ISOLATION WARD – SKULL

Author: Amanda Leonardi
E-mail: amandalo1@hotmail.com

I’ve always been a weird creature, easily drawn to peculiar, strange things. But this time I think I went too far. It all started when, in a cold winter afternoon, I went to a museum where there was an exposition of some modern gothic art. The museum took place in an old building, and its rooms were all very large, with dark walls and a blood colored carpet covering the floor. Each room contained very few pieces of art, some had three paintings, some had five. I was very bored that day, therefore, I didn’t pay too much attention to almost none of the paintings I saw.
However, after I walked by several halls, I found a very large and dark room, illuminated only by a faint light that stood right above the only painting in that hall: it was a painting of a human skull – an oval portrait of a skull, with nothing else around it but a thin oval frame surrounded by pure darkness, only darkness. The faint light barely allow me to notice much the frame, but the skull was illuminated in such an odd way that it almost looked supernatural, as if the light came from the skull. Although, it was late when I saw that painting, I was already tired and kind of sleepy, so I might be just seeing things. Things like a painting looking too much real.
The skull was incredibly realistic and so fantastically beautiful I had to keep staring at it for I know not how long; it might have been minutes, hours, or even days. I swear I did not feel the time passing while I admired that painting. It was the most vivid and prettiest painting of a skull I’ve ever seen. In that dark room, I could almost mistake that painting for a real skull, floating in the air, were not for the discrete gold oval frame around it, like a golden cage holding my mind to reality.
Anyway, it was the most beautiful skull I had ever seen in my life – and I work with some mad artists who paint many skulls all the time, but none was ever so pretty! I wondered, then, if Yorick’s famous skull was that pretty. That was when a sick thought came to my mind: was my skull like that? Under my skin and muscles, did I look like that? What a grotesque and, yet, magnificent thing to wonder! After that second, I just couldn’t get my mind out of the sick subject! Why in hell did I have to go to that goddamn museum and see that amazingly macabre painting?
All of this happened a few months ago. Since then I’ve been having dreams about this idea, this mad, sick idea: seeing my own skull. In the dream I had earlier tonight I dreamed that I could actually do it – I saw my face as a skull! Skinless, fleshless, bloodless, with no nose, no lips, no cheeks, no ears, nothing but bones and eyes – I had to keep the eyes so I could see it, although they looked extremely disturbing in a fleshless skull. But all that fleshless look was only above the neck; all the skin and flesh above my neck had been carefully, surgically removed… had I done all that gruesome act by myself? No way, no way in hell that was possible… but, then, again, that was a dream, a nightmare, in fact, where any mad thing is possible!
Was it a nightmare? In nightmares aren’t we supposed to be sad or scared? I wasn’t scared at all in that dream! The whole dream was totally the opposite of that: there was even some sort of sadist joy, some thrill in my eyes when I saw them reflected on a large mirror in front of me; my eyes, huge eyeballs, covered in red veins, surrounded by those bony, white, fleshless orbits of the skull… In that odd thrill I saw in my eyes there was some excitement, some sort of pure feeling of achievement, os conquering some unknown sick knowledge that I never thought could come from such a macabre vision. It was such a realistic dream, therefore, I knew, I felt I had not done that by myself; I had hired someone, some sick, mad doctor to do that, and I had paid him a lot of money to turn me into a skull. Or maybe he was sicker than I thought, and I paid him with my life just to get this last thrill before I died.
It was an obsession; I needed that more than people need to breath! I needed to see that, I needed to see the real me beneath all this skin and flesh! And I remember very well the skull I saw on the dream, every little detail of it – my skull, it was so perfect, just like the one I saw on that painting, except for the remaining eyes, it was just like that: completely white, all the blood had been washed off, it was just beautiful! Just like a ceramic statue. I knew I’d die soon, but at least I’d die knowing what I needed to know, knowing myself. That last glimpse was worth the rest of my life! However, it was just a dream, wasn’t it?
When I felt I was about to die in the dream – even though, considering the way I looked I should be already dead, if it were not a dream – I woke up, still safe and alive in my bed. Well, alive, not really safe, I’m with myself, and my obsession, I’m never safe in my own mind. Now, here I am, awake again, in the darkness of my room, still alive, but still obsessed just as I was on the dream. I fear my mad mind, but I can’t help following its ideas. I start wondering then: Can I ever live that sick, horrible and so fascinating dream? No matter how disturbing it may sound, I want to, I really do! I can try it with a knife, worst case scenario , I’ll just kill myself in the process – at least I’ll die trying to reach my goal – to see my real face, to know myself, my true self, somehow. Isn’t that some of the greatest questions in life? Knowing ourselves?
Maybe all the greatest answers (like the meaning of life and all) are written in our own bones, maybe inside our bones, written in blood, and we’ll never really know it. Maybe we can only write such answers by using our own blood, down until the last little drop, so we can never read it. And now I feel I’m able to destroy myself, joyfully, in order to find some strange meaning, to answer questions that hunt my mind; to know myself, I could even die. I so I will, I’ll follow my mad mind, I fear it no longer. Here I go.

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