Free Short Story

The Crystal Ball

(A Pre-Gypsy Spirits Short Story)

By Marianne Spitzer

© September 2011

Summer was dragging on, and the girls were excited the State Fair was about to open. Friends since junior high each had a different reason for wanting to attend.

Annamarie enjoyed the rides providing they didn’t leave the ground. The Tilt-a-Whirl was her favorite. She let the girls talk her into riding the roller coaster last year, and she needed to lie on the grass for nearly an hour before her fear and dizziness left her. She swore she’d never leave the ground again.

Bonnie, Annamarie’s closest friend, loved to see the farm animals. She wanted to attend college and become a nurse or a veterinarian. She was a straight A student and would most likely be their class valedictorian. She hovered over any person or animal showing signs of illness.

Deb loved the food. She would start with pancakes followed by burgers, fries, cotton candy, anything chocolate, and a cream puff before they would leave in the evening. No matter how much she ate, she had the best figure in school. She had also received her driver’s license a few months previous and was thrilled she didn’t have to ask her mom for a ride. Being “grown up” was fun.

Diana loved the midway games. She could play games until the fair closed at midnight. She saved some of her baby-sitting money each week in a special jar to take along to play the games. Each year she would have her arms full of stuffed animals and other odd things she would win. She was the bravest of their group, always ready to try new adventures.

Although each girl had a steady boyfriend, they ditched them the first Friday night of the fair. After all, they were all seventeen, and it was 1966. Why drag the guys along? They had their own plans which included cards and beer. The fair would be more fun.

They ate too much, took too many spins on rides and finally decided to follow Diana to the midway and watch her play games. After thirty minutes, they became bored. It was then Diana spotted the small cream colored tent at the end of the midway.

Setting by itself under the shade of a large oak tree, Diana read the sign: Madame Torrina—Fortune Teller.

“Let’s go in and have out fortunes told,” Diana was excited and jumped up and down. “Please. I have wanted to do this each year. I’m going. Who is game enough to come with me? C’mon you can’t all be chicken. It’ll be fun.”

Annamarie was adamant that no good could come from seeing a fortune teller. None of the other girls thought it was a good idea either, but they were best friends and did things together—always. They slowly followed Diana into the tent.

Multi-colored scarves hung from every surface inside the tent. The aroma of incense filled the air. A small table sat in the middle of the room covered by more scarves in various colors. Violin music surrounded them, but they were not able to see any speakers. Above the table, a lantern hung which cast shadows onto the walls. Small cushioned seats circled the front of the table. Behind the table sat Madame Torrina and in the midst of the table a crystal ball.

Diana was excited, but the others held back. Annamarie feeling uncomfortable left the tent and waited outside for the others. Her friends teased her about being a coward, but this wasn’t cowardice. She felt real fear inside the little tent. It choked her, and she needed to leave. She feared for her friends but had no idea why.

Madame Torrina looked up and smiled. “Please sit, let me tell your future. I can tell you of love and happiness surrounding you. I felt it when you walked in.”

Bonnie pushed Deb and said, “You go first.”

“Okay,” said Deb. “What can you tell me about my love life?”

“You will marry within a year and live happily for many, many years.” Deb wondered how Madame Torinna knew what she and Steve were planning.

“Okay, thanks.” She placed a dollar on the dish next to the crystal ball.

Bonnie asked, “What path should I take in school?”

Madame Torrina looked into the crystal ball and said, “I see you in white caring for sick people. You will help them to get well.”

“Thank you,” Bonnie said laying a dollar in the dish and wondering how Madame Torrina knew she was thinking about nursing school.

Annamarie was listening outside and becoming more uncomfortable. Somehow this woman knew exactly what their thoughts were. Maybe someone heard them talking and told her, but who knew they would be visiting her tent. Shivers ran up her spine, and her skin broke out in goosebumps thinking this woman knew their future. She knew too much. Annamarie was glad she left without asking a question. She heard Diana’s voice.

