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Everything hurts. Eyes from crying. Head from sleep deprivation. Brain from the trauma and heart from the raw pain. She was numbed to it all until now, but reality started setting in slowly with every step she took away from her sanity and the decency of life. And with her consciousness came back all the mortal manifestations of the suffering she had pushed away. They all crawled under her skin tearing open the wounds on the surface she had spent years redeeming for. She let it all unfold as is, because she had no will left in her to resist what had befallen her or what was yet to come.

What good was it? she thought, To fight? When all that you had been fighting for could be thrown out the window by an evil twist of fate? What was it worth to spend yourself on something that was so fleeting? And to what end? What did staying true to herself give her?

A prison cell? She was sure as hell that is not what she was going for. But yet that was what she got.

She held onto that thought as she was guided through the cursed hallways of that prison. All the snickering, hissing and threats from the other inmates who had come to see fell on deaf ears, as Ray kept her head down, distancing herself from these women. It only made her look worse and most of them hated her now for no absolute reason.

Although it looked like all the others, that Ray was proud and held herself higher than those around to ignore them such, in reality, Ray was just beside herself. Her condemning thoughts were fueling a silent rage within her. Her consciousness had become a breeding ground for negativity and again, she had no power to resist. She was her own biggest enemy at the moment.

Ray was locked in her cell before she lay down on the concrete slab for a bed, noticing nothing else but only the fact that she was alone and had no cellmate. She curled up, pulling herself close as much as she could, vaguely registering her inmates walking outside her cell, watching her. But Ray couldn’t care even if she wanted to, so tired she was. And even though the cold concrete was hard against her back, she instantly fell into a restless state of sleep.

Her nap stretched into hours and the next time she woke up, she felt even worse than she had before she slept. Her sleep was dotted with flashes of visuals from her past. The few frames that were etched into her brain. The faces of the people she despised with her entire being. The ones who had succumbed to the demons within them. Before she understood why they did what they did. Each was entitled to their decisions. But this hate that had taken root in her was from the notion that she could see herself walking down the same path as those people. And she did not want to change that. Because the resistance was draining her, while acceptance was relieving her of some of the burden of righteousness she had been carrying all her life. She did not know if this was the right thing to do. But in the moment laxity was giving her life. What did she have to lose anyway?

Now that Ray had established a coping mechanism she had time to kill. She was left with two options. Live with her spiraling thoughts or fall into another slumber to ignore all her problems. The second was inherently enticing so she pulled the covers over her head and closed her eyes. However this time around, her nap would not be as consistent as the previous one. The fleeting visuals from earlier now had manifested into dream, honing a scene that replayed over and over again.

It was that time of the year again, when they went to meet Nana, in her big house. A small girl was running around the dinner table followed by two other younger girls that the servants were setting up. The girls were giggling and scuttling around, hiding and spooking each other. They were so engrossed in their merriment that they did not notice their Nana walk in. The woman who held her head high, stood poised and stiff, looked at the three blonde heads, running around, in such an unsightly way. Her eyes turned into slits with scrutiny as she bellowed at them to stop right where they were. Next she admonished them, turning her gaze to the oldest among the three.

“Get your filthy feet off my carpet and sit in the chairs if you must.”

The younger two shrunk at her voice and backed away, while the oldest stayed put and dared to stare back at her Nana, contemplating what they did wrong. This infuriated the woman and she hollered in an even higher pitch.

“Lower your eyes kid and away from my sight the three of you. Out.”

Just then, another timid looking woman walked in the room from another side and from the looks of it she had heard what was going on in the room a moment ago. She glanced at the girls and upon her face came over a saddened look. She then steeled her gaze and shifted it to the arrogant presence that was the other woman in the room. She walked in long and urgent strides towards the woman and said halting before her. Her voice trembled as she tried to keep her irritation from seeping into her hushed whisper.

“Could you not make it so obvious?”

The girl’s Nana took a step closer, looked down upon the woman and sneered at her.

“How could I not, when you gave birth to these abhorrence's?”

The dream, it always ended there. And it played back, on a loop, till Ray woke up and made it stop. Ray had lived with this for as long as she could remember, but had managed to push it in some corner of her mind. But now she had too much time and nothing really to think about. So it had all come raining down on her and she could do nothing but endure it.

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