By Shiro Gaitho

She walks into the room slowly, scared she might not come out. She doesn’t want to be there, but she feels she has to be. This was not the easiest decision to make, but in her position, she feels she has no choice.

Her partner walked in before her, and went straight to the front desk. She chooses to sit on one of the nasty-looking plastic chairs arranged in a neat row with their backs against a wall. She doesn’t even notice the colour of the wall. She always notices colours, she loves colours. But now she’s too terrified to notice her surroundings.

Her partner calls her to join him at the front desk. He’s filling out a form and he needs some details. She’s not in the mood to talk, but she goes ahead and tells him what to fill in the blanks. She walks back to the plastic chair. On a normal day she would have sanitised the chair first, but today she doesn’t care, all she wants is to get out of there. Wait. On a normal day she wouldn’t even be there in the first place.

A guy comes out of a room and calls her name. She didn’t give the name she usually uses, so she ignores his call. He calls out a second time, a third time. Her partner taps her gently, tells her it’s time. She stands up hesitantly. A part of her wants to run away, and go curl up in her bed. She just wants to be alone, to lock out the world and its noise. This is not fair. She shouldn’t be here.

She walks slowly towards the guy. He says hi. Her response is a muted ‘hi.’ This is not the time for pleasantries, there’s nothing pleasant about this place. He asks her a couple of questions. She doesn’t want to answer them, but she has no choice. She wants to break down and cry, to turn back time to two months before then, and change the events of that day. Memories are playing out in her head. Pictures, conversations, actions, all coming at her at such speed that she can feel them whizz past her ears. She’s feeling light headed, she doesn’t want to go through with this, but she feels as if she has no choice; like too much is at stake.

The guy is done with his questions. She feels like her privacy has been violated. But it’s about to be violated even more. She’s directed to a room to change. What she has to wear is flimsy and fugly, and definitely not what she’s used to.

Now she’s on the bed. She’s trying to pretend everything is fine, trying to make conversation, but she can’t. The shot knocks her out. She’s numb. Her world has gone black. She’s trying to stay awake, but a small part of her wants to die. The darkness engulfs her. She’s looking for help, wishing someone, anyone, would just reach out and help her. But there’s nobody. She’s all alone. She’s whimpering softly. She wants to be brave, to be a brave little girl like she was taught to be. But she can’t help it. She gives in to the darkness, lets it swallow her. She figures if she embraces the darkness, then she can learn to be comfortable with it. It’s all she has right now.

It’s all over now. The darkness has given way to a bright light. Is she dead? She’s seen in the movies that people move towards a bright light when they’re dying, it’s supposed to be like a portal to heaven. But this can’t be heaven. In heaven there’s no pain, and right now she’s in pain.

She’s disoriented, she wants her darkness back. It was nice there, there was no pain, there was no guilt, there was nothing but an endless stretch of velvety black darkness. But she can’t go back there; she can never take it back. She has no idea how long it took. Her only memory is of darkness, and a pain so bad she’s never felt anything like it before.

In a few minutes she’s out of the room. She’s having a hard time walking, but she’s trying to be brave. Her partner tries to make small talk, but all she can think of is the realization that her life has changed forever. She’s grateful to be alive, but a small part of her wishes she was dead. Dead like the one she just killed.