On The Psychiatric Ward by Christopher Woods |

There we were, the nurse and myself, the psychiatric technician, behind our desks. Even early on in our shift, I knew that the place behind our desks was, usually anyway, a place of safety. Retreat. While we made entries in the files of patients. While I watched the nurse fill those small, plastic cups with medications come pill time. Or even if I had to leave the safe zone once an hour to take the census of the patients.

Behind our desks, there was a kind of power. Not that we were powerful, though I suppose there was some kind of authority in our positions, but this depended on the observer. Staff trumps patients, after all. But the power I am talking about is the safety one feels there, behind the desks. To be there, and not out there, on the ward. If you were out there on the ward
itself, for a few hours or days straight, you had to be one of them. Oh yes, a patient.

But maybe it is not always so bad to be a patient. You see, wherever there are patients, there is also the promise of a cure. The two go hand in hand, like desperation and hope. The truth of all this, or at least what remains constant, is that there is always much more desperation to go around than hope. Always more patients than cures. Sad, sure, but constant. Always.

The only thing any of us can do is to take our places, and wait.

Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a collection of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. His play, MOONBIRDS, about doomed census takers at work in an uninhabited desert country, received its New York City premiere by PERSONAL SPACE THEATRICS. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas.