You Got It Bad And That Ain't Good.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A WOMAN WHO MURDERED HER CHILDREN AND HER LIFE IN AN ASYLUM.

Submitted: September 29, 2009

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Submitted: September 29, 2009

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You pace the room in agitation. Your hands clench and unclench themselves as if they belonged to another and not to you. Your long black hair and dark eyes, give you a menacing appearance, making even hardened nurses think twice before crossing you.  The drab grey dress adds nothing to the austerity of your surroundings. No shoes, no slippers, you pace bare-footed across the dark-green linoleum as if across a wild sea. The white wall prevents you pacing further, so you turn and pace back from where you have just come.

After a number of turns across the floor, you stop. Scratching your head with your bony fingers, you glare at the door a metre away. Someone will come soon. They always do. You can almost sense them coming, smell them.

The door opens slowly. The nurse enters cautiously, shooing you away from the door as if you were a pet dog.
 
"Stand over by the wall," the nurse says. You step backwards a few paces. Her eyes are on you all the time, watching your movement, studying your eyes, your hands. "The wall," she demands. You pace backwards again until your back touches the wall. She places a tray on the floor: it has a plastic beaker of water, a bowl of cereal drowned in milk. A spoon sits in the bowl sinking slowly.

"Stay," says the nurse.

You stay. You smile. It menaces them more, you think. This one would foul herself if you moved, you muse, clenching your hands again. She's gone. The door is locked. You pace to the bowl, stare down at it. Taking up the orange plastic beaker, you sniff. No poison, just water. Raising the beaker to your lips, you let a few drops slip down.

No harm done. Maybe, the water's from the pierced the side of Christ, you think, taking another sip. No blood, just water. Purification. Purification. Putting down the beaker on the tray, you pick up the bowl of cereal. You sniff it. You spit in it. Your spit is as good as theirs, you say inwardly, pacing towards the far wall. You peer into the bowl, holding it up level with your dark eyes. Raising it up above your head, you mumble a few words, and then, suddenly, you throw it against the wall and watch as the contents drip down onto the floor.

"Why dost thou call him knave?" you say, remembering Shakespeare. It comes to you. They come to you often, these lines, words, as if from another voice, deeper, far away.

"Give me your hand, have you no more to say?" you shout, turning your back on the wall. You pace around the tray, peering at it below you. The beaker is tempting. The water will soothe you.

"Our flesh and blood, my Lord, is grown so vile that it doth hate what gets it," you say, bending down to the beaker, lifting it to your lips. "Am I Goneral, Regan or Cordelia?" you ask the beaker. The beaker is silent. "It doesn't know and nor, do I," you whisper. Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?
--------------

You glance out of the toughened-glass window at the far way hills, fields of rape.
"I have been worth the whistle," you whisper to the glass. "Worth the whistle."  The glass does not reply it seldom does. The sky is a paler blue than the one that came before, you muse, tapping your finger quietly on the glass.

"You made that mess?" the nurse had said, after lunch. The wall was a mess, cereal and milk blended badly as decor.

"Decline your head," you had said, Shakespeare returned. "Am I Goneral?”
The nurse glared at you, made no comment, save curses, lost on you. "Am I?”
you asked as she slammed the door. Silence, then, silence.

Now, lifting your head, you peer at the sun, your eyes shaded by your cupped hand. You feel no heat from it, no air. "If I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs myself," you say. Clouds moves across the sun, you look away, as if the darkness were too much. "Dost thou call me fool, boy?" you shout.

The door opens behind you. You turn slowly, moving your narrow frame as if you drove it round. The nurses stand arms across their huge breasts.

"Bath!" they say almost in unison. "Undress," the blonde one says, her finger doing a small summersault. "Make it snappy," the redhead says, hands by her side. They watch you, their eyes never leaving you, hands waiting.

"All thy other titles thou hast given away," you say, lifting the drab dress over your head in a slow stretch. "That you wast born with," you add as they take the dress from your fingers. They watch you. They seem uncertain.

"What a state to be in," Blondie says.

"What titles is she on about?” Redhead asks. You are naked now, except your dark pubes. They stand waiting, mouths open, eyes searching.

You smile suddenly, a big smile, the kind you love, and they hate. Blondie backs off.
"This is nothing fool," you say, opening your thin arms, your fingers reaching for the walls.

"No money's worth this!" says Blondie.

"Ever seen her dance?” Redhead asks.

"Ballet?"

"All kinds of stuff. Someone said she almost levitates," Redhead says.

"Those eyes of hers." Blondie stares at you, at the smile. She smiles shyly back.

I could have her one day, you say inwardly, eyeing the blonde nurse's frame, the softness of it, flabby. They gesture for you to follow them out of the room. You go, lowering your arms, bringing your hands together, lifting them to your lips.

