Color My Face
by Shayne Holzman
Today seems calm as I look out my window. The sky is clear with no grey outlets of raindrops. I like the day when the air is crisp and fresh without smoke. Picture a day when my life has sped up five hours into the next day when I can’t sleep. Today is the day when my life went haywire.
Black is the color I see when night falls. At night on the windowsill I see this atrocious girl living with me. Her name is Winona. I see her in my mind at night. She has black short hair and steals things. Winona tells me to play tricks and cause trouble I am unaware of. I repeat: this is not my voice. I am she. My name is Winona. I am not insane.
Walking towards Glendale Avenue I see something. It is red and pale.
As I walk down the block, I repeat the colors in my mind. The grass is green with leaden steel coming through. Seeing the sky makes me cry, because I see things up high. The roads are dusty and grey, because I don’t know what they are, so I keep staring. I know it is not real. I am hallucinating and I am 17 years old.
My face is precisely colored with heavy-duty red prints. Because I am stressed. I have just become very depressed because I have gotten into a huge fight with my mom. As I decide to color my face with make-up, I smash the mirror with my hand, and my hand bleeds. This does not help. I soon feel rusty and fall to the ground as the ambulance comes. My face is colored with... sweat... as I am unconscious.
My name is called in a symbolic way. Pale is the color of my blood as I wake up. I never feel satisfied, just ready to fall asleep again. I hear things at night and see things in the morning. I often think that I am not myself, just like what happens when you get a gold star, but instead you are headed to the mental ward. That is I.
The hospital is covered with sweat as the room fills up with bubbles from bath steam. Loud noises come from each corner of the room, shrieking at the ceiling. I am dressed in a blue gown with no clothes underneath. You can only see my skin peering out the holes of my nightgown. My mind races as I hear the sound of footsteps coming closer.
“Winona, are you there?” the voice says uncertainly.
“Stop talking to me,” I reply diligently.
I hate this voice. I can’t focus when this happens. It is like a terror from hell. My body shakes as I listen. I can’t listen, but my body fails and sends an instant message. The walls are wet with designs of mucked holes from patients’ banging their heads.
I am hearing this voice as it whispers, “Winona, listen to me.”
“I’ll listen to you. Just don’t scare me.” I say this firmly.
Red, as I see it, runs down my vein, not an intentional cut, but a symbol of love versus despair. My arm is cut, and I did not cut it on purpose. I cut it with a bottle by accident. My veins are coated in blue as I step out of the shower.
At my hospital I have a nurse, and her name is Sara. She has short brown hair and looks like a mutant from hell. It is not the most pleasant sight. Sara holds me tight as she injects a needle through my blue vein that hides its lines in shades of red and purple. My veins are small because I don’t drink water.
She asks me if I want some medicine to go to sleep. I turn and say no. I am already on a huge cocktail of medicine, which I get for dessert at bedtime.
“I have medicine for you,” Sara says as she moves the cart swiftly to the right.
“No thanks, I can go to sleep fine.” I talk to her as she waits disturbed near the door.
“If you don’t take them, I will have to shove them down your throat, and I bet you won’t like that,” Sara remarks. She intends to shove my medicine down my throat.
“No, Sara, I won’t,” I say as I tremble in my anxiety-provoked bed.
“Thank you.” Sara is very harsh as she tries to give me my medicine.
At night my lights turn on quickly because I can’t sleep. There is too much noise out there. I am in mental ward 2 South. I see this troubled person standing near me, and this time it is real. Her name is Penelope. Penelope walks as a red-headed female. She comes to the mental hospital for adolescents because she is suicidal. She is too risky.
I feel this voice between my thighs and below my cheek. An anxiety attack floods through my veins; my head is erect. Whispers frighten me. The color of my arm is orange and green. I have just been purged. I feel my skin trembling down my spine. Remember I am not insane.
In the morning I hear a knock on the door. A girl comes in as I hear a squeaking chair move. I am not okay. Penelope shoves me to the nearest door. This cannot be good. I despise this wooden, hollow dream. I am sleeping.
In the morning I wake up to the sound of murals crawling towards me. I tremble at my escape. This is somewhat not normal. The brisk light sparkles in my rear view mirror. This is the windowsill. I see it, but it is unreal. I do not cut but wish that I were surrounded by blood itself. This time the walls are black and red. I have to keep repeating my name so I know I am still alive. Penelope knocks me down hard, as if she had a wooden fist. I am not myself, and I am now insane.
