More and more people are crowding into my space and I gave up some time ago trying to make sense of it. Mostly they don’t bother me much. That man
standing by the TV, though, he is different. This is the tenth time I’ve passed him on my way to the kitchen and back, and he makes me mighty
uncomfortable. I suspect he’s the one who hid all the toilet paper inside the bathtub, the one who left that cryptic message on the round pillow I
brought back from New York the last time I visited my son. I fix my eyes past him and scurry into the kitchen. Once here I’ve forgotten why I
came. It feels urgent, though, and panicked I pick up the phone and dial the first number I see, written multiple times in a shaky hand on a list
hanging next to the receiver.
“Hey .. mom. How you doing?” A familiar voice on the other end. One I can’t quite place.
“Hello!?” I hear myself squawk. I sound scared.
“Mom, it’s me… your daughter, Lily. Hey. Are you okay?”
I feel very dismayed at this information. It doesn’t register, at all.
I put the phone down and back away. This is dreadful, all these people around and I don’t know a soul. The walk to my room takes too long and I
fear the man by the TV might get tired of standing there and … well I don’t want to think about that. Looking out the window brings me no solace,
and by the time I’m startled by loud knocking on my front door, I’m frozen in place from tension. I stumble and nearly fall on my way to the door
when one knee buckles. My heart racing, I pause in front of the shiny, polished wood, suddenly very afraid of whatever’s waiting on the other side.
“James, mom called me today. All she said was “hello,” but she sounded so bad. Then nothing. I tried calling back and just got a busy signal
so I had to go over there. When she finally answered the door she looked so haggard and frail I barely knew her. You should’ve seen her eyes. She
just gave me this awful blank stare, I could see she was terrified. She had no idea who I was again.”
Lily was back home after another frantic trip cross town, another wretched visit with mom who was steadily losing her grip on reality. She had spent
the ride home weighing options that lay before her like a twisted game show where behind every door, instead of car or a toaster, some rough beast
waits coiled and ready to pounce.
“It’s that bad?” Through the phone, James sounded something like a lost boy, bringing his older sister momentarily back to their youth-- back
when mom had stood tall and strong and taken in everything with a keen interest. (She’d had this lovely way of tilting her head and really
everything that Lily had not observed in anyone else.)
“It’s bad.” Her voice cracked.
They’re holding me here in this awful place against my will, When I demand to go home, I’m calmly told, “Jackie, this is
by my jailor. They keep changing my guards on me to keep me disorientated. It’s never the same face twice, but by their expressions I can see they
must all enjoy tormenting me. How else could they do it so calmly and with a vicious smile tell me lies, abuse me? Yesterday a woman was wearing an
impervious smile while telling me how she found me outside of my holding room without pants, that here “we” wear pants. I looked down and saw
with horror I was utterly exposed in front of this indifferent stranger. I’d never felt so humiliated in my life. As my cheeks flushed hotly I
found my hand moving on its own and before I knew it I had slapped that smile off her face. Then she was yelling for help and her monster came out--
I saw her face change before the beastly attendants forced me back in my room and gave me some drug; who knows what they did with me after that but my
arms are sore and I'm covered in bruises.
I’m getting out of here tonight. This time when they sent the guards I met them with their same cold smile. I told them I was sorry, they were
right. That this was a good home. That I was feeling much better, ready to join the other residents in our home (yes this was their evil euphamism
for us prisoners). When they left I put a few things together in an old pillowcase. I’m wearing my clothes under this robe and I’ve staked out
the fire escape, which I can see is left unlocked. The thought of running out into the cold night is terrifying, but I know if I don’t leave I
will die here.
The facility is dead quiet. It’s now or never.
Something in the quick flight brings me back all those years to another hasty departure, that night I climbed out my childhood window and into Ed’s
car, who whisked me off to see the world and married me. Funny that night I was running away from home, but tonight I’m fleeing toward it.
I pause for a second before the door. Feeling all the guilt, tension, and anxiety (and hope!) of a fugitive, I wait coiled, ready to spring to my
freedom. I’m going home.
edit on 10-1-2019 by zosimov because: (no reason given)