More than just memories are boxed up...
“I need to get out of here! You can’t keep me here like this!” I shout till my voice cracks while I beat my fists against the coarse dank dark walls enclosing me. After another scream of desperation, I slam my fists hard once more against my prison and slowly slink down, letting my knuckles drag against the crevices as I fall into a heap on to the floor. As I weep and close my body up in a fetal position, I stare at the backside of my hands and see the bits of torn flesh and trickles of blood pooling into Rorschach like patterns.
The intercom buzzes as it turns on, there is a brief pause before the voice begins booming over the speakers.
“What do you see?”
I tighten my lips and close my eyes; I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to answer her stupid questions.
“I can’t help you if you keep fighting me… why do you fight me?”
Silence sits heavy in my isolation as I still my thoughts and my breathing waiting for her voice to go away.
A tiny water drop plops on my face as I lay on the floor, cowardice. My eyes shoot open. She’s going to do it again.
All at once a loud moaning and groaning of pipes begins to fill the room and the water sprays down on me. It feels like I’m being hit with pressure cleaners filled with ice water. My skin is freezing and heating up as the water's force penetrates my skin. I can’t see, just water and strands of my hair are all my eyes can make out as I try to sit in a hunched position, so my back takes the brunt of the torrential downpour. I just want to leave… why won’t she just let me leave? It feels like hours go by, the water is rising up as the little holes in the center of the floor struggle to drain the unending monsoon. As quickly as it started it finally stops and the squeaking and creaking of pipes echo around me in my submerged cell before the intercom buzzes again.
“I’m trying to help you; all I’ve been doing this whole time is helping you… haven’t you gone through enough pain already? If you just stop fighting me, you can heal and move on.”
“Move on to what exactly?” I push my soaked cold body up off the floor and stare up to the speakers. “You don’t want me to fight but you will never let me be free… what is the point of all this?” I throw my hands up and look around. I feel the anger building up inside of me again. “Why are you punishing me?!”
Another pause lingers in the room before her voice comes on again.
“You weak stupid girl, I’m not punishing you; I’m protecting you. You wanted me to protect you all these years and now you’re treating me like the bad guy? Screw you. It’s because of me you’re even alive.” I can hear rustling and banging over the intercom along with muffled cursing.
“I’m not weak, maybe I once was but I’m not anymore… you’re trying to keep me weak by locking me in here. I’m not staying in here forever, one way or another I’m getting out and you can’t get rid of me.” I sneer at the speakers as I pace around the empty room.
A jarring laughter comes out of the intercom followed by a loud ringing. I grip onto my ears and curse her.
“Look behind you.”
I turn and see a medium parcel sitting on the wet cobble floor. Just a plain cardboard box wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string. The edges looked bruised and frayed, the butcher paper had discoloration and little tears in it. Just an old box but the sight of it made my heart stop.
“There… go on now brave girl, let us do this again shall we? Go ahead and open the box. This is my favorite part, seeing if you’ll actually do it. If you open it, I’ll release you. Same deal, no tricks. It’s all up to you.”
My foot slowly lifts and hovers over the floor as I stare at the box. I feel the left-over water still trickling down my legs, my back, and my arms to my fingertips. My toes curl slightly as my body shivers from the wet cold air. I need to do this; I can do this.
“I don’t need you anymore.” I yell out to her as I start moving towards it. With each step dread fills me. My stomach turns to knots and I can feel the voices of my head whispering to me, some with encouragement but most with fear. I finally reach the box and gently kneel beside it. The string taunting me to pull it.
“Alright go on then, show me you can. Think you’re so brave all of a sudden now that all the hard shit is dealt with and tucked away in a box. Make me do all the work and now you want to just get out and take over. You will never be half the woman I was.” The voice was shaky with anger over the intercom.
I hold my breath, close my eyes and carefully pull the string. I feel it unravel and let the string fall to the side. Peeking with one eye I start removing the butcher paper. The string released with such ease, but the paper was glued onto the box, coming off in bits covered in black viscous tar. My fingers start sticking together and I feel it seep beneath my fingernails. I have to keep going. I keep tearing into the wrapping. More thick black globs come off. I just want to get to the box. My heart races as fast as my fingers dig into the tar till finally, I see the flaps of the box underneath and pause. This was it.
The intercom buzzes again and her voice frantically calls out all around me.
“Don’t do this, don’t open it. You can just be in here. We can make it nicer. You just get to exist, and I’ll keep doing the hard stuff. Please, please don’t open it.”
The box sits, the flaps just barely closed as I see darkness peering out from within it.
“You were there when I needed you most, but I won’t be a passenger in you driving my life anymore. I’m ready to come out now. I’m sorry for everything you had to go through. I’m ready to take care of myself now.”
Her voice fades out as I rip open the box. The darkness inside oozes out and begins enveloping me. At first there is nothing, no sense of feeling, sight, or sound. Everything is still. Then all at once the memories surround me and I feel hundreds of scars ripping open. Whispers grow into a cacophony that swirls around me. I start distinguishing some of the ruckus as I try to regain my composure. I can hear sobbing and screams…I can hear a leather belt snapping… I can hear distain from various voices shouting out whore and failure mixed with dozens of other insults. A slew of images follows in the parade of memories with a little girl hiding under her bed with her father’s shoes just inches from her face. The scene of a little girl crying on top of her mother that lays lifeless in a pool of blood, wrists ripped open. Another scene fades in of young man’s face glaring down at a crying woman as he slaps her across the face. A symphony of voices, a dance of haunting pasts.
Tears stream down my cheeks and I feel my chest tightening as everything floods back into me. A final memory flashed before me. A young woman is crying over a bundled-up blanket held tightly in her arms. It is myself. I stare at the anguish on my face. I try to peer into the bundled blankets, straining to see beneath the layers until I can finally get a glimpse. A little pale face with closed eyes is hiding perfectly still inside, his face glistening with the tears of his mother.
The darkness fades, the box sits in front of me empty of all its contents. I slowly gather myself and stand again looking around at the dark dank room. I walk towards a wall and trace my fingers along the crevices. I look at the back of my hands again and see the dried scabbed blood from beating them earlier. She asked me what I saw when I stared at them. I know what I see now. The word EXIT written over and over again in scratches and blood. I press both my hands hard against the wall and feel it give. Light breaks through and I keep pushing until I am embraced by warmth and brightness.
“Paging Doctor Richard’s, paging Doctor Richard’s please phone nurses station in psych ward" static noise trails at the end. I opened my eyes. The room was as cold in temperature as it was in appearance. My eyes wandered around as I got my bearings. Suddenly a gentleman bursts in the room with wired spectacles and the attire of a professor.
“Emily? Emily, are you ok?”
I felt this surge of emotion take over where I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. All I could do is look at him and say, “I’m free.”