It was cold. She sat in the room, waiting her turn. Looking around in apprehension, she bleakly noticed how even the total whiteness of the room seem to clash with everything. Her eyes roamed, noticing the small details: the crack in the ceiling, the pulled loop in the carpet, even the peeling of the veneer on the bottom of the door.
The same door that would soon open, just for her.
Tensing at the thought, she tried vainly to think of good things, sweet things. She would give anything to be outside in the sun right now, letting the rays warm her again. But she had disobeyed. At first, it was so easy to adhere to the rules. Monotonous, even. But that monotony was the start of her disquiet. The need arose for something else to fill the void and the awful taste of it. One rule broken, just a small rule, just once, led to sneaking, and lying, and to where she sat now: awaiting her punishment. Her shoulders ached from the tension, her teeth chattered from the cold, her hands rubbed almost raw. Stealing a glance at her mother, she wondered what she was thinking. Her mother sat silently, staring straight ahead, her eyes far away, as if she could see through the awful white wall. She was afraid to say anything, afraid to break the spell that kept her mother silent. She would give anything to turn the clock back, to go back to before and to obey the simple rules. It was too late, she knew that. Now she was here, and she had to go through with it.
The clock mocked her, refusing to move its hands faster. She prayed quietly, the fervent litany cut short by voices emanating from beyond the door. She noticed the marks on the doorknob, wondering how they were made, feeling her heart stop as she realized they looked like claw marks. –This is a nightmare–, she thought. –A nightmare of your own making–, said the little voice inside her. –Shut up, Shut Up, SHUT UP!!!–, her mind screamed. She could feel the hot tears behind her eyelids. She heard the knob turning, her fear freezing her mind and her eyes watching the slow turn of the knob, counter-clockwise and grinding in her ears. Her mother stood up, resigned and looking so tired, turning to her and gesturing for her to get up. The time had finally come. She looks up to find a young woman, starched and rather pretty, smiling down at her. She swallows hard, the woman’s words ringing in her ears as she slides past: