Grandiose 15

Still frazzled from the past days, Elizabeth lay still while submerged in a white vintage tub filled with cold water and ice. Her long red wet hair lay flat against her flushed silky skin. She kept a blank stare and seemingly lifeless body gave the illusion of death but from time to time you could still see her chest heave.Image

A nurse sat a few feet from her on a wooden chair reading a cover-less blue book, leg crossed over the other, who peered at Elizabeth every few minutes from the rim of her glasses. There was a dead silence like the world had been forbidden of sound.
Meanwhile, in her dormant state, Elizabeth thought about Henry and how they had unexpectedly had their first date, even though it was never confirmed.

I was getting quiet annoyed with Victoria. Our current arrangement was not working for me at all but I was too much of a coward to point it out. She had a knack for emotional abuse, always putting me down, insulting and humiliating me. I was getting tired of it but every time I would convey my discomfort she would turn on her charm and suck me back in to her nightmare. I felt my life being sucked out of me every time I was with her. My only constant source of happiness was my acting career which was looking bright and of course, Henry.

On one warm March afternoon, I had come out of my acting class early and decided to grab a cup of coffee by the nearby café. Mind you, I always walk fast even if I’m not in a hurry. While going through my purse for my wallet and walking down the street like a mad woman, I slammed into someone dropping my bag and all of its contents.

“Bloody hell” I started to say but then stopped when I realized it was Henry.

“Oh, it’s you” I said smiling, pushing my hair back behind my ears.

“Nice to see you too” he laughed, bending down with me to pick up the spilled items from my purse.

“I was hoping to bump into you, no pun intended” he continued with a smile.

“Mission accomplished” I replied, flustered. After helping me pile all my items back into my purse, he helped me back up and dusted my shoulder off.

“So, what’s the hurry?” Henry asked.

“Nothing really, just heading to the café for some coffee” I replied.

“I could go for some coffee” he smiled.

“Okay, sure” I smiled back, trying very hard not to blush. I don’t think I was doing a very good job to tell you the truth. I also tried not to stare at him so much but he was just too gorgeous. I couldn’t believe he liked me, nevertheless, have coffee together. Somehow I managed to behave myself and stay calm and collected.

During this unexpected rendezvous, I tried not to talk too much. I was a bit nervous and I have this thing that I laugh when I get nervous. He seemed not to mind, though. He actually started telling me jokes just so I could actually have a reason for laughing and not feel awkward.

He’s such a nice guy, I thought to myself. He gets me, I thought as I looked into his eyes briefly from across the table. We had chosen to sit in the café’s outdoor seating area because it was just too much of a lovely day outside to spend it indoors. The wind kept blowing my hair in my face which so I barely had a chance to drink my coffee.
There was a park to our right where kids were playing carefully watched by their mothers. I looked at three mothers sitting on a marble bench, laughing and talking about things I would never experience. I looked back at Henry, who was still talking to me about something but he seemed so far away. I smiled and nodded, pretending to have heard everything.

“So, what do you think?” Henry asked, suddenly.

“Elizabeth?” he continued, this brought me out of my trance.

“What, I’m sorry” I replied.

“I asked if you wanted to come to the cinema with me next Saturday” Henry responded with a smile.

“I’ll have to check my schedule but I’ll let you know sometime next week” I replied.

“Would you like my contact info?” He asked.

“Yes, that would be helpful” I laughed. He took out a small notebook and a pen from his leather jacket and noted his information on it. Even his writing style was as immaculate as his gorgeous blonde hair. I tried not to blush, I was getting nervous again.

As he handed me the torn piece of paper from his notebook our hands touched. His hand was warm and mine was cold. We both smiled at each other, his blue eyes piercing into mine. He had been the perfect gentleman the whole time. As we said our good-byes, he gave me a hug and kissed me on my cheek. I couldn’t help it this time and I blushed.

“Here’s looking at you, kid” He smiled at me, tipping his head as he went up the park street. I watched him for a while until he disappeared at the corner. I touched my cheek. I could still feel his warm kiss upon it. I smiled and headed the opposite way to catch a taxi back home.

