II | Some Doors

My eyes
take forever

to adjust

to the darkness


I’m in an empty foyer.

There’s nothing here,
I think,

and then we’re

halfway across the room,

facing the door
on the other side.

The woman
taps a card again,

another concealed card reader,

and the double doors

slide open.


It’s the size of a prison cell.

We’re staring
at a mirror
in the wall facing us.

For the first time
in a long time,

I see my own reflection.

How long has it been?




The woman pulls me by the hand
towards the gaunt, haunted girl

reflected in the prison wall

and I wrench
my hand from hers

to run away.

She has me by the shoulders,
she’s talking

over the flood of my laughter.

Then, she lets go of me.

I stare,
as she enters the cell

on her own

and presses a button
on the panel by the door.

The cell

and I see beads of LED lights
beside the card reader.


The woman
has a patient smile
that almost looks


She intercepts
the closing doors

with a hand.

Beckons to me.

I step
into the lift

and turn away

from the girl
in the mirror.


The journey upwards
is a lot longer

than I expected

but finally the doors open
to reveal

another set of doors
and a corridor.

The doors
in front of us

are labelled


The woman
takes my hand

and tugs me
down the corridor.

This corridor
is lined with many doors
on one side,

all of them labelled





At the end of the corridor,
I’m ushered into

another lift.

This one goes down
to another large room

like the one
we first entered

only without

The sounds of our footsteps


on the hard linoleum floor.

With another flash
of her card,

the woman unlocks

another door

to another

similar-looking corridor.

We walk
till we get to
the door at the end.

She squeezes my hand—

an indication
that we won’t have to walk through anymore doors?

Her card flashes,
the door clicks open.


And we’re faced
with another door.


the door behind us closes first,

then the ones in front

into a hall

with heavy curtains
on wrought iron windows,

ornate armchairs
carved out of the ground,

plush carpet

that my bare feet
sink into,


real people
walking around.


I pull my hand
from hers.

Two more women in white uniforms

from behind a wall

like ghosts.
Smiling ghosts.

The one with a bob
waves at me

like I’m a little child.

The other
just talks to the one
in the trench coat.

I look at her properly

She looks like a model.
Long hair.
Curled at the ends.

Sharply-drawn lipstick.

My file changes hands.
She ignores

my stare.

The plain one
fights for my attention.

Searching my eyes,
for what?


For a while
we stand by the door

that has clicked shut.

The women
know what they’re doing.

I’m the only one

‘This is not my home,’ I tell the plain one.

‘Who are you?’

Her smile is patient,

Not patronising,

not even a little bit.


This is your new home.
We’re nurses.


I’m staring at her smile.

Her mouth doesn’t change shape
even as I hear the words:


Welcome to Wonderland.




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