Pale sunlight fell on and filtered through gritty eyelids.  The pounding headache made itself known abruptly, and the feeling of a membrane having been stripped from her brain.  Everything was terrible, but quiet.

Quiet.  The  tsunami thoughts were much slower, fainter.

“Thank you, God.”  She whispered.  It was done.  She was awake, alive, and her mind hadn’t drowned.  The liquid, warm gratitude was quickly replaced by cold fear.  It would come again.  It always did.  “Please, God, no.  Please.”  the whisper was quiet in the white, basic room.  The mid-morning sunlight softened the starkness of all the white.  White sheet, white blanket, white gel-like pillow.

I should go back to sleep.  Then I won’t be awake if it happens again, with the dark cloud, and her far away self.  I could lose control, I could do something bad.  Need to sleep.

She tried to get her eyes to obey, but cold alertness persisted.  Finally, throwing off her half-folded pillow, she threw her legs to the side.  There was no memory of the nurse coming in for her early morning vitals.  Maybe they had left her alone?  For hours into the night, she had struggled.  They must have figured she needed sleep.

Rising, she shoved her feet into oversized, soft slippers, and did the morning shower and routine.  Her eyes were just eyes in the mirror, not the floating circles.  There were dry flakes around her nose and on her forehead from the hospital soap.  When she came in, they had even taken her facewash, because it held some remote risk of a suicide attempt.

 

The breakfast room had only one lone patient, a thin, medium height black man named Slate.  Most of his tray looked devoured, but he was sipping grits.

“Coming out to see us,”  His teeth were perfect as he smiled.  “First group going to start soon.   Might want to hurry and eat.”  He nodded toward a tray across the table from him.

Annaleise slid into the chair across from him.

“Don’t worry.”  He smiled again. “Today is gonna be a good day.  The Lord is here, and everything we need is taken care of.”  He winked.  “Don’t forget that.  His grace is sufficient.”

A nurse had appeared in the entrance to the breakfast room.

“Group time.”  The voice exiting her was sweet and pleasant, but the face was expressionless.  “Oh, you can finish first, sweetie”, she said as Annaleise started to put the cover on her plate, “Come in when you are done”.

Slate rose, letting a hearty whistle start.  He took his tray to the stainless steel meal holder, then disappeared around the corner.

A flicker of a smile turned up the corners of her mouth as the whistle persisted.  He seemed so normal.  He hadn’t really volunteered much in groups and goals what was wrong with him.  It was completely optional.  So much faith.

The smile fell abruptly.

“God, are you still with me?  The stuff that happens to me seems so demonic, and your Spirit can’t dwell with demons.  Are you here?  Am I your child?”

There was a quiet emptiness that started to blossom in her.  She was defective, her brain was useless.  She was worth nothing to God, and she couldn’t really be God’s child.  She was nothing but an OCD brain.  It was who she was, and she would never be useful.  Her wiring would destroy her crediblilty.  Crazy, a bunch of frayed wires…

 

 

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