Note: Here's the final installment! It's just a short closing chapter that transitions into Love Lies Bleeding, the next story.
"A Letter Left Unsung"
Chapter 5: Denouement
Sing me something soft,
Sad and delicate,
Or loud and out of key,
Sing me anything.
We're glad for what we've got,
Done with what we've lost,
Our whole lives laid out right in front of us.
- Existentialism on Prom Night, Straylight Run
That's the only thing this asylum's ever taught me.
When the children in the Juvenile Ward fell in sudden bouts of epilepsy (1), or choked on their food because they had forgotten how to swallow, 625000 was the one who cleared the room and called for help. It was her responsibility, being the only unimpaired.
When the more aggressive children were disciplined with the belt because the attendants were tired of administering drugs, 625000 was the one to close the door. She told the other inmates, and herself, that it was fine -- that this was necessary, and they were not involved. It was her responsibility, being the only one with enough sense to close the door and plug their ears.
And when Dr. Lind L. Taylor murdered the patient in room 228 this morning, 625000 was the one who divulged the secrets of the asylum to the law officers. She explained the entire scenario: past murders, current murders, location of evidence, identity of perpetrator, and motives. It was her responsibility, being the only surviving witness.
Well, she tried. She tried do the right thing -- to stick a bandage over the wound like she was supposed to, even though she knew it wouldn't kill the pain. Yes, she told the officers who the murderer was and how the murder came about -- but she could not undo the damage already done. And what did it matter now if the doctor was apprehended? Hadn't he already had his satisfaction? Asher Wammy was dead.
Even when you know you've failed.
I was still there. I hadn't moved since the morning, even after the officers had left and the body was removed.
I was now sitting on the bed and staring out the window, down at the cobblestone path I knew so well. From this perspective, things looked... well, things looked exactly the same. The outside world was totally unchanged, and Asher Wammy's sacrifice would go unknown for all of time, because, really, it didn't matter to the outside world.
But on the inside, I could still feel his presence. The intangible rays of sunset refracted through the large window, encompassing the room in a golden, hazy mist, dotted here and there by glinting dust particles. This room looked like perpetual autumn: beautiful, but solemn and decaying. Just sitting here gave me a nostalgic feeling, sweet and sad.
I heard the soft shifting of feet against carpet as someone entered the room. The door was open, of course -- I was afraid to close it. Closing it would mean I'd have to open it again, and... I... was afraid of what could lurk on the other side.
The whispery footsteps stopped, and I felt the mattress bounce slightly with added weight. Glancing to the side, I saw a figure hunched beside me.
"...What, L? You know I hate it when you just stare."
"We got him," he said bluntly.
"I see that."
"You were right."
"I told you."
We sat in awkward silence for a while.
"Are you sad?"
Was I? I didn't even know. I just had this stupid numb feeling, like some canvas was thrown over my mind, and I could only see obscure figures through the thin sheet. This numb feeling. I don't know.
"I... should... be. My daddy was killed."
"Oh, you knew? Asher told me to keep it a secret, but I suppose it does not matter now."
Somehow, I was not surprised. L knew a lot of things.
"You know," he began, "your deductions and observational skills were quite impressive. I believe you have solved your very first case. And you're only..." He looked me up and down. "...Four? Five? I solved my first when I was eight."
I ignored his insulting errors and gave him a look that bespoke of how little that meant to me.
"You understand that Watari -- ah, that is, Mr. Wammy -- is now your legal guardian."
I just stared at him numbly.
"He has an orphanage for gifted children, like you."
I didn't answer.
"You would like it there, I think."
You're telling me to just up and leave.
But... I still had so much that I needed to know. That Mathilde woman -- could she have been my mother? Was she dead? What was that... grotesque humanoid thing... in the Facility? Since when were there two Ruvies? Why can't I bear to leave this appalling institution?
My frigid numbness was slowly melting. I don't know why, but...
"--lots of candy, a bigger room, toys if you want--"
...this place was...
"--ou like dolls, don't you? Girls like dolls, right? You could have as many--"
"--and there's a garden. Mr. Ruvie said you like gardens."
Or maybe I'm just deranged.
I took a sharp inhale of breath as my vision fogged up and my eyes began to sting. Quietly, I wiped a hand across the upper half of my face and sniffed. 'Well, we all knew this was coming...' I thought, hiccuping a tiny bit. L reached over and patted me awkwardly on the back of the head. It only served to further upset me, and I swatted his hand.
"I don't want to," I managed to say between hiccups, "I don't want to go."
I sniffed and wiped at my eyes again. "Because... I don't know what lurks outside the door," I whispered. Now, I didn't mean that literally, and I hoped L could understand. Not the door to this room, no -- although that frightened me, too. I meant the metaphorical "door" to the outside world, where things were unpredictable, and where the loss of one life was as unimportant as the loss of a single grain of sand on the beach.
I covered my face with my arms and shut my eyes, huddling into myself. This was a slap at my pride. A cold, hard slap. Be strong? Well... I tried.
And suddenly, there was another voice in the room.
"Oh now, don't you cry, dear."
Something pricked me in the arm, and I turned around to see Mr. Wammy holding a tiny needle to my arm. A tranquilizer? Stunned, I said nothing.
"Oh, I almost forgot. Amy, your father told me to give you this; he thought you'd like it. For your bad dreams." A small, Native American dreamcatcher dangled from L's thumb and forefinger. It was authentic-looking, with a tiny bell dangling at the base of the feathers.
For your bad dreams.
And so I dreamt.
(1) Epilepsy - disorder affecting the nervous system; characterized by severe convulsions, usually with loss of consciousness.
From the Author: Tranquilized?! Crazy. And so, this will continue into the next story, "Love Lies Bleeding," which should be up by tomorrow. (I actually finished the prologue for that before I finished the ending of this. xD)
À bientôt, mes amis. (See you soon, mah buddies!)