by Buffonia

She shows me a dark place. I think it's Hers, her place. All dark and wet with slick walls. I can hear dripping and it echoes. I want to reach up, I want someone to pull me up, but my fingers are sore from scratching.

Is this your place? I ask in my mind. She can hear me. She can hear all of us.

I can't hear Her. I can never hear Her. She doesn't like to use her voice, and She doesn't really have to.

Now we're in a white room and She's there, in her chair, and She nods to my question. I can't see her face. I don't think I want to see her face. Her hair is soaking wet, the tips leaving water-drops to fall on the picture in her hands.

She wants me to look at it but She won't hold it up. I'm supposed to move closer. She's not letting me see the drawing, but I have to see it. I know that I don't want to move closer. There's a quiet anger all around Her. She sits like She's fragile and humble, head bowed and silent.

But She's not. Not fragile anymore and never humble and forever unquiet. I don't want to move closer, I don't like being scared like this, but I know She won't let me leave until I look at her picture. The room is whiter and brighter with every step towards Her, the tick of the clock louder than the one before.

Her bloodied fingertips are folded around the edges of the paper, I can almost see its secret. I want Rachel to be here with me. Or Katie, but Katie's with Her. I can't have Katie back, not ever. Because She keeps Katie and the rest of them with Her in the dark, in the water, in her nightmares.

I can hear them, probably because She can. Screaming and scratching and struggling for air. I want to help them but I can sense that bad things will happen if I try. And there's nothing to try.

There's a face. That's all I can make out, at first, on the crisp white page. The body is smeared beneath her damp fingers. It's in blue and yellow and black crayons. The face is a boy's face, and the woman next to him is laying down, her face scribbled out with yellow. Poor lady, sad boy. They're trapped in a circle. A ring.

I don't want to see anymore.

I want to turn and run to the glass and hit it and beg for someone to let me out. Before I can even look at the window from where they stare, the paper starts to smoke. The picture's edges curl and blacken with heat, like the tip of one of Rachel's hidden cigarettes. The smoke lights to flame and the picture is afire in her lap, the water like gasoline, only feeding it.

She doesn't burn. And finally the picture is just ashes on her dirty white dress.

Smoke again. And pain. Her chubby, stinging hand on my arm. I'm screaming, screaming but She's so used to hearing the screams that it doesn't stop her and there's nothing I can try or do and She's lifting her head and the hair rolling back and away and I don't don't don't want to see her face and I'm falling and falling and...

I wake up. And Rachel's smiling.

I don't want to die.


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