Rotary Phone

“She’s awake,” I said to the man next to me.

“Did she take her tablets?”

“Yes, at 20:01 last night, all five,” I replied, checking the notes left for me.

We watch as the girl stretches. She pulls back the covers and stands.

“What are we looking for?” my colleague asks.

“Anything that would suggest she’s violent towards others or herself,” I press the intercom, “Sally, she’s awake.”

We wait now.

Sally knocks on the door. The girl opens it and invites her in. Sally offers her tray. The girl picks up the paper cup filled with pills and raises it to her mouth. She then takes the cup of water and downs it. I smile, I think she’s ready. I make a note and we continue to watch.

Sally leaves the room. The girl begins to undress. We avert our eyes; when we look back, she’s fully dressed.

Something alerts her attention. She picks up the phone in the corner of the room. I sigh, my colleague shakes his head.

“This is not necessarily a bad thing.”

“It’s not a good thing.”

“It’s not violent, it’s a crutch.”

“The phone isn’t plugged in,” he replies, making notes of his own.

“Turn up the volume,” I ask.

The equipment hisses as the sensitivity increases.

“I’m fine mum, they are treating me very well. I don’t know what I am going to do. I am looking forward to breakfast. Yes, biscuits and gravy today. No, I don’t know if there will be sausages. I know they are my favourite. They are never as good as what you’d make for me. Okay, I’ll speak to you later, I think Sally is coming back.”

The girl puts the phone down and begins kicking her legs. I think about my son, about how much I miss him. She is going to be leaving us today, I am more than happy to approve her release. She will be going to her aunt’s, but the medication seems to be doing the job well.

“She’s still using the phone,” my colleague says resigned.

“That’s not a bad thing, remember what she was like? If that’s how she’s coping, how is it different from a security blanket or cigarettes?” I reasoned with him.
“This will be on you,” he said, shaking his head.

“Don’t worry, I am still your doctor, I’ll see you next week for our appointment,” I said.

She smiled and left the building, entering her aunt’s car, before disappearing off the property.

Her room looked larger as the movers took her furniture out. I always felt happy when a patient left in happy circumstances. I was about to close the door when I heard the sound that stopped me in my tracks.

I stared at the phone, not wanting to pick it up. Slowly, I reached for the handset.


“Daddy? Is that you?”

I picked up the phone, confirmed it wasn’t connected, and I panicked.

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