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From the ashes

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Grime and filth daubed her pale face, hair mussed from the immaculate slicked back bun, and her blouse tarnished by soot and debris, still swathed in the governor’s uniform. Vera regarded her disgraced mentor, pacing like an imprisoned wild animal confined to a cruelly diminutive cage. Sorrow riddled her features as she preached degrading language aimed at herself, sympathy wrangled with the ugly reality of what this woman had done to others and herself, countless life-ruining atrocities executed yet her she was, the infamous Joan Ferguson abated to the lunatic the inmates illustrated her as. 

Penitency ruminates at a burdened conscience; Had she further advanced in her recidivism? Abruptly up and leaving that inauspicious dinner that night, vengeance driven extortion, betrayal and a taste of her own medicine essentially. Terminating her position as governor was the goal, minimum, not being caged by four padded walls and a lack of basic needs and rights wasn’t a part of that aspiration. 

Frizzed sections of hair departed from that well crafted updo, resembling more of a knot now as harmonious gestures flailed from elongated limbs; Delirium and paranoia had set in tempestuously. Plucking at tender heartstrings, her second in command requisitioned signing off on discharge forms and escorting her back home with her, rehabilitating her one on one; Joan had sought comfort in her once before. Emotional intimacy was apodictic. No one had ever praised or admired her ambitious ethics. Though the staff was well acquainted with similar cases, it oked Vera, witnessing the drugged and chemically altered demeanor of Joan.

She had frequented Fletch during his recovery in the rehabilitation center, nostalgic of those visits, but this was far more personal. Tremulant fingertips evened at the laceration laced window that peaked into the solitary confinement. The nurse that ushered her through the maze of this ward stood impassively to the wall, vacuously scribbling down notes for observation.

“Can.. Can I have a word with her?”

Complying wordlessly, the questionably withdrawn nurse unlatched the copious lot of keyholes immuring a drug induced somber Joan. The draft, prompted by the opening of the hefty door, breezed past her. Even the air from the lonesome room seemed melancholic, a riveting flux in energy. Shuffling past the ajar, just by a sliver door, its thunderous slam behind her resonated bluntly in the padded room. The raven haired woman musingly regarded the short woman, placidity showing with the absence of snarky utterance, which was typical of Joan. Vera commenced on verging near, approaching her like she was a frightened, wounded animal, moseying forth cautiously to the lackadaisical former governor.

Static in position, a meager foot before her. “Oh, Joan..” Suspiring the long withheld breath, she studied the woman who immensely opposed the Joan she knew; Polished and menacing, the cat in this game taking on the role of mouse in this halcyon state of being. Producing a plain handkerchief from her back pocket, splaying it over her straightened digits and opened palm before straining her arm up to expunge the condensation of sweat, tears, soot, and prison filth staining her pale face. Joan flinched at the initial cotton caress, cynical of other motives with touch since her admittance, but further on leaning into the warm gesticulation. 

Detachment from others wasn’t an alien conceit of the woman who guarded her emotions with cement walls hemmed with barbed wire. Vulnerability equated to being a victim, weak and pliant. A cocktail of sedatives and antipsychotics jaded her normalcy. Hints of Joan Ferguson resided, but this person was merely a hollowed chassis. The mire sullied the softness of the cloth, tinged a charcoal grey now. An implicit “I’m sorry.” cognized from attritional blue eyes, but its impression vacant to her overly medicated psyche.

Affliction weighed too heavy to bare on slender shoulders, beckoning the nurse to free her from the brief visitation. Glassy eyes welled with a significant mass of tears, veering her face away from the only person who ever instilled a touch of confidence in her, seemingly taking a page from her own book and shielding her emotions to prevent heartache. The clicks of the locks loosening cued her exit, trudging through the crack till the atrociously unnerving collision of the door to its frame.

A final glimpse through damaged windows haunted her, the emptiness in ear expression was unfathomable; All her protégée had to offer was a forlorn smile, partly disingenuous but in an attempt to lighten this dreary atmosphere. If looks could kill, Vera would be six feet under.