There were voices in the hallway, just beyond the door. Whispering like mice in the attic, the sound of tiny footsteps in dust. She tried to make out words, form some structure with the sounds. But all her ears could pick up were the sharp S noises and elongated vowels.
She stared at the space under the door, the crack of light bleeding into the room. Willing her mind to zoom in on the space like a camera lens. She held her breath and the constraints pulled against her inflated chest as she strained her neck forward.
Fragments of the conversation filtered through. Words like “disorganized” and “cognitive fluctuations” and, the one that came out most clearly, “delirium”. Her brain stuck on the word as if it were made of flypaper and she rolled it around in her mind, hoping it would stick to something else that made sense.
Footsteps drew her attention back to the noises coming from behind the door. There were more words she didn’t understand punctuated with numbers and measurements like “milligrams”. She heard the door knob turn and watched strangers approach her.
“How are you feeling this morning Ms. Morris?” a man with white hair and small, rectangular glasses asked her as he walked in. A short, squat man with a projecting bottom lip and furrowed brow followed him in.
She stared at the small man with the face of a bulldog and a memory nibbled at the edge of her awareness. It evaporated like dew on patio furniture when she concentrated.
“Ms. Morris?” the older man asked, raising his eye brows and smiling condescendingly.
She looked at him and tried to remember what he had asked her. Her face itched and she lifted her hand to scratch it but her wrist caught on something. She was instantly aware that her whole body was bound to the bed in safety restraints, the realization hitting her like a tidal wave.
“Ms. Morris, do you know where you are?”
She looked up at the men, their starched white coats, their neckties and leather belts. She pulled against the straps.
“Do you know what day it is?” the older one tried again.
She fought against the restraints, her body trying to arch upwards. Her back made a tent with her wrists and arms strapped down and she pushed upwards against the large strap across her chest. She could feel the heavy fabric strain against her, holding her in the confines of the small hospital bed.
The men were talking again but her panic drowned them out. She thrashed violently, struggling to break free. She noticed for the first time how much her wrists hurt, how her head ached.
Her focus narrowed down, blocking out the sound of people running in from the hallway, the scuffle of sneakers on the linoleum floor, the shouts and instructions. She existed only in the strain of her body against her restraints. And then, in the needle in her arm.