“The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” – Saint Jerome
“Ms. Burton, how are you feeling this morning?” The nurses here don’t look like nurses; no pristine whites. They look like inmates in their dingy grey tunics and matching pants. The only thing that identifies them is their painted on wax-lipped grins and their ID badges that make them all look like convicted felons.
This one’s name is Suzanne. Doesn’t matter what her name is, names are sounds that always come back in your worst nightmares to haunt your nights. I wonder what kind of nightmares Suzanne is having. Her eyes have that familiar hollowed out look underlined with deep dark circles. I’d never get the chance to ask. Like I said, didn’t matter anyway. “Miss Burton, you look wonderful this morning; refreshed. Would you like some breakfast? They have your favorite this morning, cinnamon oatmeal and apple wedges.”
Who the hell told her my favorite breakfast was cinnamon oatmeal and apple wedges? I’m sure it wasn’t me. I haven’t told anyone anything since I arrived here.
How long has it been? One month? Two? A year? I’ve lost my sense of time but I haven’t lost one single memory. Funny how that works, isn’t it? They think their drugs and their Dr. Frankenstein torture devices will erase the stains in my mind, obscure the view behind smoke and mirrors… Mirror…, dull the pain of knowing who I am, what I have become… and somehow, make it all better… I remember it all! And, I remember that evil, fucking possessed MIRROR! She is the one who made me do it. I had to be… safe.
Suzanne won’t say too much more to me, she just methodically lifts the spoon and I take the cinnamon slop into my mouth and swallow. I don’t care how much spice you add to it – it always feels the same as soon as it is deposited into my mouth. The abrasive paste seems to expand on the tongue. The cold gritty pulp sticks to my teeth while the more watery mush coats my throat and causes me to gag. The gruel is cold and bland beneath the bitter cinnamon powder that looked like someone’s ashes sprinkled on top. This cinnamon had long lost its sweet savory scent and was now nothing more than a brown residue that no one even took the time to mix into this slop they call oatmeal.
Apple wedges? No, not wedges. Tiny lumps of something that resembled apple bits and, to my horror, were mixed in the oatmeal. There was no way around them. Once inside I had to either suffer the insult to my palate and chew them, while trying desperately to stomach the texture of the whole experience, or I could spit the entire mouthful of chunked up mass right into Suzanne’s face as she mimes her next open-mouth gesture for me to take another bite.