"Take my advice, I've been here for a while." How long? What did you do? "Don't get on anybody's nerves, don't tell the doctors the truth, and don't forget to smile."
The car comes to a quick stop, the kind that should have smashed my knees into the back of the seat in front of me, had they, not already been. "Okay sweetie, we're here." I get out and walk towards the front door. But stop when Officer Stancil yells, "Wait!" I turn around and she says, "Good luck." At the time, I wasn't sure what she meant by that. But I found out soon enough. "My name is Matthew Kraus, but you may call me Matt." White chocolate skin, dark chocolate hair, and milk chocolate eyes. "I work here at Holly Hill or as some call it, Disneyland." Disney or Holly Hell? "First, let's take your picture." He grabs an old Nikon from his desk drawer and says, "Look right in the middle." Unsure of whether to smile and not enough time to decide, out came a sly grin. "Okay, looks great." I think I blinked. "Now take this clipboard and fill out this paperwork. When you finish, bring it back, someone will be with you shortly." I grab a blue pen with a round tip and flexible body and start to fill out the papers. Fifteen minutes and twenty-five signatures later, I flip to the last page. As I sign my last signature, the door to my left opens abruptly. "Cameron Leonard?" I hand Matt the papers and walk towards a paper-thin man with large glasses, large ears, and a large nose. "My name is Doctor Lester. Follow me, please."
We walk into a key operated elevator and stand in silence until the door opens on the third floor. The entire floor has two doors. The right door was for children ages thirteen through seventeen. The left door was for children ages eight through twelve. Doctor Lester opens the door on the right and says, "I wish you the best of luck." I thank him and try to figure out why the left door exists. I cannot believe how normal everyone is. Is this a high school or a mental hospital? Why is everybody here? I expected euphemisms: drugs, assault, and depression. Instead, I am told: meth head, attempted murder, and suicide. There were prosthetics under pants, scars under sleeves, and frowns under smiles. "Hi Cameron, my name is Patricia." Bleach blond hair and bright red nails. "I will be your psychiatrist during your time here. This is Tina she will be your roommate." Average height, average weight, pretty face. "Hey! Nice to meet you. Come with me, I'll show you around." I follow her down the hall to room 1352. "This is our shower. The water comes out for ten seconds before turning off, you have to keep pressing the button." Incredible. "This is our mirror. It's made of fake glass, you can barely see yourself in it." Amazing. "And this is your bed. It's hard, but you get used to it." Wonderful. "Take my advice, I've been here for a while." How long? What did you do? "Don't get on anybody's nerves, don't tell the doctors the truth, and don't forget to smile. That's the only way you'll survive in here." I thank her for the advice and she leaves our room. As I sit alone on the cheap mattress it all hits me. Hard.
It's just day one.
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