I had moved Pen into a ward. Her plush armchair was replaced by a metal bed frame, hard mattress and prescription sheets. The walls were white and cushioned, and her fireplace no longer cast shadows upon them. She had become dangerous, so I tried to contain her. She was resentful.
She clawed and beat with clamped fists more often than she used to, but the sound was somewhat muffled. She cried and cried – the kind of wracking sobs that used to reach my ears and produce a similar, if somewhat subdued response – but I felt increasingly numbed to her pleas. She paced back and forth, muttering and cursing and stamping her feet. I heard only parts of what she said. She was so very angry at me.
Her skin was paler than ever before; almost translucent. She would not eat and every day she became more skeletal. Her emancipated bones jutted. Her eyes darkened to wells of wrath and when she turned to face me I had to look away. I couldn’t bare it.
Last night she had visitors. I did not invite them. I was not warned of their impending invasion. A door appeared and they entered; one small, one dark. Pen would not hear them, and neither will I. She began to scream, and this time the noise broke through my veil. She ran, flailing, at the walls. She pointed and gestured. All I could do was cower out of their sight.
Pen had never been as powerless as she was then. She was always the strong one, but even she couldn’t make them leave. They stood, stoic where they’d entered until she exhausted herself. She lay down and placed a pillow on her face, gesturing me over and holding my hands in place as I pressed down. We began to choke. She would have my strength, then, but I failed at that too.
We are still here though the visitors have gone. Pen waits for them to return, as we know they inevitably will. In the meantime she sits in a corner, her knees hugged to her chest and her eyes wide and unblinking. She prays for the next time and she whispers to me that I can do it. I am the strong one now.