“How is she?” Kauffman asks, startling the nurse.

“Oh, Mr. Kauffman, I didn’t hear you come in. You scared me.” The nurse says to Kauffman, turning her head.

“She’s been like that the whole time, as if she’s so far away, poor girl” the nurse continues to say.

“I had to check her breathing a couple of times just to be sure we didn’t lose her”

“So, she hasn’t said a thing all day, Barbara?” Kauffman asks concerned.

“No, sir, nothing at all” Barbara replies, shaking her head.

“I think she’s had enough. Take her back to her room.” Kauffman tells Barbara.

Elizabeth’s eyes are blood shot red, her skin now pruny and white. She has heard everything but remains motionless. Then she slowly starts to sink deeper into the tub until she is completely submerged. Her eyes are wide open as she stares at the light above her. She starts to make bubbles with her mouth. Kauffman and Barbara are still in conversation, oblivious to her now.

I’m drowning, Elizabeth thinks as she lays on the cold tub surface, unmoving. “Elizabeth!” distant screams are heard through the water and then strong hands pull her out.

Grandiose 13: Room 217

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My feet tickled at the touch of the cold marble floor. I chuckled at this. The moon dances in my eyes while gingerly walking down the second floor hallway. There are glass walls up here too but just on the right side. It is past my bed time and it seems they forgot to lock my door tonight.

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It was a most fortunate night. My long red hair was behaving and I was discovering the second floor for the first time. Mind you, it was only a matter of time before they made the nightly rounds. I had to make this adventure short and sweet. I glimpsed into each room I passed, fancying myself a normal person. Most of the patients were asleep or appearing to be. A few of them were being naughty like me and walked about their rooms.

Gliding my fingers on the wall, I twirled with each step. My red hair shines like fire, caressing my olive skin. I run my hands through my hair and touch my face. My hands are cold.

“Elizabeth” a whisper came from down the hall. I stopped and waited for the voice to speak again. I was starting to think it was all in my head after a few minutes had passed, but then I heard it again.

“Elizabeth” a voice whispered again loudly from the end of the hall. I slowly walked down stopping once or twice debating if it was a good idea to do so. Perhaps at that moment, my brain was intoxicated by the thrill and new-found adventure, that I let myself be lured by a strange yet familiar voice.

The voice grew louder once I turned into the left, entering the B ward. My heart was racing with every step I took. Then the voice stopped once I reached the middle of the hall. To my left was a dimly lit room with just one light bulb that constantly flickered, Room 217. I could barely make out the silhouette of a man in a wheelchair with his head down. He wasn’t sleeping just staring at the floor, murmuring.

 

From what I could see, he had medium length blonde curly hair and chiseled features. I drew closer to his door to peer at him. I wanted to see his face; he looked so familiar.

“Elizabeth” I heard the voice whisper and quickly jerked my head around but saw no one.

“Who’s there?” I asked in a low voice but no one responded. When I looked into the room, I gasped. He was staring right at me.

“Henry” I murmured, feeling my heart skip a beat. A shiver ran down my spine and then I really lost it. I started screaming his name but he was hanging his head down again. The madness had really sunk in by now as I found myself trying to pry a door open that was bolted shut.

“Henry!” I bellowed, slamming my fists against the door, oblivious to the orderlies closing in on me. I kept screaming after Demetrius had slammed me to the floor. I suppose I had developed new strengths because Demetrius couldn’t keep me down. Three other orderlies had to pin me down with him for Nurse Janice to inject me with the tranquilizer. Even then, I was still kicking and screaming.

    “Let’s take her down!”

“She needs to be strapped down!” I heard Janice yell over my screams. Demetrius picked me up and flung me over his right shoulder. I was still yelling out for Henry. All that screaming gave me a headache. I guess that’s why I didn’t notice how we just kept going down. They were taking me to the dungeon.

