It must be close to three o’ clock, maybe four. It was hard to know some days only by the position of the sunlight as it passed through the window projecting a bright square onto the floor; a traveling phantom indicating the passage of time. The only true indication of any change at all as far as Rosaline could tell and she had given up trying to focus on the problem altogether.
The medication made it too hard to think. Her thoughts trudged through the muddy swamp waters of her mind. What day was it, what year even, or the bigger question: why had they captured her and brought her here in the first place?
She didn’t even know who "they" were; perhaps the communists or Nazis, either way, they had taken Rosaline and her infant son Jeremy as prisoners. They kept constant guard; mostly women now, there was no need for male guards as long as the captives were this sedated.
She looked down at Jeremy’s angelic face sleeping deeply in the bassinet, he looked sickly and hadn’t moved in quite a while. It must be a reaction to the drugs they were being given; the drugs that made her feel so dopey. She couldn’t think; her mind was always clouded and she forgot to worry, but Jeremy wasn’t doing well, and she needed to focus.
Rosaline tried to stand up, but her legs were too weak and inadvertently resisted the command from her central nervous system, like a stubborn horse ignoring its master. She trembled and the skin of her hands seemed translucent and sickly. They were dying, slowly, but dying just the same.
There must be a way out. There was only one main entrance that was always locked. The staff used a numeric keypad to enter a code that allowed them to come and go. Rosaline watched them, waiting. She began to feel tired again and confused.
What had they done with her husband Leroy? Maybe he was still out there somewhere looking for them. Had there been a war, was the country invaded? The only thing that she knew for sure was that she had to find an escape, for Jeremy. He wasn’t moving again, lying perfectly still.
"How are you feeling today Rose?" a middle-aged woman with large hips that gave her frame a solid square structure asked.
"Jeremy, he's sick, he needs..." her words felt like thick heavy cotton in her mouth.
"He looks just fine to me, it's almost nap time," the woman said with a false smile exposing her large lipstick streaked teeth.
"No, he's not, he..." her head swayed and her eyes rolled, and she forgot what she was saying.
She looked up at the main entrance as an employee, a young man that she had never seen before, typed the pass-code into the keypad. She noticed how he kept looking up to the corner of the door's frame. What was he looking at?
After he left, she wheeled her way over towards the door, and pretended like she was just lounging in the region. She looked up at the spot where he had been looking and noticed a small tab of tape with some writing on it. It was out of focus to her, so she squinted, straining her eyes to their capacity. She could see a four-digit number. It couldn’t be that easy, it would be idiotic for them to place the code up there, or would it, she thought.
Perhaps they had become overly-confident in the effectiveness of the drugs, or maybe there were just more locked doors after this one, or maybe even men with guns. There were a lot of unknowns, but it was a risk worth taking.
Rosaline waited by the door for an opportunity and she didn’t have to wait long. An alarm in one of the rooms started going off and the two women behind the counter ran to investigate. Rosaline quickly grabbed baby Jeremy and went to enter the code.
Her fingers trembled as she attempted to press the first number. It was like trying to thread a needle on a roller-coaster, but she got it. Three more numbers now, but the order was mixed up in her head. She strained again to view the tape, 3*2*4. She said the numbers out loud to give them rhythm in her memory. As she entered the final number, she could hear the women coming back down the hall.
"Rose, Rose what are you doing?" a voice called out to her.
The light on the keypad switched green, and the door unlocked with a click. She pulled it open with all her strength; it was extremely heavy.
"Rose! Stay right there!" the woman yelled as she approached.
Rosaline shifted the wheel on her chair and slid through the narrow opening. Sunlight pierced her eyes, bright and blinding, but she was outside. Before she had a chance to determine her next move, someone gripped the handles of her chair and thrust-ed her back in. There was no hope.
"Mrs. Stevens!" the woman with the horse teeth snapped. "You need to stay inside, it’s for your own safety."
"Please let me go. Won't somebody help us! My son is dying! LEROY! Please god, LEROY help us!" Rosaline sobbed.
"Mrs. Stevens, that’s enough. It's time for your medication then off to bed."
Rosaline slept deep with the pills, there was no point in fighting them. Tomorrow she would wake and forget again.
The next day, she sat by the window rocking Jeremy in her arms.
"Rose," the woman said, "you have a visitor."
A man in his late forties walked through the door. He was well-dressed and carried flowers. His face was soft and familiar like someone she had known in a dream.
"Mom," he said. "Are you alright, they told me you had some confusion yesterday."
"Mom? I’m not your mother, who is this man?" she protested.
"Mom it’s me, Jeremy, your son, don’t you know me?" he asked.
"Her dementia has gotten worse Mr. Stevens. She is confused most days now," the nurse said.
Rosaline shook her head in disbelief. "No, where’s Leroy, I want to see Leroy."
"Mom, Dad's dead, he's been dead for almost fifteen years now, don’t you remember?"
"No that’s impossible, you're not Jeremy. I have Jeremy in my arms."
She held the baby out in front of her and the blanket fell off. In her hands there was a doll made of plastic with painted features and sleeping eyes.
Credited to Martin Vang