I lay like all of the others, restrained and silent and calm. Cold and alone, like a single rock on a frozen shore. Content in my ignorance and blissful in my numbness. The occasional scream will penetrate these soft marshmallow walls, but more often than not it is completely silent here… until the voices come. The crying, pleading voices that consume me and slice through me like razor blades doused in vinegar. They come just before the pretty ladies in white. Those pretty ladies in white know how to make the voices go away.
My body is numb. So is my mind. I lack the capacity to communicate in totality. I am a wraith now, listless and dead but still living. Perhaps I always have been, but perhaps not. I lay, staring at nothing, day after day after day. Rubbing my face against the white softness that surrounds me.
Today I feel a strange sensation in my body. A tingling in my limbs and a spark behind my eyes, in that place that is often quiet and asleep. My consciousness is waking and I am afraid. My muscles contract and release as I begin to rock back and forth, back and forth, feeling my body press into the soft white. I see faces forming before my eyes. Screaming, terror-filled, pleading faces. I hear their voices, but I don’t know what they are saying. They are covered in red, like candy apples that haven’t been coated quite enough. The whites of their eyes and teeth are bright and stark in all that red. The faces become more clear, and they look… familiar? I feel a tug inside my chest. I know these faces. But how? Who are they?
I listen to the voices, trying to hear the words, trying to connect them to myself. My skin feels cold and bumpy as the crying voices rip through my brain and fear dances through my bones. Slicing, tearing, and slashing with barbed wire shoes. The faces blaze behind my eyelids, and I feel something. I feel that I loved those faces. I had something with those faces. Those red screaming candy apple faces. I remember a woman. All blue eyes and long brown hair. The subtle curve of her hip against my palm and the sublime smoothness of her skin. A whisper in the dark and lips against my ear. I remember a child with bright eyes and wild curls floating around her face, her small hands like starfish. I remember why I am here, and where I am, and who I was before.
I scream from the very depths of my insides, trying to drown the voices. Drown the pain and memory and loss. I hear someone yell and I don’t know if it’s me or just the memory of a voice. I thrash around in my bed. This torture, this pain, this memory. It’s peeling the skin from my body and gnawing through my flesh. I scream louder and kick at the walls, trying to push everything out and away. I smell the sharp sweet tang of copper and remember the stickiness of blood on my fingertips. I throw my head back, hoping to end this in sweet blackness, but it meets softness. Everywhere is softness in this room.
I hear a click and it’s the pretty ladies in white. But they aren’t pretty to me anymore. They are salvation and damnation all wrapped in white and smelling of soap. I throw myself forward and gnash my teeth. I know what they have come for, and I cannot decide what I want: memory and freedom or ignorance and restraint? I feel like it would be blasphemy to forget the faces and torture to remember. The ladies come, making sounds that I can’t hear. One holds my head against her white soft body, pulling my jaws apart. Warm wetness slips over my lip and down my chin. My skin becomes cool as the saliva dries. The other slips a hard white something into my mouth. I can taste the bitterness in the back of my throat, and I don’t know if it’s from the white thing or my own bile rising up. It is so far back that I have to swallow. In order to scream at those voices I need to get rid of that thing in my throat. I swallow and then I shriek. I can feel it leave my body in an unimposing and sorrowful way.
The ladies leave, watching me through a tiny window in my door. I lay, remembering, suffering, a tortured and dying soul, until the voices leave. I reach out to them, afraid to let them fade. The faces and the voices go away, melting into the darkness behind my eyelids. They are gone, and I am alone. I am restrained and silent, and calm. Cold and alone. Content in my ignorance and blissful in my numbness. Protected by these marshmallow walls.
© 2014 by Brittany Foster
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