The Ward is a work of fiction.
Welcome to [[The Ward->Day One]].
(set: $meds_taken = 0)
(set: $zinn = 0)INT. BEDROOM - DAY
The room is white and spare.
Your ROOMMATE is slim and incredibly beautiful. She was diagnosed with cancer a year ago.
ROOMMATE: I wasn't trying to kill myself, I just didn't want to take my medicine anymore.
You have received medicine now as well.
[[Take it->Day One Ward]] / [[Don't take it. ->No Med 1]]You hide the pill under your tongue. Go to the bathroom and spit it out. The capsule is soggy, but it has not burst.
[[Go to class->Day One Ward]].
(set: $meds_taken-=1)INT. WARD - DAY
In the morning, there is class. You already know everything the other kids don’t.
[[Pretend you don't know->kids_one]] / [[Ask for different material.->flower_treadmill]]
You sit with the others as they learn how to add negatives.
They don’t actually care, of course, and don’t learn.
[[Sit silently->kids_two]] / [[Ask for different material.->flower_treadmill]]The teacher gives you Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. He tells you to read on your own time.
A pale brown-haired man approaches you. He says you are a pretty and gives you a picture he drew of a flower.
[[Put it in your room->kept]] / [[Throw it away.->thrown_away]]
(set: $zinn = 1)You’ll forget to bring the picture with you when you are released.
You will regret this later, though at the time you do not think that you will live to regret [[anything->dinner_one]].You will later regret throwing it away, though at the time you do not think you will live to regret [[anything->dinner_one]].INT. WARD - NIGHT
Your family did not warn you they were coming.
Of course, you don’t have your phone and there’s no email, so they couldn’t.
You see them enter, but they haven’t seen you yet.
[[Hide->hide_one]] / [[Go to them.->family_one]]One of your classmates made small bombs to throw under cars. Another is your roommate.
Talk to [[the bomber->bomber_one]] / [[your roommate->roommate_one]].He is not interested in [[you->dinner_one]].She is talking to the bomber. They may be flirting. They look at once completely relaxed and hyper aware.
You wish you could speak this [[language->dinner_one]].You hide behind a wall.
A nurse has started looking for you.
Go to [[your family->family_one]] / [[your room->hide_two]].Your mother looks so small. Your father, so sad. Your sister is always your sister, but maybe a little more uptight than usual.
[[Hug them->hug_one]] / [[Stay back.->no_hug]]You run back to your room. The doors do not lock.
You climb quickly into your bed.
A knock on the door.
NURSE: Your parents are here, and your sister. They brought dinner.
[[Stay silent->hide_three]] / [[Go to your family.->family_one]]The door opens. You pull the covers over your head. After a moment, the nurse leaves.
Dinner is being served, but you can't go out now. You go to bed hungry. You prefer it that way.
[[Sleep.->Day Two]]DAY TWO
INT. BEDROOM - DAY
The room is white and spare.
They give you clothes today. Your parents must have brought them. Jeans you do not like, underwear, two t-shirts. No belt and no shoelaces.
The nurses watch your roommate take her medicine. They do not watch you take yours.
[[Take it->first_session]] / [[Don't take it.->no_med_two]]They each embrace you very hard. They look like they’re trying not to cry.
You eat in silence.
[[Sleep.->Day Two]]They look like they're trying not to cry.
They brought Chinese. You eat in silence.
[[Sleep.->Day Two]]INT. OFFICE - DAY
The PSYCHIATRIST is pale, curvy, and red-haired. She wears large, strange jewelry.
You wait for her to [[speak->psych_2]].
(set: $meds_taken+=1)You tuck the pill under your tongue.
You are walking to the bathroom when a nurse stops you.
NURSE: Did you take your medicine?
[[Yes->no_med_three]] / [[I was just going to get some water.->water_please]]The nurse eyes you, unreadable.
The pill is sticky under your tongue.
NURSE: Wait here.
[[Wait->water_thx]] / [[Leave.->no_med_four]]NURSE: I'll get water for you.
She brings back a large cup.
You swallow the [[pill->first_session]].You wait.
She brings you a large cup of water.
You swallow the [[pill->first_session]].You return to your room. Spit the pill out in your hand. It hasn't dissolved yet.
You wait for the nurse to come find you, but she does [[not->first_session]].
(set: $meds_taken-=1)PSYCHIATRIST: Why are you here?
You tell [[me->psych_3a]]. / Thought it would be nice to have a little [[vacation->psych_3b]].PSYCHIATRIST: And what is suicide to you? A big- vacation?
It's the vacation that never [[ends->class_day_2]].PSYCHIATRIST: Your admittance papers say you tried to commit [[suicide->psych_4a]].INT. WARD - DAY
Class has already started when your session ends.
(if: $zinn is 1)[You read the Zinn while the others practice adding negative numbers.] (else:)[The teacher gives you Howard Zinn's A People’s History of the United States. You read it while the others practice adding negative numbers.]
The teacher chats with you about the book. You don't get what the big deal is, but he loves it, and it's [[nice->dinner_day_two]] to talk.INT. WARD - NIGHT
Your parents have returned. They brought Italian this time.
