Red followed the winding path that led into the woods. She was wearing her signature leather jacket,sure to draw the attention of any passersby, as it was bright red with the logo of her motorcycle club, the She-Devils, etched on the back in black and gold. She tended to stand out anyway, with her short auburn hair and brilliant blue eyes that could blaze blue fire at unsuspecting victims who aroused her ire. She rarely let them show, however, preferring to keep them hidden behind little grey glasses that shielded her from the world as well as provided her with a convenient disguise. Today, however, those glasses were firmly tucked into their case and her eyes shot sparks hither and yon as she surveyed the path before her. She knew where she was going and had dressed for the occasion. She figured that leather was always appropriate when traveling in power-exchange circles and besides felt like making a statement. She smiled to herself as the thought of what could happen this evening occurred to her. Would she find the Dom she desired?
The last rays of the setting sun illuminated the clouds, turning them shades of pink then purple then finally indigo until the bit of light faded from the horizon. The stars winked from the sky, but no moon shown forth, for in keeping with tradition, this power-exchange night was held on the night of the new moon. "What happens in darkness stays in darkness." Red walked on, the bricked path lit by the faint light of dim lanterns placed at intervals along the walkway. She heard the soft whir of the cicadas and the peeps of the night frogs and knew she was getting near the lodge where the Mistress of the Games, sometimes referred to as Grandmother, held court. Despite her former jaunty confidence, she felt her mouth get dry and her heart quicken as the house came into view.
She walked up to the door and rapped sharply on the door five times. The door was opened by a tall figure in green and brown who looked down at Red. "Grandmother is expecting me," Red said. "I've brought...cookies..." holding up two glittering small gold disks that were required to gain entrance into the Lodge. "Then enter," said the Woodsman in a deep voice. Red had heard of the legendary guardian of the Lodge,. He was said to be a fearsome martial artist and personal bodyguard of the Mistress of Games when She left the Lodge. Red followed him into a well-appointed living room but remained standing. She was now on formal behaviour and would not do anything she was not explicitly instructed to do.
Kel folowed the nurse to her room, grateful not to have to answer any questions. The ESW had sent over her information and that would be enough for her intake right now. She felt so remote from all of this and did not want to have to engage with another human being about it. Her room was spare. A bed with a simple woonen frame, a wooden night stand, and a set of drawers, a desk, a chair and a closet. At least, though, she was blessedly alone. She sat down on the bed. It did not give the hard institutional crinkle she had expected. She lifted the edge of the blanket covering it and inspected the sheets. They were well-worn but looked comfortable. Perhaps this would not be as bad as she she had feared.
A knock sounded on the door. Kel opened it to find a women standing there. "Hello. I'm Dr. Margary Thomas. Most call me MT." Kel was astonished to have a doctor coming to her rather being brought to the doctor's domain. Evidently things were done differently here. "May I come into your room and talk for a few minutes?" MT asked. Kel motioned her inside. MT sat in the chair and Kel settled on the bed. "So, tell me what brings you here." Kel was silent for a minute, wondering how to put into words the depths of silence and pain that had overtaken her life. Finally she said, "Life became too hard. I didn't want to go on living." That's all Kel could say. That didn't begin to describe the nothingness that she dwelt inside but it was the best she could do. She stared down at the bed, unable to meet MT's eyes. Connecting with another human being took energy that was beyond her grasp right now. She wondered what the doctor would see in her eyes. She remembered reading about the gaze of a soldier who had been in battle, how his eyes had the stare of a man who was still seeing death, and wondered if her eyes had anything of that look about them. Not that she had the hubris to compare her lot to that of a soldier. She knew, though, that if she did let herself begin to feel through the anaesthetic of her depression, the pain would be so severe that she might flee skittering down the halls of madness again.
The police arrived. They spoke with the emergency services worker for a moment then approached her. Politely they explained that she would have to wear handcuffs when in their custody and asked her to hold out her hands in front of her. The metal was cool, as a patrolman snapped the cuffs around her wrists. She had not expected this. She glanced towards the ESW one time before lowering her head and following the patrolman.
Outside the sky had turned cold and grey. The wind had picked up and brought tears to her eyes with its sharp sting. Silently she slid into the back of the patrol car, almost losing her balance, as she could not brace herself with her hands. They started the car and swung onto the old state highway that would take them to Marion. She didn't look up, as the car passed through town. She was not interested in wondering about the lives of those in the houses they passed nor in looking at the mountains. All of her energy was concentrated in not-thinking and not-feeling. She willed herself to concentrate on her breathing. She didn't have to do anything right now EXCEPT breathe.
