When I saw the woman in the middle of the road swat thin air, I recognized it; schizophrenia. I approached her, she turned, and her face distorting horribly, her hands waved me away.
“No, no! Go, go now!” she demanded, heading off down the road.
I followed at some distance, trying carefully not to spook her.
“I can still see you,” she sung to me while looking to the sky, folding her hands over her chest.
“Go away, go away, come again another day,” she said continuing to shake her head.
Abruptly she stopped and made a 90 degree turn to the right and entered a small alleyway, her fists slammed together involuntarily. She was clearly not taking medication and would be a danger to herself and others. I followed after her.
“No, no, NO, NO!” she said, her voice getting more and more pinched.
I saw the source of her apprehension; we were in a dead end.
“Hey,” I said, putting out my hand to calm her, “it’s okay, I’m a Doctor, and you can trust me.”
“I can trust you?” she said, smiling and dipping her head excitedly.
“I’m not here to hurt you.”
“I know,” she giggled, “I’m not scared of you.”
“I need to get you some help, will you stay there while I use my phone?”
“I’m scared of that!” she announced like a pouting school girl, pointing past me and into the road behind.
I turned quickly and saw nothing, except the leaves in the alleyway swirl in the wind.
She laughed, “Oh, you can’t even see it can you! That must be more scary.”
She leaned against the way and slowly slid her way into a sitting position, rocking herself side to side.
I talked to a colleague, and within 30 minutes a vehicle had arrived. Throughout the whole time, she stared into the alleyway and out into the road. The paramedic came over and helped me hoist her up.
“Why are you no longer scared?”
She grinned at me, “It couldn’t get through the narrow street.”
“We are going to have to go back out there.”
“Okay,” she replied.
“That doesn’t scare you?”
“It doesn’t want me anymore,” she chuckled, “it wants you, the secret I buried under the tree is out now”.