The lightening flashes across the cold white tiles of the room like melted silver poured from the heavens by ancient Gods. In the momentary flash of light that cuts through the darkness, I see the mirror hung on the wall positioned just above the tidy little hand-washing sink. A hundred doctors and nurses have vigorously scrubbed the flesh of their hands in this sink over the years. Steaming hot water and antiseptic soaps to wash away all of the germs, hands washed so many times the skin becomes red and raw and no amount of lotion, cream or salve can bring them back to that baby softness of childhood. They are all the same. In their pasty green medical personnel uniform. The faces may change but they are all still the same. Over, and over, and over again they wash up. A hundred more will do the same after I am gone. Once I find a way out. A way out! Ha, I laugh at myself. I am beginning to think there is no way out. There was a point when I believed there was, some kind of escape for me. I do not know anymore. What I do know is the way in. No that is a path to a place I know all too well. I have traveled that path so much in the recent past that I can find my way with my eyes closed now. It is like the path imagined as a little girl curled up under my quilt at bedtime when mommy would read me a fairy-tale. Something filled with talking animals in a magical forest where the sweet and kind princess could stroll along the path singing about true love with no fear in her heart for the darkness and the bad things hiding in it. My path, of course is made of that darkness. Darkness, oh sweet darkness, the absence of light, the welcoming lover always ready to wrap me up in its arms and hold me close.
There is a darkness inside. It is a living breathing entity just as much as you or me. So much pain and anguish tumbles around inside my head and in my heart, searching for some escape. Every hurtful word and experience creating a vicious little creature that resides inside. They are such pretty, little monsters, full of ugliness and beauty at the same time. They are all mine. Many are contributions from others, a bloody offering, a gift that will haunt my mind and torture my soul. However, some I have created for myself and hold onto with desperation, like a mother clutching onto her dead child. Refusing to let go, because then she will be forced to face reality and being left with only the overwhelming grief of a loss so profound that is holds the power to transform who you are at your very core. These are the dangerous sinister little demons. Their existence based on the absurd desire to cause myself harm on some deep subconscious level. I feed them with my own disturbed thoughts and watch them grow strong. I bury them all down deep within, were it is shadowy and dark, a damp cold dungeon, a black pit of misery, the perfect place to sit and rot. In the inky blackness, with eyes glowing bright, watching, and waiting for the moment to come so they can reveal themselves. When all is quiet and I am alone with my thoughts, I find my wall of defense has become vulnerable. Together they creep up in the dead of night, like the fiend under the bed that has been patiently lying in wait for you to shift your position and inadvertently pull the covers off your feet, revealing your smooth defenseless flesh. Creating the perfect opportunity to slowly slide its cold clammy hand up the side of your bed and little by little wrap the bony, cold fingers around your exposed ankle. Just the smallest crack and they can wiggle through. Slipping up out of my core and into the world around me. Growing and expanding in the light. Just as a spring flower opens its delicate petals to the sun, my dark, putrid bloom emerges and stretches forth, a rotten decaying deep scarlet rose adorned with razor sharp thorns that prick the flesh and draw fresh blood, thriving off all the negativity surrounding me. Tendrils snaking around my form wrapping around me like a cloud of black wispy smoke, enveloping my form entirely until I am no longer visible, I am disappearing. I find myself pulled down into the gloom to mull over these rotten monstrous things. I examine them each in turn, twisting them this way and that running my fingertips over every inch of the surface. Holding them tight against my chest, like broken china dolls in tattered dresses. I know them so well. I recognize every ridge and bump. I replay the scenes repeatedly in the macabre theater of my mind, analyzing each action, searching for a reason, looking for my liability in it all. Wondering what I did to deserve this. Why me? I have ceased to exist outside of this darkness, it has finally consumed me.
I sink into the bed pulling the thin scratchy blanket up to my chin as I seek to find some warmth, some comfort.