by Michael J. Solender
After two days of trying, Alicia was finally able to open her eyes. Swollen shut from earlier trauma, her first view since the “accident” was streaked scarlet like a Caribbean sunset. The tropics were far from her mind though as she strained to make out the familiar shape that beckoned her closer. She tried to rise from the bed that was her prison to follow its call, but was stopped by the nurse.
“There now Miss,” the nurse was perfunctory, yet detached, feigning a pleasing tone she employed dozens of times per day, “Just rest now.”
The nurse tightened the restraints on her troubled charge. Alicia was too medicated to realize she was bound to the bed, unable to do anything other than sleep. At least it resembled sleep. Those with the keys to the locked ward where she resided knew however that the medically induced stupor only temporarily hid the self inflicted horrors awaiting Alicia.
Gently stroking her check, the warm hand gently awakened Alicia. She saw it clearly now, but could not make out its owner, the red haze persisted. She saw only a detached arm caressing her, petting her, mothering her. Succor hers for a moment, she drifted back to sleep.
The residents were puzzled as they peered over Alicia with their charts. Sound asleep, they spoke freely.
“Why would she cut off her own arm?” The first year resident asked no one in particular.
In unison, the rest simply shook their heads.