Tick tock, tick tock, they’ll put you under key and lock.



Tick tock, tick tock, they’ll put you under key and lock. Lucinda had made good on her threat.

Too skinny from institution mush, my skin peeled off a layer at a time. Curled on top of a thin, lumpy mattress on a rusted bed frame, the fingers of my left hand Traced the wall where another’s bloodied nails had scratched—dark red stains proof of another’s determination to escape a world unworthy of its inhabitant.

Earlier, the attendant had pushed my forehead back and forced open my jaw. Unnecessary effort on his part. The medicinal haze thickened. I found myself calm but without spirit.

Strange how I felt erased by a pencil yet without the rubber remnants reminding me I once existed.

Any bits of green paint that remained on the wall, I peeled off the first day. I didn’t know if I had been there three weeks or three months.

The chamber’s confines remained still, inactive, and almost empty. A bucket to catch my excrement. The bed fetid like the bucket, the whole place a shithole.

A cockroach scurrying across the floor would have been a welcome sight. Or, a black widow working tirelessly to create a fine net to catch its prey. I stared at idle hands.

I wanted to float outside where flowers bloomed, where the great oaks of San Antonio provided shade from the sun. The rattle of trains and trolleys would have been welcome sounds over the never-ending cries and moans of despair.

Despair. “Do not cry. Do not cry,” I told myself. But tears came anyway. It didn’t matter. If they heard, they never came.

My eyes blurred as if drunk. My body trembled like the women escorted to surgery before their reproductive parts were cut away and discarded like the contents of my bucket.

I heard the click of a door key. It wasn’t mealtime. They had already drugged me. What did they want? Confusion—as potent as a heaping spoonful of laudanum laced with arsenic.

The attendant in white stood firm, stoic. “Come with me.”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Daily word prompt: Trace

Published by

Carolyn Dennis-Willingham

Carolyn is the author of two published books – No Hill for a Stepper, 2001, and The Last Bordello, 2016. Her third novel, The Moonshine Thicket, is set in 1928 and is currently enduring a professional edit. When not on her laptop, she serves as a lap top for her grandchildren. She is a retired Early Childhood Specialist, a fitness boxer, artist, and a ball thrower for her ever-persistent mini Aussie. In addition to her blogging website, carolyndenniswillingham.com, you may find her on Facebook and Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Tick tock, tick tock, they’ll put you under key and lock.

  1. Wonderful piece of writing, the way that you managed to capture every minutiae, and every precise moment that leaves the readers swimming in your sea of words, enjoying everything that is in it. Hope to see more from you. Have hope, write on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Anglo Swiss – Not a Trace 201. Bittersweet Sensations – a feeling of uncertainty 202. Tick tock, tick tock, they’ll put you under key and lock. – CD-W, Author Flawed to Perfectio… 203. Follow – Essentially Rebellious 204. Arborglyphs – THEGIRLVERSUSWORLD 205. Vox Humbug […]


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