I waited impatiently for my morning medication. The nurse was just on the other side of the sliding glass window and I knew she could see me. I glanced at the clock just above the nurse’s station. 9:28. I was two minutes early and they wouldn’t even make an exception. My foot started tapping almost involuntarily as a line started to form behind me. There were those who resisted their medication, those who practically begged for it. I was in neither category. Taking the medication wasn’t an option, that was made perfectly clear, so I put myself in the get-it-over-as-soon-as-possible category. The faster I took my medication, the faster I could get to Sawyer, where I belonged.
Finally, the nurse opened the window and gestured for me to approach. I took a large step forward and smiled, trying to appear willing and able. Her eyes appeared indifferent as she handed me a plastic cup containing the pills and a second cup containing water. I smiled at her and was about to toss the contents into my mouth when I looked down. Staring back at me was a foreign object and my eyes narrowed as I tried to place it.
“What’s this?” I demanded, looking back at the nurse.
“Your medication,” she answered, her defenses already high as she anticipated my argument.
“This one is new,” I said, picking up a green and yellow pill from the bottom of the cup and holding it up to the glass.
“I don’t write the prescriptions, I just pass them out.”
“Can you tell me what it is?”
She blinked at me. “No.”
“Well, I’m not taking it,” I announced.
The nurse sighed and sat up straight in her chair. “Sarah, you know all medication is mandatory.”
“But I don’t know what this is or what it will do to me.”
“You don’t need to know what it is.”
“Like hell I don’t! I’m not taking this until someone can tell me what it will do to me.” My voice was raising and my temper was starting to flare. I didn’t want it to, but when you’re insane and confused, unwanted things tend to happen.
“Either you take it yourself or we can give it to you. Your choice.” The nurse’s unnervingly prickly demeanor was almost as offensive as being expected to swallow the mystery medication.
“Look,” I glared at her, “just find Nurse Rice so she can tell me what the fuck this is, then I can take it and be out of your way.”
The nurse glared back from behind her window. She sat there, unmoving, until my temper reached a boiling point.
“Fine,” I screamed and threw the pill against the glass.
“Sarah?” Nurse Rice’s voice sounded from behind me. “Is there a problem?”
“Yes, there is a fucking problem.” I turned around to look at her. She was a short woman, probably in her late forties with ashy blonde hair which was always pulled into a tight bun at the top of her head. Her kind face was challenged by her strict expectations and her demanding tone of voice.
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
I took a deep breath. Arguing with Nurse Rice was pointless and would only lead to a straight jacket if it got out of hand. “They are trying to make me take something and they won’t tell me what it is.”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I want to know what it is going to do to me.”
“It’s going to kill you,” I heard one of the women say behind me. I glanced over my shoulder at the cue of inmates still waiting for their medication. Some were crying due to my screaming, some were mocking me with their contemptuous smiles, and one was telling me I was going to die. Wonderful.
“And what if you don’t like the answer I give you?” Nurse Rice asked as I turned my attention back to her.
I was seething. There was nothing I could do if I didn’t like the answer. They could be giving me something that would knock me out cold, something that would paralyze everything but my mind, something that would make me stay awake for days, but there was nothing I could do about it.
“I would ask to wait until I saw Doctor Rollins this afternoon.”
Nurse Rice smiled at me and folded her hands in front of her. “I will agree to that.”
“Thank you,” I swallowed my pride.
“Have a good morning, Sarah.” Nurse Rice nodded and turned on her heals. I waited only a second as she walked away, then tossed the remaining pills into my mouth, chasing them with the water. I glanced only once at the nurse behind the window before walking quickly down the hallway and out into the warm summer morning.
I took a few steps past the front door of the institution. The balmy air was accompanied by a gentle breeze which was carrying the sweet scent of freesia and freshly cut grass. The sky was a rich blue and the palm trees were gently swaying as I walked down the path toward the lake. The sun felt warm on my face and arms and I smiled to myself as I began to enjoy my morning.
Sawyer was waiting for me by the lake, exactly where I knew he would be. His shoes were off and he was dangling his feet into the water from his place on the dock. I looked behind me to make sure I hadn’t been followed. The Spanish architecture of the building rose above my head in the near distance and cast its shadow away from my path and away from my Sawyer. I ran the rest of the way, kicking off my sandals in the process and flinging myself into his lap.
“I missed you!” I said flirtatiously as I wrapped my arms around his neck.
Sawyer bent his head to kiss me on the lips, a chaste and perfect kiss which lasted only a few seconds. “I missed you too,” he smiled down at me. “How did you sleep?”
“Fine,” I smiled back. “You were the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning.”
“You’re always the first thing I think about. You’re the only thing I think about.”
I blushed and climbed down from his lap so I could sit beside him, dipping my feet into the water as well. It was warm on the surface but I knew the cooler temperatures lay just below where my feet could reach.
“Sawyer?” I sought his attention after a long moment of comfortable silence. “I have an appointment with Doctor Rollins today after lunch.”
Sawyer looked at me and nodded. “What does he want to talk about?”
“I honestly don’t know. But I think I am going to ask him to let you stay with me…”
“I’m not sure that is such a good idea.”
I frowned at his response. “But why not? Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if…”
Sawyer interrupted me again. “It’s just not possible, my love. You can’t have men staying with you, this is a place for women. What would happen to their self esteem, their inhibitions, if I was allowed to roam the hallways with you? They would feel nervous and invaded,” he answered his own question.
I sighed and knew he was right. “So it will have to stay as it’s been? I can only see you at meals and when I’m alone in my room or outside? That’s not enough for me anymore, Sawyer.”
Sawyer smiled and took my hand. “My love, I would spend every second of every day with you if I could. But for now, we’ll just have to make our moments together count.”
I smiled back and then leaned my head into his arm. “I guess that will have to do,” I said wistfully and closed my eyes, trying to imagine a place and time when Sawyer and I could be together, without all the restrictions. Time would be meaningless, material things would cease to exist because I would have all I needed in the man sitting next to me.
The brush of Sawyer’s arm moving around my shoulders and pulling me close awoke me from my daydream. I tucked myself between his chest and his elbow and relaxed, staring at the water as it rippled away from our feet. Moments like this were as perfect as my life would become. Nothing better was in the cards for me, I knew that, but I still had hope. Hope if what drove me to wake up in the mornings, hope and his handsome face.