The Ladder Tattoo (Tuesday Writing Exercise)

Stinging. Numb. I feel, don’t feel, anything.
The crick in my neck twists in angst. My thoughts muddled, everything is unclear.
There was a black room, I think. Concrete walls, covered in soot and ash; a breeze low and warm, was I outside at one point? I remember chalk writings on a wall, facing me? Or maybe overhead? Damn it.
Music there was music, a bass player, drumming vibrations. The sounds of something familiar, the sounds of something foreign, no, that’s not right.
Where am I? What time is it?
Hello, is there anyone out there? Hello?
My head is heavy, sandbagged.
Why am I heavy? I’ve never been heavy, just a waif. Ask her, Amy will tell you. We used to talk about God together. We used to wonder where heaven was and if he answered our prayers. All that seems so long ago. Now.
Stretching hurts, any movement limited by the fabric soft like linen, like cotton. I once bought a tunic in the Platka. Broad vertical stripes, white on white.  So comfortable, boxy and roomy perfect for the beach. I wonder whatever happened to it.
I’m drooling, yet my mouth is dry.
Hello? Is anyone there?
My voice echoes off the walls.
Hello? Please, someone help me, I’m hungry. Hello?
I feel like a current of water, constantly moving standing still.
My eyes flutter awake, struggling to open wider. The room is not as black as I remember from before. There is light coming from somewhere. But there is no sound.
I feel lost.
Numb has faded, throbbing instead takes it place from where I cannot decipher.  I hear whispering, they fade in and out, murmurs followed by unrecognizable words.
Where am I?
Damn it Wendy focus try to focus. Try to think, where were you last? Where were you going?
For a moment I forget that time has moved beyond my scope. I try to stand, pushing my hands against the floor. Bare hands on cold metal. Metal? Metal floor? Metal table? Where the hell am I?
I wish my mind would clear.
Has it been an hour? A day? A year? Time is the only thing that is lucid.
The sun is high and a sliver has beamed its way through the walls. Have I willed it to appear, to burn through the concrete? Is it God’s will that I should finally see?
I am covered head to toe in black gauze. I hate the color black, it reeks of death. There is a feather light semblance of white above where my hands are free. If my hands are free why am I not?
I see polka dots, splotches of color. A splotch of…oh my God, is that blood? Yes, red blood, dry and crusted.
A flash of a memory singes.
I am walking, it is nightfall; there are two faceless women flanking me on either side when another steps in my path grabbing me by the arms. I try to resist and then Darkness.
Horizontally the play unfolds.
A woman armed with an airbrush needle dripping color paints my arm. It stings, a million mosquitoes in attack mode.
An older woman holds my head, my jaw. I am biting wood.
The chanting is loud, over and over the mantra like an omen: Become one of us, and soon you will be free. Climb the ladder, soon you will see.


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