"Quickly!" Redhead says. "Would have been easier on us and all, if they'd put the bitch down," she adds, watching you pace faster.

"You have to keep your eyes on her or she'll do what she did to that nurse last month," Blondie says, peering at your naked back as you pass her by, tiptoeing now, your hands clenched. They follow to the bathroom.

"How far your eyes may pierce I cannot tell; striving to better, oft we mar what's well," you say, stopping suddenly by the large white bath. "Mar what's well," you repeat as the blonde nurse enters. The redheaded one follows eyeing you.

"She’s off again," Blondie says, passing you to get to the taps.

"That nurse," Red-head says," will she come back to work?”

"Would you?” Blondie says, feeling the water from the tap, sensing for temperature.

"Not after what happened to her, no, guess I wouldn't," Redhead says.

"Her boat hath a leak," you say, watching the water enter the bath. "And she must not speak why she dares not come over to thee." They both gaze at you. They are again unsure; you see it in their eyes.

"In," Blondie commands. She points to the bath, eyeing you, her eyes fixed.
You get in and sit. The water is hot, but not as to hurt you. They dare not let harm come to you so plainly. They would no doubt gladly drown you, which you know, in that way you have of knowing certain things. They pass you soap, sponge, and watch. Their eyes search your every move as if it were choreographed, as if you were the dancer and actress once more. "She does have a certain beauty, don't you think?” Blondie asks.

"Not into women," Redhead says, "certainly not murderous ones."

"I didn't mean in that sense," Blondie replies. " Beauty in the sense that she's got a body that most men would admire and features, that, though wild, have an element of purity about them."

"Tell that to the nurse she nearly strangled," Redhead says.

"I will talk further with you," you utter quietly, turn, and gaze at Blondie.
The nurse backs away from the bath. They stand awkwardly, searching again your naked body with their eyes; each one has her own thought.

"My sister saw her in a play years back," Redhead informs.

"Was she good?”

"Sis said she was. Never liked plays much myself," Redhead says.

"How did she get to be like this?” Blondie asks. Redhead shrugs her shoulders.
They fall silent. They watch your actions again, as if a play, a drama, the end of which they did no now. In addition, maybe, you muse, splashing the hot water over your face, they do not wish to know.
-----------------

The show is over. The bathing completed, you return to your room in another drab grey dress. You can still get an audience to watch you, even if it were only two. They watch you enter the room and lock the door behind you with a mild thud.

"Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, the gods themselves throw incense," you whisper. The room is silent after your words. You go to the window and peer out. The sun is waiting for you; the clouds want to attend you. The fields of rape want to ravish you with their colour. "Throw incense," you repeat to the window.

The time for daily exercise will soon come, you muse, staring down at the grounds. Who will come for you today? You do not care who comes; they are all the same. They all have the stink of fear about them. Even their cheap scent can't hide the fact.  You move away from the window backwards, watching the sun grow small and the clouds fade. You stop only when your back hits the wall and you slide down on to the linoleum floor.

"Where have you hid yourself?" you say. Your legs stretch out before you and your bare feet touch each other like fond lovers. "Where have you hid yourself?" you repeat as you watch your toes kiss and part. Slowly drawing your legs up, you lay your forehead on your knees and close your eyes.

"Nothing can be made out of nothing," you whisper to your knees. Your knees remain silent. You wrap your arms about your knees and embrace them. You want them to speak; want them to bear witness. You kiss them in your blindness, as if two bald heads of babes were there for the kissing.

"What two crowns shall they be?” you whisper. "What two crowns?”
The image behind your closed eyes gives some answer, but in silence. Two babies side by side, their cries silent now, gaze at you in the way that babies do, in the way the babies did, once. Once upon a time. Once.
------------------

The blonde nurse walks just behind you along the path between the flowerbeds, she has her eyes on you and not the flowers. "Let’s exchange charity," you say.

Blondie pauses her step. Her hands stiffen at her sides like soldiers on duty, like penises before nude women. "You want charity?” Blondie asks, raising her frame upright. "Why should you be shown charity, after your deeds?”

"I am no less in blood than thou art," you say, turning on the nurse, watching her back off a few steps.

"Can’t you stop being an actress?” Blondie asks, her eyes staring at your dress.
Your feet have been clothed in borrowed plimsolls, no laces, plain white. Her eyes search your face, your eyes, your hands. She gestures with her fingers for you to move on and you do, slowly, reluctantly. "You don't help your case. There are many here who'd have seen you hang," Blondie says, her voice strained.

"The gods are just," you say," and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us." You pause and sniff a rose.

"You are mad," Blondie suggests. "It’s that alone saved your neck." She watches you bend towards another rose and sniff again. Her hands come together, fingers touch, nerves are bad, you muse, not saying, not saying. "You like roses?" she asks. Your bony fingers embrace the stem and drag the rose towards your nose. She stares. You can almost smell her fear, her anxiety brands her weak.

