Wednesday, 24 October 1888
Even emptiness has an echo.
She heard it in her mind, fighting for primacy. As time passed and the fire in her head dimmed, she became aware of movement. Creaking leather, the sharp click of horses’ hooves. Each jolt of the carriage set off new reverberations in her head, causing her stomach to churn. Someone was talking. It only made the echo worse.
An eternity. The movement stopped. More voices. She felt someone help her to the ground and then walk her forward. Each step felt as tenuous as the last. She kept her eyes jammed shut. It hurt less that way.
“Stairs here,” a deep voice warned.
She forced open her eyelids to find herself dwarfed by an immense stone building. Huge alabaster columns loomed upward into the night, so tall she couldn’t see the tops of them. The columns spoke of strength, of permanence.
She pulled free, wanting to touch one. It was cool. She laid her left temple against it, relishing the sensation. It numbed the pain.
“Leave her be for the moment,” a voice commanded. It was the one that had been with her since the emptiness began.
Eventually, she straightened. The inferno between her eyes reignited, causing her stomach to heave. She vomited near the base of the column.Couldn’t they hear the roaring? Why didn’t it hurt them like it did her?
Someone handed her a piece of cloth, a handkerchief. She wiped her face with it and then clutched it to her chest as she was led inside.
There were more voices. They rose and fell like the wind on a winter’s night.
As they talked, she tied the handkerchief into knots. Knots were real.
Brain fever. Laudanum. Papers. Committal.
She bowed over, the storm in her head raging anew.
“Name?” an older woman asked, looking down at her like she was a lost child.
“Doe…Jane Doe,” her companion replied.
(Copyright 2008 - Jana G. Oliver)