She gripped the railing tightly, leaned over and was momentarily afraid that she couldn’t fly. The balcony’s white slats surrounded her, brilliant in the sunshine. She was given this gift, this moment of fresh air, because she had followed the rules. Below her and extending as far as she could see was the green sloped lawn where statues and bird baths stood amongst the perfectly manicured sanity of the lawn. The curtains from inside blew outwards, reaching towards her, diaphanous in the breeze. She thought it odd that they weren’t blowing in, but then realized that the breeze was coming from behind the building, and blowing through the open windows on the opposite side of the room inside.
She wasn’t sure she was equipped to leave the protection of this home and be counted among the newly rehabilitated of the outside world. She wasn’t prepared to say goodbye to the days and hours and minutes planned for her; the lessons, meals, exercises, phone calls and therapy sessions. Within these walls, these pastimes were practiced with a precise beat and tempo. The craziness you called your friend was not allowed into the hallways. No longer would it be your constant companion. The companions now were the eyes of the staff, following you every quiet, drug-induced, rational second you were awake and after, she sensed. White uniforms dotted the halls and the lawns; they, the slightly more animated lawn ornaments and statues in the halls. The moving eyes of these statues just meeting yours for a split second before moving on to the next shuffling object. This, she was sure, she would not miss.
She stands just outside the windows of the balcony, contemplating her freedom. The gate would open with finality; go. Be well, you are ready. She stands alone now and releases her grip on the steady railing, smiling to herself, her mind on the gate and beyond. Just behind her a gust of wind blows by her and all the sounds upon it touch her; the quick breaths of the nervous, the sighs of the depressed, the shrieks of the frightened and phobic.
She has trained herself to breathe calmly and evenly. Her own spot on the balcony has been claimed; her own haven of quiet. Beyond the gate in the distance, her world awaited. She was going to step into reality with quiet thoughts and composed mind for now, until the next time the screaming gales of wind within her blew the curtains aside.
Terry Cleveland is a closeted writer, coming out slowly, but surely.
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