The Short, Crazy Life of Ginny Dare


Karly Liska, Author

There’s a spider on the wall.  Back and forth, weaving a web, the light dancing off of the thread.  The spider is small and black and – an elbow nudges my arm.  I glance over and my father is glaring at me.  “Pay attention,” he hisses at me.  I look over on my other side to see that my mother is nervously wringing her hands while watching Dr. Ellicott, who’s reading my file.  The Doc’s been taking his time, that’s for sure.  It’s already been ten minutes and he’s still flipping through the papers.

My eyes are drawn to his desk which is made out of some kind of dark wood.  Everything on his desk is straight and tidy.  There is a large bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on the right-hand corner of the rather impressive desk with a box of Kleenexes resting next to it.  A stained glass lamp proudly sits on the other side of the workstation with a matching pencil holder next to it.

Dr. Ellicott clears his throat, finally putting down the file.  “Mr. and Mrs. Dare,” he begins.  “It seems as though your daughter does have a few problems.  Talking to nobody, spontaneously loosing focus… minor problems that could potentially become a major issue.  No, that will become a major issue if they aren’t dealt with immediately.  I’m happy to say that our facility is equipped to help this young lady.”

“You can help her?” my father blurts out.  “You can actually fix her?”

The doctor raises his eyebrows at my father’s outburst and reaches across the desk to squirt some sanitizer into his hands.  “There is a good chance that we can heal her, yes.”

“Thank God,” my father sighs.

Dr. Ellicott stands up from his chair and says, “I can take you through a tour of our facil-“

“No!” Father exclaims.  “We don’t need a tour.  Just fix her as quickly as possible.”  Mother nods timidly on my left.  They stand up and after saying a hurried good-bye to me, leave just as fast.

I sigh and look at my new doctor who looks startled at my parent’s hasty exit.  “So,” I say. “What now?”

Doc walks around his desk and begins, “Miss Dare-“

“Ginny,” I interrupt.

“Ginny,” Ellicott starts over.  “I will now take you to your room.  You will remain there until tomorrow morning when you will get a tour of the building and then begin your daily schedule.”

I roll my eyes at the orders but obediently follow him out of the office.  We walk down a long hallway that has pictures lining the walls:  a scenic portrait of Alcatraz Island, a black and white picture of Auschwitz, and an artist’s portrayal of the Roanoke Colony being three of them.  There are small, expensive-looking tables sitting against the wall every few yards.  I only realize I’m saying my observations out loud when Doc comments on it.  “Yes, we really have to work on that.”

At the end of the hall, we reach a sweeping, white marble staircase.  Doc goes down first with me trailing after him like a lost puppy.  I get a vision of Scooby Doo and Shaggy sneaking around a haunted mansion and I laugh out loud.  Doc looks back to give me a puzzled look but I ignore him.  As we near the bottom, I suddenly hear a commotion.

“No! I won’t take them, you can’t make me take them!”

“Now, Sir…”

Dr. Ellicott lengthens his stride and I hurry to keep up with him.  In a room to the left of the stairs, we find a couple of men in white uniforms trying to calm a man dressed in pale blue pajamas and a slightly darker bathrobe.  As the Doc and I watch, one of the white uniformed security guards grabs the mental patient and the other guard tries to dump the contents of a paper cup into his mouth.

“Mr. Donally,” Dr. Ellicott interrupts.  “Why don’t you want to take your medication?  It’ll help you with your problems.”

“No!” the patient, Mr. Donally apparently, shouts.  “It doesn’t help!  It just make it worse!”

One of the guards takes advantage of the interruption and succeeds in spilling the pills down his throat.  Mr. Donally chokes for a second and then goes limp in defeat.

I start to speak but Ellicott shoots me a look and I shut up.  After making sure that the guards have the situation under control, he takes my arm, turns me toward the door, and gives me a small push.  There’s a table by the door way with another bottle of hand sanitizer on it and Doc pauses to squirt some into his hands.  He takes another moment to straighten a picture frame and then we walk out of the door, across the spacious lobby, and continue down another hallway.  This corridor has doors spaced evenly apart with numbers on them.  Patients’ rooms, I guess.

