Anonymity: A Short Story (Day Four of Seven)

Be sure to check out Day One, Day Two, and Day Three first!

Day Four

This morning, I was so exhausted that I felt as though my bones were protruding from my skin, piercing outward at awkward angles. My eyelids felt as dry as coarse sandpaper. Everything ached, and as I sat in the group session, I sipped my weak coffee and pretended to listen. It wasn’t as though I didn’t care. I truly did.

But I was tired of caring.

I suppose a truly altruistic human being wouldn’t feel that way. I have not felt charitable in weeks. Months, perhaps. Maybe that was why I was in the psychiatric ward. A young girl with marbles for eyes wove in and out of the tables in the day room where folks played cards. She mumbled a prayer in Latin under her breath over and over.

Over and over.

I knew some Latin, but her words sounded like a eulogy. Something ending before its time. I wanted to go offer her something – sympathy, a prayer of my own. But her eyes never locked into mine. Something about her unsettled me, and I thought she looked like a ragdoll, limp and lifeless. The chaos from yesterday subsided, but from the look of the nurses, it came at a price.

I felt like I didn’t recognize anyone. I realized without names to tether people to this ward, they all seemed to float away. Mylar balloons without any string. I asked a nurse for paper and a pen, and I was surprised when she handed me a clipboard with a little wink.

I was on the verge of knowing something.

Each meeting I went to, I knew I was closer. I scribbled things on the page between meetings, not concerned if anyone could read my writing. My scribbling saved me.

Surrounded by the mad and the depraved, I knew something better had to await me.

I thought of my wife. She was so far-away as though she was a lighthouse and I was in the city beyond the coast.

Nothing made sense in here; everything was convoluted.

Foggy.

I had so many questions, but I couldn’t tell who to ask. As a result, I scribbled more and more. The words would have corroded my soul, had I not been compelled to write them.

Some of them called me Doctor. I thought it was a cute homage to the frantic notes I wrote, the desperation with which I searched every lost face, perhaps even my calm demeanor.

It seemed everyone had a nickname.

I was just an individual in a chain. Anonymity didn’t mean you couldn’t experience the joy of names; it simply robbed you of the name you were born with.

Maybe instead of stripping you of that which was yours, their plan was to show you who you could become if you were to remove the ego.

Exhausted, my thoughts became more muddled. I could not comprehend what had happened to me. How I had found my way here.

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