"What, art mad?  A man may see how this world goes with no eyes," you say.

"Is there no way to reach you?” Blondie asks. There is a tinge of pity in her tone, a suggestion of some sympathy, well hid "Why did you do it? Why did you strangle your babies?” Blondie asks, watching your fingers squeeze the stem until a few drops of red blood come. "What have you done, now?" she says, grabbing your fingers in her own and gazing at the blood run. She dabs at them with a handkerchief from her pocket, dabs until the bleeding is stopped.

"Have you known the miseries of your father?" you say, looking at her hands dabbing your fingers.

"My father? How do you know my father?” Blondie asks. Her fingers release yours, she backs away.

"Come, come, when saw you my father last?" you say. Your eyes gaze at Blondie as she turns, looks out at the fields of rape.

"I don't know your father," Blondie says. Her eyes are fixed on the rape fields, the yellows and greens. "My father. I though you were talking of my father's miseries just now?”

"The foul fiend bites my back," you shout. Blondie turns round and glares at you.

"You are one sad, mad, woman," Blondie says, her voice low. You lower your eyes to her feet, white shoes, white stockings, white knickers too, no doubt, you think, but don't say.

"Some villain hath done me wrong," you say. Your eyes move up her white legs to the hem of her white uniform and stop.

 "You had it all, once," Blondie says. "Fame, success, money, babies. Now, nothing. Why strangle your own babies? Why? Why?”

"When we are born, we cry that we are come to this stage of fools," you whisper to her. She shakes her head, holds her hands tight together, moves her feet back a few steps.

"Some deeds can be forgiven, but to strangle one's own babies, is beyond me to understand or forgive," Blondie says.

"Ask me not what I know," you say. Suddenly she grabs your arm, holds it, squeezes it. You gaze at her with a mild smile. It unnerves her. She lets go of your arm, moves away again, cursing.

"If I did what you did, my father would not forgive as yours has done," Blondie says. She tries to regain her confidence, her authority, but it slips from her. "My father,” she says anxiously, "my father would have seen me hanged and have shed no tear." She pauses, glares at you, moves closer. "Actress. Murderer. Strangler of babies."

"The dark and vicious place where thee he got cost him his eyes," you say.
Blondie frowns. Her lower teeth bite her lower lip. Her tongue hides and is silent.
You move on, the roses are passed, the fields of rape beckon with their colour, the sun blesses the heads of saints or sinners, the clouds are sheep, but dumb, dumbly passing, passing dumb, dumb, dumb.

---------------------

The redheaded nurse has replaced Blondie, who has gone for lunch, and watches you as you sit on the sun-bleached bench. Your hands are pressed between your knees and you stare out over the horizon with a certain intensity.

"Be lunch soon," Redhead says. "Can’t stay out here all day."

"I remember thine eyes well enough," you say.

"Ain’t you cold?” Redhead asks. "Just that old grey dress won't keep you warm. Not that I care," she adds. You sniff in the air. You sense a fear. "Your fame won't save your soul," Redhead informs you. "Only Hell awaits you after this place."

"What serious contemplation are you in?" you say, lowering your head, gazing at the grass by your feet.

"I contemplate you strung up," Redhead says, her voice bitter. She moves to the bench and sits at the far end from you. "Two babies, dead because of you. How could you do such a thing?” She glares at you for a moment or two, but then, looking away she stares at the rape fields.

"Where learned you this, fool?" you mumble.

"Don’t you even remember your trial?” Redhead asks. "You strangled your own two babies. They found you guilty, but sent you here because they thought you mad. Your father has connections. How he can bear to see you or care for you, is beyond me." She moves a bit closer to you. "Don’t you understand what you've done?”

"O ruined piece of Nature! This great world shall so wear out to naught," you say, turning to her, catching her glare, sensing her fear. You lift your hands up, make a cup of them, and drink an imaginary liquid. She watches you. Her eyes disbelieve, but stare nonetheless. You offer her your cupped hands. "Sister, it is little I have to say of what most nearly appertains to us both," you whisper to her. "I think our father will hence tonight."  Redhead shakes her head, and pushes your hands away.

"My father and your father have nothing in common," Redhead says, her voice strained. "I wish to hell your father would go. I wish him far from you," she adds bitterly. You smile. She hates it when you smile, it unnerves her. She grabs your hands and pulls you near to her. Still you smile and gaze at her. She releases your hands and stands up. "Back inside!" she shouts, beckoning with her hand.

"Let me not stay a jot for dinner: go, get it ready! " you command. Redhead waits for you to stand, her eyes watching your every move. "Get it ready!" you say.
She still waits. You rise slowly, casting a long glance at the fields of rape and their yellow welcome. She walks on and you follow, gazing now at her neck, at her short, fat, but, one day, you hope, strangled neck.


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