“Dark and full of monsters” she had said perhaps a sign of psychosis or schizophrenia or possibly some other similar disorder. I was at home sitting in my armchair with a cold beer watching the game, why did my mind keep insisting on returning again and again to the subject of Cynthia? Was it the sudden fall from grace? Or the mysteriousness of her condition? It must be something that’s drawing my mind like a lure on a string. I turned off the game. If I was going to speculate about her I might as well be productive about it and write it down. I guess it must be something or other about the case that intrigued my professional interest, yeah that was it that was why. “No it’s not about the case and you know it. It’s about her.” That little voice in the back of my head whispered and I couldn’t help but acknowledge it.
“Hey Mikie she didn’t hurt herself but your still in big trouble” Al was in the doorway Cynthia at his side and today his grip on her shoulder seemed a little more firm than usual. “She drew all over the goddamn cell with that freaking pen you gave her. It’s gonna take me hours to wipe all that stuff off.” Al’s voice didn’t raise any more than slightly but you could hear the anger in his voice and see it in his posture. Apparently Cynthia could tell too because she was practically cringing away from him pen and paper clutched tightly to her chest as a mother would clutch a child.
“Al calm down your scaring the poor girl” I said in an even voice.
“Sorry” Al said slowly and deliberately calming himself down and relinquishing his grip on Cynthia’s shoulder.
“Today I’d like to hold her session in her cell, see this “writing on the wall”, if that’s okay with you.” I didn’t wait for an answer because no matter what it was I was going anyway.
“Fine but it’s got to be cleaned up soon.” Al said all traces of anger having left his voice as if by magic. Al sometimes got a little angry but was always quick to get it under control, that’s what made him so great at this line of work and what made him such a good person. Good ole Big Al.
I lightly grasped the sheaf of paper Cynthia was holding with the tips of my fingertips but before I could ask for it she was holding it out to me, offering it to me. I looked carefully at the first page. It was completely filled with words and images put together in one jumbled mass. Poems and questions, drawings and sketches and lots and lots of metaphors, about life, about death, about nature and about everything in between. I flipped through the pages one by one each the same as the first, covered in the imagination of Cynthia channelled through a blue ball-point pen.
I was speechless. I felt like I should say something, should congratulate her but I knew nothing needed to be said. Instead I just started walking, out of the office and down the hallway. I stopped in front of cell #12, Cynthia’s most recent home. She was right behind me same with Al. The door was unlocked and I pulled it open and took a step inside its confines. Cynthia followed me closely but Al stayed respectfully behind, I’m pretty sure I had never told him but I was just as sure he knew anyhow, he was an observant fellow.
I was standing in the middle of what just last night had been a sterile womb, meant to contain patients and keep them calm. Now spidery blue ink covered the walls like a mosaic, intricate patterns full of emotion and meaning. My eyes wandered aimlessly over all of this taking in bits and pieces, poems of every type and shape, delicate prose to make Shakespeare proud and most of all metaphors. “My life is the deepest depths of the ocean, dark and full of monsters.” Took its place proudly on the south wall looking like it had been written first and everything else had simply grown out of it. A sketch of a lonely women dressed in a wispy gown that blew in some unseen wind drew my attention. Her eyes were lonely, oh so lonely. A long column of writing lay below it and as I read my eyes opened wide in comprehension. It was a story, no not just a story it was Her Story. From beginning to end it described the pressure of parents who expected just too much, the alcohol that helped deal with some problems but created far, far more and finally the breaking point and the voices and images that came with it. A complete account of how a young and well collected woman had ended up writing her life story on a white cell wall.
“You are my guardian angel, always protecting me never flagging in your attempts to help and pulling me from the darkness away from the monsters.” The mere sound of Cynthia’s voice pulled on feelings I had long denied and those precious moments are ones I would remember for the rest of my life. She was still skinny but in a healthier kind of way, the dark circles below her eyes had disappeared and there was colour in her cheeks. A bright smile lit her face more brilliantly than any light bulb ever could and her brown eyes danced with its light.
“Nice to talk to you again brother.” My Cynthia, my dear little Cynthie said and I felt joyful tears welling in my eyes and running down my cheeks leaving hot trails behind them. I swept her up in my arms in a fierce embrace, showing my love for her openly for the first time in over three years.
“Good to hear you sis, good to hear you.”