The guard steps away from Vladimir Zelenyi and opens the

door.  Zelenyi enters. Standing in the dim room, hearing the

pleading voice of a detainee being questioned somewhere nearby, Zelenyi

feels the Central State Hospital (a prison, really) as a

tangible place — made of concrete and steel, where people wake

up, eat, use the toilet, and sleep, their tedious routine

interrupted by the terror of interrogations.  For most people, he

thinks, the notion of death is no more than wallpaper —

present but rarely seen.  Prisoners, who have little to distract

them, have no choice but to stare at this wallpaper.


Paraphrases from the novel The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer.