Inside my head. That’s where it all started. Well, that’s not quite right, it really started weeks ago on the corner of a wet street as the rain fell and I stood on the sidewalk cursing myself inwardly for not having bought an umbrella. I always tended to do that, complained whenever I remembered I needed something. So there I stood in a drenched summer dress and wedges, tears mixing with the green stuff pouring from my nose. I could barely see. Barely hear what was going on around me. Random people pushing past, angry at this crazy woman taking up the walking space as they hurried from work, to homes, to lovers, to bars. I couldn’t move though. I couldn’t move because; this was where it started. I was going to die.
I was going to die and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I would die and I would leave everything behind. My new condo. My dog Sam. It was all going to disappear as I was buried under six feet of crumbling dirt. No one would even care enough to help me. When death came for me he would come smiling, ready to embrace me as he had so many before, many who were worthier of his touch.
So there I stood, somewhere between a department store and an abandoned alley. My hands clutched my purse and hair stuck unceremoniously to my face as I considered my fate. No, I didn’t have a disease. I hadn’t been threatened, no one was about to run me over. But, my mind held on and it wouldn’t let go, it ruled in that instant and in those moments it was bigger than anything, bigger than me and it was saying.
“You are going to die.” It didn’t care about anything else. Not the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day. Not that I missed my husband immensely and wanted to touch him; anywhere. That voice cared for nothing but those words. Over and over they jeered while I begged it to play another tune.
“You have to move.” That was me, I think. Somewhere deep down I was telling that person in my head to shut up because I was going to have to leave. I had to get home quickly. Sam hadn’t been fed and he’d be cranky. So with the image of that miniature ball of slobbering fur in mind, I started to walk.
My pace was ridiculously slow because to go any faster felt like I would fall. I slid in my wet shoes and tried to maintain my balance. This was difficult as I fought against the heavy downpour, blinded eyes and slippery feet. I envied those protected from this watery attack and took in the weird looks of those smart enough to seek shelter. Then, just as I was getting the hang of walking on water, the inevitable happened. I started to fall. I reached my hands out looking for anything to grab hold of, anything at all.
“Babe what’s wrong?” I could hear his voice. My hands were stretched out in front of me. I gasped sitting up; gulping as if I had swallowed too much liquid too fast. Asleep? So that wasn’t real? Jason had already switched on the bedside lamp and I knew I must’ve looked a wreck because his concerned expression spread. I said nothing to him and jumped up making a hasty retreat to our bathroom locking the door behind me. I turned on the light and accessed my bewildered expression. “Honey?” I could hear him, but it was as if I couldn’t answer. As if I couldn’t quite release myself from the unreal just yet.
I breathed deep. Considered myself for a moment longer and opened the door. Jason stood there, anger having replaced his previous concern. “Why wouldn’t you answer? I was worried.” I started to speak, tried to tell him sorry, looked for the words to appease him, to make him love me again.
“You are going to die.” I looked around. No, why was I looking, I knew nothing was there; I watched way too much television to think I’d see a man coming from the shadows. A figment sent to drive me mad. No. This was something within me wasn’t it? It was or, was I still? No, I was awake, wide awake, because Jason was shouting at me now. He was shouting and I knew that when he started to shout pain usually followed.
Again I tried to speak. Words though; words seemed wary of me. It was as if my body was petrified in movement. I looked away from Jason, which only served to make him angrier. He shouted obscenities as I turned away from him. As I turned away walking towards our bedroom door. He wouldn’t follow though, for some reason I knew he would not follow me. I’m not sure how I knew. I was right.
Next I heard scampering feet and looked down to see Sam smiling in his dog-like fashion, begging for attention. I didn’t want to acknowledge him though. I had to get outside; had to get real air flowing through my lungs. I had no time for furry objects with scratching paws and licking tongues. Reaching the glass door to our condo’s patio, I slid it open, wondering ever so briefly if Sam had been fed.
The night air. Or was it early morning? I wasn’t sure, I hadn’t consulted the time and it was still dark. There were no moon or stars as both of these were covered by a blanket of menacing clouds. Clouds which would soon send the rain. This thought took me back to my dream. Was it a dream? Yes of course it was. The voice was nothing but a repeat of what I’d experienced in my nightmare. Nothing more than residual effects. I became calmer as I rationalized. I would explain this all to Jason and he would understand. I would kiss Sam lovingly as I always did on the tip of his nose and he too would no longer be offended by my indifference.
