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She Was Always In The Dark

The day she realized that the darkness didn’t disturb her anymore was a very disturbing day.


1. Part 1 of 3

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The day she realized that the darkness didn’t disturb her anymore was a very disturbing day.

“Mary?” a voice asked. It was a new voice, and she was aware, objectively, that it was beautiful, even coming as it did from the static-filled speaker on the wall. She didn’t answer. It would go away, like the other voices had. She waited, soundless and still.

“Why do you not answer?” the voice asked. This was not a question anyone had ever asked her before.

“Mary is not my name,” she replied honestly, her voice hoarse from disuse. Mary had been her grandmother. Mary was dead. She had wondered often, alone in the dark, if she were not also dead. But the vivid memory of the white room made it seem unlikely. Death should not hurt so much.

“Will you tell me your name?” The voice was persistent, but so pleasant that she couldn’t muster any annoyance with it. It was at this point that she realized how comforting the darkness and silence had truly become. Her face twisted into a frown at the thought.

“She always called me Alice,” she replied. She pictured her grandmother in her mind. She had been a kindly woman, but she’d always insisted that when they were together, she was Mary, and Alice was Alice, no matter what her parents called her. She held onto the image desperately until the pale peach color of Mary’s sunken cheeks turned chalky white, and her smiling eyes glazed over, and then she shook her head to clear it away, horrified. She always tried to be so careful not to remember. Her face went blank and she turned away from the speaker on the wall, blaming the voice. But turning away did not earn her the silence she craved.

“What do you see, Alice?” the voice asked gently. She didn’t reply. “Why do you not answer?”

It occurred to her that it was a man’s voice this time. Perhaps that’s why it sounded so beautiful to her. The disembodied voice from the speaker was usually female, though never the same voice for very long. “I see nothing, it is dark,” she replied mechanically, knowing this to be the only answer that would not result in a trip to the white room.

“Will you tell me what you saw last week?” the voice persisted, sounding almost gentle. But Alice shuddered in the darkness, remembering. It had been a harmless vision, but she had paid for it in the usual currency: pain.

“No,” she whispered, not certain why she was still speaking. She didn’t know how long she had been in the darkness, but she was sure she’d spoken more to this voice than to any of the others in a very long time. It worried her, this sudden need to answer. Silence was safety in this place of dark walls.

“Why do you choose not to tell me?” Patience was the virtue of a person, not a voice, but Alice was finding it difficult to separate the two, suddenly. For the first time in recent memory, it occurred to her that someone was forming the words she was hearing.

“They will be angry,” she whispered, frightened, now by her compulsion to answer.

“No one will be angry,” the voice reassured her kindly. “No one is even here except you and I.” It was an easy thing to believe, if she could make herself believe that HE was there. She had been alone for so long. The only time she wasn’t alone was in the white room. She’d concluded long ago that alone was good. “Won’t you tell me what you saw?”

“I saw white shoes,” she responded, her voice shaking with fear as she considered the consequences of her honesty. “There was a mark on them – a small mark, like someone had dropped a spatter of blue ink. They shone like satin, though, and they were very beautiful.”

There was a pause. “Do you know who was wearing the shoes?” the voice asked after a moment. Alice was unused to talking to anyone, but she thought it sounded carefully disinterested. She reminded herself again that voices couldn’t be interested OR disinterested. But her mind shied away from the idea that she might be talking to a real person.

“They belong to a tall woman with short brown curls. She has a dimple in her cheek, and she’s smiling. She doesn’t care about the ink.” she whispered.

“Alice, what did you see today?” the voice asked carefully. But she shook her head, and pursed her lips together, not allowing herself to answer. A shiver ran through her, though, and she saw again what she had seen earlier. “Why do you not answer?” he repeated. Patience. Kindness. These were not the sorts of tones utilized here in the darkness.

“They will take me to the white room,” she gasped, only just realizing she’d been holding her breath to avoid having to answer. She sucked in as much air as she could, forcing herself to breathe.

“No matter what you tell me, no one will take you to the white room,” the voice promised. “I will never take you there,” came a whisper. She thought that was odd. The speaker’s static usually wouldn’t pass anything like a whisper. And why should the voice whisper? It was not in the dark. Only she was in the dark. She sat down, not sure if she was facing the speaker anymore, and crossed her legs.

“I saw blood,” she said finally, unable to help herself. “Blood and blood and blood and blood and –“ she choked, suddenly, her breath catching as the horror of her vision caught up with her. She’d seen nothing so awful since the week before Mary had died. But her mind shied away from that. It was because of that that her family hated her, that they feared her. But she had only seen it, not caused it.

She hung her head, and in the darkness the two most horrible visions she’d ever seen merged into one, and it was Mary being torn into pieces, instead of the strange, beautiful man; Mary’s howls of agony as the angry, dark haired man pulled her apart. She felt tears on her cheeks and it took her a moment to remember what they were. She wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked herself consolingly, unaware that she was still choking out the word ‘blood’ in an agonized whisper. Her wide eyes stared, unseeing, into the darkness.