I stood at the barred window watching the girls walk past until the last of them had gone to their destinations. I had noticed most of the girls were black and wore colorful hats while they pulled at a ball of string tucked away in the front of their dresses crocheting as they walked. Shortly after the last of the girls past my window the door to my room opened and I was handed a yellow hard plastic tray. I had never seen a paper spoon but I gladly scooped the food up to my mouth with it eating every bite and drinking all the milk from the paper cup. After eating my meal in solitude I sat there on the bed and began to cry again. It was getting dark outside and I was scared so scared of what was out the barred window yet so scared of being in this locked little room. The girls that had walked past my window had scared me too. I don’t know if it was because they were black or because they looked so violent.

The nurse opened the door to my room saying “hand me the tray and go for your services” I had no idea what she was talking about “services” so I handed her the tray and stepped back. She told me to go to the bathroom and get some water as she handed me a tall plastic tumbler. I followed her to the bathroom and she stood at the door while I hurried to pee then washed my hands quickly and filled the tumbler with water. I walked in front of her back to my little room and once I was inside she sat a porcelain pot on the floor calling it a “vessel”. Ignoring the vessel I told the nurse please let me go home. She told me I was here now and to be quiet and sleep then she shut the door and walked away. It was a long sleepless night I laid there worrying the world may come to an end and I was behind this locked door, how would I get out? I worried what if those mean looking girls I had seen outside my window could get in this room but I couldn’t get out? What if the place caught fire I’d die here. But most of all what if I had to stay here locked up forever?

My second day: After breakfast, again served on a hard plastic tray accompanied with a paper spoon I was seen by the physician. His name was Dr. McGuire, a tall lanky 40ish man that smoked on a cigar between chewing on his fingernails. He asked me a lot of questions about my health and what diseases I had as a child measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever etc. Then called for the nurse to come in. She was a different nurse from the night before much older. The doctor told me to get on the table and put my feet in the stirrups. Thinking I did just as he asked until the nurse told me to remove my pajama pants.Remaining in the same position I asked Why? “The Doctor needs to examine you” Why? “Just remove your pants please” Why? No answer this time instead the nurse left the room returning shortly with a male guard that positioned himself at the head of the examination table. I knew I was whipped now so without being told again I pulled my pants off letting them hit the floor and as gracefully as I could I climbed on that leather table and put my feet in the stirrups. Laying there filled with embarrassment I closed my eyes and what was to come next no innocent child could of prepared for. I remember screaming from the pain while both the nurse and guard snickered. I had no idea what this doctor had just done to me but it was not only painful but humiliating. Back on my feet and fully clothed in my pajamas I stood as the nurse gave me a shot in my forearm. I watched as the tiny needle went just below the skin and it left a small bump on my arm. It didn’t hurt but it was sure strange I had never had a shot like that before. The doctor sat silent on his silver stool writing in his chart taking short pauses to chew on a fingernail then pull at the moist end of the cigar he had resting in the ashtray. The doctor made the mistake of asking me if there was anything I wanted to tell him. It was my turn now I looked at him and cried like a baby telling him I needed to go home; I didn’t belong here; I had done nothing wrong and no one knows where I am; I need to go home now. My pleading cries fell on deaf ears. The guard opened the door and the nurse took my arm leading me right down the hall lined with large wooden chairs all occupied with laughing black girls. They were mocking me, “what you cry for girl, you crazy?” “wah wah cry baby” “I give you sumethin cry for girl” all their eyes were on me as I was escorted back to my tiny pink room. The nurse told me to grow up and take my punishment and the sooner I did this the sooner I would be placed on a cottage with the other girls and out of this room. I tried to tell her I didn’t do anything to be punished for but she just interrupted saying she’ll look at my arm in a couple of days and then I will probably leave the dispensary. The door shut, again I was alone. It was then I knew I had to get out of there and soon because no one in here was going to let me out I could die locked behind this door. I looked out the window and saw across the street there was a large grassed area then a street and across that street a building with trees behind it. My plan was to get out the door and run to the trees where I could climb the fence then run far away from this place. No one would miss me there are so many girls in here. I sat on my bed and started plotting my escape. As I was planning this great escape I remembered the nurse saying she was going to look at my arm in a couple of days, why?

Then after looking at my arm I was going to leave this room and go out there with all those mean looking girls. I had to run I’d never make it out there with those girls. Running had consumed my every thought. I fell asleep at night rehearsing my scheme and woke each morning on alert for my chance to flee.

Sunday Morning; I woke from a restless sleep and looked at my arm where I had the small needle inserted just two days before, it was red and puffy. Oh God whats wrong with my arm? Oh God I am going to die and in this locked room. I felt a tightness in my chest as it became harder and harder to breath, my ears were getting hot I knew I was dying. My hands in fists I beat on the door yelling out for help only to be ignored until finally falling to the floor in total exhaustion. The nurse eventually came to the door, without opening it she asked if I had settled down that she had breakfast but wasn’t going to open the door until I was settled. I cried I was dying please help me. The door opened this time I saw a white girl with a hair net and apron on she made eye contact with me then handed me my tray without saying a word while the nurse held the door knob. Before taking the tray I showed them my arm. The nurse replied “yes it’s positive for TB I saw it yesterday” when I asked what is TB she said “you’ll see the doctor next week.” I couldn’t eat I needed to pee and the pain in my chest was growing sharper with each breath I took. Oh God I’m sick and going to die that’s why my mother didn’t want me. I sat on the vessel to pee watching the big splashes my tears made as they hit hard on the tile floor.