Shawna Lynn Cox

She wakes, stirring on the floor, eyes open – same four white walls, same white table, same white chair, same confinement with no way out but to write…something.

Stretching her hands to her knees, she pulls herself up to sitting, squeezing the dreams away as reality seeps in. Her reality, here, alone.

Her hand rubs her face, her thoughts are already beginning to churn with the story that is fighting to get out of her mind. She shakes her head at this impossible nightmare, takes a deep breath, not giving up this early in the day.

‘Today is the day,’ she affirms. She shakes her head again, hearing her thoughts clearly, ‘Fuck positive thinking, fucking marketing…am I losing it? No. Because I am asking the question, I’m not. Which movie was that from…’ she shakes her head again, shakes out the thoughts fighting for attention.

“FOCUS,” she strong arms out loud this time, startling herself from the sharp echo and heightened volume in this small stark space.

She scans to see if anyone is witness, then reminds herself, ‘how would I know. White walls. One way mirrors? Only if they are painted white, duh. Cameras embedded in the walls and hidden…not likely.’

No noise, only her breathing and heartbeat fill her ears. She shakes it off, finally rising. From standing, she locks onto the black note book and pen.

“Today is the day.” She fills her lungs deeply, not just once, but three times. The oxygen clearing her mind for a moment as she takes her place at the table. Pulls the chair back, sits, opens the notebook to the next blank page, takes the pen in her hand, removes the lid and pops it onto its resting place at the other end. She is still for a moment, “today is the day.”

“What do I know,” a beat as she writes ‘What I know.’ She nods her head and as if summoning knowledge and inspiration and decides to pen, ‘Today is the day.’

“Ok.” She takes another deep breath and begins her¬†¬†freewriting ritual to get herself started, ‘White walls table hand pen page white blue ink black book…’ Everything we have seen her write before, just in a different combination as she prepares to drop into her mind, until she begins to nod, as if beginning to understand something, she shifts her attention from inside the room, to inside her mind, “The man…” she writes down ‘The man. Who is he?’ These first two sentences spark a curiosity within…

She begins to write from her memory, ‘black shoes military Blundstones Australian urban trend uniform group civilian expat journalist training hand to hand interrogation torture threat intel research dangerous solo alone afraid hiding no one else on his own no one knows information triggered tap scan internet flag key words sophisticated intelligent intelligence global danger threat leak intel discovery uncover link bridge intel source questions search surveillance’ she pauses.

“Oh my God,” she hesitates then pens, ‘joint ops expats underground dark web,’ she pauses, the ink from the pen not flowing properly, she shakes it than tries again, ‘FEMA civilian tracking global organization elite private ops leaked’ the pen scratches the page as the ink flow becomes nearly negligible, she stops, hold it up to the light, viewing the ink window on the side of the pen. It is empty. She slides it back and forth just to make sure. Nothing.

A wave of disbelief passes over her, she places the pen to page again as if it isn’t happening, scratching without ink, ‘experimental ops’… There is no ink left and she is raking the fibres from the page.

She stares in disbelief, not accepting her fate, “no,” in denial as she shakes her head slowly.

She begins to shake the pen again, tests it on the page, produces a partial faint blue circle then the ink is gone before even half of it is completed.

She shakes the pen again, harder and longer and again pen to paper, circles on the page, various faints and nothings as the fibres give way to the edge of the pen’s nib.

She drives the nib deeper into the page, “no, no,” beginning to carve out the page, seemingly violent yet oddly comedic because of her choice of victim. Her disbelief turning to anger… “You stupid pen,” she is beginning to lose it. She begins to stab at the page and her swinging gains in both speed and impact, her hand and body beginning to tremor, “you stupid fucking pen!” as rage begins to blind her and her assault on her helpless victim turns into unnecessary and brutal violence, boarding on the insane, she yells, releasing repressed rage from within, “you fucking pen! You fuck! Fuck! Pen fuck!”

She turns into a hurricane as pages are torn, ripped from the spine of the notebook, ripped apart and thrown overboard, “Fuck!” her rage is shifting as she tries to break the cover of the notebook, bending it over the table against it’s will until it finally gives way. She whips it hard against the far wall, turns the table up and over with adrenal strength. It crashes into the far wall alongside the notebook.

“Fucking pen,” she is shaking, rage turning quickly into grief. The pen in her hands, she tries to bend it in two as her strength fades, tears begin to fall from her face, unable to break it. She drops the pen to the floor and stomps on it, trying to break it under the weight of her will, “you fucking pen…” She succumbs to a wall of helplessness, crumbling to the floor, beside the pen.

“Why?” Staring at the pen, she reaches for it, pulls it close to her, knows she needs it, terrified of what will happen when the man comes back and sees no writing for the day…

The pen is her hope. Her secrets. Her only way out. A strange thought quirks her. ‘This pen is my only friend.’

“You’re only a fucking pen, but you’re my fucking pen and I’m sorry,” she apologizes to it as her breathing begins to settle from the pure high.

Light headed, she looks like she may pass out at any moment, but she is completely serene as she looks around the room, takes it in as if for the first time, finally becomes conscious of the devastation she just laid down on everything in her crazy wake. She is oddly humoured by the site and a surprised giggle finds it’s way out and a pleased grin grows on her face. “Oh I’m fucked.”

Calm, collected, she pulls herself up, picks a torn page up in her hand, begins to pick up all the pages and pieces of pages that encircle her. Stands, picking up the rest of the pages in the room. Rights the chair, rights the table, picks up the broken notebook and places it open on the table. She sits in the chair and begins to put the pages in order back into the notebook.

Then, she drops into her mind, ‘I wonder if he would bring me some tape,’ and waits for the man to come back in the night.

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