The room has an aura no one can explain. It is black, the walls, the floor, the ceiling. Every piece of furniture, with the exception of the single ghost light hanging in the center of the room, is black. The light illuminates the room just enough to show haze, dust particles floating in the air, and the six children dressed in white sitting, circled around the light. Rocking back and forth, side to side they whisper in hushed monotone voices. Five girls, and one boy dressed in the ragged, loose white draperies with freshly powdered hair atop paper white skin.
“Take me home,” one says. The whispers grow louder.
“Don’t touch me. Please, let me-,” another screeches.
The door slams. My hands reach out to caress the handle, but plummet through the empty air to strike against the door where the knob should be. My fingers crawl on top of every inch of the doorway, only to find no way out. I am sealed in a room with six bedevilled kids, the illuminated light hanging in the center, and the red devil sitting in the corner watching us all.
They blame the “accident” for how I am now. That’s what the nurses say the officers told them. Their voices turn to whispers around my cell try to hide the facts, like I already didn’t figure it out. Two years, and still no one knows what has happened to me. I can still remember the darkness of that night replaying in my head when I told the officers all that I knew. The rescue is the only thing anyone believes. Without physical evidence the words that came from my mouth were not enough to prove the room was real, and, with the judge's consent, I am sent to spend time locked in a cage filled with the screams and horrors of others.
The doctors believe I have changed my sudden desires to do unmentionable things. The 730 days, give or take, of psychiatry and therapy meetings have helped to lower them. Also, with the help from the daily doses of medication and sleeping pills. However, on the occasional mood swings, someone like myself could do some horrific things.
August came and went bringing dreary clouds with days followed by rain to then be finished off by the landscapes lack of color. Although the view outside of my single box-like window was inviting as it leads out into the park, they would never let me outside the gates. The bars reached from side to side making a grid pattern of metal. It was there so I wouldn’t escape, but who would be stupid enough to choose the most predictable exit point? Or was it to keep me from jumping and ending my time in this rotten hospital? Either way it doesn’t matter, I’m not allowed outside.
Waking up, rolling out from the mattress and the white knit throw, and out of instinct I walk to the nurse’s desk. She escorts me down the hallways to the bathroom to do my daily cleansing. Entering the room the stench of cleaning chemicals flows through my nostrils and I go to the sink and turn the knob to hot. The sides of the mirror are rusting with specks of dirt etched in. Black circles under my eyes show the times of waking up hour after hour hearing screams of girls in their cells. Staring into my eyes I see the deep colors of blue and gray in the swirl of my broken iris. The scar across my collar bone hurts. The red scabs covered by partially showing skin are held together by the black stitches given to me months ago, the night of the accident. She places the pill on the sink edge and turns her back to start the shower. I open my mouth, place the pill and the hot water burns as I swallow.
The sirens coming from the speakers in the corners cause me to look away from pink and yellow colors bordering the scar. Seven o’clock. Just enough time to meet up with Sarah before the beginning of morning roll. Sarah is the only other person here who I get along with. She was not sitting under the tree in the courtyard with the newest novel, so I am mentally directed to go to the meeting hall, the next place on the list of our usual hangout locations. Her hot pink hair draws her out from the crowd of girls, although today they stood shoulder to shoulder row by row in the white empty room.
Making my way down the motionless aisles, I stop behind her. “Hey, girl. How was the night? I didn’t see you at dinner or last night’s meeting.” I don’t give her enough time to answer before starting again. “You didn’t miss much. Sally cried again, Jenni was passed out, and I left early due to a medical hysteria reaction to my new meds. So it was the usual Thursday night meeting.” She was quiet, quieter than usual. She wouldn’t answer me. “Come on. It’s just me.” I push on her shoulder turning her to face me abruptly, almost if as if she were placed on a rotating tile. The eye liner drips down her cheeks with smudge marks around her eyes. Her face is plastered in white, and her lips are dripping red, stitched closed with black thread. She looks down to her hands raising them to eye level. Red blood covers her hands up to her forearms, her eyes turn red and drops of water form in the creases. I grab her hands.
I close my eyes.
The blur from my eyelids opening show just the two of us in a black room. The only light came from the ghost light hanging in the center of the room. Sarah is lying on the floor, arms over her chest underneath the light. I grip her hands never wanting to let go, but the chills of the cold that radiate off from her to me tell times of moving on.
