Emmaline’s Story – On the Inside
Confessions in the Night
Marie, Danica, and I sat in our circle after goon made rounds. The three of us added to our list of B and goons’ schedules and deviances from them. As it happened, goon was fairly regimented about sticking to her routine. Big B wasn’t quite that methodical. I expected that.
What woman in love does the expected things all the time? Probably not many.
I asked and answered my own question in my head, not even realizing I had slipped into my own thoughts; thoughts about the staff, the girls’ respective wellness, and what I would say to Danica tonight.
Eventually I heard Marie and then saw her waving her hand in front of my face, “Emmaline, come baaack.”
“Oh. Oops. Sorry,” I said, chagrined.
“Where did you go,” she queried.
Even in the darkness, I looked away and lied, “I was visiting my happy place.”
“Wow,” she countered, “If that’s your happy place, I’d hate to know where your hell is.”
I forced a smile and replied, “We’re in it. At least my sisters are with me.”
Danica touched my hand and slipped her finger through mine. It was small, yet a really huge, gesture that no one but us noticed. I knew then, that she was not just my sister on the inside. She was my family for life.
Later, we arranged our beds backwards so we could whisper to each other after Marie fell asleep. With pillows at the foot of our beds, we reached to circle our fingers and Danica asked haltingly,
“You-told me to ask. Remember?”
“Yea, I know,” I said, “I mean, its okay, I remember.”
“So what happened to you, Em?”
I thought for a long minute and replied, “Whew, ummm, where do I start?’
“Anywhere, I think,” Danica replied, “I mean, for me, it’s not really about the order of when things happened. It’s that they did happen.”
Danica fell silent and I found myself thinking that my first summarization of her had been exact: Astute, fearless, and sharply pointed.
“Okay,” I said, “But after I tell you, then you have tell me.”
“I will,” she assured me, loosely shaking our looped fingers, “I promise.”
“Well let’s see,” I began, “I used to be the white sheep. I did everything that was asked and expected of me, to the best of my ability, for all my life,” then paused, realizing I couldn’t hear Danica breathing.
“You still awake, sis?”
“Of course,” she whispered, “I’m just concentrating. Go on,” she pressed.
“Around my fifteenth year, I broke.”
Danica sighed heavy-heartedly, “That’s horrible. You were a worn out work horse at fifteen.”
“Yeah, no shit,” I responded, continuing, “I was a good daughter and the daughter who could never be good enough. You know?”
“Yes, I think so,” she said.
“I tried every way I knew to gain my parents approval but even when they tossed me a compliment, it was delivered with a backhanded slap.”
“Wow,” Danica whispered.
“You know,” I said, imitating my parents, “This was great, but you missed this, this, and that, and you should have done it the way I would have.”
Danica squeezed my finger and I continued, “There was never just ‘Wow, this was great’ or ‘What a good job.’ It was always accompanied by a list of demerits,” I huffed, in deferred pain.
“You okay,” Danica asked, “Do you want to take a break?”
I tore myself from my stream of consciousness and said, “Nah. I’m okay for now. You?”
“I’m good but my heart hurts for you,” she lamented.
“You know, for the first time, mine kind of doesn’t,” I admitted, feeling slightly confused.
“It sounds like you’ve been carrying everyone’s world up a mountain for a very long time,” Danica surmised, “It must be a relief to finally stop, sit down, and talk to someone about it.”
Again, I thought, Astute, sharply pointed, and fearless. For a girl I would have mistaken for ten or twelve, she has bewildering maturity that surprises me at every turn. I wondered at the burdens on her tiny shoulders.
“I think so, sis. Do you want to take turns? I could stop and you can tell me some now.”
I followed the trail of her eyes to the window in the door.
She explained, “It’s getting near to second rounds. Quick, tell me one more thing before we remake our beds right side up!”
“Okay,” I laughed, “I had a brother.”
“Is he good looking,” she snickered.
“Ewww, and um, ewww! He’s married with children now.”
Danica clutched her heart pretending I’d just fatally wounded her. It was all I could do not to collapse into peals of laughter. She looked toward the window and I knew we had cut it close. We tucked our pillows back at the head of our beds and feigned sleep until I actually did fall asleep.
Unaccompanied by any ugly thoughts or troubling memories, I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep for the first time I could recall. I woke at five a.m. rounds to B’s voice saying the same thing she said every morning, “Arms up.”
I lay there not budging with my limbs feeling weighted, as if they were too heavy to move.
Residual effects of carrying worlds and holding my breath forever, I decided.
B lifted my wrist and I fell directly back to sleep. I could only hope they thought I was being intentionally uncooperative.
An hour later, I woke with a start, and psych guys words ringing in my ears, “I want answers to those questions tomorrow at eleven a.m. sharp.”
There wasn’t enough time after breakfast. I needed to pick Danica’s brain now.
Why didn’t I remember to ask her last night? I kicked myself as I tiptoed to her bed and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. Slowly, she turned weary eyes to me and I touched my finger to hers, mouthing “I’m sorry!”
She rolled toward me and scooted back, giving me the edge of the bed to sit on.
“I forgot about psych guy and our early meeting,” I whispered, “I need to ask you about Nyx.”
“Oh yea,” her whisper was barely perceptible; “You didn’t tell me what happened.”
“I’ll tell you everything later today. I need to know what the significance of Nyx is. What made you choose her?”
“Well, I was never any good at history, but I liked Nyx. She’s a Greek primordial goddess of the night. She’s only seen in glimpses. Nyx lives in shadows, which reminds me of me, and she’s really powerful and exquisitely beautiful, like I wish I was,” she confided, yawning.
“Okay. Why did glimpses and living in shadows remind you of you?”
Danica hesitated, opening her mouth as if to answer and then closing it.
“It’s okay, sis,” I whispered, cupping my hands around her ear, “I told you things last night and will tell you more, I promise.”
“Okay,” she conceded, sitting up in bed, “In my family, I am one of five children. I’m number three. I’m kind of opposite of you, Em’. Whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, I’m unnoticed. I identify with existing in shadows, possibly powerful, but altogether powerless. Some say Nyx watched creation happen. She watched, standing on the edge. That’s me. I’m in the shadows or on the edge, but never really in the picture.”
My heart ached and I swallowed my tears, “Danica, you are so much more beautiful and powerful than you’ve received credit for, even from yourself, but how would you know that? You have existed in the shadows. No one ever bothered to show or tell you.”
I stood and she gently pulled me back down, “They say she was a shrew but I don’t buy it. Besides, if she was I think she was justified.”
I hugged her quickly and tucked her back into bed as Marie began to stir. I crawled back into my own bed and slept until breakfast time.
© June 14, 2015 – 04:09 AM