Days? What are days? The lights never change in this god forsaken room. There’s no windows to tell the night from the day. This gray, silent room is so small, yet seemingly vast and empty. Four walls, a floor, a ceiling and one single door is all around me, and they’re all gray. There’s a phone on the wall, but it provides no color. It’s the same gray as the rest of the room.
Toilet and sink? Gray…
The little cot in the corner? Gray…
Gray, gray, gray…
I’d kill to see something other than gray, kill to hear something other than the humming of the fluorescent light above me. My voice is gone. I am mute. I want to speak, but I can’t. I want to scream, but nothing comes out.
Gray, gray, gray…
The phone rings once every long while, and it is the most beautiful sound. Shrill and wailing, and when I pick the phone up, I can hear again. But I am still mute. Mute… They can talk, but I can’t. They can ask me questions, but I cannot answer them. Why can’t I answer them? I could before!
Before I got locked up in here…
Why? What did I do to deserve this?!
The phone rings. I practically run to the phone. My foot nearly breaks on the wall.
She sounds so calm. “Hey honey. How are you? You’re okay, right? I wish you could answer. I wish there was something more they could do, so we can talk… But it’s okay. We will be okay. You’ll come out of there someday, and be back here. I’ll take you home, and everything will be like it used to be.”
I want that so badly. I want to come home. I don’t remember what she looks like anymore…
Gray, gray, gray…
The second the phone cuts out, she’s never finished with a sentence. There’s always something I miss…
“I’m so –“ Click… Nothing… Silence….Humming from that fucking light…
I let the phone hang by the cord, hoping for some sound, some sort of busy tone. But nothing ever comes.
The cot is stiff. I can’t seem to get comfortable when I sleep. I feel like my back is on fire when I sleep too long, and my breathing is harsh when I lay any other way. The toilet is dry, and makes no sound. The sink barely drips. Every so often, another drop will fall and I’ll feel satisfied for now. Food comes as slowly, but it seems to do the trick. It’s some tasteless fluid. If I could describe the taste... it would be
It rings again. Who knows after how long…but that sweet sound has never sounded more beautiful.
“Hey honey. I feel guilty for not talking to you for a while… I missed a few trips. I hope you’ll forgive me… I’ve been….Busy. Work and all… But I promise I’ll come talk as often as I can. It hurts sometimes… To know you’re right there, but still somehow so far away… That I could sit just feet from you, but you can’t see me… Sometimes I wonder if you could hear me in there. Can you?”
She’s on the other side of the wall. I know she’s there. But I can’t think of what she looks like… It’s like she’s being erased… She says it’s been so long…but I can’t tell. She says she’s sorry, but for what?!
She’s here! She’s so close!
My body is pressed against the door, I weep for her.
“I have to—“ And it cuts out…
…Why does it cut out… Why does it always cut out?!
What are weeks?
Nothing matters anymore but that phone ringing. I want it to ring. Please ring…
Please ring… Please Ring! PLEASE RING!!!
It never does…
How long have I been here?
Now that I think about it? I think I’m starting to forget what happened to get me in here…
I remember men dragging me. I remember they stuck me with a needle and threw me onto some cart. I wanted out, I wanted to run, but I remember them strapping me down and demanding that I stop resisting… But I had to fight for her. I had to escape to see her again.
She’s so lovely… But I can’t remember her face.
Oh god…I can’t remember her name…
I mourn her.
She is still there somewhere beyond these walls, but her name, her face….
What color were her eyes again? Blue? Brown? Maybe Green?
And her hair!
I remember that…Right?
It was….sh….long? No….
What’s happening to me?
Is it the food? Is it the water?
What are these fuckers doing to me?!
And why is everything so FUCKING GRAY!
I flip the cot, and break the legs, smashing them against the door. I stomp on the toilet, but can’t manage to break it. But before I can do any more damage, everything goes dark.
“Calm down…” someone’s voice called out.
One of them...
One of the bastards keeping me here.
What did they just do to me?!
Why can’t I move?!
Why can’t…I ………think……?
OH GOD IT’S RINGING!
I wake up from my cot and run to the corner and answer.
“I realized…I’m not sure if I can keep doing this… I’m not sure if I can keep this up anymore… You’re stuck…And I can’t help you. But you did this to yourself… And they say you might never come out now…after what happened…”
“I met some—“
It cut out.
Oh god, no…
Please, come back…
Don’t leave me alone in here… Don’t leave me… Marcy….
I remember you! Please! Please call!
PLEASE PHONE, RING!!!!
Oh god please come back, Marcy….
I remember your gorgeous brown hair, and your pretty green eyes…. Please come back!
Why are you leaving me…..FUCK! What is her name again?!
NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!
I had it…
I…I knew it….
Please, Come back to me….Remind me….
She’s gone… She’s gone…And I’m alone…
And everything is fucking GRAY!
Why do I have to stay here? Why can’t I just go home… Why can’t I just find her again?!
She’s…all I had…She’s all I was…
Why did she say she was leaving? Why did they say I’d never get out? Why won’t they set me free?
Why why why why why why why why why why….Why am I alive?
I bash my head into the wall.
