The night is long and seems to last forever. I can’t remember the last time I saw the light of day. Here is not like home. Everything is twisted, like the world was torn asunder and mashed together again into something new and frightening.
The clock in the corner tics away, the second hand working its way around the face once more before the gong strikes twelve times in perfect rhythm. I’ve learned that clocks are useless here; I’ve never heard them announce any other time but twelve. Time has no end, of course, but when you can’t tell a second from a minute and a minute from an hour, everything begins to feel like an eternity. With nothing to mark the passage of time I begin question how long I’ve been here. Perhaps it’s only been a few minutes, but maybe it’s been years.
Everything blends together. I don’t know what is real anymore. Am I? I pinch my arm and feel a sharp stab of pain causing me to gasp.
‘What are you doing over there?’
He sits at a desk across the room, his back to me, as always. He’s been furiously scribbling away at something since I arrived; he rarely breaks from his writing. Besides the clock, and occasionally our voices, pen moving across paper is the only sound I ever hear. He writes with a passion—I can tell by listening to his pen strokes. Sometimes he stabs so hard at the paper, I wonder if he punches a hole through. Other times he writes with a great flourish, the elongated strokes create an odd whispering swish within the almost silence of the room.
For the most part he ignores me, unless I do something to disturb him. He absolutely hates being disturbed. I have a vague memory of trying to engage him in conversation once, only to receive a string of curses shouted in my general direction. I’ve never gotten a good look at him since his back is always to me, and have only seen his face in three-quarters profile. It seems my presence doesn’t warrant his attention.
I think he is a young man, but then when I look again his back seems frail and old the way he’s hunched over the desk. Like everything here, he is not one thing, but everything. Or is it nothing? I’m so confused.
The clock strikes twelve.
The man pauses in his scribbling. ‘Dawn will break again,’ he reminds me.
I nod in understanding, not understanding all at once, and he resumes his writing.
Lisa Richardson is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. When not writing she can be found reading, or watching too much television.