The gentle sound of violins soothed her rapidly beating heart, but the music seeping from the record player could not sedate her steam-engine mind. Emma-Jane Hartnell was like that, always have been. Whenever she did it, that is if she had a choice, she felt as if her brain would explode into a million fragments scattered all over a sad universe. Dreaming was her thing, and she did it often. Wether if it was daydreaming, or unconscious dreaming, it did not matter; they were always the same. Emma dreamt of people whom she had never met, but somehow, and in some vivid way, these people looked familiar.
This time, she was having a dream about a young man, tall and scrawny. He had mad eyes which sunk deep into his skull. Emma saw him drenched in blood, lying on the ground in an alleyway, and laughing madly. She did not know him, of course, but the image of him stabbing himself over and over again kept repeating itself in her mind. And every time the tip of the knife pierced the man’s belly, her heart would jolt, almost breaking her ribs.
In another dream, Emma saw a young girl of no more than sixteen walking the street at night, wearing threads that barely covered her adolescent body. There was no sound except for the echoing clink-clank of her high-heels on the pavement, but the calm did not last for long. The rumbling sound of an engine filled the empty street as the truck rolled next to the girl. The driver exchanged a few words with the girl before she hopped in. As the truck moved, Emma saw the look of utter sorrow in the girl’s blue eyes.
Emma-Jane Hartnell had to carry all that with her, she had to bear all these heavy lives inside her head. Lives that played like infinite films in front of her mind’s eye; the young man who went mad and stabbed himself, the blue-eyed girl, the man in the small apartment who smoked in front of his window, the man who wanted to destroy the world, the rat-faced kid, the guy who got his brain blown out of his skull, and the old pervert who bought and sold women. They were all too real to be imaginary, to be figments of Emma’s imagination. Emma used to speak of these visions to others, but they’d always tell her “You’re just confused.” or “They’re just dreams.”, so Emma stopped talking about them all together because nobody believed her, and that made her really angry.
A crackling sound announced that the record had ended. She got up and placed the needle back on its holder, then closed the plastic lid of the record player. Emma-Jane walked towards the large window across the room, next to her bed. She stood there, breathing heavily, trying so hard to push these images out of her head as she watched the night sky through the bars.
To the left of her window, and a few floors up, a large sign on top of the old building read: ‘Creekwell Asylum For The Criminally Insane’.