I smile to myself in the darkness, as I shuffle down a cold, concrete hallway -- companion on each arm -- the ringing and clanging of chains echo against walls I can only hear, but cannot touch. Their grasp was unkind and fierce; I had nowhere else to go today and could barely move the chains along as I shuffle to keep up.
They seem to know where I was going, and why, but I have forgotten. I can only smell the dampness, the mold and the musty odor of a blackened hood through which I can barely breathe -- and I smile to myself again. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is reflex, for now habit has become unhinged and in accord with some sweet music I cannot account for, I can only feel.
I stumble -- once, twice, maybe three times -- I can’t seem to remember how to walk. Or, perhaps I am tired. The day has been long.
But I am beginning to recall something familiar, something awful, something I cannot control my revulsion of as I am quickly bound to a hard wooden plank and plunged backward and down, down, down. I am screaming, I am crying, I am gurgling. My nose is on fire because of water trying to wash me away, trying to baptize me into some strange religion where people smile for no reason and exchange pleasantries like long, lost lovers come to call. My chest heaves a mighty heave -- almost explodes -- for I have lost complete control of what my body is doing and why. What is anything for.
I feel warm water in my pants, again, but I no longer have anything left in my bowels to give. My body fights and contorts as I lose my religion, once again becoming baptized into a world where I see myself from high above, looking down. Once I was frightened of this place, but no more.
If this is death, I welcome it, for there is no fear or dread here.
The battle is over and I have lost, only to discover that I have really won. I am the one who smiles now for no reason and they are the ones who are driven mad as dogs trying to own what is not theirs, trying to control what is no longer of any use to me.
A thunderous heave slams into my chest and, suddenly, I am back under my hood again. I do not know what day it is, but I do know that it is over. They have rocked me back up. They are done. Now I get to be pulled back to my cell where I can be alone and away from those who try so hard to enlighten me and relieve me of the burdens of this world. I welcome their gifts of love with grace and a smile. I wish I weren't so difficult to teach. Yet I have learned so very much so quickly!
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