A Dreamed Digression


Some nights it doesn’t pay to go to sleep….


The hospital room is cold and spacious, smelling of soup and silence. Seven beds, in two neat rows along the halftone walls. Why seven?

All empty.

At the far end beneath the massive windows, she sits patiently at a small table. The oval mirror before her is covered with a blue velvet cloth, hanging in ludicrously graceful curves. She does not turn. She does not move. Will she speak to me?

I am behind her, taking her offered brush. It is heavy, made of metal, perhaps pewter or lead. Soft iron. Is it supposed to be like this?

I weigh her hair, oiled ebony, in my right hand. I draw the brush through it with effort, long inky tresses hanging plumline straight. Again and again, stopping every seventh stroke to reverse the direction. Why?

The brush grows heavier stroke by stroke. Wearing me out. I keep hearing clocks tolling. How many?

She is singing to herself, too soft to hear the words, the tunes sad and slow, disjointed. What language is that? She keeps changing songs, like a phonograph skipping. Never the same one twice. Is she speaking to me, now? I can’t understand. Did she say “Testify”, or was it “Testament”? Did she say “Abstract”? Did she call me William? This can’t be English…can it?

Her hair is in a jet black corona on the floor around my feet. Something smells burnt. Why didn’t I notice the brush was so sharp? It gleams with what…oil?

Where has she gone? The windows are all wide open now, letting in a warm sandy breeze. I go to look out at the water, to see where she has gone. I throw the brush down to the wave-covered rocks. Why did I do that? It shatters like glass on impact. The noise makes it night. Where did the windows go?

The windows don’t matter anymore. Did they ever?

I turn to face them again at last. The seven beds.

All empty.

All empty.

Do I remember anything else?


1 Comment

  1. This is beautiful….. and extremely scary. Quite unnerving. It makes my heart ache.


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