“Tell me when I’m going to die.”

“My child, don’t you want to ask a happy question like your friends? I know many things. I can tell you about love, how many children you will have, and the best way to become rich. I know the answers. Leave the dark side alone and be happy like your friends.”

“No, I want to know when I’m going to die.” Diana laughed. “If you know everything you can tell me. I want to know how long I can enjoy life.”

The crystal ball began to get cloudy and turned black. The three girls became frightened but didn’t move.

Madame Torrina looked into the ball and said, “I know the answer, but I would prefer you ask a different question.”

“Come on lady, I paid you a dollar. Tell me,” said Diana.

“Very well. You will die on your eighteenth birthday.” The crystal ball cleared, and all three girls ran out.

They were all talking at once about how the woman knew Deb’s plans to marry Steve and Bonnie’s dilemma between nursing and vet school. She was right about them which meant she much be right about Diana. Annamarie did her best to calm her friend, but Diana was hysterical.

The four girls sat at a picnic table, and Diana regained her composure. Annamarie brought them all a soda, and they discussed how foolish it was to believe what Madame Torrina had said. No one knew when you were going to die except God. Annamarie believed that with all her heart and seemed to convince Diana. By the time they finished their sodas, and four orders of fries everyone was laughing. They agreed they must have given the fortune teller some clue, so she knew what to say. Diana agreed that Madame Torrina was making it up to watch her get upset. She decided the woman was mean, and they headed home.

*

Diana had always been the daredevil in their group, but during that August in 1966 she seemed to do whatever she could to squeeze every ounce of life and fun out of anything she did. She borrowed her brother’s car and took the girls on wild rides down the country roads near their homes. When she sped up to fly through a stop sign, the other three girls decided they weren’t going to drive with her again.

On Labor Day weekend, the group got together for a last fling picnic at Acorn Park. They barbecued hot dogs and ate potato chips the way they did at any other picnic. When the guys brought out the beer, the girls said no, except for Diana. She drank two beers and then took a walk into the meadow with Garret. They had been dating for a little over a year, and all she would allow him to do was a little petting and usually only through her clothes. That night a new Diana emerged. She was sexy and wild. When she stripped her top off and unhooked her bra, Garret knew it would be his lucky night. Diana lost her virginity and laughed about it. The next day she phoned Garret and told him if he ever came near her again she would tell her dad he raped her.

“What’s going on with you?” Annamarie asked Diana the first day of school. “Garret told Daniel about the meadow and how you broke up with him.”

Diana slammed her locker door and said, “I wanted to have some fun. Once Garret got what he wanted he said we could do it all the time. I decide when I do anything, not Garret so I dumped him. He’s a jerk.”

“I have been telling you for quite a while Garret’s a jerk, but you never listened. Why now?”

“Why not now? We’re Seniors, what better time to have fun. Soon we’ll have to settle down. I want to enjoy my Senior year.”

Annamarie found it hard to argue with her reasoning, but still wondered about her friend. Bonnie and Deb noticed a difference, but they also chalked it up to Diana’s excitement about their Senior year.

As fall turned into winter, the girls didn’t see much of Diana. She dated a different boy every chance she got, and there were rumors she was sleeping around and smoking pot. In a small town, rumors usually make it home to the parents, and each girl was told not to spend time with Diana. It seemed to send Diana into a further downward spiral. Her grades slipped, and she began to skip classes.

No one understood what was happening to Diana. They had all forgotten their visit to Madame Torrina, but Diana remembered every moment of every day. She X’d off each day on her calendar and counted the days until her birthday. She counted the days until death would come for her. She was ready; she just wanted to enjoy as much of life as she could cram into a few short months. She realized her friends had forgotten. She had new friends and new ways to have fun. She would enjoy her life.

Her mom saw her marking days off her calendar and asked, “Diana would you like a big party for your birthday? We could decorate the basement rec room, and you could invite anyone you’d like. You seem sad, and I’m hoping to plan the party will make you happy. After all turning, eighteen is special.”

