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by Eileen Herbert-Goodall

Thought I’d drop you a line, given we haven’t spoken in a long time. I don’t write much, so I’m kind of nervous and will probably make mistakes, or “errors in judgement” as my fucking sanctimonious shrink calls them. I’m also working on a prehistoric typewriter that doesn’t delete anything. I have to say, though, the sound of its keys smacking against paper is strangely satisfying.

A few weeks back, the police brought me to this place where they keep lunatics the mentally ill. To cut a long story short, I got blamed for a scrimmage at the halfway house where I was staying. The cops cuffed me, claiming I was crazy needed a psychiatric assessment. Turns out, I have to spend some time here. I suppose I’m still struggling to deal with Mum’s death. I can’t believe she’s been gone for six months. Breast cancer is a bitch.

How are things with you? I guess you’re still working as a stockman out west. I’ve always wanted to visit one of those sprawling properties and experience the whole “big sky” thing. Sure sounds like fun.

If you come and take me away from this hell hole, I promise I won’t ask any curly questions about why you left all those years ago.

I have a friend in here — her name’s Penny. She often says she’ll give herself to me if I’ll share my thoughts, which is pretty funny when you think about it. Penny’s practically the smartest person I know. She’s beautiful, too — dark hair, pale skin, soul-deep eyes. Her “issue” — as she calls it — is that she hears voices, and they’re fucken mean. Yesterday, the doctors had to jam her with a shitload of sedative medicate her so she’d stop freaking out. She couldn’t move for hours afterwards.

I think the doctors are tampering with everyone’s med’s. I can’t think straight half the time.

Penny’s had it rough. Her parents topped themselves committed suicide when she was a kid, which meant she was shuffled around in foster care. She’s been in and out of places like this since she was a teenager. But things are looking up — we’re planning on sharing a house when we leave.

Penny and I enjoy the art activities here. Recently, we worked with oils on canvas. The doctors found my picture “disturbing” because it featured a girl stabbing a dog in the chest. They don’t understand anything. Dumb asses. Penny knew what it meant, because she’s been there, you know?

I’m hoping to be released soon, although no one’s mentioned a date. I suspect they want to detain me for as long as possible, so they have a better shot at brainwashing me. I need to be vigilant when it comes to blocking their attempts.

I’d better sign off — it’s almost time for lunch. I’m careful about what I eat, as a lot of the food is laced with mind control drugs. Tuna fucking sandwiches all the way.

Here’s hoping this letter reaches you.

Eileen Herbert-Goodall holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts, which she earned at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), Queensland, Australia. She teaches high school students through USC’s Creative Writing Excellence Program. Along with a colleague, she also runs the Field of Words writing and editing website. She has had many pieces of non-fiction and short fiction published, and is presently working on a collection of short stories.