by Emily Williams
There was a picture circulating Facebook about an insane asylum. The posters shared it with
misinformation. I’m not sure how I knew that they’re wrong. I didn’t correct them. I didn’t do anything on Facebook. I never put a picture. I just looked. I watched the circulating fads, the politics. Like a ghost, I watched but never participated. It’s the only way I left the house. Agoraphobia?
No, they were more afraid of me than I was of them.
The picture listed reasons women were admitted to mental hospitals almost one hundred years ago. It haunted me. I dreamt of it every night. I saw the doctor writing down his notes. “Jealousy”, “hysteria”, “masturbation”, “suppression of menses”, “ill-treatment by husband” were included in his wild ideas. He listed the causes for the women’s supposed insanities. The last one pricked my soul, and my soul was all I had left.
I could almost hear the husband’s his shouts and feel hits, his blame as she couldn’t get pregnant, his accusations of adultery when she did. Though the feminists of Facebook raged I didn’t agree. Words didn’t matter, not back then anyway, not to me, or him.
Some fought back. For that, they were admitted as well. Once an asylum patient, women never left until the release of life. I heard their cries, the wails, I saw the lobotomies. None of it frightened me.
visions of the asylum comforted me.
One night I woke with my bed soaked in sweat and the faces of the criminally insane staring at me. In the dead of night, I left the house for the first time. I saw the wind rustling leaves but didn’t feel the breeze. I found myself at the old building. A chain link fence surrounded it to keep out trespassers. Some must have managed to climb over as evidence of their visits lined the brick walls with painted profanity.
I didn’t climb. Before I knew it I stood in the long hall. Though broken glass, dirt, and cracked paint lined the walls I saw the pristine white floors and heard the squeak of nurses shoes. Women slumped over in corners of their bare rooms. I was drawn to one room, the only empty room. When I pushed the creaking door open I saw my bed the last place I felt rest. I could lay on that thin mattress and sleep soundly knowing I took action. I tried to stop the “ill-treatment”.
With a gun, I had snuck up behind him. He was writing the list, that infamous list social media played with decades later. I missed. A bullet clipped his temple. Red droplets stained the paper. The same blood I saw in the picture on Facebook. My husband, the doctor, the man who hurt me and many other women, still lived. Although he’d be ninety, frail and feeble, I felt his presence. Cruelty still tainted this world. I knew I couldn’t sleep the eternal sleep until I found him and finished the job.