She's crying again. The sad lady, she's locked her arms around her legs and she's whimpering. I can see her lovely red hair, stringy and dull now, and I notice how frail it makes her seem as it frames her face like a fiery mane. It must have been soft once. My fingers reach out to touch it, but I stop. Instead my fingers stay up, my skin imagining how such strands would feel as they slipped through my fingers.
I want her to stop crying, but I don't know what to say to her. I don't really know her, at least, I do not think I do. I am merely here to watch her, to stay with her so she isn't too lonely. I don't want to be lonely either, so I will stay here with my fingers raised and itching to touch that marvellous hair.
Her cries soften suddenly and the vicious shaking of her shoulders eases. She is still hugging her knees to her chest, still rocking in place in the corner of her room, but she is quieting down. Inch by inch, a beautiful face of pale skin is revealed, skin so white it's almost translucent. Pale like my own. How long has it been since I've been here? How long since I have last seen the Light? The warm Light, not the garish flourescent lights that keep the hallways here bright and harsh. My hand is so white . . . For a moment, I allow myself to miss the Light.
Green eyes. This woman has green eyes. I think I already knew that, at least, part of me thinks that I should. Green like emeralds, stones burning from the recesses of such a fair complexion. They are frightened at first, darting around her and drinking everything in. Her steel bunk with its clean, white sheets, the plain blue shirt and pants she wears, soft cotton for the ensemble and bare feet. She stares at the gray walls that enclose her, she even reaches out a tentative finger to touch the wall she leans against. Her fingertip barely brushes the plaster when she rips it away and hides it amongst the folds of her clothing.
I touch the wall before me, following her example. It is smooth and cold, strong and confining. Real, it feels like it's Real. Is that what she wanted to know? Was she wondering if she had imagined it all? The linoleum under her and the low ceiling above her, was it possible to imagine such a thing? One thing was certain as I watched my woman rock in her corner. Things were most certainly not imagined.
My hand slides down the panel of glass between us, my palm leaving a faint print on the spotless clear. I do not think she heard me, but the sad woman looked up and at me. Our eyes meet for a moment, and I am elated. I have been trying in vain to catch her attention for quite some time now and have so far been unsuccessful. How happy it makes me that her green eyes meet with my own. How it breaks my heart to see her whisper a name through her chapped lips. It hurts because I cannot hear her. I can only See, that is all I am meant to do. I am not supposed to interfere.
I lose her attention as quickly as I had caught it. The large man is walking up behind me, whistling cheerfully. I like this man. His round face is as dark as cocoa, and his skin smooth. It makes me think of marble, a large piece of marble with incredibly white teeth and a smile forever imprinted on its face. His black eyes twinkle as he pushes his cart along and he pays me no attention. I am not the one who needs him now. I watch as he carefully counts some pills and drops them into a little cup. I am saddened suddenly. I know what is coming and I do not like it. It upsets me that this man is the one who will do this to her today. I wonder, does he feel my eyes burning on his face?
If he does, he pays me no mind. Still whistling, (the notes are making me angry now, every trill and note), he picks up his cup and walks casually to the door next to me. I am suddenly surprised. Why had I not noticed the door? Has it been here all along?
The man opens it with the key attached to a bangle on his wrist. It is a strange contraption of twirled plastic that holds many keys. I pause and think. Does every one of those keys open the door to a sad woman like my own? The man is opening the door now, he pushes and it swings open. He smiles to my woman as he greets her and calls out her name. I strain to hear it, but I cannot catch his words. My heart hurts to watch her now as she scrambles to her feet, her eyes wide in fear and her arms held out in front of her, warding him away. I can feel her pain from here. I can sense it, like a wave that passes through me.
The man is trying to keep her calm. His tone of voice is soft and reassuring. He his holding the cup of pills in his hand, inching his way closer to her. He means to feed her those medicines, even if he must use force to do so. My woman is sobbing again, her head is thrashing about on her slender neck, so violently I am afraid it will snap. The man must sense this too, for he reaches out suddenly and grips her arm. My woman screams.
The man is still talking calmly to her as he uses his fat fingers to open her mouth. She is struggling in his arms, shaking and doing everything she can to get away from his binding arms. He succeeds in putting the pills in her delicate mouth, and my palms slap against the glass. She hears it, she must! I know she does because she suddenly looks up at me, looking at me this time, deep into my own eyes as I get lost within hers. She whispers again, I wish I could hear her! Her lips move a little, so gently I am almost uncertain that she spoke at all. But she has, she has spoken and she has seen me. Is this joy, this sudden strain in my heart?
I can see myself reflected in her eyes if I want to, and I do indeed choose to do so. I decided that I no longer want to be on the outside. I want to be within the room, with her. I dare a glance at the large man, who is watching her now, making sure that she swallows the drugs he has administered. She does. I decided, and I am. I am within her cell, and I reach out to that flaming hair of hers.
She is still looking at me and I see myself in her dark irises. I see a young girl, barely nine, two long braids and liquid eyes. The reflection reaches up and touches one of the dark braids, her arms flashing white within the sombre abyss of my woman's eye. My fingers do indeed touch such a braid. I hold it out, amazed and yet not surprised. I knew they were there, didn't I?
The eyes suddenly droop and close as my woman sinks down and collapses on the floor. I am scared. What has happened? I stare wildly at the black man. What have you done to her?!
"It's okay Angie", he whispers as he picks her up gently and places her on her bunk. "You rest now."
"But the girl, the little girl". The woman's voice jumps from octave to octave in her whisper.
"Just sleep darling", the man coos.
