Copper 1: How’s she doing in there?
Copper 2: Oh Christ, she’s fitting
You: Need meds pleaseneed mymeds
Copper 2: Hold her legs
You: Pleasmmmymmmeds needmedsmmedmed
Copper 1: I’ll call a doctor
Copper 2: Stay still
Copper 1: He’ll be here in a moment
The doctor never came, the meds went untaken
the seizures seized in you until you seized no more.
Later, you came to, frozen and drenched in sweat,
alone on the dirty floor, your lips bitten to ribbons.
You left without ever having seen a medic.
You: That’s a strangely designed chair…
Support Worker: Yeah, it’s called a Rhino chair
You: Why ‘Rhino’?
SW: Well, it’s filled with sand so it’s extremely heavy
You watch her struggle to drag the chair through the doorway. She puts her clipboard / phone / pens / bottle of Fanta on the floor and tries again using both hands. She bends her knees and heaves, and you see her orange underwear peep out over the band of her jeans.
SW: It’s supposed to make the chairs harder to throw
SW: People still manage to throw these chairs around though.
You’d be surprised!!
You: No, I really wouldn’t
You would not be surprised. She gives up trying to move the Rhino and leaves to source a chair from elsewhere. You get up off the plastic mattress and drag the Rhino into the centre of the cell. When she returns, wheeling in a spinning desk chair, the support worker is surprised to see you sitting there.
You do not like surprises... and, apparently, neither does she.
Doctor: So it says here, you took sixteen tablets, is that right?
You: No, sixty
You: Yes, sixty
Doctor: Look, if you’re not going to co-operate with us…
Later, when you read the report, they said you’d taken six:
less paperwork for them, less time inside for you
which you appreciated, though your liver did not.
Your next ECG is a shitshow and bloodwork proves
your kidneys to be furious too, but everyone knows
that it’s better to have your organs slowly fail you
in the relative safety of your own home.
SW: How’d you do that?!
You: My friend moved it for me
SW: Your friend?
You: Yeah, my friend, John
She looks around the cell. You are the only two people in it.
SW: And where is… John now?
You: What do you mean? He’s sitting right there!
You point to the unoccupied mattress. The support worker is horrified.
You: Oh my god, I’m fucking JOKING!
You laugh your head off.
You: Jeeeesus, your face!!!
Apparently, she doesn’t like jokes either. She leaves. The door locks behind her.
You spin on the desk chair for minutes or hours.
Later, when someone brings you a strawberry yoghurt,
you get in trouble for having the spinny chair and it gets wheeled away.
You have no idea of the time but imagine that it’s dark outside.
You were not provided with a spoon.
John: I wouldn’t eat that if I were you
You: Why not?
John: It expired eight months ago
You check the date on the lid.
John: Told ya.
You sit on the Rhino chair and cry. John drinks your yoghurt like a tequila slammer.
HLR (she/her) is a prize-winning poet, working-class writer, and professional editor from north London. Her work has been widely published since 2012, most recently by Hobart. HLR is the author of History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) and Portrait of the Poet as a Hot Mess (Ghost City Press). Twitter: @HLRwriter.
CW: Mentions of overdose, medical neglect, incarcerated setting, psychiatric medication