Diana hugged her mom and fought back the tears she felt welling in her eyes. “I would love that mom. It would be a great way to celebrate my birthday. Thanks so much. I love you more than I can say.”

“I love you, too dear. Let me know if you have any ideas for the party.”

Her mom closed the bedroom door when she left leaving Diana to think about her birthday. Diana mumbled, “I wonder if I’ll live long enough that day to make it to the party. Will I die shortly after midnight or live all day?”

She dropped onto her bed. It’s when she saw a black mist in the corner of her room. It was the same color Madame Torrina’s crystal ball turned last summer. She heard a deep, raspy voice coming from the mist, “Do not worry about the hour, I will come and you will know.” The mist disappeared, and Diana cried until she fell asleep. When she woke, she decided it was all a dream. Or was it? She wasn’t sure and needed to speak to someone who would understand.

*

Annamarie’s mom opened the front door and saw a disheveled Diana standing on the porch.

“Please Mrs. Schneider, I know you don’t want Annamarie to hang around with me, but I need to talk to her. She’s my friend, and I think the only person who will understand and can help me. Please, Mrs. Schneider.”

Annamarie’s mom liked Diana and was shocked by her recent behavior and thought keeping the girls apart was a good idea, but something in Diana’s plea tugged at her heart strings. Aware of her possible drug use she said, “You may come in, but I want both of you only to sit in the living room.”

“Yes, we will. Thank you so much Mrs. Schneider.” Diana wrapped her arms around Annamarie’s mom and hugged her so tightly she could barely breathe.

“Please sit down. I’ll get Annamarie.” Diana sat down on the sofa and rubbed her hands together until they turned red.

“Diana, what are you doing here?”

“I need to talk to you Annamarie. I need your help.”

“With what?”

Everything that had been bothering Diana since the day they saw Madame Torrina came pouring out. She explained her bad behavior. With only a short time to live, she wanted to experience all she could. She had sex with Garret to know what it felt like and to give him a gift. Then she broke up with him so he would hate her and not miss her when she died. In a whisper, she told Annamarie about the black mist.

Annamarie was afraid Diana was having a breakdown and insisted she talk to her mom.

Diana agreed and told the entire story to Annamarie’s mom. When she finished she heard a voice in her head, “It doesn’t matter who you tell, I am counting the days before you are mine.” She began to cry hysterically.

“You must share this with someone besides Annamarie and me. Have you told your parents?”

“No, I can’t.”

“What about Father Mueller? He is always willing to help the young people in the parish.”

“No, no, he’ll tell me I sinned when I spoke to Madame Torrina. I’m going to hell. It is bad enough to know I’m going to die soon. I don’t want anyone to tell me I’m going to hell.”

She dropped her head onto the sofa and continued to cry.

“You must tell your parents. I am going to call your mom and tell her what has been going on. It will be easier for her to hear from me and then you can speak with her.”

“All right,” Diana said holding tightly onto Annamarie’s hand and trying to stop her tears. She sat up, and Annamarie said she’d get her a cola. Diana nodded.

Annamarie’s mom came back into the living room and said, “I spoke to your mom, and she’s on her way. It’ll be easier for everyone if we’re here for each other.” Both girls’ mothers had been friends for years.

The voice was back mocking Annamarie’s mom, “No matter who comes to help you, in the end it will only be me who matters.” Diana threw her hands against her ears.

*

The doorbell rang, and Diana’s mom walked into the living room. Her face stained from tears and her hands shaking a bit, but her voice was calm and gentle when she spoke to Diana.

Diana explained everything to her mom, and before her mom could suggest it, Diana told her she refused to talk to Father Mueller. Her mother sat stoically trying to absorb all her daughter had said.

