Seconds tick by like a metronome of monotony. The white of the sun is harsh against the backdrop of black that surrounds Amy, and she wishes– more than anything– for the black to be literal, for the sun to shine a little less bright, for the contrast to not be so daunting. It seems unfair, that in the moment her life is to be so irrevocably changed, the world is simply moving on; it spins, still, on its axis without a care for her world.
Faintly, Amy registers the distant hum of voices– varying cadences of platitudinous uttering. But the ticks and tocks are overwhelming. They mock her, scorn her, scream out to her: wretched wastefulness! I am slipping, unstoppable, through your fingers; molten seconds disappearing into crevices of blackness. She blinks once, twice, seeing now more red and black than white. She feels the tickle of warm liquid caressing the side of her head, down the sensitive skin of her neck. She watches the world upside down. In her predicament, stretching her fingers in time to the rhythmic ticking is all she can do– reaching out, as she best can, for something tangible to hold on to. Something aside from the black that threatens to engulf her.
“We’re… coming to..” — black.
“Open… open your eyes.” — black.
“It’s… going… okay?” She opens her mouth to ask — black.
She imagines how ridiculous she must look to the owner of that hopeful voice. Her gaping mouth, conveying with escaped breaths all she feared, all she loved and all she no longer lived for– her entire life story, encompassed in the sparse gasps of air– like a fish out of water. Imagining is tiring. She much prefers the black.
This time, more consciously, she registers a scream. Shrill and piercing, tapering off into a gurgle. She struggles to breathe, wondering how she could possibly be drowning on dry land. Maybe in this inverted world she swallowed a mouthful too much of air, and it’s choking her alive. Through the crack of her eyelids she sees, more silhouette than features, dishevelled hair and an immature beard looking down at her; grateful for the temporary reprieve from the glaring white that is stolen away far too soon.
For a moment she forgets being submerged in an imaginary ocean, forgets how to work her lungs and breathe in life; she could almost feel the peace of the black that she welcomes. But then hands, too close, too intimate for her liking are on her chest. She doesn’t understand, can’t comprehend how her own alien body is working against her. As her once-upon-a-time hero makes the incision along her throat, sticking a tube in, she watches obliviously as colour begins to seep into her world. When she feels her lungs expanding again, taking in oxygen, giving her life, Amy starts to sob. Painfully, because the tube can’t take in enough air to allow for her convulsive gasps. Desperately, because the tube doesn’t allow her to say what she hopelessly needs to get out. Mournfully, because the tube has stolen away the black.
The hardwood floor has never before felt as cold beneath her skin, as if freezing every pore of her being to staying grounded in this world. As Amy tilts her head further upwards, in the periphery the world is upside down, but all she takes in is the taut circle of rope, swaying in its show of contempt. And she sobs, vacantly, because the tube has robbed her of her way out of her horrific labyrinth.