As Cormac drew level with the entrance to the psychiatric hospital he slammed on the brake and almost head-butted the steering wheel. He opened the door and stumbled out of the car, smashing his elbow on the edge of the door and landing hard on his knees.
‘Fuck it’ he muttered as he got up from his knees and hurtled towards the entrance. Patients and nurses were everywhere, it was complete chaos, as he flew by reception and up the nearest staircase towards the ward.
Approaching the nurse’s station, he slowed down to catch his breath. It was no good turning up flustered and out of breath. This place was supposed to be a calming centre of wellbeing and the nurses didn’t like anything to fluster their patients or patience.
‘Hi, I’m here to pick up Florence’
They were all huddled around a small wall mounted television in the corner of the room; watching the events unfold, they didn’t seem to even notice him. He was tempted to just get his sister and leave, but without the permission slip from the ward there would be a heated discussion about discharging her with security at the entrance. He just didn’t have that kind of time, so playing by the rules was the quickest option.
‘Hello. Can somebody please sign a permission slip so I can take her out for the afternoon’ he said raising his voice to just above that of the reporter on the television screen.
One of the orderlies that he recognised walked over to the desk, mop still in hand and dripping all over the floor.
‘Have you seen this?’ he said with a look of distracted concern as he turned back towards the screen.
Cormac quickly looked down at his name badge ‘Of course I have Joe, why do you think I’m here. Look I really need to get her out of here before that reaches here. Can you help a guy out, please?’
‘Well I can’t really, um. Hold on a sec.’ with his attention still darting to and from the television he grabbed a form and a pen from behind the desk and held it out. ‘Just fill this in real quick’
Cormac jotted down his contact details and a fabricated reason for leaving and passed it back to Joe. Without even looking at the form he walked over to one of the nurses sitting in front of the screen. She looked down at the form and then over to Cormac before signing it without question and handing it back to Joe.
Joe ambled over, watching the screen over his shoulder, Cormac grabbed the form and ran down the corridor to Florence’s room. He turned the corner and saw his sister in her usual seat by the window. Open just enough for fresh air, but closed enough to stop anyone from discharging themselves.
‘Come on. We’re going. Right now. Florence, come on. Grab your things.’
Nothing. No reaction at all. She’d been like this for weeks and nobody could explain it. He’d found her in the forest near their house, laying on the ground, blood dripping from her head and unconscious. She’d taken a pretty bad hit to the head, but there were no other marks and the doctors couldn’t see anything neurologically wrong.
Yet here she was, in this place, catatonic, while they tried to figure out what had happened. Free to leave, but they’d prefer if she stayed. Who was he to argue with the professionals, but now things had changed. Running the risk of her memory not coming back and no explanation, was far better than running the risk of losing her completely by leaving her here.
He threw her clothes in a bag and slowly coaxed her out of the chair before guiding her through the door, down the stairs and towards the exit. A crowd had gathered around the staff and voices were slowly becoming raised as the security staff did their best to block the corridors to the wards.
He showed the uniformed man the form and decided to head for the emergency exit to avoid the crowd. Now was not the time to dawdle, so he half dragged her to the car as more people began to crowd into the hospital entrance; he’d gotten there just in time – before things escalated.