another unfamiliar bed. although this one is oddly familiar.
she stares at the institutional acoustic paneling on the ceiling, looking for patterns in the tiny holes, stringing together constellations, waiting for the transition between one unreality and another.
light pushes in through the blinds. it must be morning.
the other bed is so far unoccupied. one of the advantages of being unpredictable.
the room is pretty much empty apart from the beds, the sterile endtables, a cushioned chair, and the featureless landscape framed above the matched dressers.
she thinks and can’t recall whether she’s been assigned to this one before. hard to say. there are different paintings in each room, but they’re all pretty much identical. was there someone whose job it was to buy neutral art in bulk? so unexceptional that the sick won’t be oppressed, and the insane won’t be inspired? there was probably some clearinghouse in topeka that cranked all this stuff out.
so far, she’s been able to find a star of david, a skeleton key and a teddy bear in the stars above, black on white. that’s sixty points. zero points are awarded for faces. you always see faces. pretty much any collection of any random thing will give you a face. a human being sees faces everywhere, whether eyes open or closed.
her wrists and ankles still sting. probably allergic to the restraints. but they’re gone now, and she’s back in the general population.
general but crazy.
she’s coming down in every way.
so here she lies, balanced precariously between one unreality and another.
the last week flashes across her mind, one part shame, three parts release. the proportions will change over time, and they’ll only let her leave when the shame has eventually consumed the release.
but for now, the magic is still there. tingling.
she lied to the doctor.
“are you still having any magical thinking?”
after the briefest pause she said, “no.”
she’s sure he noticed the pause. that’s what he’s paid for. and it’s the same every time. as much as she wants to sell an early transformation, and maybe get out a day sooner, it never comes out clean. always some hesitation. because it’s a lie. it’ll be a lie for the next two days. then it will be true. the day after that, they’ll let her go.
one unreality and another.
everyone on this side is so sure they know which is which.
she can’t help chuckle aloud. which is which. wish is wish.
if the cameras picked up the laugh, she’ll be here the full six days.
still, it’s true. none of it is real. it’s just that more people believe one side than the other.
but she knows where the truth lies. they say a genius can hold a truth, while all others deny it.
she resists the urge to rub her stinging wrists. she doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction. because she knows in a week’s time they’ll be more than satisfied.
she’ll soon be crying, but she still feels good.
her body feels distinctly bad. she hasn’t eaten in days. there are bruises she can’t account for. and other things.
but she’s still far away from her body. she’s still where she wants to be.
it’s written in the heavens above. one black hole at a time.
it shouldn’t be more than a week.
one week, and she can start making her way back up the mountain. back up to the heavens. the release.
all she has to do is remember.
this time she won’t forget.