saying she needed to pee. Yet she had her own personal security guard. Sabrina mulled on it a bit. If anything, HE was the gift in that hospital. Yes, he was. Sabrina was glad he was there. It gave her some small comfort for the others that would fill that mental health cell.
Yet the sad truth was injured animals received more care than she had. Those animals were advocated for! She saw it all the time online. People raised money for them and fought for their lives with such passion. It was touching to see the amount of compassion and care humans could have. Yet that was for an animal…Sabrina would’ve been better off born as an injured animal, not a soul injured human. She hadn’t been cared for. Sabrina had been locked in a room and given a place to sleep and sent off with a prescription. She shoved the memory into one of her locked heart rooms.
What she had really been given was a dose of hopelessness. Another experience of this and Sabrina worried it would be lethal to her. She had contemplated suicide in the past but Sabrina just couldn’t bring herself to do that. Instead, she would give up her sparkle of life. For it seemed, if that spark got carried away it landed her in a psych room and world of chaos instead. She wouldn’t let that happen again. She couldn’t stand to lose her dignity.
Instead, Sabrina would fight like everything to stay away to stay away from the chaotic world of injured emotions and graveyard hospital rooms made for the mentally ill. She would build the perfect masquerade. With that resolve, another stone barred over any light shining in her soul.
Sabrina’s emotions of sadness and disappointment started shifting to a numbness. She paused on the sidewalk to look up at the blue skies. It was actually a beautiful blue sky day, such a contrast to the world inside her, yet regardless, she couldn’t feel it’s beauty. The world was now painted grey, she felt grey. No, more appropriately, Sabrina *was* grey. The rainbow of her was a thing of the past now. Sabrina felt wistfulness wishing it could be otherwise, wishing for yester-years when she saw how the sun shone and the clouds beamed the deep sea blue.
It would take a miracle to undo this mask, to let her spirit breathe again. And sadly, miracles seemed to be a thing of the past. Still, Sabrina tucked away that little possibility of a maybe.
Maybe someone would find the key to reverse her slow death in time. Maybe someone would be brave enough to look past her masquerade and touch her soul with light and love. Maybe someone would help her live without pretending and hiding her soul.
Until then, Sabrina would keep building the pieces and covering everything she had once loved about herself. Slowly but surely Sabrina would shut the bolt over her life-light. She would learn to live a grey world, and paint a brutal art, the death art of masquerading.