She stood and hugged Diana. “If you don’t want to talk to Father Mueller, I’m taking you to see Dr. Norse first thing Monday morning and no argument.” Diana agreed. She knew the doctor couldn’t help her, but she also knew how to fool him into thinking she was just a teen with ordinary problems. She wasn’t going to let anyone stand in her way of enjoying her life. The voice laughed in her ear.

Diana and her mom thanked Annamarie’s mom and the girls hugged. Annamarie promised to keep in touch and glanced at her mom wondering if she’d be angry. Her mom seemed to agree. Diana wasn’t a bad girl; she was a troubled girl.

*

Diana sat silently while her mom told Dr. Norse what she had learned. Diana waited for her turn to tell the doctor what she wanted him to know. Dr. Norse excused himself and said he would be right back.

A few minutes later he returned with a small, white card in his hand. He looked at Diana and her mom, “I believe this is out of my area of expertise. I would like Diana to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Malloy, in Oaklin. He has an office in the medical building adjacent to the hospital. He’ll see you at one this afternoon.”

The voice laughed in Diana’s ear. She screamed, “I’m not crazy. I’m not going.”

Her mom’s patience had waned, “Yes; you are, and you are going to tell him everything. If you try to lie or run from this appointment, I will have your father take you. Do we understand each other?”

“Yes, Mom.”

*

The medical office building was looming in front of Diana when she and her mom walked across the parking lot. She repeated over and over what she planned on telling the doctor. Each time she began the list, she heard the voice laugh in her ear. She wanted to scream for the voice to stop, but she knew if she did they would hospitalize her. She did her best to push the voice away.

Diana and her mom waited in a small, but nicely decorated office.

“Dr. Malloy will be in shortly. Please be seated.”

A few minutes later a portly gentleman dressed in a three piece grey suit and blue striped tie entered the room. He reminded Diana of one of her dad’s law partners.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Traley and Diana. I’m Dr. Malloy. Dr. Norse has filled me in on some of your concerns. Please start from the beginning and tell me what bothers you.

Diana’s mom began with Diana’s erratic behavior of late and continued with their conversation with Annamarie and her mom.

Dr. Malloy sat quietly taking notes. When Mrs. Traley finished telling Dr. Malloy her worries and fears, he asked if he could speak to Diana alone.

Mrs. Traley left the office with some trepidation, and Diana was excited she would have a chance to get on the doctor’s good side.

Dr. Malloy sat back in his brown leather chair, looked straight into Diana’s eyes and asked, “Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you.”

“I can’t. I’m too ashamed. You’ll tell my parents.” Diana curled up in a large overstuffed chair and began to cry.

“Whatever you say to me stays between us.”

“Promise?”

“Yes.”

She sat up and began to explain. “Okay. My parents think I’m using drugs and sleeping around with different guys. I’m not. They blame it on my bad grades and irritable behavior.”

“Are they wrong? Is there something else?”

“If I tell you about a crime, do you have to report it? If you do, I’ll tell the police you and my mom made it up.”

“What you tell me stays between us. I have already told you.”

Diana began to spin her lie. “Okay. I had a boyfriend. I loved him so much. I was hoping we would get married after high school. He pressured me to have sex, but I didn’t want to. I wasn’t ready. On Labor Day weekend, we went to a picnic. I thought I might go all the way with Garret, but I was scared. I wanted him to be happy. I panicked and said no. He tried to convince me. I was worried and afraid. If my dad found out he would have him arrested or beat up or killed. I said no again, and Garret said yes and he raped me. After, he laughed at me and said I was a waste of his time and we were over. Then he told all his friends that I broke up with him for no reason. He broke my heart and I went a little crazy for a while, but I’m trying to get over it. My friends were shocked I broke up with him, and I couldn’t tell them the truth. I felt like one of those easy girls everyone talks about. Then the rumors began about me sleeping around and smoking pot. I don’t do either. Then to make it worse, my three best friends aren’t allowed to hang around with me anymore. I’m all alone.”

Diana took a deep breath and leaned back in the chair. The voice chuckled in her ear.

