I’ve Never Written Fiction Set in a Psych Ward

Photo: © Stefan Hengst. All rights reserved.

I’ve tried. I’d love to. I’ve been in three of them.

The truth is, trying to build a plot out of loaner scrubs
and no-slip socks, food you have to eat with only
a plastic spoon, vitals checks and a tech that checks in
every half hour, well.

It feels inherently dishonest. There are no plots
in psych wards. No one really falls in love.
This isn’t the place where dragons are slayed.
We sat. We watched TV. We colored in pictures
of fairies before adult coloring books were cool.

I couldn’t bear to make everyone I met there
sound Quirky. Most of us weren’t charming.
We weren’t Survivors. We were fumbling
with lives that weren’t meant for us, or with
minds that weren’t meant for our lives.

I think our stories generally began
when we got out, when we stumbled
from taxis, or our parents’ cars, or whatever.

Here’s your story: the afternoon sun
heating pavement in a wide parking lot,
the first breath of air you’ve had in six days,
preparing yourself to go to work tomorrow.

 

by Emma Atkinson

 

Emma Atkinson.jpg

Emma Atkinson lives in Houston, TX. Some of her previous writing has appeared in Crabfat Magazine, Sixfold, and Bridge Eight. Her website is emmakatkinson.wordpress.com

 

About the Artwork

The accompanying artwork is by contributor Stefan Hengst.

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