Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gone by Julie Atwell Inspired by Karen Kaapcke’s painting – Judith Is Gone

Idra sat in a chair, her computer on her lap, her feet resting on the edge of the bed.  She was tired, so very tired.  She had cried, screamed, she had even thrown up in the small, cramped bathroom down the hall – listening to people pound on the door as they demand access to the room.  Cold, sweat had rolled down her forehead and over the back of her neck, soaking her hair and the thin t-shirt she wore as she retched over and over. And even after her body stopped convulsing, she stayed there, breathing the sour smell of her own vomit, because her legs were too weak to push her to her feet.

Now, finally back in her room she still felt the tight emptiness in her stomach, her skin still tingled coolly even though she knew the temperature had to be close to a hundred.  She stared blankly at the computer screen, trying to make sense of all that had happened – of all that she had seen.  The problem was, every time she started to go over the events of the day in her head, every time her brain got close to the memories of what happened, she would hear something, or see something that would pull her out of it.  Was that a scratching noise against her door?  Furtive footsteps in the hall?  A shadow passing across her window? 

Would someone come for her? Would they know she had seen?  Were they on their way to silence the memories she wasn’t even sure she wanted to reveal to herself?  There were so many questions, so many fears and no answers, and no one to turn to for guidance.  

Idra let her head fall back on the chair, and she stared up at the ceiling, noticing that there was a huge water stain, surrounded by cracked and peeling paint in the corner between the door and the window.

“What am I doing here?  Why did I come?” She beat herself up with these new questions.  Once her reasons for coming to this country had seemed so valid.  She had been so passionate about her purpose when she arrived…but now it all seemed so futile and her determination was overwhelmed by the stark reality of the dangerous situation she had voluntarily walked into.

She squeezed her eyes shut and muttered to herself, “Pull it together. Pull it together NOW!”  She pushed herself into a more upright position, let her feet fall from the bed and turned to the small, beat up table she had been using as a desk.  She placed her laptop on the table and began to focus on it intently. 

Everything on her computer was automatically uploaded to a server in her home, and another internet server, whenever she had access to a connection.  Somehow, even in her mental haze she had forced herself to wander past a café with wifi before she came back to her room.  Everything on her computer was backed up.  She systematically went to work at deleting all her files – making certain they were completely wiped off the hard drive.  When she was done, she felt a small amount of relief.  She had nothing to make anyone question her.  She could deny anything - everything.  She was just a tourist.  Just visiting.  On her way home.

Idra picked up her phone and checked her calendar.  Her flight was in 12 hours.  Just 12 more hours to stay quiet.  12 more hours to stay out of sight.  12 more hours until she could feel safe again.  12 more hours until she could return and tell every one where Judith had gone. 

She lowered her head and took a deep breath that turned into a yawn.  Suddenly she was tired.  So very tired.  Maybe she could sleep and when she woke up, it would be time to go to the airport.  She set the alarm on her phone, stood up from the chair and climbed onto the bed.

But the moment her head hit the pillow, Idra began to see unwanted images flashing against her closed eyelids.  A beautiful round face, blood, pavement, and she heard again the people yelling, the banging, the screams. 


Idra sat up in the bed as she yelled out.  Immediately she clapped her hand over her mouth, held her breath and looked around.  Did someone hear?  Would someone come?  She began to shake, and then to cry.  Silent sobs wracked her body for long minutes until finally she collapsed back against the pillows again.

This time her body was ready.  There were no more horrible images, no memories, just exhaustion, just the empty crash after an emotional release, and the peaceful blackness of sleep closed over her.

As she finally drifted in to complete unconsciousness, there was a knock on the door.

No comments: