Story-a-Day: The End

The Head Nurse

I watch the inmates day and night.

I know things about them even they don’t know.

rumored to be the Asylum’s inner courtyard

I know who wants to see if I have eyes in the back of my head, but I’ve his ax, so he can imagine all he wants. I’ve nothing to fear.

I have everything that belongs to any of them and the only set of keys.

I will keep the keys and walk these halls until they catch her–the one I’ve been waiting for for years. On the day they bring her in, I’ll be here. And this wait will seem like nothing. Everything I’ve done will be worth it.

For a long time no one believed me when I told them she still lived. Murdered, everyone thought so. Clever my mother. She terrified with a blink of her eye. Why did anyone think a little unwanted girl and her brother could ever get the better of my mother? I never could, and I am my mother’s daughter.

Not that they believed she had a daughter. All she wanted was other people’s children. No one knew I existed.

They know I exist now. This place couldn’t run without me, and I don’t waste time with tricks, like walls made of cake and windows of spun sugar. I learned from others’ mistakes. Use real walls, and when you push someone into an oven, stay until you’ve proof they’ve burned.

*

Story-a-Day is over! It’s been fun. Now I need to decide what to do next.

Story-a-Day: The Penultimate Edition

The Neighbors

They’re quiet. I like that. I’ve done had neighbors that blare music at all hours or let their dogs bark all day. The Night Ambulance…now that gives me the willies. That thing never flashes any lights, and I guess it doesn’t have any kind of siren. Never heard one anyhow.

Every time I see that thing I get bad dreams. My husband says I’m too sensitive. He says if I let my imagination get carried away he’s going to call the Ambulance on me. I tell him I’d claw his eyes as soon as let that happen.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s what you got to know to live next to the Asylum. Well, live in peace with those people.

You don’t go knocking on their door. You got kids? Don’t send them there to sell candy or other stupid stuff. You get a flat tire? They don’t got jacks or jumper cables or anything helpful to normal people.

You don’t get nosey. Don’t stare and don’t even look like you’re listening. Once. That’s all it took. Once. Once, the Head Nurse came here. Seems my husband was looking that way a bit much for her taste. He doesn’t look any more.

The boys in town, you know, the young ones, sixteen and seventeen, they get curious. They hear things about the girls in that place. Supposed to be the most beautiful girls anyone’s ever seen. Makes me think it’s good to be ugly–bound to be less crazy that way.

Anyway, those boys try to sneak on the grounds to peer in windows. I used to shout them off if I saw them heading that direction. I don’t bother these days. They’ll learn. I think they come back a little more mature, and they don’t ever say what they saw.

Really, you can’t live on this here road if you’re curious. Your curiosity would drive you mad. In a manner of speaking.

They’re good neighbors though. Quiet. I like quiet. And this is the safest street in town. Nothing ever goes wrong here.

Only a few stories left to go!

a found diary page

(Attached File Note: all diaries and elective writing are prohibited. Any and all prohibited writing must be reported immediately. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action. Staff and visitors are reminded that reading such writing without direct permission from the Head Nurse is also prohibited.)

…will steal it for me first. Funny how many of us want it. It’s a game, really. You can’t help but want it. It hangs there, red and begging to be touched, worn, used. I see the others looking at it, and some are even crazy enough to brush up against it when they walk by.

I can’t believe it belonged to a girl. A woman ought to wear it. A real woman. I mean, have you seen it?

Henry and I have to best chance though, I think. We don’t want to leave the building with it. That’s when they catch you, trying to leave the grounds, claiming to be sick and hunching over grabbing your contorted belly. Yes! People try all kinds of things in here. Head Nurse thinks she’s got the patients and us under her control. Ha. Not every single minute, she doesn’t.

I know it’s wrong. I know. But does it really matter? As Henry said, everything we see every day, everything we deal with, don’t we deserve just a few moments of fun? A little fantasy? Oh, I can’t wait to feel it wrapped around my shoulders. Henry says he can’t wait to see me in it. Of course, we’ll be in the basement, so we may not see that much!

What’s the worse that could happen? We get a letter in our files? We get fired? That Head Nurse. She doesn’t control me.

A Story-a-Day continues for a few days more…

An Inmate

Shh. Stay silent. I’m waiting for the swallow to bring me a message. The nurses suspect the birds, of course, but not even nurses can stop the birds from singing.

So, hush. You think me silly, don’t you? Everyone does. “Look at how tiny she is!” they say. They forget I’ve brains and hands. Did you know that they saw how small I was and assumed I was crazy. Being the size of your thumb would make anyone crazy, wouldn’t it?

