Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Jenna separate herself from me, running her fingertips over the scratched tables. Piles of broken chairs are pushed against the wall because no one ever cares enough to come get the big trash. My eyes narrow; no people are here. The nurse's station is empty, the decrepit card table vacant. No sounds break through the heady air except for the eerie whirring of a broken fan.
Nancy creeps up behind me, tapping my shoulder. "The patients are all in their rooms; the nurses divvy themselves up to avoid any accidents." Her shoulders slump as she sighs, taking in the barely functioning main room. I know that everyone who works here tries so hard to make it presentable, but in all truth, they're supplied with nothing. "You and...Miss Lawson might want to do what you need to alone; they will eat dinner in forty-five minutes and you're welcome to join. We're trying a new thing where they have to have a "quiet hour" before each dinner to avoid some excess problems." She turns, to head to her new patient's room, I'm sure.
While I was living here, I knew that it was gross. I knew that nothing worked and everything was stained and broken. But I didn't realize truly how mangled and defective everything was. Despite often cleaning attempts, mold still creeps up the dank walls along the corners. Unmovable and stubborn spots remain on the tile floor.
Nancy is almost out of reach before I quickly tap her arm. "Who's staying in my room?" She watches me sign with a unabashed exhaustion written all over her face.
"No one. Steve was released to a different facility because his "family" visited and saw how inadequate this place is. Really, the only people remaining are those who no one visits to see. Mark my words, John, this pit will be shut down within the year. Those fancy doctors over there in the hospital like to pretend that this isn't a problem." She sludges away, shaking her head. I know how much these nurses care about this place, and it breaks my heart that their beloved project is slowly slipping to a crash right outside of their grasp.
I'm about ready to knock on the wall to get Jenna's attention again, but then I remember that she's deaf. Why is my brain so slow to pick up on this fact? I'm still stuck in that horrible time of our early relationship where we confused with knocking on walls alone--shut up, come here, turn down your music, stay out, I need you--so many different phrases all slammed out on cheap pinstriped wallpaper that I haven't seen in almost a year.
I cover the haunted main room in as few steps as possible and gently take her elbow. "I wanna go check out my old room. Would you rather stay here?" She turns her back on the plastic bin out of cracked records, the player broken eons ago.
"No. I want to stay with you at all times, please." Goosebumps race up and down her arms and she looks as if she can't rest easy here. I can't blame her--this place looks like it could be featured in the "Top Twenty-Five Creepiest Places in the World" article. When we start to head down the hall, I almost reach for her hand, but my arm slinks back like the coward it is, starting back and then giving up for good.
Jenna's eyes take in the vacant hallway with scrutiny. The doors are all numbered with clipboards attached firmly to the wall with medical information that's probably way out of date. The only window is at the end of the daunting hallway, thin streams of remaining sunlight filtering in through the film coating the glass. Mine is the second door on the right. It has a peeling black "13" imprinted on the grainy wood, but the clipboard is empty.
I take a deep breath and turn the loose knob. My chest tightens when Jenna fully steps in and I can get a good look at the empty room. I can tell that no one has been in here since I left two years ago. The bathroom's door must have fallen off at some point--there's just a concaving arch displaying the rusted and soiled toilet and sink, the shower with no curtain. The same two twin-sized beds are still shoved up against the right wall. No blankets--they were always afraid that we could hide things we weren't supposed to in them. I thought it was dumb until I met Josephine and her beloved scissors.
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Skin Deep (Featured - Completed)Teen Fiction
John is blank in a world where everything anyone says appears on their skin. They're held accountable for every secret, every demand, every sacrifice scrawled across their foreheads in bold black letters. He grew up in an insane asylum and had acc...