By Nicole Cater
So, we all know how it went with Cellie #1. I sort of wondered if I would continue to get a private room when I walked in one afternoon (don’t ask me when, days are irrelevant), and there was Cellie #2. She seemed, well, about to kill herself. Which was altogether much easier to handle than some uppity trash-talking gender bender. As soon as the nurses got her settled in, I introduced myself. She introduced herself as Barbie. That’s not her real name, but you’ll figure out why in a second. Barbie seemed quite okay, but stuck in some sort of permanent fugue. I was a little chatty, plus Barbie was an unusual name. So I engaged in conversation.
I was trying to tell her the ins, the outs, the what have yous of the ward. Oh no, Barbie’s been around the ward a time or three. Um, okaaaay, that doesn’t sound promising. Turns out, Barbie’s a nurse, and she’s telling me about the ward, the doctors, the medications, and the whole nine. Part of me is awed at her knowledge. Part of me is scared at being stuck with a repeat offender.
We start talking about our lives outside the clink; which is always tons of fun, because this is where you get to up the ante. “Some days I can’t out of bed.” “One time I cut myself.” “I hate my doctor and have to be dragged to appointments.” It’s like keeping up with the Joneses, fruitcake style. Then Barbie drops the bomb. “I’ve been in and out of hospitals and had so many health problems, I’m pretty sure my husband is going to divorce me. He won’t even take my calls right now.” Okay, winner, winner, chicken dinner, I’m not even going to try to compete with that one.
That’s when Miss Julissa wanders in pulling Med Droid #1 and performs the Med Ritual. Miss Julissa scans the bracelet, and makes Barbie recite her past, yea, to the fifth generation… And that when I hear Barbie’s last name, Jingleheimershmidt. If there aren’t a lot of people named Barbie, there sure as hell aren’t a lot of people named Barbie Jingleheimerschmidt. Why do I know this? Because I am good friends with Ken Jingleheimerschmidt. I have just been schnookered into a world of careful diplomacy that I am so totally unprepared for. Oh shit!
I’ll admit, since I’m going through what Barbie is going through, my first inclination is to be really royally pissed at Ken. But then again, I also know that medical problems, both physical and mental, have been going on for years, and some people just aren’t up to the challenge. They aren’t made that way. And it’s hard to work ‘til death do you part when love has turned to resentment and damn near hate. I should know, that’s what my marriage was filled with, and we both had to give up.
But diplomacy, that shit ain’t easy when you’re stuck in a loony bin and your perspectives are all out of skew. I like Barbie immensely. I even shared my contraband e-cig with her. But at the end of the day, I knew who my friend was. My friend was Ken. Not this woman I barely knew who by happenstance was sharing a room with me for a couple of days. But isn’t that the way with friends? You owe your loyalty to them; you’ve taken some sort of unspoken friendship oath that says “I will do my best to understand your perspective first.”
In the end, when I got out, after thinking about it, I told him that Barbie knew their marriage was over, it was okay for him to pull the plug. I felt a little bad about this, as if I was a betrayer. But he told me he had already done the pulling, so I didn’t feel too bad. When you lead a life of intermittent misery, you need cheerleaders who sign on for the job and willingly go through the bad periods. What you don’t need is to drown and have someone hate you because you just drowned them too.
This is our new Wicked Short Stories page with submissions from various Authors. Please look for bio-snippets about the Author at the bottom of the various pieces. Enjoy!