Thousands of paper cranes filled the room. The hung from the ceiling and rose in piles from the floor. Each crane was made from a unique piece of paper. People didn’t come into this room often any more. It was too full of spirits. Not that anyone in the asylum said that, staff weren’t supposed to believe in those kind of things in an insane asylum. It was well known though. This room was said to have had an inmate years ago. She had been there for 50 years, and every day she was sent paper. Paper from old friends, from staff members, from families of other inmates. Whenever she got a repeated pattern she would give a crane to the first person who walked past her cell. She won friends easily, she was quietly kind.
Now the room was empty of life, yet the cranes shifted and some would swear that new cranes would be added to the strings above. Inmate’s didn’t like spending time in there. They didn’t feel unwelcome, they said, instead they felt like they were intruding. It was a private place, a calm place. A kind place. Whenever a staff member was feeling especially worn out by the trials of the day they would step into that cell. Some told the cell their problems, some just cried, but all came out feeling a little better.
In that room even the most violent of patients became careful, the most distressed became calm. The cranes were special. No one ever said anything officially, but everyone knew. On the door was a plaque, it read.
“1000 cranes represent a wish for 1000 years of health and happiness. 100,000 cranes were folded here.”
I fold many cranes in my spare time, this was a rare time when my two hobbies met.