For the first time in recent memory, you do not have trouble falling [[asleep->day_three]].DAY THREE
INT. BEDROOM - DAY
It's bright when you wake.
Your roommate is already gone.
(if: $meds_taken >= 2)[They give you your medicine with breakfast. You take it without [[thinking->last_class]].](else:)[They give you your medicine with breakfast. [[Take it->last_class]] / [[Don't take it->no_med_last]].]You palm the medicine when the nurse is not looking. Put it in your pocket. You'll throw it in the toilet [[later->last_class]].
(set: $meds_taken-=1)INT. WARD - DAY
Your roommate is even prettier without her wig, though she doesn't think so. Apparently she has driven a tractor while drunk.
She seems genuinely confused by the negative numbers. The teacher tries to help her. You don't know what's more shocking: the tractor, or the not knowing math.
You're not super interested in your reading, but there's not much [[else->psych_final]] to do.
(set: $meds_taken +=1)INT. OFFICE - DAY
The PSYCHIATRIST is wearing big wooden earrings with dangling green gems. You wonder if her ears hurt.
(if: $meds_taken>1)[PSYCHIATRIST: You're going to be discharged tomorrow.
Do I get a commemorative [[t-shirt->psych_final_2a]]? / But I was just learning how to [[add->psych_final_2a]].] (else:)[PSYCHIATRIST: They're considering discharging you tomorrow.
Do I get a commemorative [[t-shirt->psych_final_2a]]? / But I was just learning how to [[add->psych_final_2a]].]PSYCHIATRIST: Can you admit that you want to get better?
(if: $meds_taken>1)[Do I have a [[choice->unclear_ending]]? / [[Yes->happy_ending]].] (else:)[I don't think that's [[possible->unclear_ending]]. / I'll be [[better->unclear_ending]] when I'm dead.]INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
You pretend to be asleep when your parents come. It's not hard. You're very tired.
It feels like you've been lying here [[forever->unclear_2]].INT. WARD - NIGHT
The kids are all [[jealous->happy_end_2]] that you're going home. Some of them have been here for months.
Your parents come for dinner again. They look happier than they have in years. This simultaneously does and does not make sense.INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Your roommate won't talk to you.
You're not sleepy, you have nothing to pack, and you already returned the Zinn to your (poor, overworked) teacher.
You lie in bed. It takes a long time for [[sleep->happy_end_3]] to come.In ten years, you will not be suicidal anymore. But you cannot know or imagine this now.
When you look back on this in the future, it will be like playing through someone else's memories.
[[End->Start]].The other patients are eating dinner. You suddenly feel hungry.
[[Go out->go_out_dinner]] / [[Stay in your room->stay_in]].INT. WARD - NIGHT
Your parents are gone. Everyone is eating their pale, bland food off their pale, bland trays.
But it smells good. You are strangely hungry.
[[Get food->get_meal]] / [[Ignore it->go_back_to_room]].The ward is quiet. You're still awake.
Your roommate comes in. You're still awake.
She falls asleep. You're not tired anymore.
[[Get up->night_wandering]] / [[Stay in bed->roommate_sleeps]].INT. WARD - NIGHT
The TV is playing quietly. One of the older patients sits on a couch, playing with her hair, looking at nothing.
[[Sit with her->older_patient]] / [[Go to the TV->TV_night]].Your roommate sleeps curled on her side. She's very thin.
A wave of jealousy washes over you. You wish you had a terminal illness too.
They let you go the next day. You're not a danger to anyone.
[[End->Start]].You sit on the other end of the couch. The patient does not seem to notice. She carefully combs long strings of hair with thin fingers.
The floor is dark. Sounds of an infomercial. It feels like being underwater.
[[End->Start]].The TV is on, but nobody's watching. You look for the remote and can't find it. You feel for the power button, but it doesn't work.
Sit with the [[other patient->older_patient]] / Go back to [[your room->roommate_sleeps]].There are a few unclaimed trays lingering on the rolling cart. The nurse asks your name.
She gives you a tray with fried chicken, fries, peas. A slice of cake. A carton of whole milk.
Your roommate, the bomber and the other people your age are sitting at a table together.
[[Sit with them->meal_with_kids]] / [[Sit alone->meal_alone]].INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
You return to your room. Try to read, but you can't focus. You lie on the bed and [[close your eyes->stay_in]].Your [[roommate->discharge]] eyes your tray enviously. She's got tofu and broccoli.
You swap meals, relieved. The tofu's not bad.You find an empty table near the bathroom. Peel the skin off the chicken and eat the meat. The peas are mushy. You eat [[quickly->stay_in]]. It's loud.INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
You are lying in bed, not at all tired.
There is a [[knock->discharge_2]] on the door.It's a nurse and the resident on call. You're being discharged tomorrow. Apparently, someone else needs the bed more than you do.
You close the door, turn off the lights. Your eyes are tired. You lie in bed. It takes a long time for sleep to come.
[[End->Start]].Is that why they took my [[shoelaces?->class_day_2]] / It's not true. I only [[want->class_day_2]] to. /
It's not true. If I'd really been trying, they wouldn't have caught [[me->class_day_2]].