Though the current was steady the bulb on the low ceiling throbbed. The gray walls wavered like a room under water and the window in the center of the wall was too bright for her to see.
On the wall stood tall an unlocked door that could open to a colorful world, but she was trapped apart, a prisoner in her own flesh. The walls throbbed, the light brightened and she closed her eyes, but the throbbing was worse behind closed lids. She opened them again and her stomach, sickeningly, flipped. Was there no escape? This bare gray room was a prison for her imprisoned body, a refuge from the busy, noisy, flowing world that surged with waves of pain. But she did want so desperately to plunge into that world.
She weakly lifted her head and looked in the corner across from the door. There was the one spot of color in the gray, blinding room. A small blue box. It was the rich, beautiful blue of an unending mountain sky, with layers upon layers of atmosphere that ever deepened and darkened, adding depth to depth. One could get lost in that blue.
With the last ounce of her strength she pulled herself up and crawled over to the box. With shivering, shaking arms, she lifted the heavy embellished curlicue lid and throwing herself forward, she disappeared inside.
She fell into a mighty landscape, with a great valley of emerald green. There were blue-gray mountains peeking above wisps of pure white clouds. A great blue-green lake with flashing, roaring waterfalls surged in an inviting pool. She laughed. Her limbs obeyed her every command, her eyes welcomed the light, and nothing wavered or throbbed.
With a spring of pure excitement, she plunged into the water and it was colder and fresher than any other water in the world. Gray heads surfaced beside her and she met fresh-water dolphins who frisked and called to her, and she understood every word.
She swam in the lake forever, but after a time, she emerged to find that the landscape had changed. It had become an alien environment, with red trunks of trees and blue grass. Peeking at her from among the grasses was a beautiful creature hiding in the forest, frightened of her glistening wet spacesuit and the shuttle that had crashed into the lake. Despite its fear, she approached slowly and kindly, and she and the creature became great friends and had many adventures together.
One day, as she climbed the tallest mountain on the planet, she found herself at the top of Mount Zion, overlooking the White City of Jerusalem. She was riding a black horse with flowing white mane and carrying the banner of the crusaders. She was on a pilgrimage to liberate the Holy City.
As her sword clashed arms with the fiery-eyed Turks, she met the gaze of a black-eyed pirate, with a smoking cigar flapping on his lip and mighty eyebrows that hid black thoughts. “Come aboard, m’hearty?” he asked, gesturing to his beautiful ship, “Can always use a bright-eyed lass who ain’t afraid to skin a few bones.” She sailed off to find lost treasure and bury the new. She whirled through the Bermuda Triangle, faced the great sea monsters, raided shores of peaceful villages and committed unforgivable atrocities. Her heart grew black and unforgiving, until one poignant day when one of her prisoners, a brave man not afraid to die and too noble to surrender quietly, loved her in spite of everything, and encouraged her to run away with him. Her heart slowly blossomed before his ardent passion and goodness, and together, they escaped from the pirates. They were married on a private, lovely beach and spent the rest of their days doing good with the riches she had buried for years.
But then – all of sudden – as she was gazing lovingly into the eyes of her husband, a blinding flash of light ripped through her brain and she screamed, then whimpered with her weak voice, and found herself prostrate on the floor of the gray room: alone, vulnerable, and helpless. She was not a spaceman, a soldier, a pirate, or a wife. She was a little girl trapped in a little gray room.