His voice is like water, it rumbles in the stillness of the cell. I glare at him with all the anger I can muster. I had caught her attention once more, and once again he made me lose it! My lady's emerald eyes are closed now, no reflection anymore. The little girl within them lost to the dark of sleep. Will I ever find her again?
The man pauses to stroke her hair, he brushes a fiery lock away from her face. I am suddenly very cold, and I shake. How dare he touch her! That hair is mine! She is mine! I am the one who stays here to Watch her. I am the one who stayed behind. I am so angry that I rush from the cell, slamming closed the door that he had left ajar. The man suddenly jumps up in fright, looks at the door and he scratches his head in confusion. I do not open the door for him. Let him find his own way. I exit the room and make my way back to the glass, my palms against it and my eyes open and drinking in my woman's sleeping form. I shall Watch her now. I shall guard her sleep.
It is night now, and the halls are quiet. It is still, so still that the rain pounding against the windows is projecting strange shadows on the walls and the panels of glass. I cannot hear it, but I can see it, the water dripping and flowing down all around me. The lights are extinguished, save for the bare light bulbs that hang every few yards from the ceiling. They only enhance the melancholy falling of the rain drops. Make all the clearer the ghost-like streams that are flooding down the sides of the building. I shudder in the dark. I do not like this water, this Dark water.
I keep my eyes fixed on the sleeping form of my woman. I pay no mind to the water that is falling down the walls of the building, streaming around me and enveloping me in the continuous wave. I am in the Dark once more, and the water is smothering me. My breath fogs the glass and my eyes close. I do not want to see it anymore. But even with my eyes closed so tightly, my mind is still replaying the black water around me, above me. My lungs are on fire! I cannot breathe! Suddenly, my eyes are opened, and the Dark goes away.
She moans silently and turns unto her back. She has my full attention now, my palms are against the glass, my forehead and the tip of my nose resting on the pane. My woman is talking in her sleep, tossing on the steel bunk, her hand falling from her stomach to dangle off the side. How frail her fingers look, thin and weak. But at the same time, there is a grace there, a knowledge. These are fingers that have touched in love, that have healed cuts and scrapes and fingers that have held smaller ones safe within them.
I look at my one hand, pressed flat against the glass. My hand is small, and chubby as compared to hers. I cannot remember if anyone has ever held my hand within their own like I know this woman has. The familiar cold wraps itself around me again and I remember, if only for a fleeting moment, what it is like to be held. To be comforted. And just as quickly as it comes, it is suddenly lost, and I cannot recall what it is I just remembered.
My woman suddenly sits up on her bed. I am in shock and a little worried for her. What has woken her? I do not have to wait for long. The music hits me even before I turn to face the Light. My hands slide away from the glass and ball into fists at my sides. My eyes are suddenly squinting at the Light, it is so bright that the light bulbs on the ceiling hum for a moment before they shatter.
The pieces rain down around me, the glass catching fragments of the Light and reflecting it all the more on the walls.
I am not worried. This is not the first time that I have seen the Light. I have seen it before, only then it did not seem so dangerous. Before it was warm, like liquid love, a kind of essence that filled you and surrounded you. A wonderful golden Light, one that enveloped you and brought you where you were meant to go. But this was not my Light. I did not hear the same song that I have heard before, and although I could feel the warmth, I was not the one being called. I understood quickly and spun around, my soul hurting as I watched Angie get up and stare. For Angie was her name wasn't it? Angela, Angelina, Anglica. Angel.
Angie, come to Me. I am calling you Home.
I do not like the Voice. It hurts me to hear It and it hurst to be so ignored, so looked over. It is not calling to me, It is calling to her, to my woman. No! You cannot take her from me! I am here with her, do You not understand? I stayed here to keep her company! She has not been lonely, I have been here. Who will keep me if You take her from me?
The Light grows so bright that I step back from It, shielding my eyes with my hand. But it does no good. My hand is too pale, to white. The Light simply shines through me, and I am more translucent then before. My eyes search for Angie wildly. She is walking, smiling. My sad woman is laughing! Her voice is twinkling like the Light Itself, and she is glowing too. I rush to her, but I cannot get close. The Light has already enveloped her, taken her into Itself. I cry out without making a sound. No, do not leave me! I stayed behind for you!
I can speak no other word. I do not think I even spoke at all. It makes no difference really, she has already made her choice, as I made mine so long ago. She has accepted the Light as I turned away from It. Does she not know the sacrifice I have made?! I am not ready to leave her!
The Light is now so bright that I cannot bear It. I close my eyes and scream, no sound emitting from my mouth. I stand and cry, my arms waving wildly around me, trying in vain to beat the Light away. It sighs, and swallows up the silent noises I am making. It bursts suddenly, and It is gone.
Everything is dark and I see. I see the glass light bulbs on the ceiling, perfectly fine, they were never broken. I see Angie laying on her bunk, her hand still dangling from the bed. But she is not Angie, she is just a woman now. She is not even my sad woman. She is just empty, there is but the shell left. Where am I? This is not she! This is not where I am meant to be!
My feet scrape soundlessly down the hall. The glass wall is there, waiting for me. I smile and laugh, my braids swinging back in forth as I skip closer. Here is my place, here is where I shall Watch. A woman is sleeping, curled on her bunk, her short black hair dishevelled and thick. Her eyelids flutter in sleep but she does not wake. Here is She, my lonely woman. It is she that I must Watch.
My palms rise and place themselves so familiarly against the glass, and my nose touches it as well. This feels right, although it is not Real. But what is Real? Why should it not be right? After all, I have always stood at this window, watching my lonely woman sleep. The sun is rising now, but the halls are still cold. My breath fogs the window, and I take my finger and trace a word on the misty glass.
That was my name once, I think...