It sits in the corner, rocking slowly; its arms around its knees; all pulled tight, closed, and trying to be small enough to escape notice. From the doorway, one can see the discolorations that run like webbing just under the skin. They are a sickening rainbow; lurid pinks, angry reds running into pale yellows that turn deep, ugly mauve and violet before reaching the midnight centers that are placed in strategic locations. At first, the riot of color distracts from the notice of blood. It sits in a thin, slick puddle that has painted the floors and walls; the wide, splaying marks across white walls, interwoven with smudges of palms and armlengths, combine to tell a silent story.
The mere sound of compressed air, indicating a presence, sends a shockwave of convulsive reaction through it. One can see it pulsing intermittently with the effort to be smaller, to hide; the shaking quite visible, even at this distance.
I turn and whisper softly to the keeper, “What is it?”
The whispered reply comes to me, “Love.”
I ask, in agony, “What happened to it?”
The reply comes, “Life.”
I flinch in revulsion and in the doing, awaken.