“You are going to die.” This time I did not move. I would ignore it. It was only a thought. The after-effect. I experienced this at times. Vivid dreams that took over everything. Dreams that ruled for days in my mundane reality. They came and went. This was just another of these. So I ignored it. Ignored the voice that tried to destroy me. That tried to wreak havoc on my mind.
An apple tree heavy with fruit, swung wildly in the wind. It was close enough to reach out to and when the season was right, we sometimes picked and ate them straight from the tree. They were Jason’s favourite and for a moment I thought of getting one for him. I was cautious of the high wind though and quickly abandoned that idea.
The first rain drops came hard and fast. There was no warning. They just fell, wetting the patio’s floor in all of an instant. Why was I up there? I was on the ledge now; the ledge that connected our condo to two others, just four feet from the ground. I was wet already. I knew I had to get inside. Instead. I jumped.
As I fell I could hear laughter. I didn’t know if that was strange or not. It felt comforting, but somehow I knew it shouldn’t. I hit the grass laden with pebbles at the bottom and felt a sharp pain flow through my body. It seemed to go from end to end; head to toes. Then I felt nothing. Felt nothing as the rain poured down on me. Drowning me.
“Yes, we let her out to paint and she went over the second floor balcony. It’s a pity, she seemed as though she was getting better.” This was a woman. The first speaker sounded like a man. I could tell the gender differences, yet they both sounded the same. This made me laugh. Made me laugh out loud; but they couldn’t hear me so it was alright.
“We’re going to have to up her meds.” It was the woman-man again, talking about some girl on medication. Where was Jason though? Where was he? The room was foreign to me. It was brightly lit, with only a bed and desk. This was ridiculous. Who could possibly live in here? I tried to speak. Tried to tell them that I’d fallen off the ledge at home and I needed to get back because my lover would be worried. I couldn’t though. It was the strangest thing. Every time I tried to speak nothing came out. It’d been happening for hours now; I would definitely have to go to the doctor’s in the morning.
I saw the man coming towards me. He looked friendly enough. He spoke to me in the most comforting tone I had ever heard. “Okay we’re going to remove this, please don’t bite your tongue this time Anna.” Remove what? Bite my tongue? Was he crazy? And, how did he know my name? I had never met him before. I felt my head pulled forward slightly as something was taken from my mouth. My hands I realized now were also bound, as were my feet. What was this a sick joke? I wanted to go home. Now!
“I’m sorry Anna we can’t release you. I don’t feel you’ve made enough progress yet.” Progress? I was getting more and more confused and it showed, because he tried to explain himself. “Remember dear, you’ve been with us for over a year.” He looked so sincere. He was delusional the poor man. I needed to get out of these restraints. I didn’t want to see what he’d do to me when he was in a bad mood. I decided to play along until I could get myself out. “Remember, you killed your husband Jason and set fire to your home with him and your pet inside?” What? Now I knew he was crazy. I’d just left there and everything was perfectly fine.
The man smiled patronizingly at me. I could feel a prick and saw the woman who he had been speaking to lodge a needle into my arm. I panicked slightly when I saw this but didn’t want to arouse whatever sick ideas the two might have, so I remained silent. “See Anna, the mere fact that you don’t remember your crimes shows me that you definitely are not ready to be integrated, even among the other inmates.”
Crimes? Now this was taking it too far. I had never committed any crimes. “Yes Anna, murder and arson. Those things are wrong.” I hated the smug tone he used. It started to annoy me a great deal. I tried to move my arms but they were still bound. I did not care what they did to me anymore, I just wanted to slap that cocksure expression off his face. I could only take so much, even if I was being held prisoner here. After all, I’d just fallen off a ledge trying to reach for some orange or other fruit.
“No, not quite dear.” That damn voice. She felt good though. She could speak, I’d let her speak for me; let her explain to this asinine man that he didn’t know what he was talking about. She opened her mouth, a smile spreading as she spoke. A refreshingly beautiful tone.
“You’re going to die. You’re all going to die.” ~