“All right, but you do need some help. I will connect you with a counselor who will help you with the rape issue and I will give you a prescription to ease some of your tension. You will begin to feel better about everything.”

Dr. Malloy picked up his phone and asked that Mrs. Traley return to his office.

He explained to Mrs. Traley that Diana was suffering from stresses of Senior year, her breakup with her boyfriend and the lack of friends in her life. He suggested she see a counselor once a week and walked to a large wood cabinet in the corner of his office. He opened it with a key and took out a small bottle of pills. He handed it to Mrs. Traley asking her to be sure Diana took one pill twice a day, and he would see her again in a month. He was sure the medication would help her tension, and her sessions with a counselor would help her deal with issues troubling her.

“One last thought, Diana says she feels alone since her friends aren’t allowed to see her. If you could try to mend those situations, I’m sure it’ll be helpful to Diana’s overall well-being.” Mrs. Traley thanked him, and they left.

On the drive home Diana said, “Mom, I told the doctor everything. I should tell you, too. I broke up with Garret because he wanted me to have sex with him, and I said no. I was afraid to date him. He started all the rumors about me and other boys and pot. Mom, I don’t do those things. Honestly, I don’t. Everyone believed I was, and I didn’t care if I did my class work and wished I could die.”

Diana knew she had gotten to her mom with her last statement. She knew her mom would work things out with her friend’s parents. Life was going to be fun again for a couple more months. The voice laughed harder than it ever had.

*

Diana’s mom decided to call Paula Schneider, Annamarie’s mom, first. She had been there through Diana’s confession and hoped she would have compassion.

“Hello Paula, this is Catherine Traley.”

“Oh, I’m so glad you called. Annamarie and I have been so worried about Diana. How is she and how are you holding up?”

Catherine explained what had been bothering Diana and how cruel Garret had been to her. She also added Diana had wanted to die when her friends stopped calling.

“I never liked that boy. Annamarie is engaged to Daniel, Garret’s best friend, and I’m always worried she will get hurt somehow. I wish she would forget about marriage, but their minds are made up and since she hasn’t seen Diana she spends too much time with Daniel. I think considering the circumstances the girls could renew their friendship. It should do them both good.”

Annamarie was standing in the hall listening. She ran out and hugged her mom. Then both girls got on the phone and giggled and made plans to meet outside school the next morning.

*

Diana’s mom insisted she take one of the pills Dr. Malloy had given them, and Diana went to her room. The medicine made her warm, and her muscles feel heavy. She saw the mist in the corner, but it began to fade before it could speak. Diana decided the mist and voice were in her imagination and drifted off to sleep. She had nightmares of the mist following her wherever she went. She heard the voice day and night. She woke four hours later trembling. She complained to her mom that the pills made her sleep and too tired to do anything. How would she get through school?

A quick call to the doctor’s answering service and call back took care of the problem. The doctor said Diana should only take a half pill during the day and a full pill at bedtime. Diana hoped it would work, and she wouldn’t fall asleep in class. Dr. Malloy was right; she wasn’t tired the next day and felt mellow and happy. She didn’t hear the voice and enjoyed lunch with Annamarie. Bonnie and Deb joined them, and both girls thought they could get their parents to allow them to be friends again if Annamarie’s mom called first. Annamarie said she’d work on her mom over dinner. The girls laughed, and the black mist hid in the corner—waiting.

Within a week, the four girls were doing things together again, and life was going on the way it had before Diana became “sick.” Everyone was happy. The mist waited. Diana’s birthday was two weeks away, and she was excited about it. She and her mom had made many plans. Since her birthday was on a Saturday, her friends could stay late. It would be wonderful. The pills made Diana forget about the mist and the voice. They did not forget about Diana.

*

Diana’s birthday arrived, and she woke happily and excited. She was hoping someone would smuggle in alcohol. She decided she would pretend to take her pill at breakfast and then flush it later. She knew better than to mix them.

