All for Laura

1. Prisoner

Laura sat in the hard bed in her cell with her arms wrapped around her body as if to protect herself from what was happening and offer a degree of comfort, minimal though it was.

A shiver ran through her body and she clutched her thin arms around her tighter, but she had long since given up trying to keep warm. The single blanket in her cell was draped over her shoulders and scratched roughly against her bare skin where the bruises were finally beginning to fade. Laura ran the thin fabric of her dress through her fingers and closed her eyes.

How many times had Anne done the same thing?

The white had faded to a dirty grey and was severely ragged along the hem, even torn in some places. Laura rubbed at the cotton just to feel something soft.

There was no light in the cell. Everything was dark and cold and death. She was breathing in a tomb. The living dead. A shudder passed through her and she pressed her forehead against her knees, shutting her eyes to try and close herself off.

The nightmare was never-ending. Days and nights passed as one. It was an eternal cycle of nothing. She wasn't living and nor was she dead.

Laura didn't cry. Her tears no longer came.

There was nothing for her to do. She had long since walked the entire length and breadth of the tiny cell. Her fingers had brushed over the rough stone walls and memorised every crack and crevice. The only smell was the cold, damp air as it stirred around the small space. The only thing she could do was think and she was as much trapped in a prison of her own thoughts as in the one of stone and metal. Scenes from her past replayed over again and again. Things she could've done. Things she should have done. In this dark place all her worst memories arose to tear her apart inside; Walter leaving, her marriage to Glyde, the beatings, the…nights sharing his bed. Thoughts that made her sick. Memories she wished with all her heart she could forget. A sane person could go mad here, and that's what she felt she was doing, slowly descending into madness. She could almost imagine she saw Anne's presence drifting around her cell in a ghostly white dress, muttering to herself about a secret that Laura had missed out on knowing, a secret to bring Glyde down. The thought tormented her.

As she teetered on the edge of the void that led to insanity the only thing that pulled her back from being engulfed in darkness were her happier memories. She used them to push back the pain filled ones. Memories of her and Marian as children playing, as teenagers whispering in each others confidences under the sheets at night, the giggles, the laughter. She remembered Walter's arrival the most, before the bitterness between her and Marian, before she fell in love with him. She replayed the sunshine filled scenes of the three of them together, picnics and drawing with her two favourite people in the world. Occasionally she allowed herself to dwell on the first little while as she started to fall in love with Walter. The sweetness. The freshness. His adoring kisses. Yet only once in a while, for soon those scenes became mired in shadows and careened towards an unhappy ending she couldn't escape from. These memories pushed back the others. They were searing sweet and almost painful in her longing to relive them again, to go back to before. Such was her life now that she had to turn to them or else she felt she would die. To live only in those happy memories were like living inside a dream, a fantasy, a mere shadow of reality and was, in itself, a kind of madness but reality was so harsh and desolate that she couldn't bear not to. Every time she emerged the hopelessness of her situation would strike her again so hard the air fled from her lungs and she felt panic invade her, strangling her. That was when Glyde would come leering at her out of the black and she'd scream for the dark memories to go away, weep for the bliss of the long past, of happier times.

Time passed as Laura stayed trapped in the Asylum in the physical and in her mind.

The times she emerged made her yearn to disappear back into them, made her wish she'd sleep and sleep and never wake up. She could not tell whether this was worse then being with Glyde or not, the two were so similar. She had suffered so many months of darkness now that she was losing hope of ever being happy again, or ever smiling or laughing. Life was just passing from one horrific stage to another and every night she prayed for rescue to come.

Then one day it finally did…