The dungeon was where the undesirables were executed. It smelled like sewage and infested with monstrous rats that were not shy about biting you. The strong odors of decay, chemicals and filthy water caused your eyes to water. You could see the broken nails on the floor from patients being dragged to their deaths.  Death was never coy here; if it wanted you it would have you but today wasn’t my day.

We reached a room with old medical equipment and a vintage metal slab with brown leather straps running down both sides. Demetrius with the help of the other three orderlies laid me down upon it and strapped me in. Janice injected something into my right arm and slowly my eyes grew heavy. I could see her and Demetrius’ faces looking down at me.

“Who forgot to lock her in tonight?” I heard a male voice ask.

“Whoever it was is in big trouble” another male voice responded in an old Texas drawl.

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“She must never know” an unfamiliar female voice whispered.

“Henry” I said groggily, twisting my head slowly, side to side.

“There-there, rest now” Janice says to me as she pats my head. I begrudgingly obliged.

The next thing I knew, I was in Kauffman’s session room the next morning strapped into the white jacket. My hair was lying flat over my face so I shook my head to create space for my eyes to see.

“Oh, Elizabeth, you never learn do you?” Victoria laughed as she twirled her hair around her finer while popping her purple gum.

“Victoria” I say angrily.

“Don’t be upset, it ages your face dear” she responded coldly.

“You did this to me!” I screamed. She was now face to face with me; a smirk on her face.

“Prove it” she said, blowing me a kiss. I screamed.

“What’s going on?!” I hear Kauffman yell out running into the room towards me. I ignore him as I strain myself, trying to get out of the jacket.

“Give her a sedative” he yells at Victoria who just stares and smiles at me.

“Call Demetrius” Kauffman continues to yell.

“She’s Victoria!” I scream at Kauffman, but he ignores me.

“Help me” I cry but to no avail, he just walks away from me. This makes me cry. I had no real proof and all I would ever be was crazy without it.

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Grandiose 12

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The screams seemed to go on forever as I rocked myself in the corner with my hands covering my ears. I wanted them to stop screaming. And so I yelled, “Stop!” at the top of my lungs and just like that the screams died away. At first, the screams echoed out then slowly faded. The walls shivered.

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I like to think it was my outburst that brought upon the much wanted silence but then again it can’t always be all about me. I was curious to see whatever had caused the commotion but was too scared to move. What if the killer lurked right outside the door? I wasn’t trained in self-defense but I could bite him or scratch him or kick him. I didn’t want to chance it. It was wiser to stay hidden in the session room and wait for Kauffman to return.

I felt like I could stay in the room forever, slowly dying of madness. Then it started to rain. It was more like a monsoon. It hadn’t rained in weeks and I welcomed it with open arms. I quickly ran to the window and opened it; letting the cold air shock my skin. It felt great. I could smell the wet grass, tobacco and coffee. I extended my hands out so I could feel the rain, it was cold.

Once again, I let myself lose control. I forget that I imprisoned and imagine myself in England with my family and Henry. We are sitting at the dinner table eating mum’s home-cooked meal and laughing. I am happy. For happiness is just a moment. I wanted a chance to have those moments again. I wanted to figure out what happened to me and prove my innocence.

Enjoying the cold air blow my hair, I barely noticed when Kauffman came in. He just watched me for a while and I pretended not to notice him. I wondered what he was thinking and forced myself not to smile. I don’t know how long he just stood there watching me but it felt like forever. I wanted to break the silence but resisted. I would wait patiently until he was ready. There was no need to rush anything; we had all the time in the world. Time? How much time did I really have?

I never thought about time. Time was oblivious to me. I knew it was there but it was forbidden. They told me when to eat, bathe, walk, run, and dance. I had no control of myself or life here. I was a prisoner and my only escape was my vivid imagination. Time? For them it didn’t matter but for me, it was a reason to live and fight. I needed to fight back. I couldn’t succumb to the madness or darkness. I didn’t want to end up on the third floor again or worse. I wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. All of this made me hyperventilate. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, feeling myself relax.

