It isn’t hot or cold. It isn’t black or white. What you notice first is that it’s nothing. Impersonal. Silent. A space without personality or history. Without memory. You’ve been in this exact same room before. White walls. Yellow walls. Pale blue. With posters or unadorned. You’ve been here before.
You lean on the bare wall and watch the closed door as though something momentous lies just on the other side. Ball handle or lever, you wait for the turn, for the grinding/sliding sound as a pocket door disappears into a wall.
When the door opens, there’s nothing you can do. A machine is at work that requires no intervention. No gears to oil or bells to ring. No problems to solve. You watch it work; pay attention as the cycle continues and the motions are stepped through. There’s a procedure for a reason and your part is small. You’re a witness.
So you lean on the wall and you fold your arms across your chest. As the process moves forward you find yourself squeezing your own chest tighter. You can taste blood because you’ve bitten through the inside of your lip. You don’t make a sound. You watch and breathe, trying not to disturb anything. There, in that second, mired in the absolute stillness of the space, you want to disappear into the walls.
You don’t make a sound. You keep your mouth shut, with the sound of your heartbeat in your ears and the taste of your blood on your tongue, because you don’t know what will happen if you try to speak. In the end, your mind can’t supply the words. You don’t trust yourself, but also, in those seconds, there’s really nothing that needs to be said.