In a public city psych ward, no matter which one, no matter the time of year there are certain constants.
There is always a howler, always male, past the point of verbalization and can only wail. This time it was a 7 foot Korean man with the lung capacity of an operatic tenor. He was put in the quiet room and does not play a part in this story.
At least two schizes, either benevolent or malevolent schizophrenia is past the point, they are destroyed. At least one suicide attempt, usually two, late teens early twenties, could be male or female. A handful of deps, depressives watch and tend to keep silent. A few uncategorized. I do not recall the year or the season but it was cold so they were scooped up off the streets to keep from freezing. And the bipol. That would be me. I was frequently the only one. I do not know why. And as irony would have it I was generally the healthiest one on the floor after I was stabilized in the ER.
As I said I do not know the year or actual time of year. Just that it was cold so the season shall be dubbed as Winter.
This was the season I became the good witch.
One of the anomalous this time around was named Cathy. I do not know how I knew that. She seldom spoke. She was in a wheelchair, her leg straight out in an elaborate cast and she wore a bicycle helmet. All day every day she worked on a pull rug she kept in her lap. I never did make out the picture.
Psych is also a matter of routine – wake up, group meeting, breakfast, individual groups, lunch, arts and craft (plastic beads on rubber band bracelets), quiet time, dinner, evening group meeting, relaxation. TV or games. The problem with games is findng one intact. The obsessive compulsives from the stay before got to the books and tore out every third page, There must have been a pica as well who got to the Scrabble pieces. We were able to mix two games together to make enough tiles but you have no idea what pieces survived and what didn’t which adds an extra layer to the game.
Helpful hint: When playing a Pica ravaged tile set of Scrabble with a delusional- do not challenge. No matter what is posited as a word, accept it.
But I have strayed from the story at hand.
The following day, after group and before lunch, there was a tug on my gown. It was Cathy. I knelt down to face her. Her eyes seemed the size of saucers. They could not possible have been as large as I remember them but I believe they were that blue. She looked at me and said she was sorry she called me a witch. I told her she never called me a witch and she said she had, the previous day at group, she had and she was sorry.
A tear the size and shape of a turnip fell out of one impossible eye and slid down her cheek. ‘You’re not a witch’, she said. ‘Or if you are a witch you’re a good witch.’ She concentrated a moment and looked back at me. ‘You’re a Glinda’, she said. ‘That’s it, you’re a Glinda’. The nurse grabbed her wheelchair and started backing her away down the hall and she stared at me and said again, ‘You’re a Glinda’.
‘You’re a Glinda’,
‘You’re a Glinda’,
‘You’re a Glinda’,
A tear of my own fell for Cathy, though not nearly as large and not through impossible eyes.
We were packed off to bed and in the morning Cathy was gone. More than a single tear fell from my eyes that morning. They had taken her at night,you see.
If you are discharged from psych they always do it in the morning. If they take you away, which is something else entirely, they always do it at night.
She was never seen on the floor again.
They released me within a few days after and as always when I walked home from the hospital I was amazed that the world had continued to turn.
But this time was different from all the others, before and since. This time I left as The Good Witch, dubbed as such by Cathy, who like many of the deeply damaged I have come across seems to know things no one else does, and her impossible eyes.