“Close call but no cigar,” Kauffman finally said. I made sure to turn around slowly.

“Oh, you’re back” I said, oh so nonchalantly.

“What happened?” I continued to ask.

“A nurse got stabbed and bitten but she’s okay, now” Kauffman replied, quickly.

“By who?” I asked.

“A very mentally ill third floor patient but let’s not talk about that anymore, though” he replied.

“We needed the rain. Maybe it will wash away this day” he continued to say. He was covered in blood and looked really tired.

“Come and watch the rain fall with me” the words flew out of my mouth so fast that I couldn’t believe I actually blurted them out.

“Sure” he replied, adding more to my surprise. The closer he got to me; I could smell the dried blood, sweat and slowly fading after-shave exuding from him. His hair was a mess, his eyes were dark and puffy and he desperately needed to take a bath. I pretended not to notice.

We watched the rain fall, barely speaking to each other. There was sadness on his face that made him look so much older than he was. Even with my own sadness, our sorrow magnetized in the room, bringing the dark clouds inside and tears to my eyes which I wiped away before he could see them.

“You deserve to be happy. You don’t deserve this,” Kauffman suddenly said. I didn’t get a chance to respond because Victoria had come rushing in and interrupted us.

“What a day?!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, look at the time! It’s dinner time already!” she continued.

“I’m starving,” Kauffman said heading to the door.

“We’ll eat in here. I’ll bring you your dinner, Elizabeth” he continued as he left the room with Victoria. I smiled as I watched them leave; alone again in his session room.

I couldn’t help but wonder why he said what he said. Did he know something? I racked my brain trying to solve the puzzle. When they finally came back with dinner, I was sprawled on the floor staring at the ceiling. I had thought about many things while they were gone. Thoughts of Henry, my old life, my new life, Kauffman, and plans to put my life back together.

“I see you’re enjoying this view better” Kauffman laughed, while hovering over me. I chuckled at this.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Of course, she’s hungry” Victoria chimed, placing the food trays on Kauffman’s eating table. She wore her curly black hair down with a purple flower pin tucked behind her right ear. She had buttoned her white nurse dress all the way to the top today, which I found odd. She loved to show off her bosom. Never took her for being conservative.

“Yes” I smiled at Kauffman, ignoring Victoria. They let me sit with them for dinner. We actually talked and laughed. Victoria wasn’t too happy about it but she put up appearances for Kauffman. For a moment, it felt like the rain had actually washed away the sorrow of our past and for a moment we were happy. Whatever happy was, that is. Even if it was all a lie.

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Grandiose 11

You dreamt about me?” Kauffman asks from across the table. We are having breakfast in the cafeteria. We both ordered scrambled eggs with toast and a cup of coffee.  As I grabbed for the hot sauce so did he and our fingers touched. I tried not to blush. He chuckled a bit.

He looked like his normal self again. His eyes glistening as the sun hit them. I was glad he was being nice to me again and when I had told him about my dream he didn’t laugh; he was surprised.

“I never had a patient dream about me before” He smiled.

“There’s always a first time for anything” I said, blushing. Was I flirting? I became upset because I was confused by my emotions.

“Don’t get upset. It’s okay” Kauffman told me as he cupped my hands between his. I looked him and he leaned forward and smiled. I smiled back.

“Now, I have a surprise for you. You’re going to love this” he said as he led me out the cafeteria. He had me by my right hand and we ran to the main hallway with the glass walls overlooking the garden.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Kauffman asked, breathlessly.

“It certainly is” I responded. Then he dragged me out through the exit door into the garden.  It was a warm day and the snow had melted away a few weeks ago.  I raised my hands to the sky taking in the sun, twirling myself around with glee. I was outside for the first time in three years.  I let myself fall onto the wet grass smelling fresh honeydew as Kauffman lands right beside me. We stare up at the sky and watch the birds fly by.

