The kiss of flame woke her, fingers burning, burning, burning. She stared at her hands, at the ghosts of fingertips, still there in her memories. The phantom pain lurched in lightning bolts, tracing along the scars on her arms, tracing patterns across her skin – maps to her memories, of lands she would rather were lost. Jerking, she pulled herself upright, pulled herself from her shattered dreamscape and back into the world.
She stared into the street, its soft covering of snow a blanket, smothering the city, smothering those men and women too poor for the workhouse, too poor for even the rudiments of commerce or of common courtesy. Too poor to live. The white hoar-frost painted delicate, filigreed lace beneath her window while the city lay, looming, infinite beneath the glow of gas-lamps – innocent-seeming, yet vicious.
The spectres of her past lived on, busy ghosts, ghoulish in the streets, plucking gentle-fingered, lifting wallets and pocket-watches from unguarded waistcoats. She pictured her own hand, caught in the unforgiving steel teeth of a pocket protector. She pictured the judge’s stern countenance, his words barely a whisper, as she leaned forward to catch hold of half-heard speech.
They cauterised the wound with burning steel, dripping, dripping, its orange blood splashing onto the rough stone floor. They cauterised her wound and the echoes of her voice christened this house with screamed curses and ragged breath. Inflicting her suffering on the dour-faced women holding her down, whilst they inflected suffering of their own on her ravaged fingers – the world stood still, yet seemed to fly by as she screamed into the black, lurking shadows of the night.
They cauterised the wound, and told her to be grateful.
The bars of Newgate prison pressed cold against her missing fingers.
A cage can be a comfort, a trap can be a blessing.
But memories are the prison of the soul, inescapable.
Written using prompts from both BeKindRewrite (with the prompts Orange Blood& Phantom Pain as well as the Trifecta Writing Challenge word, Fly: to seem to pass quickly. Comments and criticism always welcome!