My eyelids flutter open, my vision still blurry from sleep. I lay alone in a room, cool shell-pink walls wrapped around me. Outside the broad window the glorious July sun is shining, and the white curtains softening the window’s edges gently shift as the air conditioning rises. Oak trees are gently swaying and bowing in the wind. It is a day that must be spent outdoors.
Turning my aching head I gaze up at the blurred outline of bed curtain tracks sweeping around the ceiling. I slide my curious eyes over to find a closed door. Hushed voices come and go, accompanied by the click, click of heels. I inhale the sickly scent of cleaning fluid. The air hangs so still — I really must open a window. “Doctor Blake, extension 792. Doctor Blake, extension 792.” drones an intercom. Arguing men’s voices get louder and then fade away. I am in hospital, it seems. And I am forgotten, and I am alone.
My muscles ache as though I’ve climbed a mountain, and my veins throb as if on fire. Thoughts are hard to come by and my head is throbbing. Dryness desert-parches my mouth and throat. My tongue is swollen and woolly, almost gagging me. Why am I having such trouble thinking?
I try to shift in the bed then let out a hoarse cry as I feel pain at my wrists and ankles. I lift my head and through the blur I can make out unforgiving brown leather restraints on all four of my limbs. My wrists and ankles are tender and sore (had I struggled?). Terror violates me.
What did I do? Why am I punished? How did I get here? Where is everyone? How can they leave me here like this? How did this happen? Hot angry tears slide down my temples.
Through the haze I summon my last clear memory. I am peeling off my sundress and under-things, casting them to the grass, and sashaying through the downtown park. I am naked, as this is how God made me, and I barely notice the stares. Summer sunshine warms my freed skin, and a luscious wind blows through my long blond hair. I am in sync with all of creation, at peace, high on life. My bare feet become light-footed, and I dance and cartwheel in the soft grass. Sheer glory.
Before this. Before this. Before this.