THE ROOM.

Ness entered the room, closed the door behind her. It’d been years since she’d been in the room, years since she’d seen the walls. They were still the same colour, the picture still there that she hated, and her father wouldn’t let her remove. She walked to the window, peered out; saw the same far off green hills, the same coloured sky. She felt a shiver run through her body, as if a hand had touched. Some things don’t change do they? a voice said. She looked around, but there was no one there. She hugged herself, walked back into the room, gazed around the walls, and then settled her eyes on the bed. It had been made up for her, the same coloured bedcover, blankets and maybe even the same sheets. Yes, it’s all here, the voice said, the same bed, covers, sheets. All here. Ness looked around quickly, but no one was in the room but her. Where was the voice coming from? She asked herself, looking about her, letting her eyes finally settle on the bed. – Who are you? she said.
- Don’t you remember? the voice replied. – Remember what? She said, the echo of the voice in her head. – You use to talk to me a lot once, the voice said. Especially when you had no one else to talk to or with. Ness bit her finger, held her right hand with her left. Take your finger out of your mouth, the voice said, what would daddy say? -Daddy’s not here, Ness said, he’s in a home. – Good riddance, the voice said, ought to be strung up. After what he did to you, after all those things he said, and what we witnessed. The voice stopped. Ness removed the finger from her mouth. She was certain the voice was coming from inside her head. -Who are you? What do you want? – Do you remember the time, he crept in here and dragged you from bed and set about you? the voice whispered. Ness nodded; she didn’t know why she nodded but she did. No reason given, just whacked into you. How old were you then? Nine? Eight? Eh? Remember? Ness went to the bed and sat down. She remembered. It came back to her now. -I remember, she said. I thought you might, hard to forget that isn’t it? Especially at that time of night. The room had gone silent; the sunlight suddenly seeped into the window, settled on the green carpet, the same green carpet. -Yes, even the same old carpet. You slept there one night, because the old creep said you had to endure punishment for your sins, had to sleep on the darn carpet, that rough, itchy carpet. For a dammed punishment. – Yes, I do remember that, Ness said. She hugged her body close, stared up at the huge picture on the wall behind her. Queen of heaven, remember that? He made you kneel in front of that and say your darn prayers, made you say the Hail Mary over and over, the voice whispered. Ness stared at the face of the Virgin, it had a smile, she remembered the smile, the only smile she saw in the house. -What’d he say to you? Remember that? He said you were a sinner, a darn sinner, and he was going to beat all the sin out of you, every last sin until you were as pure as the Virgin herself was. Remember those words? Ness nodded as she stared at the Virgin. – Yes, I do remember the words, she said, I remember. – And he did beat you, too, didn’t he? the voice said angrily. – Yes, he did, Ness said, and for a moment she looked around the room, at the door, the plain wooden door, unpainted, left as it was, stained. Oddly, she waited for the doorknob to turn, for her father to enter and stand at the door and stare at her the way he did. But the door remained closed, no one was standing there. She was being silly; her father was in a home, crippled by a stroke and her mother hadn’t been able to cope anymore and had sent to the home. – I bet he hates that, the voice said suddenly, making Ness turn from the door. – I bet he hates being away from here, from his darn castle, his fortress. And Mummy, that weak freak, hasn’t the nerve or guts to stand up to him but she can’t cope anymore and so she had to agree for the creep to go into a home, the voice said excitedly. -Stop it! Ness said, stop speaking. You’re driving me mad with your constant chatter. She took a deep breath and looked at her hands. – What’s a matter? Don’t you like the truth? Eh? The damned creeps away from here; he isn’t going to be ever again. Never going to touch you again, never going to get his filthy hands on you anymore, honey, no more. Ness got off the bed, began to undress, began to let the clothes fall to the floor. – What are you doing? the voice asked, what the hell are you doing? Ness removed the last item of clothing, stood naked in the centre of the room. She picked up the clothes and put them tidily on the back of a chair beside the bed. – Got to be tidy, she said, Got to be tidy or Daddy will get angry. She walked to the window and peered out at the garden below. Her mother was pruning roses. She had father’s hat on, the grey one with the feather in it. – What are you standing naked for? He isn’t coming back; he isn’t going to punish you any more. You’re a grown woman now not a kid anymore, the voice said. Ness watched her mother pruning. – I deserve to be punished. I am a sinner. Daddy said. Daddy’s right. I am. Ness turned from the window, walked to the cupboard and removed the black leather whip her father had made from bootlaces and carried it with her the bed. – Don’t, Ness, don’t let him get to you, not now, not now the creeps gone, the voice said roughly. Ness knelt down by the bed and was about to sling the whip across her back with her right hand when her left had grabbed her right wrist and squeezed it tight until the whip fell to the floor. – Leave me, I’ve got to be punished, Ness screamed. Her left hand pulled her to the floor until she lay passive on the green carpet. – No more, Ness; we can’t ever do that again. It’s over. Finished. Ness began to cry. – You can’t let him win, not now, not after all we’ve been through, not after the asylum. He put us in there, said you was crazy, was imagining things, was sex mad and full of hate and the Devil. The voice stopped. Ness curled up into a ball; she began to suck her thumb. A chill filled the room, she could hear her mother’s voice far off, could see the Virgin looking down smiling, that smile, the only smile she knew, the Virgin’s smile.

THE ROOM.

TerryCollett

Horsham, United Kingdom

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