Seeing, Really Seeing

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πŸ“… Published on November 6, 2013

"Seeing, Really Seeing"

Written by

Estimated reading time β€” 7 minutes

Sometimes, you really can’t understand what someone is going through. You have to go through the same. Live through the same. Face the same disasters and torments they have.

I haven’t seen her in a while. It’s been almost 8 years. Of course, I would’ve visited her sooner, but I have a job, a life I have to keep up with. I couldn’t see her and risk all that I had worked for, all I held dear, fall apart. I knew what each visit brought. Another session of her thoughts, her inner turmoil, unleashed and spewing venom across every aspect of my being. I had enjoyed talking with her, yes, but that was in the beginning. When she was in control. When she was still sane. Another visit would make her even worse. Last time she was already unhinged from reality. From herself. Her nightmares had taken over. And every time I went to see her, those same monsters threatened to consume me as well.

Call it whatever you like, but I have to protect myself from her. Before it affects me even more.

Last time I understood why they locked her away from the others. Why she was no longer in touch with the world. God only knows what she’s become after 8 years.

I miss her, and I don’t want to leave her as she was, all alone, with no one to be with; no one to keep her grounded and help her push back all the demons that she said had invaded her mind. She deserves better, she needs a proper goodbye, at the very least.

So, instead of going to work, I make a right on Bradley Drive. I keep on going, down the long road, lined with the forest, and make my way up the hill, in the clearing, where Williams House stands. The Institution.
As I pull up to the front gates, I get a much better view of the building, and see that it is in serious need of maintenance. I get out of my car and head towards the entrance, taking note of the weeds and vines consuming Williams House. A painful creak of the rusting gates informs me that people are a rare visit to the institution nowadays. I glance at the front doors, and then I see the notice plastered across them.

DO NOT ENTER
By order of the State of Massachusetts, the Williams House and Institution for the Mentally Unstable has been shut down until further notice due to the architectural faults and other general hazards. Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
September 28th, 1962
Building Inspector Arnold Lewis-Ramsay

Shut down.
That means she’s not here anymore.
And I never got to give her a proper farewell…

A minor setback for me, but I was nevertheless determined. I needed to see for myself that she was truly, and forever, gone.
I headed towards the East wing of the building, where, somewhere among the bricks that made up Williams House, was a door.
Having reached the East wing, I began feeling my way around the ivy-ridden wall for the old brass doorknob that was my gateway inside. After what felt like hours of searching, my hand grazed metal, and pulling back the ivy that crawled up the building, opened the door and stepped inside Williams House.

It was definitely abandoned. In need of a good dusting, roof repair, and some new wallpaper, as the current one was peeling. It reeked of old; the musky air threatened to choke me, consume me and trap me here for eternity. I was sure I was the only one to visit since the building inspector.

I headed up the flight of stairs, to the fifth floor, for one last look at where she had dwelt. Each step made a creak that echoed through the wing as I crept up the stairs, and the early morning sun slowly transformed to afternoon daylight, sending streaks of light through the crumbling building. As I reached the fifth floor, the conversations of long past started seeping into my mind, and before long, I was in front of her room, every word she had said to me flooding my brain…

“…You know I’m stuck here forever, don’t feed me any this bullshit you call freedom.”
“I just don’t want to see you so…so…confined…”
“Well, I’ve got you, it makes staying here easier…”
“I guess so, I’d probably love it if someone visited me in your position.”
“Yeah, it’s real nice. But for me, it’s more than a visit. You’ve helped me to see the better part of this. And when I can’t find anything good about this place, you show me one I’ve overlooked. You help me out.”
“You’re always saying how there’s nothing to see in this place, but have you looked outside lately? The flowers are just starting to pop out after the long winter, the birds are coming back, even the trees have their own way of showing beauty.”
“Ok, ok. So Spring is finally coming around. But Spring comes every year.”
“I come every week, and you still haven’t gotten tired of me.”
“That’s true; I just wish I could actually go outside for once, y’know? Smell the flowers, not just see them from my window. Lie on the field, not just look at it. Go into the forest, and actually touch the trees again and feel the earth and grass tickling my toes. I want to be in the forest, not just see the same part of it every day from this hell-hole.”
“You’ll be there soon, and I’ll be there with you.”
“There you go, feeding me a fantasy again. I’m just tired. Of all of this. Of the fact that I’ve been labeled as a freak. Mentally unstable, as they like to call it. I’m tired of being here, knowing that these are the only walls I’ll see for the rest of my life. No one except you sees me anymore. I’m a lost cause, even to my family. They don’t even bother with me anymore because they know I’m going to rot in here. I’m never getting out, and you know it.”
“Don’t be like that, you’ve been controlling yourself for as long as I’ve known you, and I’ve known you for a long time. There have definitely been worse than you in this place. They’ll let you out eventually and-”
“Stop it.”
“Stop what? I’m only trying to-”
“No. You’re not cheering me up at all. They’re all lies. Every last one of them. And yet you keep telling me that I’ll be out of here soon, that my family actually does care about me, that there’s always some kind of bright side to things! You don’t know. You don’t know anything! Not one-”
“All I want to do is help, I just-”
“NO! You don’t know anything! Nothing about me! I’m stuck here forever! You don’t know what it’s like! Rotting, confined to these walls for the rest of my life!”
“I just want to help. I know what it must be like. It-”
“NO YOU DON’T! Don’t tell me that you understand! You can’t possibly know what it feels like to be abandoned! Left for dead, no one, not even your family, who’s supposed to love you, no one giving a shit about you! Letting you rot! Not one visit in 5 years!”
“…”
“You won’t understand. And you never will. You don’t know what someone’s been through until it happens to you…”

She was right, in the end. Staring at the gray walls, scratched and tainted with spots of blood here and there, I will never know what it was like for her here. I can only imagine. I stood at the window, the field she saw everyday mocking me. Mocking her. This is exactly the kind of place that confined people to their insanity, with no way of overcoming it. These walls were the cradle of her nightmares, all that grey, all that dull, all that ominous nothing, everywhere. She could never escape. Not even to reality. Even if she opened here eyes, she’d never wake up from the nightmares. These walls were what let the images roam free, enveloping her more than ever in her mind. I sat on the floor, glaring at the walls, I breathed in, and closed my eyes as I felt the simple gray color invade me…consume me…and I started to see them.

One by one, like a ghastly procession, they took over the gray. I saw things that looked like death, others too grotesque to identify, and people. There were people everywhere, but they all hid behind masks, with eyes as red as blood. Never looking away. The more I tried to look away, the more I could feel their eyes drilling holes into me… every inch of me. I shut my eyes, and it only got worse. I could hear the whispers of the night, but was it really night? The sun had abandoned me long ago. I lost track of time, noises flooded into my mind, people murmuring in my ear in a language I couldn’t recognize. I opened my eyes, wanting it to be over, wanting to get back to my car, wanting to get out of this hell, but I was trapped. I didn’t see the door to the hallway anymore. There were too many of them, they were past the walls, filling every inch of the ceiling. I couldn’t find a single spot of refuge in this room. I tried to back myself against the wall, curling up and screaming, wanting this to end. The murmuring in my ear grew to loud voices that bounced off the walls, and the red eyes closing in on me, wanting me, knowing that I was no match for them.

I couldn’t go on like this. I needed to get out. Then her voice started to seep into the mixture of murmurs and voices and satanic noises. She started to cry. She was crying everywhere in the room. The window long forgotten, blocked by all the nightmares. Now she was wailing, she was in pain, and for once, I felt her pain. Not having anyone to see, nothing but these demons in her life. Nothing but pain and anguish in this room. She was screaming now, but as it went on, her screams went from desperation to terror and fear. I couldn’t take any more.

I started screaming. Not knowing what to do, having no way of getting rid of these hellish creatures that surrounded me. I scratched at the walls, trying to make the nightmares go away, but they only snickered at me. I was a joke, a weak little life-form that didn’t know true fear and terror until now. Desperately, I clawed at my arms, my fingernails digging into my skin. I bit at my tongue until I tasted blood. I pulled and yanked at my hair. I pounded the floor, crying. I stood up and smacked the walls, slammed into them, tried to get out.

She was right. This pain, this fear, this torment was unimaginable. There was no way out, no way I could escape this horrid place, this inferno. Her words came back to me as I sank to the floor, knowing that I’d never leave this place, that I would forever live in my nightmares:

“You won’t understand. And you never will. You don’t know what someone’s been through until it happens to you…”

Credit To – I. Fernandez

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