Standing on the dock, looking out at the mossy green basin, she discards her clothes, and jumps in. Half-way across the lake she looks up, and notices there is no gate in the distance. Just as she is beginning to gage her sense of timing to get to the other side, a motor sounds off to the right from the lagoon. Dr. Lion comes toward her or “Guru” as he likes to be called. She calls him nothing.
He has respect from his colleagues, for his papers on depression and isolation. He alludes to having traveled extensively, to lecture about the pressures of society. No one is allowed access to the institution, without his express permission. Dr. Lion is viewed by his clients with fear and trepidation. Like a drill sergeant, he demands that they live by his rules. There is a list next to each bed: 1. Rise at seven, 2. Ten minute showers, 3. Twenty minute breakfast, and it goes on to account for the day with twelve more items. When it was time for therapy, clients would sit on the metal chairs, in order by appointment; they were alphabetized. No talking, no listening, the room outside his office must be silent. Each client is allowed to read the books he has chosen for them.
The boat is now in front of her and the motor is turned off. She wondered why he was there. She did not know what daily rules he lived by.
“Get in the boat, Sherry, I’ll take you back.”
She climbs in as she continues to think about the stretch of water that lies ahead. He makes no attempt to turn on the motor. He is talking to her, but she is not listening. She is staring with glazed eyes. A couple of miles behind her is the house where she will have to go. The place for misfits who have no kin. Dr. Lion insists on taking only the most vulnerable, the most desperate. She will be forced to sit in his private theater to watch documentaries about South American or Middle Eastern politics. He creates a world to his own where he expects to brainwash his “pets,” as he would call them, into his own consciousness. She knows that he sits behind the two-way mirror, watching the movies with her, with his hands in his pants. He will not unzip them in case the staff needs him in an emergency. Some days he comes into the room and forces her on the floor where he will get on top of her. That is when the “Silence” button is lit up in red. Twice he has taken care of the situation in her womb, until he finally began to give her one more tablet at the beginning of the day.
The other women in the house do not talk to her. She is the special patient of the ward. They have all had their turn, and she has heard them speak of this. The men look away from her, as they are told to do. She is not sure what they know or suspect. She does not care. Her husband sent her here a year ago, because there were too many days where she refused to get out of bed. She wanted the help; she wanted their child to live again. He came by once, a month later, and spoke to the doctor. She was given papers to sign, they were divorced, and she never saw him again. Without him, she had no family. Yet, since she has been here, she dreams of life. Blue skies where she can fly, and then touch down in different lands. Trees that she can climb, and pick fruit to eat. Nice people, who will help her and befriend her, wave to her from their homes.
Dr. Lion pinches her breast as he pulls her toward him. She suddenly remembers she has no clothes, and tears form to slide down the rough cheeks, which are red with anger. He puts his hands on her shoulders and forces her back onto the belly of the boat. He climbs on top of her and begins unzipping his pants.
“Scoot over so my knees aren’t so close to the side.” He says, and as she does, she notices a knife lying nearby with a fish head resting up against it. The knife has huge teeth, and flashes with the sun’s reflection. He makes noises and smiles as his eyes stay tight and shut. Her arm stretches, and grabs the tip of the blade. It is sharp as it pierces her hand. She brings it closer and grabs the handle. “Scoot over more my knees are hurting.” She does and he re-positions his legs a little. “Oh, just get up and get on top of my lap,” he says and then organizes his body while the boat sways. She begins to swoon as she rises, but hides the knife under her arm as she finds a way to fit on top of his familiar thick steed.
As she slides down over him, he closes his eyes once again with his hands squeezing her knees. She wraps her arms onto his neck as if it were a sling. The knife is repositioned as her body is moved around. She slides it across the back of his head pushing it deeper as she goes. Now his eyes are open. His head falls forward and she drops the knife. Pulling him out of her, the boat begins to rock wildly. She sees the crimson liquid filling up the floor. Her head spins, and she sits down to vomit. The boat begins to calm and the water is smooth like a sheet of ice. Suddenly she is clear and has a sense of determination. She grabs the body and lugs him into the wet world he will now sink into. Her hands form cups as she washes out the boat. She sees the lever and pulls it to start the engine. Back to the dock she dresses and gets back in. The lake is crossed and she walks through the forest.
No gate, just a road that she must have traveled on long ago. She runs into the future, not knowing where or whom she will meet. Her face shines as she looks up into the sky. She smiles. She is free.