Yesterday I was Sister Maria…now I guess I’m just Maria.
No, I still believe in God. But now I believe in something else, too.
I don’t remember what happened. When they found me, I was writing a story, they said. I don’t know what it’s about, I don’t remember writing it. After the third one went mad, they stopped trying to read it. I’m afraid to open the notebook.
They’re saying I just wandered away from the convent, but I think I was kidnapped. I think something hit me in my head, or they drugged me…not just because of the memory loss. I’ve gone kind of color-blind, too. See, this was my favorite yellow notebook, but now it’s just grey to me…
It’s an odd coincidence. The title of my story, you can see here…it’s called The King in Yellow. I wonder what it’s about…
What’s that piece of grey cloth you’re holding? Is it important?
Thunder rumbles from the smoggy horizon, loud enough to be heard over our topless Cadillac’s roaring engine and the wind rushing past my ears at some horrible number of miles per hour. The dirt is bright orange and the heavy air smells like a laundromat and the cries of wheeling birds of prey mingle with those of the cannibals driving the minivan in our rear-view mirror, hurling insults and laughter and obsolete plastic discs people used to store music on. Her tight white braids flutter and snap like snakes and I hold my hands in front of my face to keep from being bitten again.
The meaning of everything begins to wobble and spin out of control like a top winding down.
Our car bursts through the gates of the asylum past bored, mustached fat men in guard uniforms and fishtail to a stop in a wide, gravel-spraying arc. She shouts at me to grab “the package” and together we carry the squirming, straightjacketed savior up the worn sandstone steps and down the checker-tiled hallway, scattering howling, red-faced nurses and hoary patients who stare and fumble for words, while behind us the cannibals and the guards brawl like Valhalla.
We thrust our package back into his Lazyboy and spin him to face the fire and a slow smile creeps across his beard like a plague and we catch our breath for a minute, listening to the sounds of the universe grinding back up to speed.
“Matreyia, Jesus, whatever, it’s all the same,” she claims, waving her hands to validate her excuses. “We had a party with too much water and not enough wine, it seemed like the obvious thing to do.”
“No more kidnapping deities,” I panted as I stumbled out the door, and looked up just in time to see the stars coming back on.