Outside

The full throbs that went through her scraped and bruised knees and her scratched knuckles made her smile weakly. She welcomes the aching pain, happy that she was once again clear headed enough to feel something.

Her finger slowly traced the thin scan on her cheek that crossed over her cheekbone and finished on the lobe of her ear. She winced slightly as the fragile scab peeled away by her ear, the pressure from her finger too much for it to withstand.

Pulling her knees up to her chest she held them there for a moment, her fingertip drawing lazy circles on her tender knees. The heavy hospital gown against her skin was itchy. She ignored it, focusing on the glorious ache that spread over her as she stared out the window at the tops of the trees.

The door to her room opened and she could feel him walk in. His expensive leather shoes clicked off the cool floor of her room as he crossed it and sat in the chair next to her bed.

He waited. Wanting her to acknowledge him before he said anything.

He would be waiting a long time, she thought.

“Mona.” He said finally.

“I want to go outside.” 

Flipping through the papers in his leather bound book, he shook his head. “Perhaps in a few weeks.”

She kept her eyes on the top of the trees, pulling her knees in closer. 

“Mona.” He began again, his voice heavy and soothing. “Why do you think you are not allowed to go outside?”

“Because I would run, Dr. Somnos.” 

“I can always trust you to be direct.” He wrote something in his book. “And why do you run?”

Pulling her gaze from the top of the trees for a moment, she looked at the metal bars on her window. “Because I am a bird in a cage.” 

“Interesting.” She could hear the tip of Dr. Somnos’ pen moving along his pad of paper. “If you could be any kind of bird, which would you choose?”

“I wonder what answer would best suit you here. A hummingbird because of how fast and free I felt before, able to flap my wings with such astonishing speed I could fool your eyes to believe I am floating. What a dreadful thing to see, a hummingbird in a cage. Perhaps a lark whose song was so complex and beautiful, but now sits perched silent. My answer here means nothing as it will be interpreted by you and you will never truly know why I picked that bird. You’ll only think you know. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Do you know why caging a bird is such a crime, doctor?” 

He crossed his legs, pausing for a moment. “Why?”

“Because it’s known what it is to fly.” She wrapped her hand around one of the bars covering her window. 

“I see. Do you feel like being here has robbed you of that knowledge? To fly?”

Mona ignored the question. The circles they spoke in annoyed her and she knew if she answered it he would somehow come back around to what bird she felt as though she was. “Can I go outside today?” 

“No. Do you know why I’ve said no?”

“Because it’s a rare thing, to open the door of a cage and have a bird come back.”

“That’s a rather poetic way of saying we know you would try to escape. Again.” 

Her feet ached. Wiggling her toes she took slow breaths through her teeth as pain covered the bottom of her feet. She knew they were covered with cuts and scrapes, she hadn’t been able to find any shoes and her slippers had only slowed her down.

The garden had been beautiful. Tall hedges to give the illusion there were no walls. She had walked around those hedges looking for a way out of her cage. Unable to find one, she did something she had been surprised no one else had done, she made her way through. The branches were sharps, they tore at her. Her wounds would heal, and were worth the price of her freedom.

Come back to me. His voice was there at the front of her mind, as it always was. It held onto her, pulling her through the hedge and into the bordering woods.

“I’m coming.” She whispered.

Please. Come back. Don’t leave me here alone. I need you.

The voice was desperate, she choked on a sob as she heard it.

Mona.

Her feet jumped alive as she broke into a run. She needed to get away, needed to escape. He was waiting for her and she needed to do whatever she had to. She would get back, no matter the cost.

Sticks stabbed into the bottom of her feet as her slippers fell off. Branches whipped at her as though they were orderlies trying to urge her to go back, keep her from going any further. She was desperate as it pulled at her hair, trying to keep her here, trapped.

They were like hungry claws, ripping at her flesh, but she pushed forward.

A thick tear rolled down her cheek as she sobbed, breaking through the trees to realize there was no where to go, no way to escape. She looked down, amazed to be looking down at jagged rocks sticking out of the angry waves. Running her scraped fingers through her hair, she looked down.

Stepping so close the edge of her toes hung off, she wondered if she could survive the fall into the water.

Where was she?

The wind whipped her hair back behind her as she looked out at the sea. She had never lived near the sea. A thick mist coated the water, a fog heavy in the air.

Closing her eyes, she tried not to fall into her despair.

Mona. Please.

She had been found walking along the cliff’s edge over an hour later. She had never come to a place where she hadn’t stood looking down at the water.

“What was your plan?” Dr. Somnos asked. “You had gotten off the grounds, made your way into the woods and came to the cliff. Were you thinking about jumping?”

“No.”

“Mona.”

“Can I go outside?”

“Is there any place left to go?”

She had walked a full circle around this place, and found no escape.

Yet.

“Can I go outside?”

Sighing, Dr. Somnos got to his feet. Closing his book, he put in on the chair behind him as he took a step towards her.

Her eyes flashed past him. Rolling quickly off the bed, she grabbed his pen from the chair. Letting out a desperate war cry, she tackled him to the ground, holding the pen to his neck. “Don’t move.” She whispered as she pulled his access card from his belt and scurried to her feet.

Rubbing at his neck, he looked up at her. “Mona. What are you doing? You can’t leave this place, not until you are done your treatment.”

Mona?

“Fuck you!” She quickly left the room, her eyes searching the hall as she made her way down it and towards the exit. The door swung open as she was knocked back, pulled across the floor.

Screaming, she kicked, reaching out, hitting at anything she could as she was pulled back across the floor towards her room. She screamed until she felt the familiar prick in the side of her neck and watched the world around her slowly slide into darkness.

***

Shaking his head, he looked up at the man standing behind him. Concern and hope was worn clearly on his face as he bit down on the edge of his thumb and looked down at him.

“I’m sorry.”

“No. The monitor was going crazy, her heart rate was just.” He stepped forward, taking her hand. “Her hands were gripping the blankets. She looked like she was fighting or something.”

The doctor sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you, Adam. As far as I can tell, Mona is still in a coma. Her brain activity did spike, but she is no closer to waking up now than she was yesterday.” His brow creased. “Everything looks great, there is no reason for her to be in a coma. It’s like something is keeping her there.”

Adam walked past the doctor looking down at his wife’s face. Picking up her hand, he wrapped his own around it and squeezed lightly. “Mona. Please. Come back to me.”

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