I stood before the great sequoia. I tilted my head back, one hand on the back of my head to keep it from falling off. The great tree towered, nearly three hundred feet tall, more like the pillars holding up heaven than a living creature.
I watched as the rain fell upon the moor, washing down across the heath. Tears of angels, perhaps, weeping for the woman being lowered into her grave. I stood a long way from the mourners, near-hidden by the mist and the rain pouring down around us. Bare from the waist up, my arms crossed, my eyes on the men. Loch MacClain stood at my back, the shore barely containing the lake as the wind whipped the water to stiff peaks, spray filling the air, the sky and the water together seeming to blend. I stared down at the mourners.
“God, not another one.”
The blue paper gown. My fingers rub and stroke along the material. It’s different from cotton or silk or felt or any of those. You can tell it’s different. It’s the little things that tell you that you’re mad. The institutional nature, for one thing. If they think you’re insane, you need to be put in something that you can’t possibly hurt yourself with. Something that can’t be made into a noose or a cutting edge or a bludgeon. It doesn’t matter that you’re not suicidal. You’re unwell, and so you must undergo the same procedures as everyone else until you can prove you’re not.