Thursday, May 31, 2012

Glass Cages

The azalea petal was cool and smooth between her thumb and first finger. She rubbed it back and forth until the tender flesh of the flower tore and rolled up like a pill bug. She reached to enjoy a second petal, but was pulled by her other arm with a fierce yank and forced to leave the vibrant pink blanket.

The advancement up stairs reminded her how tight her shoes pinched her toes. She had tried to remove them in the car and was stopped with thwack to her knee. They weren't her shoes. She wanted her soft soled cream shoes not the shiny, stiff beasts that made her waddle and grunt.

Their offensiveness continued as she entered though a large door and crossed a hard tiled floor. The clack of the shoes against the tile reverberated up her legs and assaulted her ears. One hand was still held hostage so she clamped her ear against her shoulder and covered the other with her free palm. She tried to sit to remove the shoes, but was held by the wrist and could get no closer than hovering  a few inches above the cold floor.

Mama pulled her to her feet, wagged a stern finger in front of her nose and jerked her towards a large wooden counter where the tall man from home stood waiting.

He wore his usual stern look, but was less threatening than normal. An invisible weight pressed his shoulders and shrunk his hulking form. He didn't smile as they approached, only offered a nod of recognition.

She sought the lining of Mama's coat and rubbed it between her thumb and first finger. The satin held Mama's warmth and slid across her fingers.The soothing moment was disrupted by a sharp rap to the back of her hand.

"I swear! You will rub a hole right through. People will think I wear moth eaten clothes."

She sucked the back of her hand with her pudgy pink lips and tried not to cry. Mama didn't like when she cried.

Mama tugged on the itchy lace collar around her neck and straitened the stiff velvet of her skirt. The dress was for someone less round and chaffed her armpits. She had tried to wriggle out of it like the shoes, but the buttons were down the back and she couldn't reach them to escape.

Once she was deemed presentable, Mama grabbed her wrist and led her after the tall man down a hall towards a large, dark door with a shiny plaque. Her nose wrinkled at the strong stench of tobacco followed by a noisy gagging in her throat. Mama's firm thunk on her back stopped the noise, but her stomach curdled the same.

A round man in a white coat looked on through small wire spectacles, his expression was observant, but dissaproving. He motioned to the adults to sit while she was shuffled to the back of the room. There was no where for her to sit, but a round table squatted on top of a fancy woven rug. She crawled under the shelter of the table and began tracing the looping patterns of the rug with her small, chubby finger.

She heard only a murmer of voices around her. She reached the end of the rug where small tassles trimmed the edge and began stroking the tiny threads with her palm, over and over as the voices slipped away. She didn't hear things like, "for the best...betterment of society...among others with similar retardations".

She was lost in the red and cream swirls of the rug and the silky tassles until a sharp voice crackled through a box on the round man's desk. She stared open mouthed at the source of the voice waiting patiently to hear the box speak again. She noticed the tall man looking back at her and her eyes grew wide. He shook his head and released a somber sigh before turning back to the man behind the desk.

She heard the heavy step of hard soled shoes approach the door before an authoritative knock rapped on the wood. A brief grunt of acknoledgement admitted a broad woman in a startched white dress with a small matching cap pinned to her head. The round man at the desk pointed to the table and the lady in white crossed the room to peer under the table.

She wasted no time in trying to retrive her small body pressed against the wall. Her hands were cold and firm as they wrapped around her upper arms and started to pull. When she resisted, a firm pinch was delivered above the elbow.

Her response was a shrill scream followed by frantic swats that caught her own face rather than the assaulting woman. She yanked on her hair and tore at her ears, welts raised on her cheeks where her nails raked her face. She screamed with fury and with fear more than the pain of rough handling.

She was abrubtly stopped by a stinging slap across the face. She sat stunned into submission and was extracted from her haven by a pair of icy claws. With no sense of her own to support herself on her legs, she was hoisted under the lady's arm like a lamb being taken to slaughter.

The sight of her mothers powder blue skirt brought her back and she hysterically called out the only word she knew other than her own name. "Mama! Mama! MAMA!" She struggled and kicked screeching at Mama who sat stiff in her chair, one hand clutching a shiny blue pocket book on her lap, the other white gloved hand covering her mouth trying to hide her horror. Her eyes rimmed red and were moist with tears she fought to control.

The tall man didn't look back.

She shrieked and carried on as she was lugged out of the room and down the hall towards a pair of double doors. Her confusion interrupted her fit and the sudden change was mistaken for submission so she was set back on her feet.

She turned back to the front entrance that led to the sun soaked azaleas and began to panic. She wanted to go back the way she came. She wanted to leave with Mama.

She was redirected through the double doors with a firm hand on the back of her neck. Once through the doors her throat burned with the smells of bleach and urine and her throat began to gag. Her head lolled shoulder to shoulder as the cold grip on her neck shook her and sharp words hissed in her ears.

She listened to the buzz of the fluorescent lights above and tried not to think about her sore feet. Her face stung from being smacked and her neck was sore from the restraining fingers digging into her soft flesh. She knew there would be more. She could never help the things she did. All the treatments in the world couldn't change little Janie.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tick Tock

One of the greatest gifts life provides is the uncertainty of the hour of death. Everyone knows it is inevitable, but the circumstances and time are a mystery. It becomes almost possible to forget during the day to day that at some point in time, a final breath will be drawn.

Sandra had that gift stolen from her.

The clock set up a few feet in front of her ticked away the few remaining minutes of her life. Even if she had worked out of the ties binding her wrists to the chair, she couldn't have stopped the hands. The time would press on regardless if she ripped the gears from the box.

She had promised to scream until her lungs failed her, but it was her strength that was giving out. She was ashamed to concede she was giving up the fight. Her body was exhausted from hours of adrenaline surges instigated by fear, her wrists chaffed from struggling against plastic ties and her throat raw from unanswered screams for help.
The isolated room was concrete and steel, reinforcing the concept that escape was impossible. The rancid smell of the vomit on her shirt burned in her nose as her parched mouth begged for relief.

Sandra had watched nearly twenty four hours pass on the face of the clock with only her fear of his promised return to keep her company. Despite her best efforts to avert her gaze, she couldn't help but stare in terror at the impressive display he had left for her. Stainless steel trays boasted multiple tools that would have been better placed in a sterile surgical room, or possibly a dental office. He had explained the use of each item in detail, although his intents were most likely not the approved uses.

Her stomach retched at the sight of a small hooked pick, but her body didn't even have bile left to relieve the gagging.

The clock indicated only two minutes left of her twenty four hour exile. A small thought in the back of her mind prayed it would be quick, but she knew from the leering grin he had given her upon his departure, the process would last long past her begging for him to end any suffering.

Sandra felt her chest begin to heave, fighting for breath as sweat beaded across her face and trickled down the back of her neck. Deep from her gut, a primal sob formed and belched from her throat. She fought for air against her cries and felt her heart ready to burst from her chest.

There was no moment of peaceful resignation she had once imagined. No wave of clarity explaining the meaning of what her life had been meant for. Only horror.

One minute.

Against her conscious will, her body began to struggle against the restraints. Her ankles chaffed and tore to no effect against the straps pinning them to the chair legs. Her wrists were scraped raw and bleeding, but she continued to flail and sob, panic possessing every inch of her soul.

Finally, both hands of the clock stood straight up pointing triumphantly at the twelve.

Sandra heard a bolt being shifted on the other side of the heavy steel door.

Her senses dulled and turned numb. She couldn't even hear the piercing scream escape her lungs as the door opened.