Lying there, Kauffman opens up to me about how he had lost his parents when he was young and had to take care of his younger brothers. He had to grow up fast at thirteen years old. I slid my hand into his as to comfort him.  For a while, after he had confiding in me about his past, we just laid there in silence. I didn’t think about anything really; was too happy to be outside.

I wanted to milk this newfound freedom until I had exhausted the day for all its worth. Abruptly making my way up, I made my way around the garden in total awe of the new born flowers.  Kauffman followed and watched me from afar. While sliding my hands through a shrub, I pricked a finger on a sharp twig that had been poking out.

“Ouch!” I yelped. Kauffman rushed over to me, pulled a handkerchief from his jean pocket and wrapped it around my finger.

“I think it’s time to go back inside; you’re going to need a band-aid.” He told me looking at my bloody finger. I didn’t protest as he led me back inside. He had a nurse attend to my finger in the session room.  She was quick and a bit rude, but my mind was preoccupied with other pressing matters.

The whole day I had the feeling that I was being watched even though you were always being watched here.  In the garden I thought I saw a man watching us from the extended garden, but when I had looked back he had disappeared. I couldn’t shake the feeling.

A strong lavender aroma from Victoria’s newly washed hair blended with the freshly brewed Columbian coffee from the cafeteria that alarmed everyone that lunch was ready. She placed the red food tray on my desk and smiled.

“They made peach cobbler, your favorite” Victoria told me, pointing at the peach cobbler. I never told her I loved peach cobbler. Only Victoria knew this. I didn’t say anything back because I knew how the discussion would end. I ate my lunch in silence leaving Victoria and Kauffman to chat over their lunch.

Again, I had that uneasy feeling that someone was watching me. I turned my head to the door but no one was there. Kauffman and Victoria were immersed in discussion about the poor care of the third floor patients. Many of them weren’t being fed because the nurses were scared of them.

Some were even being mistreated by the orderlies who took pleasure in beating them.  Six third floor patients died last week of alleged unknown causes. Corruption roamed free here and those who talked were never seen again.

I had overheard Demetrius talking to another Russian orderly, named Marcus, who was known to have the tendency to act violently against patients brag about molesting a second floor patient. It was common for orderlies to molest or even rape female patients. I was one of the lucky few that had not been subjected to such indignities.

For the most part, I was grateful for Demetrius. He always kept a watchful eye on me and protected me but I always wondered why. Why is he so nice to me? He treats everyone else like sewage rats but I’m the exception. I’ve always been skeptical of him; you always have to trust your gut. Sometimes I feel like he is just fattening me up like a pig for slaughter; not to sound morbid or cynical, though.

Savoring every single bite of the peach cobbler as the sweet and pungent flavors electrified my taste buds; as I finished my lunch. I tried not to think about the harsh reality seemingly construed like a blockbuster horror story.

Then a shrilling scream rounded the lively souls silent and my heart pounded like a mad man playing the drums. It had come from the third floor and soon I heard the pounding footsteps of orderlies and nurses running towards the screams.

“Stay here!” Kauffman yelled at me as he rushed out with Victoria. I locked the door behind them, just to be safe.  The officials will not like this or perhaps they are not aware of the increasing deaths and disappearances. I make my way to a corner and hide away from view. I have to get out of here. I fear the worst and I will not stand around and wait to be caught by the killer.

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Grandiose 9

Kauffman came into my room briefly this morning with Demetrius and a new orderly.  They dragged me to the seclusion room on the third floor. I screamed all the way there. It was not a great place to be, well for me that is. I hated being in the dark. I dreaded going there again.

The third floor had dimmer lights than the rest of the building; that’s where they kept the psychopaths-the morbidly deranged. I heard them scream in madness all those dark souls and for a moment I thought I would join them. I refused to succumb to their madness. Image

            “Hey little girl, come back and play!” a convicted serial killer laughed. Demetrius and the new orderly forced me to walk faster. We reach the steel door that requires 6 gold plated bolts to keep it secure.  It was a small dark room with black walls and one light bulb that flickered all the time. The walls were covered with disturbing art from the other patients who had been exiled there. There were even stories of patients dying there and ghosts haunting the room.  I beg Kauffman to reconsider but he ignores me. I cry hysterically.