She helped her dad finish decorating the basement rec room and her mom with the food. They placed everything in plastic bowls covered with plastic wrap to keep it fresh. Her mom would make homemade pizza later during the party. Everything was perfect.

Diana, feeling very grownup at eighteen, had borrowed her mom’s black dress and wore black stocking, black heels and pulled her long dark hair into a pretty ponytail tied with a black scarf. She felt like a movie star. A long golden necklace with matching earrings completed her look. She knew nearly everyone from school was coming—except Garret.

“Poor Garret,” she mumbled. “I blew it with him. I still love him so much, but I can never fix what I have done. Maybe I could try. Next week I’ll smile at him. It could soften his heart.” She fluffed her pony tail and went downstairs. Her dad whistled.

“Can that be my little girl? How did you grow up so fast?”

“I’m not sure Dad, how do I look?”

“Like a million bucks.”

She smiled at him, and the doorbell rang. Annamarie, Bonnie and Deb were early to help if needed. They disappeared downstairs and soon music was rocking through the house. A table was set up for gifts and a huge table for food with a large rectangle cake decorated with pink roses and the words “Happy 18th Birthday Diana” right in the middle. White and pink streamers hung everywhere, and there were more pink and white balloons than you could count. It was magical.

“My mom is so happy I’m feeling better; she went all out,” Diana said with a smile on her face.

Soon more and more friends arrived, and the gift table began to fill while the food disappeared as fast as the girls could replenish it. Soon Mr. Traley began to bring down pizza that disappeared quickly.

Close to ten o’clock, Mrs. Traley came downstairs and said it was time for cake, gifts and pictures. Diana said she had to check her hair and would be right back. She rushed upstairs to her room.

She brushed out her bangs and fluffed her pony tail. She looked at herself in the mirror and said, “I do look pretty good.” Then she saw the reflection of the mist in the mirror. She spun, but it wasn’t there. She heard a voice. She didn’t believe the voice would return.

“Less than two hours sweet Diana and you’ll be mine. I’m counting the minutes. Are you? Enjoy the rest of your party.” The laughter made Diana’s skin crawl. She hurried back to the party. Her parents were there. She would be safe.

Diana tried to enjoy each gift she received and thanked everyone, but her friends and parents noticed a change in her personality. She became sullen, and her comments morose.

She told her friends, “If anything happens to me, please take your gifts back to remember me.”

Annamarie’s memory shot back to the fair and the fortune teller. She whispered to Bonnie and Deb. “Remember the fortune teller. I think Diana is remembering and believing. I need to tell her mom right now.” The other girls agreed.

Annamarie quickly explained the incident last summer, and Mrs. Traley’s face was ashen. She hurried to find Mr. Traley.

He announced loudly, “I’m sorry, the party is over. Everyone, please leave now.”

When a grumbling group of teens left the house, Diana rocked back and forth in the living room’s rocking chair. She would glance at the clock and rock faster.

Ten minutes before midnight Diana told them all, “I love you and I will miss you, death will be here to take me in minutes. I hate to say goodbye.”

Mrs. Traley burst into tears, and Mr. Traley called Dr. Norse. He said he would be right over.

Before Dr. Norse could arrive, the grandfather clock began to strike midnight and Diana saw the mist at the top of the stairs. She screamed so loudly it caused Mrs. Traley to faint. Her dad tried to calm her. Bonnie and Deb did their best to help Mrs. Traley, and Annamarie called her mom.

Diana’s screams grew louder and longer. She said, “Death is coming, don’t you see him. Can’t you hear him?” She tried to run, but her dad held her firmly, and her screams continued. By the time, Dr. Norse arrived she was beyond hysterical. She was mumbling too softly for anyone to hear, and then she would scream at the top of her lungs. The needle full of medication Dr. Norse pushed into her arm settled her quickly, and she was sleeping.

Dr. Norse spoke to Dr. Malloy and then ordered the town ambulance to come for Diana.

He said, “Dr. Malloy and I agree something else is troubling Diana. Something she hid that caused her severe distress. Something triggered it tonight, and she has had a mental breakdown. Our ambulance will take her to Oaklin Hospital where Dr. Malloy can treat her.”

Through her tears, Annamarie explained to Dr. Norse what happened at the fair and what Diana must have feared.

Dr. Norse nodded and said, “If Diana truly believed she was going to die by midnight tonight, it would explain the breakdown. Knowing the cause will help the doctor treat her. Thank you for telling me.”

Annamarie asked, “Will she be in the hospital for very long.”

As gently as he could Dr. Norse said, “I have no idea. There are many things we don’t yet understand about the mind. She’ll receive the best of care, and we’ll help her in every way possible.”

It was 12:45 am, the day after Diana’s birthday when the ambulance left to take Diana to the hospital. Dr. Norse’s medication was still working, and Diana was quiet. Mr. and Mrs. Traley followed the ambulance. Annamarie’s mom took the girl’s home. The black mist was nowhere in the house.

*

Six weeks had passed, and Annamarie asked her mom if she had spoken to Diana’s mom.

“I try to call her once or twice a week and the church is taking dinners over so they can spend more time at the hospital with Diana.”

“Will she ever get better Mom?” Annamarie sat on a kitchen chair and stared at her mom, her eyes filling with tears.

“In time, they say. She still thinks it’s her birthday. They believe once they convince her she survived her birthday; she will get better.”

Annamarie dropped her head onto her arms and began to sob. “It’s my fault. I should never have let her go in there. I should have dragged her out. I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“Diana knew the same as you. She wanted to act grownup and acted foolishly. Unfortunately, it backfired on her, and you can see what happened.”

“Is she allowed visitors?”

“Not now, but they hope soon.”

*

Two weeks later the girls decided it was time to try and see their friend. It was Memorial Day weekend, and school was nearly over. They hoped to cheer Diana up and maybe she could attend graduation and make up her lost class time over the summer.

Bonnie looked at the floor listings and said, “The psychiatric ward is on the fourth floor. I’m not sure they’ll let us in, but we can try.”

The elevator doors opened to a bright floor with white walls and dark green tile floors. Bonnie approached the desk and asked about Diana. The nurse told them that Diana wasn’t allowed visitors, but if they wanted to leave her a note they could. The nurse handed them paper and pointed to the waiting room.

“There are tables and chairs in there where you can write.”

Bonnie and Deb were discussing what to write, and Annamarie walked over to look out the window. She thought she heard Diana’s voice coming from down the hall. She quietly walked in that direction.

She saw two doors with small windows in them. The first room was empty. She quietly walked to the second. She saw a small room with padded walls. Diana was sitting on a low bed without a bed frame. She could only see a mattress. Diana was in a strait-jacket. Annamarie could see she was speaking to a blank wall. She could barely hear her, but what she heard send shivers down her spine.

“I wish they would let me out of here so I can go to my birthday party. I turned eighteen today. I have to enjoy it because I’m going to die before midnight. Why won’t they let me out?” Diana screamed.

Annamarie ran back down the hall, past her friends and pushed the elevator down button until the doors opened. When they opened, she rushed in followed by Bonnie and Deb.

Annamarie said through her tears, “She’s not better. I’m scared she’ll never be better.”

On the way out of the hospital Annamarie explained what she had witnessed. Deb couldn’t control her tears, and Bonnie said, “I don’t ever want to be a psychiatric nurse.”

Annamarie stopped and looked at her friends. “My mom is always telling me things she learned from her mom and grandma like ‘smile at everyone, you might be the only person who smiles at them all day’ and ‘be careful what you wish for, you might get it,’ but she told me one that makes my skin crawl after seeing Diana.”

“What?” asked Bonnie and Deb at the same time.

“Never asked a question if you’re not prepared to hear the answer.”

~The End~

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