Saturday, October 10, 2009

first day of residential treatment

This is a sample of some older material that I'm organizing into the new structure of Foster Princess. It needs lots of work, but what doesn't?

First Day
Corina was bald. Not chemo-patient bald, but male-pattern-baldness-bald; as though a tidy, even line was drawn around her skull, temple to temple, separating shiny, tan skin from thick, brown hair. She looked like miniature monk in training, minus the brown robe. Her dark lashless eyes looked me over and then away as I brought my bags into the room and set them on the bed. She was dressed in a nightgown, a baggy, long-sleeved purple thing and laceless fake Keds, washed and bleached so many times the rubber had separated from canvass, in more places that not. The pale yellow room smelled of Windex and musty feet.

Corina was my first roommate at Settlement Club Home, a residential treatment facility for kids, ages ten to seventeen. The day I arrived, Nelson Cottage was on shutdown. Shutdown is group punishment for a variety of bad behaviors, and none of the residents are exempt, not even the new ones. Shutdown means no one is allowed to talk, listen to music, leave their half of the bed room, or wear clothes tempting enough to run away in. You eat meals in your room and ask permission to use the restroom. Excluding books, all of your possessions are locked away. Reading and school work are allowed. Therapy is allowed. Staring at walls and sleeping are also allowed. For those who don't like to read, or silently plot escape, it's a boredom fest.

With my back to Corina, I stripped down to bra and panties and pulled a nightgown over my head. She was looking at me again; evaluating me and the clothes now spilling out of my bag. I finished changing and then we watched as my things were locked into a closet. The click of the dead bolt, the jingle of keys. Two locked closets, side by side. One full length mirror bolted to the wall. Twin beds in opposite corners, two desks and two short book shelves back to back, dividing the room. One narrow shaft of light illuminating my new home.

Alone with Corina, I sat on the edge of my bed, gently bounced and then pulled back the covers. If I fall asleep, maybe I'll wake up some place else. As my head hit the lone, flat pillow, a piercing screech snapped me back up.

“Corina! No talking allowed! You know that,” yelled a voice from down the hall.

That was talking? I looked over at Corina, her shoulders and head visible above the desk. Her naked eyes blinked back at me, staring.

There she is, my new roommate. A skinny, bald bird in this new freak zoo.

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