Chapter 1 : Prologue
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“Now just clear your head and try to imagine how the spell would affect your target then try to feel magic run through you and think of the spell. It probably won’t work the first few times you try it but don’t let that put you down; it only means you have to try a bit harder...”
I tried to follow the instructions Professor Higgins was giving the four of us, but I just couldn’t get it to work! Non verbal spells were hard and I hated them. I hated to fail, but I failed all the time, I hated to be patient and I never was but most of all I hated to be here in this fucking place full of people who thought they knew what they were doing.
Because they don’t. They don’t have a clue. They don’t know anything.
Sam did it. Sam, of all people, did the non verbal. Sam - oh I’m so normal - Collins. He’s not normal. No one here was because if we were normal, we wouldn’t be here, would we? We would be at Hogwarts with other people our age doing normal stuff and learning magic with those other people in their sixth year.
But not us. We were Institutionalised. We were at The Institution for a reason. Most of the reasons weren’t interesting. I know my reason was fairly ordinary. But Sam for example, he was a nasty piece of work. He killed his mum when he was 12. Yeah, 12. They couldn’t have put him in Azkaban, could they now? A fucking kid in Azkaban! He would have been better dead. So they put him here. Not that it’s really better to be Institutionalised than dead. They killed Sammy boy. At least they killed what he was and made him into something new. In a couple of years he might get out. He was sentenced to be here until he was 25 but since they like to have as little people as possible here, he might get out in a year or two or three. Might.
Then there was Nora. She didn’t like me. I think, well I’m actually pretty sure that it’s because I don’t like to talk to other people. I’m more comfortable in my head and Nora... She likes, no, she loves to talk. She loves to talk so much that she hurt her brother who wouldn’t talk to her. He actually couldn’t talk because he didn’t know how to talk but she wouldn’t have any of that. So she hurt him one day while her parents were working. He was crying so loudly that the neighbour came and saw what happened. Nora’s parents sent her to The Institution the moment they had heard the news. She’s been here the longest, I think. Eight years. That’s a long time. At least she doesn’t cut people anymore but she likes to yell at them hysterically if they don’t talk to her. That’s certainly an improvement.
Kate was special and she knew it. From the four of us, she hadn’t hurt anybody - that much we knew. But what we didn’t know was why she was there. She never wanted to tell us and she was here only for a year so that left plenty of time to discover her dirty little secret. Kate did seem normal. We shared a room and only thing that seemed off about her was her nightmares. She had them every fucking night since the first day she came here and she would wake me up every night with her screaming. She was calling her “daddy” but other than that, I couldn’t get anything out of her about her problems or nightmares. Maybe the nightmares were her problems. I wouldn’t know and I didn’t really care that much.
We all heard a knock and Professor Higgins stopped glorifying Sam and said, “Come in.”
Madam Sheehan came in and smiled so that all of us could see her slightly apart white teeth. I think she thought that was classified as a “polite and encouraging” smile. I fucking hated it.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your lesson, Professor Higgins”, she batted her eyelashes at him because she obviously had a thing for Higgins. I couldn’t blame her even though I think I’ve become asexual since I came here. If you don’t count occasional shag with Sam, I liked his roughness that really came out during those times.
“...but psychohealer Davis would like to have a talk with Mona if you don’t mind.”
Higgins looked at me and probably concluded that I wouldn’t get a grasp of non verbals today anyway so he nodded and I had to follow polite and encouraging Madam fuck-me-Higgins Sheehan.
We walked the now familiar off-white corridors, the younger “crazy” people were just finished with their lessons and some of them were just sitting mindlessly on the hard, cold, green linoleum. Like they couldn’t have put a carpet there.
I threw a couple of dirty looks to the occasional orderly that passed us and whenever we passed by a barred window, I would look out and see the poor nature that surrounded this prison of mine. The trees were bare even though it was March, the grass was sickly green and flowers were nowhere to be seen. That even rhymes. I might become a poet now. Like that would happen.
Suddenly silence surrounded us; the only sound was of Madam Sheehan’s heels clicking on the floor. I haven’t even noticed that we passed form our ward to the psychohealer’s offices.
One long corridor filled only with numerous offices. They tended to have one psychohealer for two persons maximum so they wouldn’t be preoccupied and could take better care for us. I couldn’t know whether they actually helped someone in a way that didn’t change them completely as a person, like Sammy and I couldn’t know whether someone ended up fully “cured”. When someone left The Institution, we never heard from them again. It’s understandable, after all, I, for one, wouldn’t want to write to someone here. They’re just a bunch of “lunatics”. Am I? No. But does anybody believe me? No.
Who would admit they’re crazy anyway? No one.
I was standing in front of psychohealer Davis’ big wooden doors that lead to his office. Madam Sheehan was standing beside me, waiting for me to knock. I had to knock. If I didn’t, she would make me knock. And only the patients could knock on their psychohealer’s doors. It was the policy of The Institution.
I knocked and waited for the sound of psychohealer Davis’ raspy voice to invite me in. He always let me wait until I lost my nerves and started pounding on his doors. He wanted to see if I was ever going to stop doing that. Maybe I should. Maybe they would think my state was improving. Maybe.
Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen. Madam Sheehan was getting nervous. I could see that she was fidgeting. It was like she wanted me to lose it and start screaming and pounding. But I’ve decided to be different this time. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
“We’re waiting for an hour already dear; don’t you want to knock again?” Madam Sheehan asked me.
I turned my face from the doors and looked at her with my somewhat sadistic smile. I was mad. I wanted to explode. I wanted to scream. But I didn’t.
“No, Madam fuck-me-Higgins Sheehan, I’m perfectly fine with waiting some more, thank you very much.”
Her face expression was fun to watch, it was as if I could tell exactly what went through her head at that moment. Unfortunately, Davis finally opened his door and I had no choice but to come in.
“Take a seat Miss O’Neill.” he said. He would say that whenever I would come to his office. So I took my seat across from him in the uncomfortable wooden chair with a high back and fixed my gaze on his face.
Psychohealer Davis wasn’t old, no, but he looked like he was always drunk. You know the type - messy clothes, red in the face, tiny eyes like he had just woken up deeply hung over and so on. He wasn’t, in fact, I have never seen him drinking anything but water and he didn’t smell of alcohol but maybe that was just his image.
“So,” he started, “how are you feeling today, Mona?”
Ah Merlin, he was so predictable. He always asks me the same question and I always give him the same answer.
“Like shit. The usual.”
He usually writes something in his little notebook and we continue our conversation the same way we always do - he asks me two questions even though he knows what answers I would give him.
“Do you drink your medication? Have you thought about suicide lately?”
I looked him in his tiny eyes and I saw that he wanted to understand me. And I didn't like that. Not one bit.
“No and yes.”