after the break of dawn. November 28th. The year didn't matter. It
never did on the inside.
that needed to be known was that it was again time for the routine
morning routine was always the same, whenever the exam happened. By
this point, Patient 49 had not only come to expect it; it was by then
one of the few ways she knew the passing of time, of days. They kept
no clocks in her small room, and only one window, which only lighted
up with the sun's rays when the giant orb hit it just right. Other
than that, the sensing of the passage of time had long ago faded from
on." Nurse Teono roughly roused her out of her rickety bed, just
as she always did when the dreaded day came. "It's time to get
may write me down in history
your bitter, twisted lies,
may trod me in the very dirt
still, like dust, I'll rise.
49 didn't speak as she was forcefully sat up in the bed. She had
learned long ago not to talk back to the nurses when they told her to
do something; instead, she simply stared out, her lips unmoving. Her
eyes were dark and dull, and her hair, which barely went down to her
shoulders, was a stringy mess.
exam." Slowly, Teono undressed the girl from her white garments.
"I don't get why they keep giving these exams to you. There's
plenty of people more deserving of them than you. I'd think
they would know better by now, wouldn't they?"
girl gave no response as Teono threw a shirt, but no bra, over her
head. It was large, and ill-fitting, and black. But it was the best
that could be had for her. All the rest of the girl's possessions had
been eaten by moths and bugs in the basement long ago, and there were
few in the facility who were her size.
right." With a disapproving look, Teono opened the door. "It's
time again. Come on, you."
a word, Patient 49 slowly walked out of the cell, her head looking
down towards the ground as she was stopped by the guards, and
shackled at the ankles and wrists, before she was led down the
dimly-lit tiled hall to the large white door. They did it for every
patient; after all, almost every one of them was classified the same,
and precautions had to be taken regardless of who was being treated.
was the wing that Patient 49 was placed in. She was among the
criminally insane, all of them with varying degrees of insanity and
sentences. They all had different labels: profoundly psychotic,
paranoid schizophrenic, pathologically insane, sociopaths. They were
considered the most dangerous people, their removal from society
warranted by considerations for the greater good.
said that Patient 49 was insane as well. That she suffered from
dangerous delusions, that she was a grave danger to society, and even
more of a danger to herself. That was why they had told her parents
they had to lock her up, and indeed, in the official story told to
the press, it was done with her parents' cheerful acquiescence. For
three years, that's how it had been, how her life had been taken from
her. And she was to stay her cell until she was better by the
standards of society.
Patient 49 knew, as she walked down the hallway amidst the shouts of
the other patients, that she never would get better. Not on
may shoot me with your words,
may cut me with your eyes,
may kill me with your hatefulness,
still, like air, I'll rise.
49 was roughly seated down into a hard metal chair just outside the
large white door. She made no response to the nurses' patronizing
voices, or to their obvious contempt of her. She simply stared at the
ground, her face unmoving as they all talked of her.
this the one?" There was an obvious harumph at the sight of
Patient 49. "The one that thinks she..."
Another nurse nodded. "An interesting one, at that."
I've heard all about her."
girl made no response to their whispers. There were many reasons she
didn't speak out. The main reason was born from fear; each time an
inmate spoke out against the nurses or the facility in general, they
were immediately poked with the needle, and were subdued, their minds
too numbed to make out coherent thoughts.
them, however, Patient 49's thoughts were surprisingly coherent,
despite the imposed isolation. She was as clear about herself as she
could be, even if many things had been forgotten. There was always
that one thing she kept in her mind, the one thing that kept her
somewhat intact, when all else had been stripped from her in that
hell she'd been tossed into.
The nurses shook their heads. "I don't think there's hope. Not
after three years of the same thing. They'll just keep sending her
I doubt they'll ever let her go the way she is..."
are wrong.....they must be. They'll never understand me.
49's conscience was clear, as far as she was concerned. She wasn't
insane, and she wasn't psychotic; she was sure of that much. She knew
full well what had happened, why she did what she did. On the
contrary, everyone else was stubborn, incapacitated by their own
ignorance and fear.
was becoming more difficult to think of it in that way, though, as
the intervening three years had sapped her of hard-earned knowledge,
and also left her with nothing much to do in her cell during the day
except to hope for release. Language? She was less able to convey
herself than before because of the drugs they pumped into her.
School? Nothing was taught to her in her cell, except when to keep
one's mouth shut, and when medicine was to be passed to the patients.
