Dark Ch. 02byValentineSatterlee©
When I finally wake again it is well past morning.
I am still tired and horribly groggy, but know if I don't at least make an appearance in the common ward today someone will be sent to fetch me. Too many of Van Buren's charges have snuck out of here, only to wind up a menace to society or dead, and they don't let you go unaccounted for for long without checking up on you.
I personally cannot fathom the need for freedom beyond the hospital walls to be worth the risk. The first time a ward of the state tries to run away they are forcibly brought back and given a stern reprimand, usually accompanied by some kind of manual labor. The second time they will spend time in the Lunatic's Ward. As if that in itself isn't deterrent enough, should they be caught on their third escape they are immediately taken to the St Louis County Jail. If they are lucky enough to be considered under age, they may be sent to another facility. Over seventeen though, and they may as well bid their nearly-won freedom from the age of majority goodbye.
I stretch in front of my third story window, shedding my nightclothes onto the floor and letting the sun warm my skin. My long, thin limbs stretch towards the ceiling, elongating my waifish body, not yet touched by a woman's curves. I begin to pull my long, black, slightly curly hair up off my back when I catch a noise at the door.
I spin around, startled, to see the well-dressed man from yesterday standing in my doorway, hungry eyes on my near naked body. We stood like that for a long moment, looking each other over.
"I'm sorry for interrupting you," he cleared his throat and finally says, his voice soothing with a hint of an English accent. "I am Tammany Lawson, new Head of Wards." He moves slowly towards me, stooping to pick my discarded bed sheet up off the floor. I stand with my back pressed against the cold, frosted window, stupidly clutching at my chest in an effort to conceal something I do not yet have.
"I just came to check on you, as you hadn't been accounted for yet this morning."
"Uh-huh..." I breathe, stupefied and embarrassed. He really is extraordinarily handsome.
Tammany reaches out to me with one hand, the other still clutching the sheet. I do not take it; in fact I do little more than stare at his face and wonder if he maybe has the same thoughts about me that Louis had. When he realizes I am not going to come to him willingly he smiles and puts his outstretched hand upon my shoulder, gently bringing me towards him.
I brace myself to be violated, but instead he wraps me slowly up within the sheet. I grab at it eagerly, happy not to be so exposed. I glance into his face, knowing his expressive hazel eyes are searching for mine. Despite the sunlight streaming into the window and brightening the room, his pupils are large black orbs leaving little room for the green and gold iris.
We regard each other silently for what seems like a very long time, but must be the span of only a few moments. He brings a hand tentatively up to my hair, stroking down the length of it gently and inhaling deeply. Then he turns quickly on his heel and strides from the room, leaving me feeling confused and horribly exposed.
I sit on the edge of my bed a long time after he leaves, holding the sheet tightly around me. Eventually I lean forward, my elbows resting on my knee and face in my palms. I still haven't pulled my hair up and it pools upon the top portion of my thigh. Bringing my hands up to my face and running them into and down the generous length of my hair, I sigh in utter frustration. Everything is so damned complicated here. A person can't just BE here. You have to beg, and take, and give. Gypsi was willing to give herself for chocolates.
Simplicity was key at Sisters of Charity. You wake, you pray, you rise. Sunrise service, morning chores, breakfast, afternoon devotional, chores, preparing then eating lunch. Evening service, chores, Bible study, prayers, and sleep. Simplicity and devotion in their purest forms. Here, nothing is simple.
I sit alone, my fingers combing absently through my hair, staring out the window at nothing, swearing to myself that I would never be like her. I would never give myself willingly for something so trivial. But then, as this morning clearly showed, one doesn't always have to be willing. I knew damn good and well if Tammany had been like Louis, if he'd really wanted me then, I would be powerless to stop him or anyone else. There was safety nowhere and with no one.
I settle back against my bed in resignation, trying to come to grips with this strange new life.