Their hold on me had long since loosened. I made myself small. I was cowed, broken, and no longer a threat, they thought. I let them. I kept my head down, my hair greasy and stringy, covering my face and hiding my occasional loss of control with mumbling soliloquies about the weather. That kept the beatings to a minimum, at least most days. It's no fun to beat a crazy woman. I guess.
I couldn't stop the brutes from coming into my room at night, however, their cold hands pinning me to the mattress while they did their business. I endured their rough, intrusive touch, turning my head away from their fetid breath and staring at the wall.
But my anger hardened into thoughts of cleansing fire. God told me that it would be so. Bright orange, red, blue, and white, leaping and dancing in the darkness within me. And the screams. Always, the screams.
They were still watching me, I knew. I kept up my charade, shuffling around the common room, muttering to myself. Slowly they lost interest in my body. Then I was unwatched, forgotten.
And that is when I left my room with the box of matches that one of the orderlies had left behind after his nightly visits. I began at the top, with the abandoned rooms. Room to room, I gathered paper and lit it on fire. If not paper was available, I lit bedspreads or sheets, or anything that might be flammable.
I stood in the snow and watched the dark smoke of the fire spread. I smiled as the flames leaped up, and danced a little when the roof seemed to sag into the blaze before the building began to collapse in on itself. Sparks flew up, little stars to guide my work.
It was glorious.