Extract from Spirit of Lost Angels ... special price. Limited Time. Only 99c/p at the following retailers:
... ‘Where am I? Where are you taking me?’ My words came out in hoarse, sharp whispers. ‘Where’s Grégoire? Find Léon, he’ll know what to do.’
‘Welcome to paradise, my lovely.’ The man’s breath was foul on my cheek.
He pushed me down into a chair. Why was he binding my limbs to the chair legs? Something moved across my head. I glanced at the floor––at the spatter of cinnamon waves covering the grimy tiles. My head felt different. I shook it and found it light, unburdened.
I hadn’t the strength to struggle as the man removed my clothes and shoved me into a wooden tub, nor when he fastened something cold and heavy about my neck.
|La Salpêtrière Asylum, Paris.|
The shock of icy water hitting my face was so great I did not even cry out. It gushed into my eyes, my nose and my mouth. I tried to breathe, coughing and spluttering. The cold water came again, and again.
‘Stop, no! Please!’ Still the water hit me.
It stopped, the man unchained my neck and the next thing I knew, a woman was standing over me, holding a chemise and an ash-grey dress.
‘Put these on. Hurry, girl. Time to go and meet your fellow lunatics.’ She laughed, but I had no idea what was funny.
The man was back, and leading me across a deserted yard entombed in high walls. He hurried me down steps slick with moss, and nodded beyond the wall. ‘Shame your room got no river view. Nothing to remind you of home, n’est-ce pas, my lovely?’
I didn’t know what he meant but I flinched, as we’d reached a deep place where only the thinnest, grey rope of light penetrated. I quivered with the fear, the unknown. Where was the bright sky and those leaves the colour of fire? I was sure I would feel better; understand it all, if only I could get back to the sky and the leaves.
Cries began to beat against my eardrums––sounds so raw with despair I was certain I must be dead, and I had reached some vast hall of Hell.
I was still too terrified to struggle as the man thrust me into a damp room, and a smudgy blot of women with shaven heads. Some were clothed as I was, others stood naked, and thinner than scarecrows.
‘Where am I?’ I looked about wildly, trying to run from the swarming women towards the only light that came from a barred grid in the door.
‘No, no, I can’t stay here!’
There was nowhere to go; no way to get out. I backed into a corner, cowering behind my arms across my face.
‘Don’t take my Rubie … cold in her basket. Stealing Madeleine’s milk.’
|La Salpêtrière Mental Asylum, Paris.|
‘Plus de pain. No more bread.’
The women’s words mewed softly from some distant labyrinth of my mind I could not reach. I think I moaned.
The man was quickly upon me again, fastening chains about my wrists and ankles, and I could move from the wall only as far as the chains allowed. I caught snatches of his words that meant nothing.
‘… mad … incurable … drowned … river … Insane Quarter.’
‘What river?’ I gazed about me. There was no river running into this sea of filth.
‘No point clawing at the walls, imbecile,’ a woman said. ‘Nobody will help you in here.’
I stopped. I fought no more, so weak that I slumped to the ground and rested my head on ragged straw, which squeaked with the bustle of small creatures. I didn’t know what else to do, so I covered my ears to block out the dipping, mournful cries pulsing from the women’s lips––sounds like birds that had lost the nest. ...
If you would like more information on La Salpêtrière Asylum, and how I used it in my research form Spirit of Lost Angels, please refer to this blog post.