Something has occurred to me, as I sit in my room on my ward in this hospital. I know nothing sensible could possibly occur to me but I need to get this off my chest. You see Amelia, I don’t actually know if I’m seeing things or not. I hear things, and I feel things, whispers and ghostly touches skimming across the back of my neck, like spiders. I think I see things. They tell me I don’t, but then who was moving things in the attic?
You understand Amelia. I’m not crazy. I swear it. I would swear on pain of death if it could get me away from here. They tell me I’m safe here, and that it’s all in my head. I know it isn’t. Just because they can’t see it, or feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. You could claim the entirety of Europe doesn’t exist if your only reasoning is the fact that you’ve never seen it.
You don’t truly believe I’m crazy do you? You were there with me. You know. You were there.
The nurse comes in. “Don’t you think you’ve written enough dear?” Her teeth are bared. There is lipstick on one of her front teeth, and she’s tried to dye over the grey parts in her hair. “How long have you been working here?” I ask. It’s suddenly so important that I know, but she doesn’t answer. She only takes the envelope, with a promise to post it, and instructs me to go to bed.
I haven’t received any letters from you. I think they’re stopping them. They probably say that it will distress me too much to hear from you. But it won’t. Are you healing well? That fire was nasty, I remember. I got burned on my hands, reaching for you. But I’m certain you got out the other side. They say it’s fine. You’re always fine.
The nurses here are all very strange. It’s like they’re patients too, condemned to look after the worse patients. Or something. They all seem fixed in one spot, and if you touch them they’ll disintegrate. Don’t touch them Amelia.
Do you remember that day that we went down to the park beside the river? We played, and spoke with the water sprites. One of them bit me. It was a little green one. I wonder if they’re still there. They were so beautiful and shimmery, just like the water.
I pick at a thread in my bedsheets. Pick, pick, pick. I draw in my notebook. I draw Amelia, and the sprites, and other memories. Some are beautiful, and some are terrible. I try to draw the thing that scuttles all along my skin, but I can’t. In the cafeteria, the other patients whisper. But my friend sits next to me, and tells me pretty things. “The fire was so pretty Daisy. It danced with you and Amelia, and it grew. You helped it grow, but Amelia helped it better”
“But I started it. It was my idea. I told her about it, about what we had to do”
“Yes, but she became it.” Suddenly I don’t like what he is telling me. His skin, so waxy and covered in sores, nauseates me. I tell him to go away and he doesn’t. So I keep listening.
My Friend appeared yesterday. The one with the funny skin. He says that we danced with the fire, and that you became it. I don’t understand what he means.
I had to write this down after he said it so I wouldn’t forget. I have to do that a lot, I think. It’s very boring in here, and our friends are getting agitated. I can’t do the things that I’m supposed to, and they don’t like it. I just want them to go away. Aren’t friends supposed to be nice? You’re my friend Amelia. But you don’t reply to my letters anymore. Maybe they are getting lost. Or maybe you haven’t healed yet, and still can’t write. That’s probably it. I’m sorry for doubting our friendship. I know you will write as soon as you are able.
I miss Amelia. She understood better than anybody, even though she never saw the things that I did. But she trusted me. The Grown Ups always say that she ‘Had a destructive personality’. But she was only being a friend. I ask when I am going to see her again, and they only shake their heads, or smile, and distract me. They do the same when I ask when I can go home. I’m not sure if I want to go home though, because the Feelings are worse in a way. Like they’ve taken root there in my room, and know exactly how to ride the tiny bits of dust floating around straight into my ear, where they whisper to me.
I wonder if maybe the fire could have done you real damage. Our Friends say you got out, and that I’m wrong, and that you will be back soon and we can run wild again. But it’s been months. You should have been better by now. Maybe we’re both writing to each other, and neither of our letters are being delivered. That’s what He tells me. I believe him. Sometimes, Amelia, sometimes they go away. Just for a little bit. Everything is different, and my neck feels normal, and my head isn’t loud. I feel safer then. But then they come back, and I can’t let them know they scare me. I don’t want to do the things they tell me to.
“Have you seen your friend today?” the mummified nurse asks, with the bared teeth they all seem to have. “No” I answer. I’ve only been awake for ten minutes. He doesn’t know I’m awake yet. He’ll come when he realises. “He’ll be mad at me. I left without him.” I tell her. I need her to understand. But she just nods and keeps writing on her clipboard. I see the word ‘flickering’ and I wonder if maybe this is just a joke and everybody else knows my Friends too.
I want them to stopstopstopstopstop. I had to leave without Him to talk to nurse, and he’s very angry. I shouldn’t speak to them he says. Our other friends are creeping. I want to stab them, each and every one, until they can’t whisper to me anymore, until I’m free. Then we can be free, and I can see you again. The little voice agrees. I’m getting more and more scared.
The voice tells me that it’s my fault, and that Amelia is actually dead. They all cackle, and rejoice. The more I scream at them to stop, the louder they get. I’m pulling at my hair, scratching at my skin, trying to peel away the things crawling on me. They’re in my throat suffocating me, in my eyes and in my ears, whispering and screaming.