Linda Vista Hospital…In Memoriam
Beyond the door, in shadowed hallways where paint slowly peels itself from the walls to expose what never should have been hidden, dust motes almost form something recognizable as shredded curtains stir in the absence of breeze. On the memory of my skin sensations prickle, invisible breath stirs unseen hairs on my neck, calling forth phantom gooseflesh.
They are in the hall, at the far end, their heavy footfalls and artificial light shattering the calm.
Abandoned here in a time that was but is no more; once comatose, then awake, then away again. And later the straps—restraints, they said, for my own good, for my safety and the safety of others. But that was then, long before the doctors fled and the others begin to scream their pain into the plaster walls and ceilings, those screams turning to pathetic cries of grief and finally to pleading whimpers that someone, anyone, if there’s a God, please let it end.
For some it did end, a flame extinguished, a final exhale, release. And for some of us that flame sputtered but did not die; we found ourselves suspended in the space between breaths, just past some cruel tipping point, over-balanced and falling but never landing. Lodged between a life of horror and a deferred eternity.
Out there…whispers in the dark, calling for reply, like a hesitant liturgy, their call at once hoping for and fearing response…the probing voices, scuffling shoes, jittery bouncing lights stabbing into darkened rooms. Their queries shatter the silence, becoming more insistent with each step: Is someone here? Anyone? Can you hear us? Please make yourself known if you can hear us. Two doors down now, shambling closer, their ragged breath propelling a cushion of distress ahead of them, that terror they push forward like a desperate barrier that will keep them safe or somehow prepare them if their entreaties should be answered…closer now, nervous giggles jagging on the air.
In the dusty murk, long ago hidden away from hurting hands, away from dirty needles and barbed straps, away from the taunting scalpels, safe in my small shadowed corner—apart from it all, I crouch, but no longer cower. Huddled into myself, I wait.
They are closer now, closer to my space, my sanctuary. One door away, the dread clear in their childish words of bravado, Come out, come out, wherever you are.
I will not disappoint them.