Sin… Wendy Wotsit….

Wendy Wotsit, in another life, may well have been the female equivalent of Billy Graham. She had a tone and a presence that commanded respect and had a voice that swept over you like a tsunami, washing away all fear and self-loathing.

It was a pity she was doolally. As dippy as one of those funny little weighted birds you used to put on the edge of a glass and wait for it to swing enough to take a sip. She also had a personal hygiene problem – well, she didn’t. She didn’t mind that her B.O. was Bloody ‘Oribble one bit. It was everyone else who had the problem. Wendy Wotsit was more than happy with her odour. Sometimes she’d talk to it. Preach, almost.

Like it was a disciple.

Wendy Wotsit was so called for two reasons. One, her name was Wendy. It kind of seemed natural to call her that, then. Two, she couldn’t remember her second name. Just as she forgot to wash and I had discarded my surname somewhere along the rocky path to lunacy, Wendy’s wotsit had wandered off too. But that was ok. That was fine, actually, as something else had come along to fill the gap. Or someone. Or, rather, to be precisely precise, someones.

Wendy Wotsit loved to talk. She loved the sound of her own voice. But she wasn’t the only one. On a Sunday, because it had to be a Sunday, Wendy would hold court. She was a messiah in the midst of misery. Her messages of hope filled her followers’ collective heart with visions of life in the ‘real’ world – dreams of walls that were more magnolia than glaring.

Until she lost her train of thought and stood staring into the distance, even when the furthest she could see without her spectacles was roughly just short of the tips of her fingers.

Her followers, those who were enraptured by her words, would wait, though. They’d know that, eventually, she’d pick up her lost thought, figure out what order they were meant to go in and get right back into the swing. Then, when she was finally done, they’d follow her (as followers are prone to do), as she’d wander around the recreation room aimlessly. Her path would cross itself more times than an Easter bun, but they’d sweep along her like ducklings following their mother. And she was mother to them, even though every single one of them was over the age of seventy. She was easily twenty years the junior of the youngest, but still they would be lost in her sway.

I couldn’t blame them. Everyone in here needed some semblance of hope. They all needed to believe that the asylum wasn’t the sum of their lot.

I think I, out of them all, was the only one who dared not dream. My dreams were filled with the cries of the dead. One day, I was sure I wouldn’t wake up and I’d heard them haunting me for all of eternity.

Wendy Wotsit, when she could hold her lucidity in her hands and smooth it over her children like a soothing cream to fill out the cracks, was a preacher to her flock. When she couldn’t – when her lucidity went off searching for her surname and her hygiene – she existed in a flurry of forgetfulness.

I didn’t have that luxury. I dropped my surname like the grenade it was. My mind stayed right where it was meant to be, rattling around in my head, banging on the bars of my self-inflicted prison.

I envied Wendy. I really did.

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