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Her tears have run too long for her to even notice them falling anymore. They seem to lick her face like glue, molding to her skin and only able to remove itself until its peeled off. Yes, her face is glue now, hammering the brokenness inside her and jumbling it up so at least all the confusion and anger doesn’t come spilling out.
She hears the crying in the backdrop of her thoughts. The shredding of hearts buzzes in the air, and she waits for it to end to even consider stepping a toe into the deep pool of reality. Her eyes close like she’s praying, but the only thoughts running through her mind are concentrated plans that sort throughout the veins in her brain like a complex map, weaving in and out of her consciousness.
Her spindly arms wrap around her legs as she brings her knees up to her chin. She rocks herself back and forth as she waits for the moment of arrival. The moment of confiscation. The moment of the knock, the screams, and the breaking. The moment of the end.
She can see the future as if it’s standing right in front of her. A ghost, an illusion of her future self, melting into the furniture, dripping down the walls against her bed. It smells like metal, urine, and failure.
In front of her is a mat. And on top of that mat is a breathing doll. Her face is porcelain and her lips are smooth like well-worked plastic. She sighs and coughs, and all the while she watches this life-like figure live and breathe and move ever so slightly, and only when absolutely necessary.
“Mama,” it will whisper sometimes, like the strike of a string on a well-tuned harp. “Mama.”
Mother. She wants to whisper back, but her thoughts and mouth hardly function anymore. So she remains silent. And continually silent until she feels she can breathe freely again.
The cries become wails. Then they scream. And then there’s silence. Oh, the brutally bitter silence where the vibrations of pain cease to exist and all that is left is a murky, illusive succumbing of torment and loss. People ride it like a river… some with a boat, some without. For her, she can’t even fathom seeing that river.
It’s locked somewhere behind the door of her room. A room she can never leave.
“Mama,” the doll murmurs once again and stands up. It’s wrinkled legs hold up its own weight with brilliant accuracy, even though the wobbling doesn’t cease until after a few moments of steadying. “Mama…?” the doll’s voice hitches at the end, and it’s eyes grow so wide it scares her. For a moment.
She takes a moment to study the child’s face. Skin smooth and soft, and so creamy looking it makes the woman want to reach out, run her finger down the epidermis of the baby, and then lick that finger. Taste the innocence paint the end of her tongue sky blue… sky blue like endless dreams and possibilities. Like the hours where you forget about the darkness.
Sky blue like the color of her satin eyes that lay softly on your skin like a light blanket. Lips the color of fruit punch. A nose like the end of a potato, stubby and round. But it all fits into a nice bundle on her face, and she likes watching the way they rearrange when she forms her only word.
“That’s right, little girl,” the woman hushes back. “I’m your mama. I’m your mama. I’m your mama…. I’m….” She loses herself in the ominous repetition as each word gets laden down with curses and demons and memories that sink her to the bottom of insanity’s canyon floor.
She looks at the baby for a long, painful second and then leans down and grabs the soft underbelly of the child, wrapping against her chest and feeling the second heartbeat counter hers. Her long fingers stroke the child’s tuffs of hair, matting it down to her visible skull. Rocking back and forth, soothing the baby well past comfort.
Lullabies and melodies emerge from her mouth, and as they do, the screaming curtain in the background of her memory falls and disappears into the bottomless end of her mind. A man, handsome and young with bright eyes and smooth skin, steps in through the door without a sound being made, as if he will stir the demons back if he does.
The man kneels down next to her. Smiles at the child. Whispers its name like air, so she can’t even catch the sounds it makes to form the identification. “She’s beautiful,” she does hear. “Absolutely beautiful.”
He stretches to press his lips to her temple, and the woman smiles brightly. “And she’s ours,” she says back. “She’s all ours.”
“And I won’t ever let a thing touch her, sweetheart. Not a thing. I’ll kill lions for her. You know that right, darling?” A paternal glow encompasses his body, an untouchable force field around the will and strength of his emotional and physical elements.
They are parents. And they relish in this. Days will go by, and things will come and go but the love for the child remains. It holds them together with a beauty that neither the woman nor the man can understand. They are gleeful prisoners to the infant. Every move she makes, every breath she breathes is an overwhelming miracle that sends their happiness into an orbit far away from sanity.
At least it remains that way for the woman.
There is a third party in the room now. Her name is Eliza. Her body is slender and flowing like a snakes, and her eyes are green and blue, an unnatural but alluring color. She stares at their euphoria and spits on it with acidic saliva that burns at the skin on the woman in the rocking chair’s neck. She turns and stares, but never suspects the deviousness behind the curses.
The man and Eliza go into a corner, and he rubs his fingers against her skin. He violates the aura of perfection they had once been so submerged in. She stays there, and he stays there. Both holding the child but never noticing the darkness clinging to the woman’s clothes and skin now. The bitterness on the edge of her sharpening tongue.
There is no more family, but a distorted web of lies and distrust and blatant miscarriage of their once so pregnant love.
She tries to talk to him. Tell him to make Eliza leave the room, get out of their happy home. Stop touching her child. Stop flaunting her superiority over her husband above her head like a bomb waiting to be dropped at any moment.
But he never hears. She never hears. Even though they are within earshot.
It drives her over the edge where there is nothing but never ending blue and never ending beige at the same time. It mixes and molds like a liquid version of her child. Like her skin has melted against the concrete of the room. But for that to happen she needs heat.
And then nothing.
The rocking chair. Back and forth. Back and forth. Her arms are empty now, and the screams are no longer in hunger or tiredness of a child. But anger and bitterness and destitution of pain that can only be understood by great lengths of maturity.
Outside the doors, a nurse named Jackie closes the door on a patient constantly repeating incantations no one knows the meaning of. Across the hall is her favorite patient, Mr. Johnson, who speaks lovely and beautiful sayings to his wife twenty-four-seven, even though she has been gone for ten years.
And then there is Ms. Edwards, who forever sits on her rocking chair, staring off into the distance and, like clockwork, every thirty minutes screams, “My baby!” and then falls back into the same starry-eyed distance.
Back and forth.
In her mind, memories and screams go hand in hand, and rarely can she ever tell the difference.
The doll reappears, but it will only be a memory away from falling under her psychotic hand.