Demetrius and the new orderly try to pull me in but I hang on to the door like a 5 year old.

            “No!” I scream. They are pulling me from my legs now and I’m holding on to the side of the door for my dear life. Kauffman begins to pry my fingers off the door and I am pulled into the room, defeated. I curl into a fetal position at the back left corner of the room and shiver.

            “This is not a punishment. I am really trying to help you” I hear Kauffman say but am too busy crying to even acknowledge him. Kauffman leaves a few blank white pages and a box of crayons on an old wood student desk in the middle of the room. He tells me he wants me to draw something and heads out the room with Demetrius and the new orderly. The closing of the door as the bolts clank in place makes me even more delirious. The fact that he didn’t tell me how long I would be in there causes me to hyperventilate.

The only light bulb in the room starts to flicker, elevating my forthcoming panic attack. I remain in the corner not moving one bit. Somehow I fall asleep for a while; don’t know how long, though. There are no windows in this room or a clock, so I am oblivious to time here as well.

Before Kauffman had left, he had placed an old tape player on the student desk to play both Beethoven and Mozart. I suppose the music calmed me down. After waking up the first time, I began to cry again, realizing it was not a dream. I was actually in that room in the dark with just a glimmer of light from the incessantly flickering bulb in the middle of the room. I cried and cried for hours, begging for someone to let me out. No one came.  All that crying made me sleepy again. I went back to sleep for a second time. I don’t know for how long I slept that time either.

When I awoke, I begrudgingly crawled my way to the student desk and pulled myself onto the chair. It creaked and rocked from my weight. I considered my options. Perhaps Kauffman was watching me through a camera in the room and if I didn’t do what he said I would stay in here forever. I stared at the art on the wall in front of me created by past patients, most of which depicted suicide and other disturbing images. The ones who used a lot of the black and red crayons were the broken souls on this floor. There were a few rainbows and happy faces but only a few.

I think about what to draw, scratching my head with a blue crayon. I decide to look at the art on the wall instead as I slip out of the chair and make my way towards them. So much pain on these walls, I think to myself. Like I said beforehand, many of these cried out their suicidal tendencies. The more deranged ones drew dark images of a homicidal nature. Then there were the ones who just wanted to go home, like a patient named Emily, who drew a picture of her family.

It was the typical family picture a kindergartener would draw; a house with a white picket fence with the whole family lined up in front, smiling. There was also a dog there too. She even wrote the words, “I want to go home” in the green grass in black crayon. Emily had a personality disorder. She had murdered her whole family with a machete seven years ago on Christmas Eve. They never figured out why.

Tears streamed down my face as I slipped my hand through all the artwork, feeling all their pain. I went back to the chair and sat there, just staring at the blank pages on the table. I thought about Henry and what Demetrius had said. He had seen him too.

“That’s it!” I exclaimed.  I decided to draw a portrait of Henry so I could show it to Demetrius and confirm my story to Kauffman. Then he would see that I wasn’t crazy. A few minutes into the sketch, I hear the door unbolt and in comes a tall skinny blonde hair nurse with my lunch. It’s only lunch! I thought I had been in there for hours. The nurse smiles at me and places the tray of food to my right side. I smile at her for not covering my drawing with the tray. I guess some people still have manners.

I barely touch the food because all I want is to finish my perfect portrait of Henry. I make sure to accurately emphasize on his deep blue warm eyes, blonde hair, strong jaw and full lips. When I am done, I trace my fingers on his lips, pretending he is there with me. More hours pass by and I fall asleep once more. The door opens a few hours later, jolting me up from my sleep to see Kauffman walk in.

He doesn’t talk to me as he grabs for my sketch of Henry. He looks at it for a few seconds with a stern look upon his face, and then calls for Demetrius who is told to take me to the cafeteria for dinner. Kauffman was being cold to me and I didn’t know why. Then the strangest thing happened, Demetrius smiled at me. I was taken aback by this because he never smiled. I found this rather peculiar.

