I was not ready to admit defeat. She is hell-bent towards destruction. I can see it. I’ve been there. The world is large enough to swallow her whole and spit out the bones she would abandon in death.
She’s parchment swaying in the wind. Change isn’t easy, but forced change, it’s the hardest thing to recognize.
I don’t remember when she graduated above my height. It snuck up on us both while we were moving around the states. She was 5 and then 10 and then 15. She didn’t stop growing after she left for college either. Her height is hidden now. Under the stooped shoulders. The curl in her spine. She doesn’t seem to notice me across the room. Silently on her side in all of this.
“Where do I go from here?” She asks the room in that hallowed-out sound you hear when the wind is pushed through a tunnel before a subway train pulls to a stop in front of you. Her words are forced from her mouth with that same gust. The room is so silent her heart beat monitor sounds like those screeches you hear when the driver hits the breaks.
“Observation,” the doctor isn’t going to debate the stage of treatment with her. She’s considered an object unfit to make the ‘life choices deemed right by society at the moment.’
What century is this that my girl is judged incapable of body autonomy? Her violent reaction to the procedure had her in the hospital within a day. She didn’t tell me she was pregnant until she wasn’t anymore.
I could see the fear in her eyes when she came out of her room. Bleeding through her yoga pants. Hunched over. Broken. I know she is strong enough in her convictions to not regret the choice she made.
I fear the repercussions for her. It was legal once, when I was her age, to decide the individual future of the life we lead. Now, I fear jail time. It’s usually a life sentence. For the potential “life you took,”from the state.
But I think I know why she chose this scenerio. She and her brother were wards for awhile. And the government likes to train wards for combat. Why put them with a family when they can just make a unit of soldiers? No parent to fight for their rights. No adult contests the system anymore because, “as long as it isn’t their child,” they are “okay” with the new “draft process.”
When she turned 5 though, I was tapped as foster mother. She was insubordinate from the time she was 3. And the government wasn’t going to waste time on reforming her.
I’ll never know what she witnessed. But I think it influenced her choice dramatically. That insubordinate girl, this grown woman of 18, is still sitting, hunched on the hospital bed. And I’m sitting in the corner. Hating the space and people between us.
I regret not taking her to our district hospital this evening, but I knew the “regulations.” If I had they wouldn’t put her in “observation.” She’d already be locked up. These people are so strange. Uncomforting. Procedural. Each one of them judging her without knowing her past. Under the impression that the world is much better where we live.
When I heard gunshots outside the window began I didn’t flinch. I knew they weren’t abnormal because everyone but her ignored them. But we all jumped at the alarms blaring before the discussion went any further.
The sprinklers tried to turn on but the heads just dripped a few meaningless drops from the ceiling which meant the water was out again. The doctor and his staff of two rushed out of the room towards their designated positions and I rushed to her. “Hey girl. Let’s get you outta here before they try to labotomise you.”
She looks up at me. Her eyes wide, like she forgot I was even there the entire time I was in the room. “Oh. Okay.” She ripped off the monitors and climbed out of bed quickly. And then she stumbled a little.
“Easy. Easy. We’ll keep you on the gown so they think we are just evacuating. You sit in this. The wheelchair had been left behind. She nods, her face pale from blood-loss and shock.
I threw the bed blanket over her lap. Hiding all the signs about what her treatment had been earlier, “Act sick sweetie.” Her head slumped accordingly as she placed her face in her palm and rested her elbow on the arm of the chair.
We opened the door and looked both ways for the judgmental twits that had just left. The hallways were empty and the doors to all the other rooms ajar. A mass exodus of every patient on the floor had already happened. We were just lower on the “saving chain.”
As I pushed her through the corridor the white and grey walls held no judgement of our actions. A balm in comparison. I turned two corners before I stopped abruptly enough to almost toss her out of the chair. In front of us there was a new obstacle. I knew before we turned that one corner to freedom.
We smelled the smoke before we saw the flames.