An old lady is passing out peppermints.
“Oh, I don’t think I can have that.”
“Oh, do you have a young child?”
“No, it’s just me.”
I didn’t refuse my peppermint. When I passed by the old lady, I saw the bag of peppermints. I glanced around furtively. Was there staff nearby? Was there someone who would see me? Was I breaking the rules?
She offered me a single peppermint. I hesitated. And then I snatched it up. I tore open the wrapper and tossed that peppermint into my candy deprived mouth.
Bliss. It had been four weeks since I’d so much as tasted candy. I’d been fantasizing about it almost daily, dreaming of skittles and kit kats while longing for freedom. And peppermints aren’t that great. But that peppermint on that night was fucking delicious.
We were on a rare outing — seeing the Christmas lights in the less-than-glorious town I’d landed myself in. The peppermint fear was wide spread. After passing the peppermint point, a group of us huddled together. We were afraid to speak louder than a whisper. The wrong person might hear. Maybe we’d get in trouble, maybe we’d be forbidden from going on all outings. Rehab makes you paranoid. Trivial things are magnified and made scary. That’s life when you’re living under a microscope.
Some girls hadn’t been brave enough to take that peppermint. The peppermints were a point of great concern. People on the outside can’t fathom the power that a peppermint, a five cent candy, can formidably wield over paranoid and powerless patients.
The staff member who was supervising us found out about the peppermints. She didn’t give a fuck.
At least we could rest easily that night. The peppermints had lost their power. But we held on to our paranoia, we prisoners, sentenced to 90 days.