“I’m very bad,” says the girl. I’m so bad!” She throws herself against the wall, enraged, wanting to hurt herself. The nurse pulls her back and pushes the button that inflates the padding in the walls. Then she holds the girl close and rocks her, running her fingers through the girl’s long hair.

Everyone’s pretty wounded up in the house these days. Anxiety races from one floor to another, looking out the windows, sure that something terrible may appear on the horizon at any moment. Depression is moaning and groaning from the basement. Intuition is worn out and gone to bed with a stomach ache. Authenticity says she can tells there’s no room for her until our leave of absence starts on October 1. Until then, she says, we are all better served by keeping the masks on and saying as little as possible about how we are feeling.

The Wise Woman tries to calm them all down, but they aren’t much in the mood for listening. Or rather, they can’t settle down long enough to take in what her words: “We will make it. We’ll get as much work as possible done, and then other colleagues will need to cope. It’s not a one-person show, and we are not indispensable. Then we’ll get a rest, and have time to attend to our physical and mental health. It will be a healing time, and a time for thinking deeply about what we want our life to look like going forward.”

Rage is playing the drums loudly right now, so the others have difficulty even hearing these latest words of the Wise Woman. Joy went to visit a friend in the next town and says she might be back next month.

12 more days.