Thursday, May 3, 2012

Salt and Water

She is in the life boat, as small and insignificant as herself in the face of the monstrous black sea that churns up the night.  Against her wishes, she is forced into a role she does not wish to play-that of unwitting witness.  She watches the turbulent water as it bucks the great ship like a rag doll before taking it under, and all the while she struggles to preserve her own life.  With a sharp stab of memory, another terrible scene replays itself: a smaller hand in hers, slipping from her grasp. In the midst of this unmerciful dream, as in in real life, she cries out.

Pre dawn light settles over the ward, and she shifts in her narrow hospital bed.  From somewhere down the corridor, a child fusses, while in her own fevered dreaming, the anguished moments in the life boat have slipped the moorings of her mind, and she is taken nine years back in time.  The maternity ward in a different hospital, and a different kind of anguish.  After a long and difficult labor, she has become a mother, and she cradles her new baby in her arms.

She awakens, drenched in sweat, and as the veil of her dreaming slips away, reality pushes in and her present circumstances come cruelly back to her.  The sinking.  The panic and terror.  The loss.  The ache in her heart is unbearable.  She wishes for her own merciful death, and a release from the pain she has been sentenced to suffer for the rest of her life.  Seeking refuge in the softness of her pillow, her poorly muffled sobs almost mask the softest of footsteps near her bed. Quiet whispers.

Go ahead, Nora. 

She is wide awake now, and her sentence is lifted.


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