I didn’t feel much like eating. Knowing my chances were slim, I asked Demetrius if he could let me hang out in the community room instead. He of course, said no at first. It was forbidden to miss a meal because they gave us our medication with it. A few moments later, Demetrius, to my surprise, changed route whispering the following into my ear.

            “Only this time” he said as we made our way to the other side of the building back down stairs to the main floor. We walked through the long empty hallways in silence. I stared at the floor as I walked. I wasn’t particularly happy after spending most of the day locked up in a dark room.

About 20 minutes later, we reached the dark green doors of the community room. It was empty with the exception of the attending nurse who was enclosed in an office with glass walls. She looked at Demetrius who gave her a non-verbal sign which she acknowledged in agreement by nodding her head.

The community room was filled with vintage chairs, sofas and TV’s. The walls were covered in an out-dated floral wallpaper. It was like you were being transported back to the 70s. I made my way to a leprechaun green sofa that faced the largest of the four TV’s in the room. I didn’t bother to turn it on, I just stared at the dark screen. Demetrius went over to chat up the nurse, always having a watchful eye on me, though. I curled up on the sofa, my eyes growing heavy and falling asleep once again.

During my short nap, I had a nightmare or maybe it was a flashback. I couldn’t really be sure. I was holding a knife and was covered in blood. I heard water running and police sirens in the distant. There is a man dead on the floor but can’t make out his face. At that moment I lose the image as Demetrius furiously shakes me, waking me up. He is now dragging me back to my room. There has been a murder. One of the dangerous patients has stabbed a nurse and they are ordering a lockdown.

Hurrying back to my room, I can’t help but wonder if what I dreamt was a memory or just a nightmare. Nothing is clear. I have to figure things out soon because I don’t have much time. Kauffman is growing weary of me; I fear he will give up on me. I fear being exiled back onto the third floor. I’ll die there. Third floor residents don’t last long; they always die of mysterious causes or go missing after a few years. Nobody ever knows what happens to them. Two nurses rush past us, looking scared. I knew who they were afraid of. I knew who stabbed that poor nurse. And I also knew he would disappear sometime soon. 

Grandiose 8

It still falls, the snow that is. I’m walking down the main floor hallway, my head turned slightly to the right, watching the snow fall through the glass wall. Victoria walks ahead of me as she leads me to my morning session with Kauffman. Her hair is in a tight top bun today and she is wearing her signature lavender perfume. I called her Victoria, when she came in to get me and she went ballistic. Image

“My name is Marissa! Not Victoria!” She yelled at me.

“You look so much like her and you wear the same perfume” I tell her.

“You’re crazy, now get up and follow me to Mr. Kauffman. He is waiting for you.” She scolded, marching out of my room. I followed her out.

The session room is down the main floor hallway; the first room at the right. I am enchanted by the snow and make my way to the glass wall, pressing my whole body against it. I press my chapped lips to the cold glass and smile. The cold lets me know I’m alive. Victoria, however, is quick to pull me away, dragging me by my right arm.

“You’re such a child!” she yells at me. I don’t say anything back. I hang my head low and let her drag me to Kauffman. When we get there, she orders me to sit in the steel chair that stood in the middle of the room. She proceeds to handcuff my right wrist to the right handle of the chair.  Kauffman is sitting behind his desk, reading a thick red coverless book.  He barely notices us when we come in. I try to figure out what the book may be about but am left frustrated because I can’t see over it.

“No…No…No!” I yell. The handcuffs hurt me and I hate them. Why can’t I sit like a normal person? I’m tired of being restrained. I was glad when they decided not to use the white jacket on me anymore but insist on keeping me handcuffed at all times. I won’t hurt anybody. I promise. I tell them but they are not convinced. Kauffman hurries over to me and grabs my face, forcing me to look at him. I calm down at the touch of his warm hands.

