Ava was depressed; not a word she would use to describe herself, never wanting to admit to the defeat of it. She might say 'melancholic'; it sounded more romantic, Bronte-esk. But episodes of melancholia were becoming more frequent, not just prompted by outcast days and low melatonin levels. Even sitting in her garden with her back to the sun that massaged her shoulders with its heat, even with the call of a blackbird looking for its mate, even when the scent of daphne rode the breeze to envelope her, she was melancholy.

Ava didn't know what prompted these episodes, but she felt as though she was sliding into a void. Some days, she had to admit, she welcomed that dark place, The Underground, the silence and the sense of not existing at all. On other days, most other days, she feared the emptiness of it, not heaven but Hades waiting for her to make her his bride.

When her legs were shattered in the car accident, Ava had been grateful that she had not died. Now she wasn't so sure. The 'road to recovery' was long and here, sitting in her scented garden, her legs sat lifelessly on the metal plate of her wheelchair. She was tired of trying, tired of appeasing those she loved, especially her mother whose face was permanently pinched with constrained grief. 

Ava had always been 'spiritual'. She believed in ... something, but could never name it. Whatever it was it was represented in the symbols adorning her sunroom - a Byzantine crucifix from Greece, several statues of the Buddha, and of Krishna, the Sanskrit Om, and a wallhanging of Arabic calligraphy of sections of the Koran. Their effect was limited now, and Ava viewed them with mild derision. She had taken to reading Nietzsche, her favourite quotes being: "A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything" and, more poignantly, "All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking." Ava didn't have any great thoughts anymore. 

A cloud blanketed the sun. Ava shivered and mentally prepared to go inside. For the briefest of moments her ego had evaporated and her body defaulted to automatic. Did her big toe move, preparing to take the body's weight? Ava felt as if she was being propelled, at lightning speed, towards a single moment in time when mind, body and spirit meet in the one place.

AuthorAmanda Apthorpe