Finally they were into Marion and at Mountjohn House. From the outside, the house looked like an ordinary older two-story dwelling. Wooden with green shutters and green trim, a front porch with steps that the younger patrol helped her climb, since she could not hold onto the railing. Once on the porch, a kind-looking older woman opened the door and held it as the patrolmen led her in. The woman introduced herself as the nurse in charge and said that she had spoken to the ESW. Kel held out her wrists so the patrolman could take off the cuffs. The nurse signed the release paper, and the patrolmen left. The nurse sighed. "The cuffs," she said. "I wish that was not necessary." Kel didn't reply. She was still just breathing.
I will not ride the legend of my youth
into the evening's dusk.
Leave that to the glory of the sun
that shines so brightly
in the afternoon.
Not for me the relentless caper
around reflections cast
by the storied past,
but rather the quiet acceptance
of the waning moon.
Evening was quickly approaching, so she hurried to get back to the dormitory. The tall red brick building was off campus and the only women's residence where she could have a room to herself. She didn't mind the distance and took advantage of the walk to go over notes or to plan her day. The
Athenian Pizza was not far down the street, so rather than walk to the cafeteria, she often ate there. Northern pizza was better by far than it's Southern pale imitation, so she enjoyed having it often. Since she usually went alone, there was no-one to grimace with distaste when she ordered a pie with extra anchovies and asked for them to be added to her salad as well. The owner came to recognize her and saved a table for her in the late afternoon. She walked the streets in every kind of weather and would stop in for coffee and baklava if not a full meal. Her route took her by the Institute for Advanced Studies, where Einstein, Nash, and other of her heroes had worked. She would pause in silent respect for a moment before passing it, as if asking their blessing upon her work. Though she never received any direct communication from any of the Fellows there, she felt comfort in the knowledge that they were there. Eccentricity was almost a given in the circles she traveled now, and in no place more than the Institute.
She sat in the office and watched her hands shake. The emergency services worker wanted her to go to a hospital in Marion, though not to the state hospital. Even the word "Marion" made her anxious. The memories stayed in her mind, occupying that place where nightmares dwelt. She remembered most of all the mind-numbing boredom of the locked ward. The television was only turned on for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, so that it would not distract patients. From what, she never knew. There was no therapy of any kind and nothing provided to do, unless one wanted to use the three broken crayons and the torn remnants of a colouring book. She had listened to the other patients ramble, often incoherently, and wondered if she made any more sense than they did. She seldom talked. No-one, either patients or staff, seemed to notice or care. The only relief from the tedium of the day was provided by two small rabbits who lived in the bushes and could be seen from the large windows in front of the day room, where everyone was obliged to stay from the time they arose til they went to bed. She looked for the rabbits every day and wondered what they ate, since she could see nothing except a couple of bushes. Perhaps someone from the hospital fed them. She sent a silent prayer to the powers that be for the small animals and shook the memories from her mind. No-one was going to send her back there. No-one was talking state hospital. This was just a respite, a place for crisis stabilization. Nevertheless, she was being sent there involuntarily. The police would be here in a few minutes to transport her. Silently she waited.
Ah, the small pleasures of a snowy morning. The first is seeing Miners play in the snow. We walked out onto the crunch of early morning snow, and the cold blowing flakes seem to invigorate her. She has snow on her nose and her paws from digging and runs and spins, runs and spins. You'd think that given her short fur, she'd dislike the cold, but she loves it.We stayed outside in the blowing storm as long as I could stand the cold of my ears and hands then I literally had to drag her indoors.Once we were in, though, even she appreciated the enveloping warmth of the apartment.
The second is finishing a good book, the last of the Troy Game series by Sara Douglas. I enjoyed this series and its interesting take on the power of the labyrinth. I must remember to look up some of the terms she used to find out if they were unique to her or references to mythical entities. I'm now starting a new book by George R. Martin that is one of his books in the Storm of Swords series. If It is as good as the one I read, it will keep me occupied for several days. He weaves a labyrinthine tale himself. I love the almost exuberant euphoria that arises in me whenever I have an unread book in hand that promises to be good.
The third and last pleasure is that of breakfast: a cup of chocolatl and a chocolate cookie. The chocolatl is a drink made from ground raw medicinal grade cacao, cinnamon, and Peruvian vanilla. It is the closest I've ever come to tasting the original chocolate drink consumed by the Mesoamericans. I also add a dash of cayenne pepper. Cocoa for adults! And my last batch of chocolate snickerdoodles turned out very good cookies, crunchy with just right amount of crumble and chocolately enough so that I can get my fix with one cookie alone. Miners in her monkey-imp mode stole my cookie this morning, but I managed to retrieve it from her before she ate any of it. I just can't turn my back on her for a moment!