A Flash Back and an Introduction
“Romilly!” She was back to the planation, the sun was waving its last fair wells. Levi and Louis were beside her. They were children again, running, tagging each other. She felt her feet pad along side them. There were no scars, no labor, just fun and play. The towering trees above them, their half rotten apples littering the ground, the swarming mosquitos buzzing. It was the last splendors of youthful summer. She and Levi, held hands; the simple, unconscious act that children commit out of deep friendship. Louis scowled at the sight of it. He grabbed a bruised, mushed apple off the ground. “Kiss me or I’ll make you eat this.” Thinking that he was only playing, Romilly plugged her nose and pretended to puke. Levi laughed. Louis’s face reddened. “Eat it or kiss me!” He screamed, cupping the fruit, starting to squeeze the putrid juice out of it. Levi and Romilly looked on, amused. It was just another one of Louis’s tantrums. Then, he grabbed her, holding the apple close to her face, “You must obey me! I own you! Now eat it!” Levi and Romilly stepped back, horror scribbled across their faces. Never before had Louis spoken to her like that before. The invisible bonds of friendship were now broken forever. For the first time, Romilly understood what she was: a slave.
Levi grabbed her hand, and they walked away. Then he whispered in her ear, “I will never tell you what to do.” Warmth flooded her, and some of her happiness returned. But she never forgot that twilight in the apple orchard. And neither did Louis.
Romilly dreamed the bed rather before she felt it. Strange emotions of comfort and peace that seemed as out of place drifted into her muddled and confusing visions and thoughts. She woke to sunny air, clouds of sheets, and a downy pillow. Instantly, her vision clouded with fogs of pain. It came as if it were waves, each new one smashing against her skull. Against her will, tears filled her eyes.
“Ah, good, you’re awake,” came a soothing voice floating in the foggy abyss somewhere above her head. The words slurred in her head, and involuntarily she put a hand to her head and found it bandaged.
“You suffered severe head trauma,” came the voice, “please, can you tell me your name?”
My, what? Romilly swam through murky memories and emotions. There was a train. Something loved, and something to dread, something of terror. Stop, focus—
Name. Name? Rom, Romilly. “Romilly!”
“Good. Very good Romilly.” Then the figure above her melted into focus. It was a man, stocky and tall, dressed in a white uniform, with lively green eyes and brown curly hair. He carried a clipboard. The room around them, however, was still too blurred to make out any details. She turned her attention back to the man.
“Now, tell me, why did you get onto the train?” The soothing voice floated into her ears. She struggled to make out the meaning. Train, train.
“I, I was on a train, see. I was-was crying for some reason. Then, there was a lurch, see, and—“ she put her hand to her head. Get a hold of yourself, she thought, come on, remember. But the pain was too much and the memories slipped from her grasp and slid into the darkest corners of her mind.
“I can’t remember.”
“I see. Well, that is a very common side effect to those with your condition. I am sure that in a couple of days, with much rest, it will return. Now, do you know where you are?” Asked the man, with a kind expression on his face, scratching away at the clipboard.
Romilly moved to shake her head, but was temporarily blinded by the pain, and instead whispered, “no.”
“You are at Wheathersy, Mental Hospital.”
Romilly sat up so fast, that the sunlight around her tilted, and twirled like a top. She took a breath to steady her dizziness.
“What? What state is I am?”
“Maine. Is something wrong?” The doctor looked up; concern scribbled across his face like the writing on the clipboard.
“Yes, sir, something isn’t right, not right at all. But I don’t know why.”
“Are you supposed to be in, let’s see,” he flipped through his clipboard, “Tomson, Massachusetts, 12330 W. Miner Street?”
“Yes! That’s it, sir,” The memories she was trying so desperately to reach were slipping further and further out of reach, receding and leaving Romilly with a sense of despair and confusion.
The doctor continued to scan and ruffle the papers on the clipboard. “I found these papers on your person when you were discovered unconscious. It also says here that you were set free, by a Mr. Levi Sampton of Sampton plantations. Do you know this man?”
Romilly’s hand instantly went to the burned scar of an S with an arrow through it. She paused for a long moment, thinking hard. “No.” The word rang harsh and loud.
There was a moment of silence before the doctor made a snapping sound with the clipboard and tucked it under his arm. “Now, for some introductions. As previously stated, you are at Wheathersy, Mental Hospital. I am Doctor Mason, but you can call me Doc,” stated Dr. Mason, with a friendly twinkle in his eye, some of the professionalism slipping away from his demeanor. He pulled back a curtain that revealed six beds. “In order from the closest to you, to the back of the room, Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, and Happy.”
Romilly cast a confused look at Doc, who laughed, green eyes twinkling. “ They have real names, but they prefer to go by their mental states, with, of course, the exception with of Sneezy of course.” When Romilly still looked puzzled, Doc said in a low voice, bending over to Romilly, “I did say this was a mental hospital.”
Romilly glanced down the row of beds where her six roommates slept. Bashful, Grumpy and Happy were ancient, covered in folded skin and wrinkles. Sleepy and Sneezy were slightly younger, but still bore the tall tale marks of men who have lived many years. Dopey was by far the youngest, who looked to be around nine. All men had beards of various shades, were rather short, and large mounds that rose and fell under their sheets where their bellies were (with, of course, the exception of Dopey).
“Now,” said Doc, with a kindly voice, “It is time you rest. You, I dare say, have had a very eventful couple days.”
Romilly gratefully fell back upon her pillow. She relished the blissful emptiness of thoughts that sleep would bring. She was not disappointed as sleep soon claimed her, and her brain drained to oblivion.