And her family?
family. They came by once in a while, to see how she was doing, to
inquire when she would be coming out. And of course when they came,
she was brought out of her cell, and into the main room, where she
was expected to be happy and jovial. She managed, one time, to tell
them how unhappy she was, at least in the fashion that she hated it
in this place. Then when they left, she was beaten for speaking ill
of her new caretakers.
sparkled in her eyes at this. Her parents came to understand her
plight; they always did their best to alleviate her pain. They
promised to do something about what was happening to her; they had
tried in vain to get her out, and when that didn't work, to get her
better treatment. She didn't hate them for trying. They were among
the only people she could think of then who really cared, who came to
see that she was not crazy. They thought of her as fanciful,
imaginative, even a little weird. But crazy had not crossed their
minds, even as they were told to sign their daughter away to the
all, it was not simply her family who had put her in her prison.
WARDENS." A voice suddenly boomed on an antiquated
loudspeaker system. "PLEASE REPORT TO 5TH FLOOR RCC UNIT FOR
ROUTINE WEEKLY INSPECTION..."
come to her house unexpectedly one night; they'd dragged her out of
her bed, threw her into a black car, and that was the last she saw of
her home. Her family had run off after the car, trying to stop it
from getting away, but it was no use. When the government wished to
silence someone, a rare occurrence, they always won somehow.
this case, it was easy to do. They knew everything about Patient 49,
she never learned. But regardless of it, she was a sign of
embarrassment. Her existence meant constant failure in a system that
striven for perfection; she always showed them just how ineffective
they truly were when it came to the real threats.
they catch the others involved? Patient 49 doubted it. There was
nothing to gain from the others. Most of them didn't come from the
background she did. Some of them were too powerful to be caught; some
of them weren't even worth catching. They couldn't make a good
example of the others.
life, on the other hand, was the picture of bourgeois perfection; not
too poor, not too powerful, two parents and siblings and lots of
friends. Who better to take down and expose as a psychopath than an
upstanding girl from a good middle-class family? It was too good to
be true, a signal to all others, a poster child as to what could go
wrong with not trusting the government, with trusting a girl who
watched too much TV and came to harbor strange fantasies of far away
kingdoms and magical powers.
in her tiny confinement, she believed what they told her. It became
easier, the more isolated she became, to believe she really was
wrong, that she was insane, that everything she had experienced had
been a lie. That all it took to go home at long last.....
49's head came up at this. Nurse Teono pulled her up by the scruff.
She didn't look at her superior; she just let the nurse do what she
pleased with her at that point.
time for you to go in." With a rough shove, she was
inconsiderately sent through the door. "Good luck, you."
49 staggered into the room, which was so brightly lit up that she had
to cover her eyes before she took her place in a seat, situated in
the middle of the room. In front of her were three men, all military
morning, Tsukino Usagi-san."
like moons and like suns,
the certainty of tides,
like hopes springing high,
49 stiffened at this salutation. Already, it was different; they had
never hailed her by her real name before. It was normally just
'Patient 49', or simply 'the patient' in third person. Never by a
name they had normally told her was too good for her.
morning, Tsukino Usagi-san," The main officer, who was standing
up repeated his words slowly, as one repeated words to a preschooler.
"You are looking well today."
The words lodged in her throat before coming out raspily; such was a
consequence of never talking. "Good....morning."
With a smile, the officer sat down. "Good. Now, it is time again
for your monthly exam, Tsukino-san. How are you feeling today?"
A pleasing look came on the faces of the other officers. "Has
the past month been good to you?"
49 knew better than to answer in anything than the affirmative during
the exam. When she ended up going back into the cell, as she always
did when she failed her exam, she was always beaten for speaking ill
of the nurses during a review. The nurses weren't supposed to know
what was said in the monthly exams, but they inevitably found out
us get to the bottom of what is going on." The main officer
opened up a folder. "How old are you, Tsukino-san?"
when you were born?"
And your blood type?"
49 closed her eyes again, this time in humiliation. They were the
questions that were always asked of he when she came in. Always the
easy questions; it was easy to memorize that data after a certain
amount of time. After all, it was all about her, even if the officers
didn't regard it as so.
The main officer clasped his hands together. "I'd like to ask
you a few more questions, and we'll be done with the review. Why are
you here, Tsukino-san?"
The list was much longer; she had to think. "Delusions of
grandeur. Disassociative identity disorder."
do you know what that means?"
am unable to understand my reality properly." It was hard to
speak at this point. "I...misperceive who and what I am. I have
created my own personal fantasy realm to hide from an as-yet
identified wrong done to me by a person close to me. I made up extra
personalities for myself as a defense mechanism.”
what exactly have you done as a result of your illness?”
things.” Patient 49 forced the oft-rehearsed words from her
mouth. “I believe cats can talk and have held conversations
with them about battling monsters. I believe I am an alien from
another planet with magic powers and pretend that I am a princess. I
also believe that I will rule the world after it has destroyed itself
and that I am the Messiah of Earth, with healing powers....”
in this so much that I have put friends, family, and strangers in
danger with my hallucinations, and have even sought to kill people
who I thought were enemies. As a result, I am insane in a similar
vein to that of Matsumoto Chizuo, better known as Asahara Shoko."
All of the officers nodded encouragingly. "Excellent. We see
that you've finally made some progress in admitting your problem."
a [great] ocean, leaping and wide,
and swelling I bear in the tide.
behind nights of terror and fear
Patient 49 wanted to do was to leave, walk past the officers and get
away from the hell they put her in. There was no point to what was
happening to her, but no one cared. She still could sense something
was amiss; they seemed too happy, too jovial to see her. It was odd,
as they were never happy to see her.
The main officer nodded. "Well, we have some wonderful news for
you, Tsukino-san. There's more than a good chance you will be sent
49 sucked in her breath at this statement. She didn't think she heard
what had just been said; perhaps her mind had made that bit up
due to dreams of escape in the past. Dreams of going home that never
seemed to come true.
seem to have made enough progress, so we think it's time, after three
years. So, we have a few papers we just need you to go over."
One of the other officers stood up and came to her, a pile of papers
and a pen in hand. "All you need to do is sign them off, and
we'll be able to get you back home today or tomorrow."
be alarmed, Tsukino-san." With another smile, she was given the
papers. "This is a procedure we are allowed to do. It's all
legitimate, sanctioned by the Health Department and by this hospital.
Just read it over and sign the last paper, and it's all done."
took the papers and looked them all over, her eyes skimming over the
details. It seemed too good to be true. After three years, they were
finally going to let her go. She would return home to her friends and
family, and return to the life she had before. And they'd finally
leave her alone, and accept who she was....
she spotted the last sentence before the dotted line.
of the huts of history's shame
from a past that's rooted in pain
all feel that this is probably for the best for everyone involved."
The officers nodded as Patient 49 stared at the documents. "Listen,
Tsukino-san.....we understand your predicament. We do. We understand
why your parents are in court right now, trying to get you back the
hard way. But it doesn't have to be so hard for everyone. Besides, we
do understand that mental illness is a serious problem for many
people in this country. You're not alone, we promise."
said nothing as she started to lower the papers.
now that you've fully admitted the problem.....there's no need to
keep you in here anymore. There's no need to tell yourself...."
looked down again, her eyes sparkling. The officers beamed when they
saw this life in her; she had made her decision to stop her silly
nonsense after all these years.
lie. So the only other thing you have to do is simply admit to the
lie you've created for yourself, and it will all be over. Now, is
officer was suddenly stunned to silence as the papers suddenly fell
to the floor in halves and the pen rolled away from the chair. Then,
without warning, Patient 49's bare foot stomped on the pile as she
stood up to her full height.
spark in her eyes turned into bright hellfire, and for a single
moment, the officers, the nurses, the government wasn't in control of
the situation. The years of humiliation had all capitulated to this
one moment, which should have been expected by everyone involved. The
three cowered in their chairs, understanding what was happening. She
could have taken the easy path, but the easy path was never the best
path. Not for her. Not after what they did to her.
a daybreak that's wondrously clear
took away her dignity. They took away her family. They took away her
pride, her friends, her mind, her life. They even took away her name
and many pieces of her soul, turning her into a shadow of what she
was in that place.
could take away all that and more. But they could never take away the
essence of the truth from her, no matter what they did.
After a moment of cowering, the officer regained his bravado and
slammed on the intercom button. "Nurses!!!"
door was flung open, and Nurse Teono led the nurses and a small cadre
of smocked doctors in. They roughly grabbed at Patient 49, not even
bothering to wait for their orders from the panel. They already knew
what the verdict was.
Patient 49 away."
am.....I am always...."
her out of here!"
burning in her eyes flickered once more to the dull hue that was
known of her in her cell as she was dragged away. She somehow knew
all along that she would not leave that day; she had somehow known
before she woke up that morning. It was possible that she would not
leave for another three years, perhaps even longer. As long as she
spoke the truth and never gave in to the lie, they would lock her up.
They would take more away from her, leave her as nothing more than a
gibbering shell, maybe make her truly insane if they wanted.
in her life, no chains had ever held her for long; not even the ones
around her now could keep her indefinitely. Perhaps her parents would
finally win in the courts; perhaps her friends would finally find a
way to break her out; perhaps fate would simply intervene like it
always had before. She knew she would be able to leave one day, her
head held high, and with the scars to show the injustice done to her.
this eventuality scared her captors was something that was good
enough to her sane for a little while longer. In fact, Patient 49
almost smiled at the thought as they lugged her onto her bed, undid
her chains, beat her several times for disrespecting the examiners
during her exam, and slammed the door on her.
all, there was nothing much to do in her cell. Nothing to do - except
2006 Jessica Davis. Excerpts from “Still I Rise”
copyright Maya Angelou. Sailor Moon copyright 1992-2006 Naoko
Takeuchi, Kodansha, Toei, TV Asahi, and all other relevant parties.
Don't plagarize; plagiarism isn't worth having your fingers chopped