“What’s wrong with you?” Penelope questions.
“Nothing. What do you want from me?” I reply as if I don’t care.
“Why are you here? That is all I want from you. Just answer!” Penelope exclaims. Her fingers are chipped with terror.
“I am a kleptomaniac,” I respond in fear of her response. “A kleptomaniac is someone who steals things on impulse when they have the money to buy them. And you?” I beckon. I think my mind is exquisitely boring.
“I am bipolar,” she responds as in terror of how I will react.
“Oh, so you like jumping for joy and then wind up abusing yourself?” I ask, jumping in with ritualistic manners.
“Yes, it is called manic-depression. Ever heard of it?” she asks. She is frustrated at my tone. “Basically, manic-depression is when someone has extreme mood swings, so one’s mood would be extremely hyper and high, which is called the manic stage, or very low, which is called manic depression. When I am manic, my brain goes really fast, like I am in an airplane, and then I look out the window and I see all the houses, and I scream in happiness.”
“Yes,” I say, sorry, as she is hurting inside with such pain.
She replies in a low voice, “Oh.”
“Good night. I have to sleep.” I turn off the lights.
“Good night.” Penelope stays up all night.
In the middle of the night I wake up to the sound of Penelope singing and knocking her head on walls. As she kicks walls, she hurts her body and not by accident. I wake up to the call of bright lights as I jump into euphoric attitudes. I scream and act very goofy.
Penelope thinks I am strange and morbid but I, for once, like the way I am feeling. All I am waiting for is to find an answer to why I am held at Medley View. I need to explore and get out in the world, or just have sex. My vision of sex is abusive because I am scared of having sex. Soon my symptoms go haywire and I can’t sleep.
After I tell the nurse I am feeling very euphoric, but she calls it manic. I don’t like that word because it is like mania. It actually is called mania. In the morning we eat breakfast, and I am served very nasty and impolite food: meatballs and chicken strips at 9 o’clock. The meatballs look like small planets with black residue on them. That is the way my perception receives it.
I slowly feel better after this manic episode is over, but I still feel like someone else. In the process of taking my medicine, I feel a lot better. Penelope describes to me who Winona is. She is a movie star with short black hair. She steals things and is labeled a kleptomaniac.
Penelope comes dashing down the room and says to me, “Winona, look at yourself in the mirror. Do you know why you are not yourself?”
In the mirror, I look as if I am in a saddened picture. “No, but I am, after all, Winona.”
“No, you are not.” She steps into the hallway.
I said, “I am Winona.”
Again Penelope replies, “No you are not.”
This is exquisitely wrong. Perhaps I should try again, or maybe my head isn’t built right for my mind and brain. I feel like I can do anything in the world and fight evil. I am so hyper and confused at the same time. I still do not know who I am. I am clearly manic.
* * *
For some reason I feel better. Sara says I can go home tomorrow.
“Winona, you can go home now.” Sara holds my hand in excitement.
I jump out of my seat in joy. “Thanks, Sara.”
This makes me very punctual. There is just one piece missing. I still don’t know who I am. Penelope shows me a magazine that reads, “The Difference Between You And I.”
“Here, I brought you a magazine so you can once again clarify who you really are.” Penelope swipes her hand on the table, and I can tell she despises me. I don’t like the way she talks to me. It feels like she is stepping on my back and it hurts my feelings. She is, after all, helping me out.
The magazine tells how to distinguish one person from another. I personally know that I am Winona. I want to know it forever, because I believe it is so.
Penelope and Sara walk through my room, clap their fingers as I wake up, and tell me that Winona is a movie star and my real name is Leah.
“Oh my gosh, what? This is insane!” I think in forms of rapped speech. “What should I do? This is all too wretched.”
“Yes, we know,” Penelope remarks involuntarily.
Now I sit down in my chair and act childish. I soon cry as philosophical words run down my eyes into my wrists and through my ribs. I am truly heartbroken and yet confused.
The next thing you know, I am in the car ready to go home. My home is on Grandview. This time I don’t see things or hear Winona’s name. This time I hear Leah is my name, and I see that today it is not raining. So tomorrow will be the day to start my life. I am Leah and I am not insane.
Copyright © 2009 by Shayne Holzman