A Different View

The morning nurse wheeled Catherine to the central window of the common room as was the routine that had been firmly established during Catherine’s decade long stay in the ward. She never seemed happy unless she was in that particular position.
Grenville Sanitarium staff had long since stopped wondering or even caring why. Whatever made Catherine happy was just fine by them. She was the least troublesome of their patients.
Catherine never saw the bars or the grimy glass. She never saw the dingy grey street below. This window held a different view for Catherine. Through it, she could see through any window in any world or time that she chose.
It had fascinated and enthralled her since she was first given the key to its existence, and at night, when the nurse wheeled her back to her room, the tears would flow down Catherine’s cheeks until she was returned.
Through the window, Catherine had seen worlds with violet skies and crystal mountains, cavernous rooms with glittering treasure and marble paved streets filled with what she could only describe as angels filing into a luminescent pyramid.
But it was the rooms of the past that had captured her and enslaved her subconscious. At will, Catherine could watch as happier days in her life were replayed before her. Days when her family was still alive and Catherine’s mind was whole.
That morning, however, Catherine’s window opened into a room she’d never seen before and had not willed into place. A familiar face looked back at her, smiling serenely.
Catherine shifted in her wheel chair slightly. Nobody had ever seen her through the other way before. This man was different though. He was the man who’d gifted her the key to the window in the first place.
He’d been Catherine’s patient when she had been a nurse on this very ward of the Grenville Sanitarium. Ten years Catherine had worked in the long term wing, and in all that time, Otto Trenton had been wheeled to the window every morning – the only place he ever seemed happy – and wheeled back to his room at night.
That was until Catherine had returned to work after three weeks spent on compassionate leave. She was still grieving terribly for her family who had lost their lives in an air crash and went about her duties in a daze. Almost as catatonic as some of her patients.
As soon as she’d wheeled Otto to the window, he had suddenly thrown off his lethargy and turned toward her, his eyes sharp and clear.
Grasping her wrist, Otto had pulled Catherine down and touched his forefinger to the slight depression between her brow and nasal bone.
‘Look and be free,’ he’d said softly, ‘Your turn has come.’
Jerking her head automatically towards the window, Catherine’s mind filled with wondrous visions. She slumped down into a chair by Otto’s side and began her vigil at the window. So enraptured by what she was witnessing, Catherine was completely unaware that Otto had passed on from this world as he’d passed on the key.
Now he was back, and Catherine knew instinctively why. Today she would pass on the key and join Otto on the other side of the window. Pass into a much more beautiful existence where everyone she loved awaited her arrival.

*

Penny was unsure how she’d get through the day. Life had been miserable since losing her only child, her only family. Penny had taken this job in the false belief that doing something good for those less fortunate than her would fill that gaping void.
Sweeping her dark eyes around the room, Penny noticed Catherine shift uncomfortably in her chair.
Penny’s eyes narrowed. She was told that Catherine hadn’t moved in ten years. Rushing over, she was startled as Catherine’s hand darted out and grabbed Penny’s wrist, firmly but gently.
With a strength that seemed impossible that she could possess, Catherine pulled Penny down close to whisper in her ear.
‘Look and be free,’ Catherine whispered as she placed her forefinger in the slight depression between Penny’s brow and her nasal bone, ‘It is your turn now.’
Penny never saw Catherine’s body go limp in her wheelchair as the life drained out of her.
Penny was too busy watching her son unwrap his first Christmas presents through the window.

© Alison Pearce 2008

A Different View

Alison Pearce

Logan Central, Australia

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Artist's Description

Written entry for Freedom to Shine’s Windows challenge

Artwork Comments

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