She was stuck. She looked around her, taking in all the details. The white walls. The full length glass windows. The half-drawn curtains. The pale evening light, streaming in. Dust in the air, silver stars. Ten people. Six armchairs. One couch. The grey, grey carpet.
“What are you doing here?” It was a familiar voice. She looked up to see who it was. It was that boy she had met last week at group therapy. “Did you come alone? Come, come join me and my friends. We’re having a tea party!” He looked at her confidently, and had a glint of mischief in his eyes. She found herself following him. They walked quickly, past all the rooms. He stopped at the end of the long corridor, and kicked open the door to his room. He introduced her with a sense of propriety. He then sat down with his friends and beckoned her to do the same. There were four of them, and they were sitting in a circle, by the window. She recognized one of them. He raised his hand, and gave her a small wave. She had met him last week too. One of them was looking up at her, studying her with a child-like curiosity, it was rather touching. So young, she thought, and she stood there, smiling. The Pied Piper, and his children, she thought to herself.
The Pied Piper cleared his throat, and began to give a speech: “Welcome to our world! We’re all mad here. Let’s celebrate! I propose a toast to self-control! (singing) Let the children use it, let the children lose it, let all the children boogie…” They were laughing heartily and a conversation had begun to take off. One line after another, in different tones, distinct voices created a sense of life; against the cold white walls and the echo of silence from outside. Their words, like colourful balloons, bounced off the floor, some rested themselves against the ceiling, some floated in mid-air, while some were tumbling across the floor. She observed them, allowing herself to fade. Time passed. Seconds, and minutes.
It was time for the second dose of the day. The party was over. They had to separate, and return to their rooms.
Solitary. She sat down, and began to feel claustrophobic. She began to notice something, which she couldn’t put into words. The view from inside her room, through the glass window. Something was wrong. What was it? It’s all so exhausting, she thought. She remained in the silence, in absence, dwelling in her own history, searching within herself, for something, for someone. She looked up.
There were kites. Kites, bits and dots of colour, flying high in the vast expanse of the sky.
There were people outside, walking towards the rooftop, enjoying the simple things in life – the setting sun, the blue skies, and the sea breeze. There had been talk of the haze returning to their shores, but for now, the skies were clear. If there was any pollution at all, it was generated by the sprawling city itself. Just next to the asylum was the large construction site for one of the most expensive casinos in the world. It was a time of possibilities. It was all about to change.
“Are you ok?” The Pied Piper had popped his head round the door to check on her. He looked at her and asked, “Why are you so quiet?”
She couldn’t answer him. She wanted to cry.