Once upon a time, perhaps very long ago or perhaps just now, there lived a girl who had lost her mind and eventually her life. Her mind was so lost she did not notice that she had actually died, her body was a distant delusion and as such had become entwined with her other delusions. She did not mind death, it was a passing phase that did not much register. Instead of dwelling in her body she now spent much of her spirit time in the attic and dusty lofts of the Asylum. In here she could escape from the screams and rambles of the inmates throughout the ages, her mind still twisted and writhed like serpents in a basket. Some scenes in her head would show her activities during her child years, these were horrid and repulsive, scenes of child cruelty and subtle manipulation. The twists of reality were bent out of shape until she could no longer tell what was real or illusion. And so she dwelt in the attic, there the snakes would uncoil for a while in the peace and quiet.
She had not noticed over the years that the screaming had stopped and that all was still in the vast labyrinth of the Asylum. The corridors and the locked rooms were vacant now and only the wind whistled through from broken windows. Offices and treatment rooms were abandoned and filthy, roofs now leaked and the plaster and paint were pealing off the walls.
The quiet solitude and time had had an affect, the snakes in her head were gone at last and although reality was not within her grasp she could at least see a little more clearly. What could not be achieved in her lifetime could be in her lifeless existence, time had healed and the horrors of her minds eye were manageable . And now she wondered about herself, she became aware that she was lost.
Now she needed to find her way forward out of this maze, she needed to find the light, the pathway out of this limbo. With a fearful start she began to search the empty corridors, the rooms that held despair and darkness, and the treatment rooms that in the past would torture and shock.
She needed to find the right light, the light from above and not the sunlight…the light from the window would not do, only heaven’s light would give her release.
And so the lost soul continued her journey of redemption through the twists and turns of the endless rooms and passageways. Fear and disgust would well up as she remembered fragments of her past when she flitted through some of the areas of the dark hospital. Her mind would reel and on occasion she would have to rest in the dim corners until her wild thoughts settled down into a calm slumber. How many days or years she searched she could not tell, day and night had no meaning and time slipped along at an unknown pace. At times she longed for her quiet attic, the safe solitude and comfort which had sustained her, but she knew there was no going back. To return was to slide back to a different kind of madness, one of loneliness and regret that would fester and grow. Therefore she carried on in trepidation and fear, each corridor and room looking exactly the same as the last.
Until one day………
She came across a different light, a light from within the building. She followed the light through winding stairs and cold corridors. And from the bottom of a staircase she saw the way……
At last she had found it but she also found it too bright, she was not ready yet, her ravished mind would still not let her go. The complexity of her mental condition even after death stood in her way, her mind needed to be clear and committed and that was something that she just wasn’t prepared for. The light just within reach yet still unattainable was itself mental torture, but at the same time knowing that it was there brought a certain strange comfort. And there on the stairway she spent time bathed in the light, knowing that one day she would step through.
Some of the days were dark of mind and others were inspirational, her mind was beaten and the light subdued her thoughts and filled those dark places within. It was only when she surrendered herself completely to the light that she found the courage and will to continue her Journey.
And as she stepped forward with a quiet peaceful heart the light consumed her forever, free from nightmares of the mind and the horrors of endless mental suffering. A lost soul no longer lost.
Images and Story by John McNairn
Model is Helen Stephens
Lighting by Alan Robertson
Videography by Michal Zagorski