Somewhere between pain and death lies enough.
She remembered the Angel and those words. She also remembered the body. That’s what the Angel had called it, not by name because that lifted with the soul as well. Just the “body” he would say - over and over again. She wanted desperately to correct him, but she had been taught as a child to respect her elders, as much bullshit as that was, that is what she was taught. So, she stayed silent back then. Besides, it did make it easier…Just the body!
Anna was ten the first time the Angel had spoke with her. Always under the cloak of darkness which never made sense to her, because the only thing that Anna knew about Angels, she had learned in a coloring book. There were pictures of Angels in her book, and those Angels had always come in the light. In fact, she can still remember the names of the crayons she used to color them – sky blue, sunset orange, lemon yellow…sea green. Those images burned brightly in her memory. They were never dark.
It had been 12 years since the last time the Angel had spoken to her – Until last night.
She had woken that morning to the grayest of days. Gray was the easiest crayon to find for her as a child, it simply said “Gray” and its lack of use made it the sharpest crayon in her box. But at 22 years of age, she has come to love that color above all others. She preferred the blurring of black and white. It was gray that kept her sane. In the pacific northwest the gray usually came with cold and hopefully, if she was lucky – rain - both kept people to themselves, which she had come to prefer as well.
She could do without the sun. It’s why she moved here – the gray – and stays here.
The only thing she could do without less than the sun was time. She despised the succession of it. And that it was irreversible. And because of that, the succession of it haunted every aspect of it. The past sucked - and being aware of that - the present sucks. So, she was pretty fucking certain that the future would suck as well. She also hated the fact that everything relied on time for survival. Everything was open and accessible when it said so, closed and unreachable when it said otherwise.
“Fuck time” she thought, as she checked her watch on that gray day and realized she was late.
Dr. Dick was the best damned therapist in the world. Not because anyone believed it, but because it said so – on a plaque – that hung from the wood paneled wall in his office. The first time Anna had seen it she had thought, “well that’s arrogant as fuck.” But then she noticed the layer of dust and the way it listed to the right and realized that he had probably forgotten about that plaque many years ago. Besides Anna couldn’t care less about how good he was. She didn’t come here because she wanted to…she came because she had to.
“You’re late” he said as Anna enters the office, closing the door behind her.
“Dr. Dick.” She greets with her very best “fuck off” smile.
“Anna, I have asked you not to call me that.”
“Fine…Dr. Richard. I can see this is going suck ass already”
“I can see we’re starting off right where we left off, so how bout we talk about the orchard”
“We didn’t leave off at “the orchard,” she says with air quotes “and I’m sick of talking about that old fucking shack!”
“Then what would you like to talk about?” he asks.
“Ending this,” she tells him, sounding exhausted by her own words. “I want to end this Dr. Richard and move on.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible. You know that it’s a condition of your release. We have to know…” he pauses “we have to know you’re healthy. Anna, we need to talk about what happened in the orchard.”
It had been a year since her father had left. They were never really a family, just four individual moving parts to one shitty whole. A whole that from the outside must have looked like a family, because no one ever questioned what was happening inside. Her father used to tell her and her older brother to go outside and stay outside and not to come back in until the sun fell and the fighting stopped. But it never seemed to, until he left and took her brother.
The trips to the shack had started that same year. Anna was seven. The shack stood hauntingly in the center of the orchard, surrounded by pear trees that only seemed to exist to hide the shacks’ unknown purpose. At first her mother would take her out to the shack just to meet friends. Her mom would serve moonshine made from mash and pears.
Anna can still remember the pungent yeasty smell that filled the house when her mom was making it.
Her mom would tell her to drink and dance for her friends – And she would. Her mom would say the drink made the dancing easier and more fun – so she did. Then her mom began to leave her with her friends.
This went on for years until the Angel began its visits. The Angel had told her about leaving the body behind. No name, no soul, no spirit – it’s just a body. It was during this time he first told her that somewhere between pain and death lies enough. She can recall thinking that very same thing just before blacking out the last night at the shack.
She had woken on that hard, dusty-worn floor many times. Normally alone, left at some point during the night to re-gain what she knew she had left behind - her name, her soul, her spirit. But this morning everything was different. This morning she was covered in blood. This morning the body of her mother and her “friend” laid next to her covered in blood as well, but with mortal wounds to them both that explained the blood on all of them.
“I have told this story over and over, to every damn one of you!” She yells out. “And to no end. I just want this to end, I want to move on.”
“Okay Anna, that’s enough for now. We’ll talk again next week.”
“Can’t fucking wait.” She says getting up and heading for the door. But before leaving she turns to Dr. Dick and says “your plaque on the wall?”
He looks at it for the first time in years.
“It’s fucking crooked…fix it.” Slamming the door closed behind her.
“What a Fucking day” she thought as she parked her car in the number 11 stall of the transitional housing development. She wondered when they gave her the number 11 stall - who’s it had been previously? And what the fuck their problem was? She still wonders now - did they ever feel the way she did every time they approached it? Were they as done as she was? Did the gray day turning to the black of night sicken them as it does her?
Having been asked more questions than a human being should ever be asked, she made her own self sick by asking herself questions she knew had no answers. But she thought “what fucking ever” as she opened her door to her one-bedroom piece of shit jail – well, a jail outside of jail.
It was dark when she entered, which she hated. She always left a light on, always - just to avoid the dark. “Why was it dark?” she thought to herself. Did she forget this time?
After searching the interior of the wall, afraid to progress any further than that, she finds the light switch that illuminates the small entry and front room of the unit. She looked twice, but was aware the first time, that there was a figure in the chair next to the couch.
She thought she had no idea of what fear was any longer, those concepts were left behind with other useless concepts like optimism, innocence and love. But she felt it…just for a second - until the figure in the chair spoke.
“Somewhere between pain and death lies enough.” Said the Angel.
It had been 15 years since she had seen her brother. Every time that the Angel had spoken to her, she had yet to re-gain her name. Yet to regain her soul and spirit. It was the Angel that spoke those three back into her exhausted body. As she laid on the floor of that old shack, trying desperately to find those three things that she had released hours before…it was the Angel that had spoken to her, coaxed her, and finally renewed her.
But it wasn’t until tonight that she realized that her brother was the Angel. That her brother was the one talking to her while she laid on the floor of that fucking shack. It wasn’t until tonight that she knew what happened that last night in the shack.
She had already paid the penance for all on that night, so it didn’t matter who had done what to whom.
Because somewhere between pain and death lies enough…and she had had enough! As much as she detested time and its succession. It was time to move on.