Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sin... slush, grit and gristle...

Slush, grit and gristle. That's how she always referred to it. She often had a way with words that reduced everything to its base contents. And slush, grit and gristle was pretty much what the meals they fed us consisted of. All wrapped up in a uniform grey colour that really appealed to the appetite. Granted normally there wasn't much gristle in there to keep you going - that smacked too much of being a substantial meal, and we couldn't have that now, could we? Then we'd all end up with bursts of energy and you might actually have to look after us.

Can't have that. Lethargy was too strenuous for some of us residents. The Institute had a policy of calm and that calm was instilled by regular doses of irregular drugs and meals that looked - and usually tasted - like they'd already been scoffed, digested and excreted. Yummy, scrummy in my emaciated tummy.

She didn't complain though. Not about pretty much anything, and, being pretty, she would have had a certain amount to complain about. Especially with Jersey being her orderly of choice - his choice not hers. Slimier than a snail on speed with a much harder shell. You felt like a gull caught in an oil spill if you so much as heard his voice. He liked her. Too much. But she didn't complain. The bruises faded before they were replaced with new ones and abortion? What abortion.

I didn't find out what she was here for until after she'd gone. She never said and, if you didn't say you weren't asked. Mostly, patients here liiked to talk about their illnesses and woes. It was a form of therapy that far surpasses the 'care' that Connors and his lackeys provided. A problem shared is a problem halved, so they say. Not so in this place. In some cases, a problem shared iss a problem taken on as your own and escalated to whole new levels of insanity. But still we talked. Still we shared. What else could we do?

But not her. Quiet. Almost camoflagued by her stillness and reticence. Barely moving so much so that your eyes missed her as you looked around the room. She blended in. She was magnolia in a room of scarlets and oranges and puces. Whatever colour PUCE is. Sounds like someone just vomited. But when she was gone, we noticed it. When she was gone, the lack of her tranquility - that you really didn't notice while it was there - was palpable. She was the eye of the storm. An island of serenity that drew others to it like Lost's.

It's not always the fathers. It's not always the uncles. Sometimes it's the brothers or the sons or the dad's drinking buddies. In her place it was the mother. Does violence beget violence like Adam and Eve begat Cain, Abel and Seth? I would guess her mother was violated as a child, or perhaps as an adult, and abusing her daughter was her escape - her vent. But one push, one slap, one intimate intrusion too far and the camel's back shattered a thousand pieces. And she ended up here. For possibly the first time in her life she didn't have to huddle in the corner or fear both falling asleep and waking up. She didn't need to be afraid. Not even of Jersey. Jersey was scum, but he greased his way in, not drove through like a truck.

We don't know how she did it. We don't know why, really. Though I suppose we do. But they carried her body through the recreation room like a trophy... or a warning.

R.I.P. Caroline.

Slush, grit and gristle. She always called it that. Not sure she was just talking about the food.

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