image courtesy of Stephen Cole

On the rack of their words they broke Tara Cotter, bent her back over a grammatical structure and quartered her with syntax. Their voices swirled around her, rushing syllables dipping, cutting, separating, measuring.

She lengthened in her geometry, went clean, alien and efficient as Swiss clockwork. Her fingers they filed to killing points, her legs to swifter running, her patient arms to work. The cold clay of her mind they spun on the wheel of their speech. She was remade, shaped by their will, forged by her will, silk-sharpened, stone-polished.

They traced a path through their labyrinthine demands and let her rush herself along it. They laid traps for her, to teach her caution; praised her, to teach her wariness; loved her, to teach her to kill.

Sunlight was a revelation after her long confinement. She turned her face to the north and set out in the stark light of early morning, one side baptised in light, one still swaddled in shadow.