Cured

Maggie was a gypsy. The townspeople grew tired of her wandering, so they escorted her to an asylum they had just built. Maggie kept a journal those first few months. The disinterested staff never cleaned her room. Sleep most nights was impossible. Bed bugs were common. Cockroaches were always in view. Rats woke her up occasionally, running over and underneath her blankets. After several weeks the critters disappeared. Margaret wondered if they had been placed in her room as some kind of experiment.

One day after the evening meal she returned to her room and saw a bible on the table. Asylum code didn’t allow personal property of any kind on the premises. Again, thinking it might be a test, she decided to avoid it altogether, never opening it. Now, she wondered if she was the experiment.

Another day Maggie took a walk on the farm/solar panel rooftop with an attendant, admiring the surrounding mountainside and the valley’s lush rolling hills. Her mind was at peace for one of the few times since arriving. For all the wrong that went on there, they got one thing right. Nature did soothe the nerves. She released herself from her meditative state and noticed no one was with her. Her attendant was talking to the asylum supervisor, watching her as he spoke. “He certainly was disinterested in engaging me in conversation as we walked,” she wrote in her journal. “When I noticed he had left my side without a word a fear overcame me. His occasional glances at me while he spoke to the supervisor seemed to be checking to see if I would move close to the edge, or even jump, as several patients had before.”

Maggie spent the next year in the asylum. During that time she divorced, thankful there were no children involved. She was never suspicious of any questionable treatment by the staff thereafter. In fact, they seemed disinterested in her. Rooms needed to be filled; no one could think of a viable reason to keep Maggie any longer, so she was released.

Maggie had no way of knowing just how lucky she was. One year after regaining her “freedom”, 28 year-old Claire O’Brien, also a gypsy, was admitted to the Central Lunatic Asylum to undergo a new form of treatment. Claire was sterilized, no doubt for the good of society, spent two weeks “recovering”, and was released.

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