Again…It wasn’t hard enough.
FUCK! JUST DIE! DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE ALREADY!
Am I bleeding?!
Please tell me I’m bleeding.
I need something with color….Red would be so beautiful…
YES! It’s RED!
YES!!! Oh god it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!
How long have I gone without seeing color!?
How long has it been?!
I need more of this!
No, not black. No…..
How long have I been here?
How long since the red stopped coming out?
I can barely muster the strength to get it, but I manage…
It’s….It’s not her….
“You’re lucky to be alive. She came in to see you…And when she saw what happened…What you looked like…I’m sorry, she couldn’t stay. We were worried she’d rile you up again…since…it was her visit that caused your little episode last time. She blames herself, but we promised her that it was just normal for someone in your circumstances. But…I hate to be the one who says it…but you will likely not come out. You’re going to be stuck like this for the rest of your life. I’m sorry. And if you do…ever get out… I don’t know if you’re ready for what you’ll see. I don’t know if you’d be able to handle it. It’s---“
FUCK! WHY DID IT CUT OUT!?
I give up…
That’s it… Isn’t it?
I’m going to die in this room…
I’m going to never get away from this fucking buzzing light, and this fucking gray room…
I’m going to be a rotting, gray corpse in a stagnant gray room. Robbed of life, robbed of her…
What have I done that was so bad to get locked up in here?
I… I give up…
Sweet death, give me your hand and let me die. Help me escape from this room… Help me…
Hollow eyes and humming from those lights…
My heart stopped?
NO! Don’t’ save me!
Brilliant light and red…RED!
But….It’s not blood…It’s….My….
I can’t open them….
“That was close, Mr Carlyle. Wasn’t it.” The nurse spoke quietly. “Gave us a fright.”
“Why di yuh do thih?” Wait… I spoke?!
“Calm down, Mr Carlyle…Doctor! He’s awake!”
The bed was uncomfortable, but I couldn’t roll over. Bedsores?
“Good morning Mr Carlyle… I’m Dr Rene Mueller, and I’m going to help your rehabilitation… Are you able to talk?”
I shook my head… I was so tired. The lights above me in the hospital room were buzzing, like the one in the room, but at least the ceiling was an eggshell white. The curtains in the room were a similar color, but outside… There was…Blue….and Green…. Sky and Treetops…
“Mr Carlyle…how about you blink? Blink once for yes, twice for no. Okay?”
“Do you know where you are?”
“You’re in the hospital…do you know why?”
“You were in a car accident… Your blood alcohol content was way too high. You hit a van. But you’re alive. That’s what counts. For the past six years, we’ve done whatever we can to keep you alive. And here you are. They said it would take a miracle to wake you up. Looks like all it took was an aneurism. Congratulations, Mr Carlyle. You cheated death… But I don’t want to excite you any more than I guess I have already… I have a letter here. It doesn’t say from whom… but we’ve been waiting to read it to you. Do you want me to read it?”
He exhaled, reading through it. “On second thought… I think it’s best you wait before you read this. Okay?”
“Don’t talk… Just trust me.”
The doctor sat back and looked to the side. “Rest up, Mr Carlyle. We’ll talk again tomorrow. Til then, try not to talk, don’t strain yourself.”
Sleep is no refuge…
I’ve traded one prison for another, but…This seems more real.
I was in the room for six years?
Why am I so thin?
Why am I so weak?
“Put her there.”
Eyes open, and see a new bed rolling in. “What happened to this one? Shit, the bruising is really bad.”
“Attempted suicide, cops found her hanging from a tree outside.”
“Do they think she’ll be here long?”
“She’s not expected to make the night. She’s completely brain dead…”
The two orderlies left my neighbor and the light went off.
I pity her.
Death seems so shallow, compared to all the colors… Life is so full of color and so full of light. There’s sound, smells, sensations worth living for. Sensations that I took for granted for so long…so long…
I want to talk to her.
I want her to know that what she did, she did for her own reasons. But that she wasn’t alone.
I don’t even know if she’ll hear me. But coming to terms with life and death…I feel obligated somehow.
I can’t form the words properly…but I tried to tell her that life is beautiful, and to remember her life fondly. To think of every moment she had where she smiled. Think of when she saw all those people that were involved with her life, and maybe some who weren’t, and think of them fondly… Think of the birds, the trees, the ocean waves, and the cold of winter…. It is beautiful… It is colorful… Reds and blues, Greens…. Yellow, Purple, Orange….and yes…sometimes…Even Gray… Treasure every memory of sound, of voices and language. I told her to treasure every breath she had the opportunity to breathe. I told her that I’d be with her until she went. Until she passed on.
The machines beeped…and I hummed a little song…something from some faint memory. I had no more words to offer the poor woman. And when the machines that kept her alive stopped running, when her body finally gave way… I thought about Marcy. And the letter that she left. The letter I so desperately wanted to read.
Dr Mueller came in and sighed, “Damn…”
I couldn’t turn my head, but I heard the blanket pulled over the poor woman’s head.
The machines went silent.
“Patient: Marcy White, Time of Death: 3:45am, on December Fifth, 2021.”