Other times the faces fed her applesauce, drinks with colors like iodine. “Where is the boy?” She once questioned when she could still bully words into a sentence. “Anastasia, I am a woman, I have breasts, look!” the so-called boy protested, lifting her scrubs to expose a lace brassiere and two plump bosoms fully in their prime. “Why you can solve any problem!” Anastasia replied aloud, amazed this boy could also be a girl. But that was months ago. Now she no longer spoke. Now, her pills were crushed; now she no longer fed herself. But when she forgot, and she so easily forgot, the dominant thought roaring down the runway of her overgrown brainpath was always a plea to be left alone.
And always the daughter’s pale, freckled face, those stone-washed eyes hidden behind her large glasses. When had she aged? She was not as Anastasia remembered. The adolescent doll she’d dressed up for years. And was there another daughter’s face occasionally buoying up and down. Were there really two? If she could only count, she might recall.
Days stretched along the finger canals, stretched under the bridges where geckos were hidden, stretched down from these dark waters into the Intercoastal and further into the sea where they backed up on themselves in foamy waves. But she herself was damaged with spillage blackening her mind. There were fewer synapses firing and deeper neuron ditches. Days were redundant. Nights, impossible. The long dream moving into evening blurred in her disturbed perceptions. Still there were meals to consume. Pasta or potatoes. Lucia fed her each day as the daughter alternately hovered and hid. But lately she had clamped her lips, the taste was so stale, the texture, beyond heavy. So much effort to chew and then she had to remember to swallow.
Anastasia was annoyed at being watched. She could not admit it but her own daughter made her nervous, the way she gaggled about, always on the phone or fussing with money in her wallet or looking into that small TV she carried around. Kids and their toy gadgets. Spoiled brats, all. And everyone talked, and talked about her, in front of her blank face too. Just because she didn’t respond to their silly stimuli, their baby talk and baby toys, didn’t mean she missed the entire gist of the conversation. Denial was comfortable, a beautiful thing.
But a voice within insisted, you are trapped in a body that no longer responds to commands from a mind with cracks and gaps and sticky tar balls. Come alone, come alone . . . The voice scared her. It was as if she were outside the three dimensions, crossing back and forth into some floating world with ghostly, transparent figures swimming about. The long gone husband, the seven siblings who had slipped gracefully into the heaven she couldn’t find. Her elderly parents appeared in doorways smiling, reaching their hands toward her. From one spongy moment to the next, shapes grew large and then dissolved.
All of them, the flesh and blood ones, were looking at her now. A nurse had come and wrapped her arms in the pressure of measures. Anastasia knew enough to pretend she understood procedures; she recognized white lab coats from some clouded place far back in her brain. She still wanted to be seen as agreeable and aware. For all her disdain for boring reportage, she tried to listen. Half of someone’s sentence might make sense then the latter part would cut the cord to understanding, clauses became loose words with no foundation, roots would rise and float among the other dirigibles, spitting alphabets of doubt. Time itself had time-outs.
16 | Psychopomp Magazine