We stop at room 17.  “This is your room,” Doc informs me.  “The only TV in this building is in the recreational room.  Board games and other entertainment items can also be found there.  Food is only allowed in the cafeteria.

“Be in bed by 9:30 and be ready to go in the morning by 8:00 a.m.  You will receive other instructions at that time.”

Without even a nod good-bye, he starts off back down the hallway.  I roll my eyes at his behavior and then notice that he has a bald spot on the top of his head.  Opening the door to room 17, I step inside and freeze.  The room is amazing!  There’s a huge four-poster bed decked out in dark blue and white.  The wallpaper matches the bed and there’s a balcony behind intricate doors on the other side of the room.  I walk into the bathroom and find a huge shower with seven shower heads spread throughout it.

When I’m done gawking, I go to my suitcase that someone had deposited on the foot of my bed.  Resting on top of the case’s pink zebra stripes is the same outfit that the patient I had seen earlier had been wearing.  Blue bathrobe, pale blue V-necked shirt, pale blue stretchy pants, and black slippers.  Very fashionable.


Someone’s knocking on the door.  Groaning, I roll over to look at the clock.  7:55 a.m. stares back at me.  The door opens behind me and I turn to glare at the intruder.

“Time to get dressed,” the nurse in the doorway announces.  “You have five minutes.”  She steps back into the hall and closes the door.

Fifteen minutes later I walk out of room 17, having exchanged my pink PJs for blue pajamas.  The nurse looks at me disapprovingly.  “You’re late.”

“I know,” I tell her.  “Next time, wake me up a little earlier. I need more than five minutes to get ready.  How long did it take you to get ready this morning?”

She ignores me and hands me a small paper cup.  “Take this.  It should help you with your problems.”

In the cup are small, blue pills.  I look at the nurse, back at the cup, back up at the nurse once more, shrug and swallow the pills dry.  “Yummy.  When’s breakfast?”

I get another disapproving look.  “You’re too late.  Breakfast is almost over.  That’s what you get for being late.”

I look at her in disbelief while she turns away from me and starts walking back towards the lobby.  “Come along, Miss Dare.  We have programs to introduce you to.”


Twenty minutes later I’m walking out of a brightly lit room having just watched a group of mentally unstable people follow an instructor through yoga moves.  “I didn’t think crazy people could bend like that,” I tell my nurse-guide.  Strangely, the sound of my voice seems like it’s coming from far away.  Weird.  I sounded perfectly normal a minute ago.  “What’s happening?”

“Calm down.”  The nurse looks at me, worried.

I suddenly realize that I had been shouting.  I’m still shouting.  “Why is everything getting fuzzy?  Why does your voice sound so weird?  Why are you looking at me like that?”

I vaguely realize that she’s calling for security.  Here they come now, running down the hall towards me like a couple of white elephants.  I start laughing hysterically.  White elephants in a mental hospital!  That’s funny!  Then they grab me and I start to scream.  Elephants shouldn’t grab people!  That’s not right!

“No, stay away from me!  Get away!  Nnnoooooo!”


There’s a fly in the spider’s web.  It’s wriggling while the spider slowly wraps it up in sticky webbing.

Dr. Ellicott starts talking to me and I turn my head towards him listlessly.  “Miss Dare, after your incident yesterday morning, I feel that we should send you to another hospital that’s better equipped to handle your episodes.  Saint Brutus’s Secure Center is the best place to send you, in my opinion.  You will get the proper care you need there.  Your parents have been informed and they agree with me.  You will leave for Saint Brutus’s immediately.”

I know that there’s no arguing with him.  No one had believed me when I told them that it was the pills that made me act that way, so I don’t struggle when two well-built guards grab me by the arms and life me out of my chair.  They march me towards the door and I turn my head for one last look at the office.  Dr. Ellicott is straightening his papers.  The clock on the wall is still ticking.  The fly isn’t moving.