A writing prompt I saw the other day was write for twenty minutes on “We hadn’t spoken in seven years.”
We hadn’t spoken for seven years.
Every week, it was the same routine for me. Walk through the big doors, inhale the smell of faeces, unwashed bodies, desperate humanity; a smell that haunted my dreams. Every week, walk up to the big desk and sign in. Hand over my keys and anything sharp. The briefcase with her notes in remained with me, a faithful dog under my hand.
Then the doors between me and the rest of the world, between her and the rest of the world. Only seven of them, but I still flinched every time when the first one closed behind me. The screams started then, the lost souls locked in their own hells, calling out for anyone who will listen.
For seven years it’s been like this. The guard escorted me down to room A-94, six more doors between me and the outside world. His keys, chained to his waist, into the keyhole, turn one, turn another. The door opened and I walked in.
There she sat in a bolted down chair, white hospital scrubs in a white room. She did not look up as I entered, nor when the door slammed shut behind me. She did not move, her hands clenched beneath the level of the bolted down desk. I took the only other seat opposite her, opening my briefcase and taking out her notes, as I have done every week for the past seven years.
Most people called her a monster, but that was long ago. She’s forgotten now by almost everyone but the families, the ones I have to face every week after I leave her. She shot a roomful of her classmates and her teacher. Thirty dead. She was sitting in the centre of the classroom when the SWAT team arrived, pretty much the same as she is now, unmoving, catatonic. When I arrived, she said only one word to me before the police hauled her away.
She told me to wait.
And so I’ve waited seven years for her to come out. I’ve waited for her to look up and tell me…to tell the world…why.
And today, she did.