The room was dark, only a wan slat of light passed through the old tarpaulin that covered the steel bars of her cell door. The rank stench of days’ old piss and feces clung to the thick humid air, poisoning her will w/ every heave of breath.
She rolled slightly on her side, off the tattered fringes of her mat; a faint thrill of life pricked her skin as her leg touched the cool cement floor. I am alive, she mused. For the time being , to hold bare consciousness, the still silence of a world less benign.
She rose to her feet, pulling her frail body together. Still disoriented and parched by thirst, she staggered to the door and clung on to the steel bars to keep herself from falling. From outside she could hear the faint chatter of people. ‘water please’ she called out. every syllable clawed at her throat. she called again, louder and clearer ’til her weak voice gave out, but the only response that came to her was callous silence followed by footfalls that trailed off.
A malevolent laughter rang out across her cell and sent shivers down her spine, it resonated in her mind and amplified her distress.
she pleaded hopelessly, ‘help me, please somebody help me!’
The hinges clacked convulsively as she rocked the bars. It wouldn’t break, no matter how hard she willed it to, her strength could not deliver her rescue.
A sharp pain wrung at her heart and gripped her entire body. Terror began to take hold, An extinction of good that she had known only from stories of hell and the underworld. It was a familiar evil that had attacked her before and she knew there was no hope to escape the suffering she will be put through. She cursed and wailed like an animal sent to slaughter. “Lucifer! Lucifer! Lucifer!”
The dorm staff,two were on duty that afternoon, they heard Gladys, exchanged looks and saw fear in one and the other but rather than pacify her, they quietly agreed the best course wa to to ignore gladys. they were seasoned dorm staff and andthis was all routine, just another patient in isolation looking for attention.
Gladys winced and writhed in a prolonged state of hysteria, and as suddenly as it came, the attacks stopped and she lay crumpled on the floor like a discarded rag.
In a short gleam of lucidity she lifted her chin up
to look for god on the stained face of the ceiling but instead found her key: A loose piece of cord dangled out from the fastenings that held up the tarp.
‘Auntie Rose telephone!’
‘I’m buisy right now who is it?’
‘It’s the doctor from rehab again’
‘I’ll be there in a minute’ Rose wiped her hands on her apron and placed the last sticks of fried banana on a tray.
It had been the third time he called that day. Although Rose had her hands full running the modest snack stand she puts up outside their home, the doctors purpose seemed urgent and she had to stop to take his call.
‘Hello, Rose Layug please. This is Dr. Iwayan from R.D. Rehabilitation Center.’
‘Rose, It’s about Gladys. We need to transfer her’
‘Transfer her where? what happened?’
‘ She broke another patients nose in one of her fits. I think it would be better for Gladys if we put her in home care.’
‘ Jesus Christ, We don’t have money for that, if you have to chain her to a tree to make her better go ahead, i have the rest of my family to look after doc, and that includes the gladys’s children”
“Rose I’m sorry but its the only way we can keep her here. We cannot endanger the other patients they also have blanks we hav to answer to.”
Rose i’m sorry but its the only way she can continue to receive treatment.”
She protested some more and thanked him and hung up.
“Is everything all right auntie?” Clara asked as she came in. She reached for the cash box on the top shelf of the cabinet and picked change. Rose sat staring at nothing, trapped in her troubles. What can she do? Has she not tried every way to help Gladys. It had started to sink in that Gladys might not get better and she dreaded the prospect of being weighted by the burden for years to come. Her silence drew in Clara to the plastic chair beside her.
“Whats wrong auntie?” She asked and put her hand on Rose’s spine. Her touch jolted Rose out of stupor. Rose smoothed the creases of her dress and forced a smile. ” Nothing. I’m fine”