White walls surround me; blanched in a sterile white light that shone from seemingly nowhere and everywhere at once. The room was bleakly clean, with effete shadows timidly rearing from under the bed.
I lay limp with lame limbs at my sides. A fall, they told me. An unwitting step, and a blow to the head—and now here I lay, with wandering eyes in a bed-shaped body.
My bed feels cold.
“Can you put the blanket on me?” I asked.
“Once we’re done,” the doctor replied. I never liked his voice. It reminded me of the room, clinically apathetic. And they always stood behind me, just out of sight.
“Can you describe the painting to me?” He asked; a question I’ve come to loath. I found the painting on the ceiling beautiful at first—it was a speckled source of colour on this blank canvas of a room. But it was the only source of colour, and it was forever unchanging. And, in time, became just as dreary as these barren walls.
“A woman, in a light blue dress, standing on a precipice,” I answered. “She’s looking out to the ocean with yellow daffodils at her feet.”
“Can you describe it again?” a second doctor asked.
“But it’s the same,” I replied.
“Please describe it again.”
“My head feels itchy.”
“That’s normal. Describe the painting to me.”
“A woman, in a dark blue dress, standing on a precipice. She’s looking out to the ocean with yellow dandelions at her feet.”
“And again,” said the first doctor, with that same detached monotonous tone.
“No,” I replied, “I hate it. And I’m so cold—please put the blanket on me.”
I was suddenly overcome by a sharp surge of electrifying pain that ran down the base of my skull and down my spine, where it raged in my chest and swelled up my throat in the form of an agonising scream.
“You need to describe the painting, or else we can’t help you,” said the second doctor calmly.
“It’s me,” I croaked, as my cry eased into a stifled whimper. “I just see me, laying on this bed, with you leaning over my—” I felt a sharp, painful prick in my head. “Why is it dark? What happened to the lights? Why can’t I see—” Another painful prick. My vision returned.
The painting did not.
Instead, in its place, was a mirror. And looking back in the mirror, was me. Some of me. A skinless, meatless me. A webbing of exposed nerves and tendons that lay sprawled out over a cold, metal table—with a gormless, ever-grinning row of teeth; with two, grey-skinned, spindly men hunched over my decrowned skull. Their black, obsidian eyes looked up to the ceiling and met my lidless, swivelling gaze. Another painful prick.
White walls surround me; I lay limp with lame limbs at my sides. A fall, they told me.