She had been writing furiously for over an hour, breaking more than five pencils in the process. Despina flung the most recently broken pencil to the floor, plucked a new one from the table and continued writing. She had to get this down. It wasn't just that it needed to be let out, although it did, but it also needed to be written for the record. She paused, looking out the small window, wondering how a day could be so gray without there being any rainfall.
Despina shook her head and muttered, “No. No sidetracking. Have to… have to… do… this.” She gripped the pencil, ignoring the cramp in her hand, and started a new paragraph.
“I realize, for anyone who ends up reading this, that I probably sound insane. I've certainly been told that I’m insane, but only by those who, I believe, do not have my best interest at heart. I have threatened and been threatened, lied and been lied to. I've cried, cajoled, contacted every authority I can think of, and yet, I don’t feel anyone has listened to me! Not properly. At best I get a nod and an “oh dear” before I’m passed off to some other agent. At worst, I’m physically restrained.
“That’s why I am writing this. I don’t know who will see it, if anyone will see it, but I can’t stop trying. If you’re reading this, I am not crazy. I only want to see my daughter again. Or if that is simply impossible, I want someone to tell her that I love her and that I've been desperately fighting to be with her. To have her with me.
“Five years ago they took her away with no explanation. They just came and took her, ripped her from my arms. Now they tell me I’ll never get her back and I’ll never see her again. Why? I've yet to hear a reason that makes any kind of sense to me. I've lost everything in the process. My relationship crumbled. All my relationships crumbled. Even my own family ignores me. I lost my job, lost my home. Everything.
“A year ago I was on the streets, sleeping in doorways, begging for meals, and taking pictures. Like Paul Simon sang in an old song, I saw “angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity.” The world pulsed around me, as if I’d been swallowed by some great beast. According to the worker who threw me out of a McDonald’s, I spent forty five minutes talking to the light that refracted off of an ice cube on the table. I have no recollection of this. Even so, I say I am not now, nor was I then, crazy. I think I was just on overload in every possible way.”
Despina let out a guttural scream as the pencil lead broke. She flung it into a corner and reached for another one. “Interruptions. Always those. Never any… any… what’s the fucking word? I don’t know. It doesn't matter. It’s just a word, a word, a bird song, a night long, a cloudless moment of gray being normal. What am I saying? I need to write. Write on the white and all will be right.” Despina let out a choked half sob, half laugh at her little rhyme. “Write. Write, write, write.” She closed her eyes to recapture the moment. “The word is grace. Never any grace.” At this revelation, she laughed outright. She began to write again.
“Grace was her name. My daughter’s name. It wasn't the name I had picked out for her, but she came out of me with such ease, such grace that… well, you get it. It was a good name for her. Everything she did seemed to come so naturally to her. Even as a little girl everyone could see that she was gifted, intelligent, beautiful. She had the kind of poise that most adults envy. She was Grace. And when she was eleven years old, Grace was taken from me. Pulled from me. Sucked out into the night and never seen again.
“I could say I hate them and you’d understand that, wouldn't you? But, I don’t hate them. I can’t. I have no room for that kind of wild rage. The frantic worry that I carry constantly takes up all the extra room in my head…” Despina paused and tapped the pencil against her lips. She turned and looked into the mirror, shocked that she looked so old and unkempt.
On the other side of the mirror a nurse shifted slightly in her chair and made a few notes inside a chart just as a doctor walked up to her station. They were silent for a moment, the doctor surveying the gibberish scrawled on two of the walls inside the room. It wasn't even a language he could decipher, at least not yet. It was just a series of squiggles and circles and lines.
He frowned, turned to the nurse and asked, “No medication for the past three days, right?”
“Yes, that’s right doctor. She hasn't eaten in 48 hours, has barely even drank anything, and she hasn't slept in… let‘s see… 32 hours. She just writes, or whatever you call that, and mutters to herself. Of course, it‘s all on tape, but I can‘t make out any words when she talks.”
The doctor sighed, “We’re going to have to put her back on her meds. She’ll kill herself if she keeps this up. I was hoping that a little freedom of expression would somehow awaken her at least a little. If we could just get her to a point of acknowledging what happened…”
“Doctor,” the nurse interrupted. “Clearly her mind is fractured. We can’t even get her to the point where she will recognize that her daughter is dead! How will you ever bring her to the point of acknowledging that she was drunk and thought she was shooting a burglar and not her daughter who had just come home from a movie?”
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Eric Storch gave me this prompt: She had been writing furiously for over an hour, breaking more than five pencils in the process…
I gave Michael this prompt: The first cold, crisp day of Autumn always reminds me of...