The woman spoke softly to the man whose fingertips were stained blue. “Will you tell me about your painting?” she asked.
He blushed a little, unused to the questions of “outsiders,” but shyly revealed, “You know that long stretch on the horizon where the water and sky meet? Fascinates me. Haven’t been to the shore since I first came here, but I can still remember.”
At a desk facing a window, a girl was writing in a notebook. The woman hesitated, unsure if it would be unwise to disturb her. She crept closer and read over her shoulder. A poem. About love and pine trees and summer skies. The woman looked up, distracted by a performance of some kind happening in the room across the hall. Through the windows she could see them singing and dancing. She’d forgotten.
But here in this room, in the far corner, a girl played a mournful tune on a French horn. It stirred the air in this place. For a moment, it almost made the woman want to cry. But then she laughed a little to herself and said, “Definitely time to go.” She retreated back across the room and dropped her visitor badge in the small basket at the check-in counter.
“So whaddidya think?” snarled the guard before pressing a button to open the locked metal doors at the entrance. “You’d have thought those affected would’ve all died out by now, but they haul in more of ‘em every month or so.”
“It’s sad,” said the woman, then pushed open the doors of the asylum.