“Inside a mental institution, a man tries to explain how he is not crazy to the hospital psychiatrist.”
–1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts
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In the two weeks since he’d woken up from his coma–since he’d been relocated from the hospital to the mental institution down the street–John hadn’t noticed much of the “improvement” his doctor was looking for.
“How do you feel today, John?”
Dr. Moss peered over his small, square glasses. He was the epitome of what John had always imagined a therapist would be. Tall and lanky, wearing earth-toned jackets that smelled like mothballs, and every time he spoke he did so slowly, methodically, almost like he was following a script.
He probably was, John thought.
“Okay,” John said with a shrug. He looked down at his hands. Where the fingers were laced and the thumbs overlapped felt transparent–like he only had half the sensation in his hands as he used to before whatever accident had left him on the side of the road all those months ago. They said the sensation would return, that it had something to do with the brain trauma and coma, but his hands still felt like ghosts to him. “I’ve had worse days.”
He wasn’t sure what was worse, though: spending his days locked in a mental facility or being absolutely, unquestionably sure that he was dead.
Clearly, his doctor (and everyone else in John’s life) assumed the latter.
“No big changes?” Dr. Moss leaned back in his chair. The leather creaked beneath him like an old church door. John had never been a fan of churches.
“Nope,” John said. He looked up from his hands. Dr. Moss’s pen hovered above his clipboard. One gray eyebrow arched high above his dark eyes.
“Do you still feel as though you should be dead?”
That was a tricky question, mostly because it had nothing to do with what John felt like he should be, but rather, what he irrevocably believed to be true. It wasn’t survivor’s guilt, feeling like he should be dead while others lived, or confusion about how he survived the accident when he should have died. John didn’t believe anything should be any different than it already was.
He was dead. It was as simple as that.
But they didn’t like hearing that–his mother or the doctors or his therapist. So John just shrugged.
“I’m eating again, aren’t I?”
The doctor sighed. “Yes, and that is an improvement. It does not, however, mean you’ll get to go home just yet.”