He could barely recognize her anymore. She always had a thin frame, but now it was as though whatever healthy disposition she once held had withered away completely. A skeleton of her old self. A skeleton period. The flowery dress she was wearing seemed to completely envelop her as she sat hunched over. The chair was in the far corner of the room from where he was observing her through a plexiglass window.
The woman's frail arms jutted upwards, hands buried beneath dark locks of hair that attempted to stretch to the floor in knotted tangles, fingers drumming in nonrhythmic patterns along white bandages. The florescent lights appeared to give her skin a sickly, grey shading. Despite all of the irregularities he was witnessing, he couldn't stop thinking about her hair. Even when knowing the macabre nature necessitating the wrapping around her head.
"I don't understand..."
"You don't understand what, Mr. Williamson?" The nurse turned his attention towards him.
"Her hair. How is it possible?" Sam met the gaze. Where once there was flowing sun-bleached, blonde hair, there was now strands dark as midnight.
With a prolonged sigh, matched with a shrug and head shake, the nurse answered, "There's no real explanation for it."
"I don't understand..."
"No one does. It's the complete opposite of when someone's hair is rumored to turn white from stress or trauma. Obviously there was trauma, an abundance, associated with her self-inflicted wounds, but the thing is... her hair had changed color weeks prior. As I said, there's no real explanation. Medical or otherwise. Believe me, we've looked into it. But if I were to be completely honest with you," he gave a brief pause before continuing, "her hair is far from the main issue at hand."
"There's that psychopathic killer part, right?"
The man looked away from Sam and studied his patient. Sam followed his lead. There was a faint reflection of the two men in the window.
"I mean no disrespect, but it's a reality. And things with your sister are rarely ever easy. The hair, while an oddity, does no harm. Her penchant for violence towards herself and those who attempt to interfere in those instances, however, does."
"Did she ever explain why she did it?"
"Nothing that makes any sense."
"But that's not what I'm asking." Sam persisted.
The nurse gave another sigh. "For months now, she's claimed to see what she describes as, Shadow People. I'm assuming she was trying to put an end to that? Thinking she could unsee whatever it was she believed she saw." He could sense the man pondering as he spoke. "But it didn't work apparently. Whatever these Shadow People are to her, she's obsessed with the notion." The man gestured towards the door. "But you can verify it all yourself. Are you ready? Visitation hours are limited, but given the circumstances, we can allow more time if need be. But it will be supervised by a staff member and security. No exceptions."
Mr. Williamson nodded as he mentally prepared himself as best he could. He hadn't spoken to his sister in years. They had a sordid history themselves. But this confrontation was long overdue if he was ever going to set things straight with her. He just hoped that she was competent enough to process the information. It wasn't sounding too good.
Sam took a deep breath and signaled to the nurse that he was ready and prayed to himself that there was still time to reach through to his sister. Through the darkness she had submerged herself in, leaving her floundering alone amid a sea of pain and regret. Where drowning felt like the only answer.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of the piece? Constructive criticism welcomed!