Haley Walrath, “5150”


Copyright Gerry Gomez

© Gerry Gomez

by Haley Walrath

Strapped down
feet first
into the fluorescent lighting
and the room I slept in
was cold
dimly lit.
until someone stood behind me as I gazed
out the window
except no one was there.
They’d asked me to tell them if
this happened
but I didn’t
and they gave me doses of who knows what
in little paper cups
to shuffle back down the flickering
vacant hall
with seven doors
back to my room where I fell asleep
next to an empty bed
that wasn’t empty when I woke up.
Rebecca, military, tried jumping off a building
why was I there
and why was there a girl on her knees in the hall
and why was her scream taking house in my head
they called her Sara.

So they woke me to take pills
and talk to a woman who was supposed to give me answers
but I was the one giving her answers
and she told me I seemed normal
compared to the rest
why was I here?
and it was okay talking about the things I’d talked about
a hundred times
until we weren’t talking about the old, numb news
but we were talking about him
and overdosing
until I was sitting in the hall on drugs
and this kid was pacing up and down
ativan, ativan, vitamin I, vitamin I, plum plum,
and it was Thanksgiving but I never made a call,
while I sat in the hall
and a girl looked around
the ceiling
observing clouds that weren’t there
but stopped to stare at me
with wide eyes and a crazed smile
I thought for sure I was in a horror film
and Sara screamed.

So they woke me up to take pills
and talk to a woman who was supposed to give me answers
and they all looked at me in the halls
so I looked at them
and they scared me but I felt nothing
just the need for a drink or a cigarette
and the ones in charge worked with smiles
talked to me like I wasn’t an adult
so I started to forget that I was
and ate off the plastic trays
took Dixie cups of shampoo to my shower
wrote this with half a pencil
because pens weren’t allowed
lay in bed without complaining
beside Rebecca
until she asked again
why was I here?

and Sara screamed.


Haley Walrath is a student at Santa Barbara City College.



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