Looking up to see the rest of the room, now noticing we are not alone. Five girls and one boy lay circled around us and the light, all in the same position. Managing to get up I walk around the six children, feel their cold bitter hands, and cover them in the white draperies hanging from the ceiling.
The coldness sweeps in. The room lowers in temperature and the sound of chattering bones escalades through from head to toe. I can feel the the subtle hint of purple start to encompass my lips. Looking for a way out, but finding none I have thoughts about being here before. The all dark room has only one chair filled by a red object, a moving red object.
“It’s your time, Phoebe. It’s time to become one of them.” His words are said in hushed tones growing in volume. He gets up. Walking towards me he repeats the message. “It’s your time, Phoebe. It’s your time to become one of them.”
Circling around the light, trying to get away, heat starts to comfort my body. Approaching his chair I see the table next to it covered in tools. Knives, a syringe, a needle, duct tape, a bottle of white liquid, makeup, and white draperies lay in a line. He begins to quicken his pace towards me, no towards the table. He reaches for the table to grab the roll of duct tape, and I lunge away only to be grabbed by his hand from the back.
Rubber gloves cover his hands and squeeze my wrists together as I am guided to the chair. Before being thrown into the chair I am able to hit the table causing one of the knives to land into the chair cushion. Screaming and shouting I know there is no way of escape. Holding me down duct tape is slapped onto my mouth leaving air to circulate my body through breathing from my nose, while the scent of bleach fumes enters with the air. Sitting in the chair now noiseless he wraps my arms around my back using the strands of gray tape. My shoulder blades cramp for being held in a position of uncomfortableness. After the duct tape is able to hold the rest of my body into the chair, he turns his back working away at the table.
“Tell me about yourself, Phoebe. Sarah spoke of you often.” His words sounded genuine and soft. I could hear the sound of mixing as he held up the syringe. “But we all know you’re not okay. You must hate yourself for lying about the accident.” His tone changes. Ripping the tape from my mouth I feel the skin tearing with it, leaving red dry marks.
“I,” my voice stopped. “I never lied about the accident… It was true… I was 15 then. Sarah knew it was true. She believed me.” The words came and went. The knife fumbles around in my fingertips, cutting slits until I can get a firm grasp. The tension on my wrists lessens as each strike was made against the tape. “Oh, how much I miss her.”
“You’ll be with her soon.” He turns toward me the the syringe full in his right hand. The liquid in the bottle on the table has dropped in amount. “This will not hurt you. You’re just going to sleep for a while.” His hands grab at my face pulling it to the right and placing the needle on my neck.
My fists break from the tape, not thinking, one collides with his face, and quickly I slash my legs from the tape. He adjusts to the hit, feeling his jaw and responds by grabbing a knife from the table.
“You don’t want to do this. You’re not strong enough. It will just make things worse for you,” he said.
Fighting causes brutal bruises and scars. He slices across my collar reopening the stitches creating searing pain, followed by a slash on my legs. The chain of effects continue until I fall to the floor, with no energy to get up, against the wall. He has won.
“Phoebe. We both knew I would win. The pain always wins.” Each slash he makes rips blood and flesh.
“It’s over. Just do it. Take me away.” Pain always wins.
“Phoebe stop it.” The distant familiar voice murmurs.
“No. I can’t it hurts so much. Let me finish.” I respond closing my eyes. When they reopen I am found on the floor in the bathroom crowded by people and the smell of old cleaning chemicals linger in my throat.
“I am so sorry, doctor. I only turned my head for half a second.” The nurse who escorted me to the bathroom responds to the man I have my meetings with.
The shard falls from my hands, bouncing down to the floor, splattering the blood drops across the tiles. My scars are open, and the blood drips from my body.
“Someone get the stabilizers. She went there again.” A nurse calls.
I look up to see the broken mirror, the overflowing sink, the hot steam from the running shower, and Sarah’s pink hair standing over me cleaning the blood.
“He was here. I saw him. Please help me find him. Someone find him.” I pull her down next to me.
“It is okay now, Phebes. I am here now. I will always be here.” She whispers to the man. “I think it's time to change her prescription.”
“Help me.” The tears fall down my cheeks, while the black stitches are sewn on to heal my collar. “Please.” I look up to see the opened pill cap on the floor, and the bottle on the ledge of the sink, surrounded by tiny shards.