- Vol. 04
- Chapter 04
Image by National Museum of Denmark
The Act of SheddingThe lights winked out suddenly, a hundred tiny stars swallowed in the blink of an eye. Lila wiped her hands on her bubblegum-pink trousers and tried to ignore the butterfly flutter of her heart. A hand, perfectly smooth, almost waxen, pushed the small of her back, and a distant voice whispered, 'You're up.'
A sea of onyx greeted her, the room faceless, absent of life, and all she remembered was the serpentine voice hissing in her ear like pure poison. Lila shuddered.
‘So, what can you do?’
A voice like a flare igniting the raven wing darkness came out of nowhere. Lila looked around but the speaker remained concealed in shadow. The room seemed to pulse around her, acquiring a heartbeat of its own, a constant rhythm drumming into her racing thoughts. A ribbon of light streamed its way across the centre of the stage, a milky beam encouraging her to step forward.
Her palms were clammy as she stepped into the creamy light, lying face down on the floor. Here, time slowed; memories from past years entered her head like a carousel, around and around they went: schoolchildren pointing and calling her names, parents whispering, her own family locking her out in the back garden, her sister screaming if she ever came near her.
The invisible voice was impatient now, urging her to hurry up and get on with it. Lila inhaled deeply, pressing her cheek to the floor, pushing with all of her might as her feet slowly lifted off the ground. She was a balloon, light, weightless, defying the laws of gravity; she was free, floating now, her legs, hips and torso in the air, only her cheek stuck to the floor.
Please turn the lights on, she thought. Please accept me.
The Act of SheddingBut the room remained a liquorice nightmare and all Lila could hear was the heavy breathing of the faceless man, sitting somewhere out there, hidden from view, drinking in this peculiar spectacle and wondering what to do.
Lila knew she couldn’t hold this position for much longer and a single tear snaked its way along her cheek as her body juddered under the pressure. Hitting the floor like an axe, the wood splintered beneath her weight, the floor giving way to an infinitely dark pit as Lila fell, down, down, down, away from the creamy light, and away from her only chance of being saved.