a short story by Eman
art by Fiza Mohsin
Inspired by the song “Moonchild” by King Crimson.
[1.1.1957 – Patient admitted, mental state is dire. Keep close inspection.]
“Lovely moonchild, drifting in the echoes of the hours.”
She drifts the halls, dancing to the night birds’ songs. They call her mental as her hums flow through.
She spends her time gathering flowers in the garden, clothed in her milk white gown.
[15.1.1957 – We suspect her involvement in the wicked arts; we see her dwale and collect cobwebs as she talks to the trees, passing a ‘thank you’ for their “gifts”. Her communications with nature are eluding.]
I dream in the shadows of a willow. I do what I can because they’ve shackled me within these endless halls and enclosures. I had been left to wither but instead I use my limited time to engage in activities that I enjoy, why should I be labelled with mental illnesses when I see the universe as it should be? Every flower, every tree can feel emotions, they’re hurt when we pull and hack them. The periwinkle stars above, they can see our crude behaviour, they can hear your vulgar voices, for that, I choose to act my way. I do not speak to others; they do not understand me – the kind ones merely tolerate me with small smiles.
Hence, I spend my time engaging in ‘mystic pursuits’. They aren’t really mystic, they’re just, more spiritual. Subsequently, others think my brain is my crown of shame. What I think and do is silly and a model of what you should avoid, that I mustn’t waste my time listening to birds’ tweet and collect dead flowers.
I wake at dawn to maintain invisibility; I escape the building and skip along the pebbled path to feed the snakes; they wrap around me like ivy. The others don’t like the snakes- especially the doctors, they steal the creatures – but they know I’m fond of them, so, they mock me by hiding the shedded skin in the medicine.
[19.3.1957 – New drug administered for patient. They appear to be ineffective.]
Later, during the night, after I attend the birds’ orchestra, I climb atop a cliff and sit with the moon. This irks them most of all. They always holler and wonder why I think I’m special enough to create a “frivolous” connection with the moon.
I’m not special. However, I do feel close with the moon, almost as if it was my moon. My moon gravitates me closer to it. I feel as though I belong there, not here. Yet, I still don’t know what resides there – all I know is that I belong.
I always end up falling asleep at the steps of the fountain. The continuous mini ebb and flow of the water soothes me. Sometimes, however, I sleep for too long; and they carry me back to my room with a grudge, they’re also quick to escape as they do not like my room. My room consists of dead flowers decorating the walls, why must they culminate in trash if they were once living too? My room is my universe. My room is a soft universe. A place where I’m coddled with safety, it is a universe gentler and forgiving. My room is my home – my only home. Outside of my room I am forced to gaze upon their braindead expressions and listen to their voices of a deadbeat heart, they don’t care. Outside of my room, they probe and question me; the doctors want to cure me. I don’t need a cure.
[16.7.1957 – Set date for patient’s new therapy. Shock therapy to be trialled.]
“Lonely moonchild, playing hide and seek with the ghosts of dawn.”
I partake in this antic to alarm them. What’s it to them if I believe there’s a world over yonder? I hope my connection with the spirits gives them nightmares. They deserve it for deeming me deranged. This enchanting adventure is my most spiritual, it helps me bond with beings larger than you and I – and them too. It is my belief which makes them look at me with ludicrous eyes, albeit, they act with hypocrisy. At one side, they claim science is the only explanation for anything in this world – that the spirits are merely hallucinations. Yet, they also unveil my tales to others; they claim I inhibit phantom powers, that I make potions, that I’m a witch. The ignorance, it sickens me.
“Lonely moonchild, dropping circle stones on a sun dial.”
I have created my own sense of time, something I can reflect on; to help me disassociate.
[12.12.1957 – Shock therapy session will be held on 1.1.1988]
They woke me up early, however, with mercy. My suspicions were aroused, I’ve never been attended to with such careful fragility. They walked me out and strapped me in a straitjacket, next, they injected a kind of murky liquid into my neck. I passed out. The fuzzy feeling never left, not even when I felt myself laying on a cold metal table – strapped again, all I could picture was the birds to calm me. I long to fly away one day. I hear voices too.
[1.1.1958 - Give her three shocks – medium high. If she continues to act in her disdained esoteric ways, we’ll continue with an increase in the number of shocks]
Shocks? My senses heighten and I’m no longer brave. My breathing quickens, I feel a cold sweat begin to dew and trickle down my temple as my hair sticks around the grooves of my face. Blood pools in my mouth. I try to remain silent. My fists tighten and my knuckles whiten, creating crescents’ in my palms.
I hear them walk back in.
“3,21 start at 95 volts for the 1st attempt at 6 second intervals.”
I feel a surge flutter through me. The flutter turns into a heavy bass, taking over my consciousness. My vision is void of life, my body fluctuates and muscles spasm. I have lost all control, yet, somewhere, outside the faculties, where there is a sense of control; a flock of crows scatter from a tree. Never, forever, will my eyes turn into twinkling half – moons. I long too fly away too.
“Lonely moonchild, always waiting in her milk white gown”