Scrabbling

lunatic asylum story picture

The television blares loudly in the corner, watched by transfixed eyes.  I don’t watch.  It’s Countdown again, a repeat.  I used to fancy Carol Vorderman, when she was just a pretty mathematician, but then she became a TV personality and lost her innocence. I never liked that in women: the sexual self-awareness that became a weapon rather than a thing of beauty.  I must write that down.  It will help me to escape this place.  Then I can carry on restoring the innocence.

The television intrudes on my thoughts…. “Two from the top, Carol…”  She leers at the camera and turns with composed languidness to pick the numbers.  I would begin with her.  I’m sure I could change her. She wouldn’t have to die.

But first I must get out of here.  How long has it been?  I don’t even know how old I am.  I furrow my brow in concentration but it won’t come.  I think they are drugging me.  A nurse walks by, and I can see she is one of the watchers.  “How is he doing to today?” they whisper in their little huddles.  The nurse turns to me and smiles.  She is new: young and pretty, unlike the rest who are tired and grey. She sways her hips at me.  Bitch.  Maybe I’ll do you first.

My head hurts.  How old am I?  “Three from the bottom, Carol.”  My hands shake.  I want to scream but they are watching.  All of them.  Watching.  Waiting.  I want to run.  How old am I?

“Do you like Scrabble?”

My thoughts crash, leaving me dazed.  A young woman stands before me, holding a box under her arm.  She is small and delicate, with unkempt, short, red hair, like a torch above her  pale, freckled complexion.  I don’t answer.  She exudes no sexuality.  I like that. She is barefoot.  I imagine her running around green fields, dancing amongst daisies.  I like that.  I wonder how old she is. How old am I?  My mind spins.

She taps me on the shoulder.  “Do you want to play Scrabble with me?”

I shake my head.  The TV now has an ad with a stupid talking dog that only seems to know how to say ‘Yes’.

“Please?”

I focus again on her.  The tip of her nose is turned up slightly.  I wonder if she is really a pixie in disguise.  I change my mind.  “Ok,” I say.

She claps her hands with glee and takes a seat next to me, clearing the little table in front of us of outdated copies of Hello magazine, and sets up the board.  She lets me choose my letters first.  I make the word CHOOSE.

“Hey, you’re good,” she says, smiling at me.

I try to smile back but it’s more of a grimace.

She makes BOOK.

I make the word KILL.  She looks up, startled.  “That’s not a nice word”, she says.

I shrug.  “It’s just a word.”

She makes LOVE.  “That’s a better word.”

“My word got more points”, I say grinning.

She pokes her tongue at me.  It is moist and pink, like a cool drink on a hot day.  I look at her for too long.  She looks away, and blushes a little.

“Sorry”, I say, “but you look pretty.”

She touches her face nervously.  “Don’t say that.”

I don’t answer.  I make MOO and OK at the same time.

She giggles.

I extend my hand.  “My name is Jim.”

She takes it gently. Her hand is soft and cold. “Katrina.”

I decide not to kill her.
short story

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