Oh, but you don’t survive this long this small AND crazy. And the birds do talk to me. Birds talk to me–you hear secrets when you’re small enough for others to forget. Even the birds forget I’m here.

Oh, but worst thing–the men who ask me to marry them. The real trouble comes when you say no again and again. You must be crazy to turn down such men. Everyone says so. Ha. Now they say I’ll never get married. Missed my chance. Like I had a chance.

Those men bore me.

Here’s what I’ve learned–when you’re pretty, no rich man is ever supposed to be boring. You’re crazy if you say he is.

So. I stopped being pretty.

It hurt at first.

But now those toads, those moles, don’t want me anymore. Honestly, I hate it here, but at least my room and my bed are my own.

And soon I’ll escape. Don’t think I won’t. So, hush. The birds are singing and I’m listening.

A Story-a-Day…it’s all a blur.

An Inmate

Hey, you know I was just as poor as Jack. My ma worked just as harder—harder even—as his ma ever did, and my dad had run off too. So, you tell me. Why he get all the luck? You think I hadn’t gone to the market a thousand times for scraps of food? Is it my fault I’m too smart for every crook and con artist out there trying to sell us village rats nothing for something?

Oh no. But Jack, the dullest boy in the village, the only one dumb enough to trade his cow for beans that wouldn’t feed a cat with half-a-stomach, oh, Jack grows one big vine and suddenly he’s living in a real house in town, not out here with us rats and losers. And has he ever come round to say hello? He ever give so much as a coin to any of us?

What’s so special bout a big vine? That stupid vine isn’t even there anymore. He cut it down. Keeping his luck from the rest of us, I say, cause why else would he do something like that? My ma tried to take a cutting from that vine. You know, see if we could grow something like that too. Damn thing didn’t sprout nothing.

So, yeah, maybe I went a crazy on Jack. Maybe I shouldn’t’ve done what I done. But what would you’ve done if you’d gone to an old friend and asked for help–just a few coins to help out your ma–and your now rich and hoity-toity friend offered you beans?

And they think I’m crazy.

A Story-a-Day is staggering to the end.

An Inmate

I’m an old man now, and I’ll die in this place. Well-deserved some say. They’re probably right. But I leave that to the Fates. The Fates have toyed with me all my life.

The Fates gave me fortune in ships and then took my fortune away. The Fates gave me a good wife, and took her away too. The Fates–do they ever tire of their games?–gave me many children…

Don’t worry. My children live good lives.

They do.

They just live lives without me in them. My youngest…she tried to forgive me. Oh, I blame the Fates, but the truth is, I’m a terrible father. My own skin is more valuable to me than my daughter. The shame of it is that given a chance today, I’d do the same again. If another monster came at me and demanded her–or now my grandchildren–here, I’d say. Take them and let me live.

But my daughter has a good life with her monster. She says everything worked out, but she’s a foolish, romantic. Girls think they can change a monster into a good man. A beast of a man is always a beast. I should know.

My daughter says she’s forgiven me, and she sends me a fresh rose every day to prove her love. I let her pretend. It’s the least I can do.

Story-a-Day even when I’m out of town…

from an Inmate

I may be crazy, but that’s not why I’m here. I tell the doctors and the nurses–anyone–I feel crazy. But they pat me on the shoulder and tell me my head is fine. My head is not the problem.

I checked myself into the Asylum. Did you know that? They were shocked to see me, I can tell you. Well, I was a sight. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry thinking about it.

Of course, having checked myself in, I can check myself out. What do you think about that? Who else in this place can do such a thing?

But how would I do that? Where would I go? What would I do? Find a corner and beg for money? No thanks.

Here I get food without humiliating myself. And I make friends. Sure, first they come by my room to see the injury. I don’t blame them. I’d want to see too. But once they realize that my injury is just below my knees, they’re quite friendly. Everyone offers to bring me things, to help me get around. One girl likes to polish my chair, and there’s a woodsman who made me a beautiful set of wooden feet. Yes, I was a bit horrified by them at first, but they really are lovely, considering.

This will sound silly, and I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I’m afraid to put shoes on those wooden feet. It’s not like they need shoes, right? It really is very nice of the nurses to bring me shoes, but I can’t bear the sight of shoes anymore. In fact, I almost never look down at anyone’s feet. Would you if you were me?

I like it here. I really do. Except for the, you know, the injury, everything about my life is better here, and since I wouldn’t be here if not for the injury…I guess I’m grateful for that too.

But do you know what would really make me happy? I hate to ask, and you can say no if you want. Really. I don’t mean to put you on the spot. But it would mean the world to me if before you left, you would, just for a minute, dance.