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White Washed in 1943 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.


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This suitcase was made in Taiwan. That is what I tell myself as I hold its leather handle in my hand; the precise yellow stitches embracing my clutched fingers. Reviewing the things I know helps to keep me calm. I also know that the window I am looking out of has not been washed in a few months. The finger prints of those reaching for escape are smeared across its clear surface. Here, escape is unattainable. The surrounding wrought iron gate will make sure of that. All of the walls have been white washed, as though this place is some kind of sin that society is trying to paint over. I press my palm against the cool plaster and imagine myself being lost; my memories, my mind, my entire being.
To my left there is one flickering fluorescent light and the inconsistency causes me to turn away.

I can feel the flickering light upon my shoulders as I progress along the hallway of doors. Every frame, handle and panel is the same off-white hue, like antique sheet music. A scuffle to my right causes me to turn with unease. My view point is void of sound as I scan the corridor of identical doors. Abruptly a door groans as it swings back, and I peer into the filmy, wide eyes of a young woman. Review the things I know. I am holding a suitcase made in Taiwan, the walls are white, my parents named me Beverly, and I call myself Eve. The woman murmurs something inaudible, moves into the hall and begins shuffling in the opposite direction. As she passes, the scent of sweat penetrates my nostrils; as though she has been trying to sweat out the fragments of herself she does not want. I follow at a safe distance, so that her stench cannot travel up my nose.

She leads me to the cafeteria where she wanders off and sits at a vacant table. I am mistaken. There are two others who sit at the table; although their deserted stares and wilted forms lead me to believe their shells are unoccupied. With the sound of a bang I flinch and turn towards the noise. There are a row of trays, each occupying the same lifeless dish. A bulky man with hair the colour of a depressed rain cloud slams another tray onto the line until it is picked up by a person in a bathrobe. I tiptoe towards the trays and peer at the contents. A withered pile of lettuce, a mouldy chicken nugget, and an unidentifiable glass of juice sit on the tray. I pass on. The pond of ashen tables below the dim panel lighting is making me nauseated, so I review. I am Eve, I am holding a suitcase made in Taiwan, I am just visiting and I do not belong here. I take my cue and leave the sea of tables because I know full well that I am incapable of walking on water, and Jesus is not present in this cafeteria.

There is an unsettling essence to the chapel as I walk by; a gloomy, sombre sound escaping the vocal chords of twenty or so lost people. Pausing in the doorway, I take in the sight of the stained glass along the wall. A man sits atop a wheelchair in suspended consciousness. His untrimmed face looking dusky in the stained sunlight streaming from the window. The minister speaks briefly about eternal life and the Ten Commandments although the words wash right over the heads of the seated. They are there for bonus points, not salvation. I observe long enough to hear the beginnings of Amazing Grace ambling from the organs of a dusty piano.

The music follows me out until I find what I am looking for. Room number forty-seven. The door is the same colour as all the rest, but this frame stands out to me. I glide up to its entrance, knock on the door and drop the suitcase with spastic fingers. I step back quickly and begin an off balance sprint down the hallway. It seems fitting, seeing as this place was advertised as an ideal home for the unbalanced. My blood pounds in my ears so I do not hear the sound of footsteps behind me; the stomping of fate encroaching. I feel strong meaty fingers grab my adrenaline filled arms. I can smell the overpowering scent of cleaning fluid and alcohol all over his being. His fingers rip a hole through my robe and I can hear him screaming something about a stolen briefcase. My name is Eve, I was holding a suitcase made in Taiwan, I am not a visitor, I am a member. I can feel myself sliding out of reality as I slump into a wheelchair; as I gag on the sour pill forced down my throat. His nasally voice summons to me “you are the error humanity is trying to erase.” And those white washed walls are the last thing I see.




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