Hearts for Bullets

Anna lost her brother at the age of 10. Ever since, she's been seeing his ghost. Her parents do not see him, and send her to a mental institution.

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5. Come see our girls!

“Come on girls!” a guard said as he opened the door to Anna’s cell.

Anna had no clue what was going on. She walked up to the doorway and looked out. She saw a bunch of inmates come out of their cells and slowly walk down the hall. She didn’t know what to do, and just stood still. “What are you waiting for?!” another guard said to her. “Go!” he said and pushed Anna.

She tripped over her own feet, but the guard pulled her up before she hit the ground. Anna looked around. Which one was Erica? All the girls were different. Some had red hair, some had brown. Some were tall, some short. There were fairly chubby girls and a whole bunch of thin, scary looking ones. Some could barely walk. Strangely, they were all girls. Surely, there had to be boys too?

Anna walked down the hall with the others. It was silent, yet noisy. A bunch of girls whispered to each other, trying not to get caught by the guards. They walked down a bunch of stairs, to the 2nd floor. All the girls were pushed in a bunch of fairly big rooms, arranged according to patient numbers. Anna was in a room with 9 other girls. Each girl was given a new set of clothes. Younger ones were given knee-length dresses and small hats, older ones long dresses and corsets.

The girls around Anna started changing. They were all older than her. Anna slowly took off her dress and changed into the new one. It fit her nicely. It was light pink, had a row of buttons on the chest and a big bow around the waist that had to be tied in the back. Anna tried to tie the bow herself, but didn’t do a very good job. A girl with short, brown hair walked up to her. “Let me help you” she said and started tying the bow over again.

Anna felt a bit embarrassed. “Thank you... “she said silently.

“You’re welcome, Anna” the girl said.

How did she know her name? Anna hadn’t even seen the girl before. “How do you know my name?” Anna asked.

The girl smiled. “I’m Erica.” she said.

Anna looked at the girl. Was this the girl she had talked to? Could it be true? Before Anna had any time to think about it, there was a knock on the door. “Come on girls, we don’t have all day!” a voice said, and all the girls exited the room.

Anna was parted from Erica, and fell into a bunch of other girls. She looked around, trying to find her friend, but she wasn’t far tall enough to get a proper look around. They walked down a few set of stairs, down the hallway, past Stacey and outside. Were all the girls being released? But why wasn’t Anna given her old clothes back? Suddenly the crowd of girls started moving around, and a bunch of guards came pushing through. They cuffed all the girls, and tying the girls together in the same crowds as in the changing room. Anna was placed next to Erica. Erica was much taller than Anna, and much skinnier. She almost looked scary compared to Anna. “Where are they taking us?“ Anna asked innocently.

“They are exposing us.” Erica replied. “Showing us off to the public and earning money.”

Anna didn’t know what she meant. “What do y-…” Anna was cut off when Erica pushed her gently in the side, and the crowd started walking. Anna had to walk fast to follow, because her legs were so short. Anna tried to talk to Erica, but wasn’t given the opportunity.

They walked through the courtyard, heading towards the gates. It still looked big and scary, and Anna didn’t know if it was good or bad she was heading there. Two guards pulled the big iron gates open, and the girls started walking through. Soon they were all on the street. Were they really being released? The girls were placed in a long row, and a man stepped up on a small box. He stood there for a while, not saying a thing. People stopped to see what was going on. Suddenly he opened his mouth, and started yelling things to the public. “Come one, come all!” he yelled. “See the mentally ill girls! We have every kind!”

Anna looked at the man. What was he talking about? “They are beautiful, but bipolar! Schizophrenia is written all over them, but they are amazing!” he was yelling louder and louder, and more people stopped and stared. Anna felt uncomfortable. “Has anybody any questions about our lovely girls here?”

A bunch of people raised their hands and started screaming and yelling, all trying to get their question answered. The man pointed out a random man from the crowd, and they all quieted down. “Has any patient ever been released?” he asked.

The man on the box smiled. “What an interesting question, sir!” he yelled. “Patients are sometimes let loose, but we try to keep them in place. They might reproduce, you know!” he said and winked.

He pointed out a woman from the crowd. She was small, and looked familiar to Anna. It was Jeanette. Anna’s heart started pounding, as the well-known woman asked a question. “I knew a mentally ill girl!” she shouted. The crowd started yelling and scream at Jeanette. Anna was afraid they would hurt her. “Do not worry! She is in an asylum! My question is, is insanity something contagious? Will I become ill soon?”

Anna couldn’t believe her own ears. The woman she had played with and spent so much time with through her life, had turned her back on her. Anna had no longer any support, and suddenly felt so very alone. The man lifted a brow and answered the question: “we are not 100 % sure! It could be contagious, but it could also be harmless to others. Further study is needed! But please, look out for any signs, and we’ll take care of you, milady.”

 

After a long day, the patients were taken back to the hospital. Anna still couldn’t get the picture of Jeanette standing in the crowd out of her head. She just couldn’t believe it.

When they passed Stacey in the main hall, all the dresses and accessories were taken from the girls. They were all naked, standing together in a big crowd. Though they were still chained together. A bunch of guards came to take a pack of girls each, and take them back to their rooms. “What about my clothes?” Anna asked.

“Shut up!” he said. “You’ll get your clothes back, relax!”

Anna felt a bit offended, but didn’t want to cause trouble. As they passed the different rooms, the guard released a few girls from the cuffs, only to put them back in their cell. Anna was the last one. On her bed laid the old, musty dress she had been used to for 3 months. She sighed, and slowly put it on, before going to bed. Before she fell asleep, she heard a knock from the other room. “Erica?” she asked.

“Yes.” Erica replied. “If you don’t mind answering… How did you feel about today?”

Anna didn’t know what to say. She felt… Exposed… Humiliated… “I… feel bad…” she answered. “What was it about?”

“It happens every 6 months.” Erica replied. “They dress us up nicely, and show us to the public, to make money. Once you get older, it gets… worse…”

“Worse?” Anna asked confused. “How could it get any worse?”

Erica was silent for a few seconds. “Just… Don’t worry about it… It won’t happen to you yet. Now go to sleep”

Anna was a bit confused, but did as Erica said, turned in the bed, and tried to sleep.

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