“Its okay” he says to me as he looks into my eyes.

“Okay” I nod back, shyly. It was that easy. He knew how to stop the pain. Walking back over to his desk, he pulls out his chair and places it a few feet from me.

“Now let’s discuss last evening” he says to me as he sits down, crossing one leg over the other.

“You say, you saw Henry, tell me about it?” he continues to ask.

“No one believes me. I saw him. I heard him.” I tell him, tears streaming from my eyes now.

“He was there by the cafeteria exit, I saw him…I heard him call out my name” I said.

“Are you sure?” Kauffman asked.

“Yes” I responded, sniffling.

“Tell me anything else you can recall” Kauffman urged.

“I was ready to take my tray back when I heard him say my name. I looked around and I saw him by the far left cafeteria exit door. He waved at me. If only they had let me reach him…” I said, trying to stay calm.

“What happened to Henry? Why didn’t he come to your rescue?” Kauffman asked me. I had asked those questions to myself last night and couldn’t come up with any reasonable conclusion. Henry loved me. Didn’t he? Why didn’t he save me?

“I don’t know” I finally responded, shaking my head.

“If he loved you he would have saved you” Victoria said sarcastically.

“No need to banter her” Kauffman said to Victoria, coldly.

“I suppose we all have feelings, even deranged red-heads” Victoria sighed.

“Is that really necessary?!” Kauffman shrieked at Victoria.

“What?!”

“I didn’t say anything.” She smiled at him.

“Never mind you…” he told her with a wave of a hand, as to disregard her altogether. He put up with her over-bearing cynical nature because she was the best nurse assistant he ever had and also she was very intelligent. Perhaps she was too intelligent. Deep down he wished to have his way with her but fought the urges by focusing on me. I was his most important puzzle; he had to solve the mystery of my life that I have no memory of. I was grateful for him but Victoria was keen on destroying any chance of me ever recovering or escaping this nightmare.

Kauffman didn’t believe me, of course. He told me I was seeing things-that Henry was never there. I cried and screamed to him that I saw him. I was not crazy. I had another screaming spell and they had to call Demetrius to take me back to my room. I think I really did go bonkers for a split second when he uncuffed me from the chair; I swung my fist into his nose. He didn’t say anything; he just grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back. I yelped in pain.   This quickly brought me back to my senses.

Even after punching him in the face, he remained unchanged. It was like nothing had happened. He walked me into my room, mildly edging me to back into the padded white wall. He stared into my eyes and I stared into his. I was ready for the beating to come. To my surprise, he didn’t beat me; he just stared at me for a while, and then headed back to the door. Leaving the door slightly ajar, he peered at me once more. I was getting tired of this game. What was he up to? Then he finally said something that made my heart leap up into my throat.

“There was a man…by the exit door in the cafeteria. I saw him.” He said to me in his strong Russian accent, closing the door quickly. I sunk to my knees, pulling at my hair.

“I’m not crazy” I murmured, excitedly.

Grandiose (5)

I’m back in the dark room again but this time I am no longer restrained by the white jacket, yet I am handcuffed to the cold steel chair. Kauffman is sitting behind his desk and I see the woman who calls herself, Marissa, even though she has a striking resemblance to Victoria, leaning over him. Her nurse’s dress has the top two buttons unbuttoned revealing an inappropriate amount of flesh. Kauffman, however, seems unwaivered by this as he pours over his notes.

“I’m so excited to assist you today with Elizabeth’s session” I hear Victoria say to Kauffman in an over exaggerated tone.

“Does she require any other preparations besides the sedative?” She continues to ask.

“No, just make sure she stays calm and bring in her lunch in about two hours” Kauffman tells Victoria, still looking over his notes. I twisted and turned in my chair causing the handcuffs to dig into my wrists.

“Stop, Elizabeth” Victoria shouts at me as she rushes to me. She holds my face in her hands and I’m nose is over-powered by the strong scent of cigar smoke exuding from her hair. Victoria always did love her smokes.

“Victoria” I whisper to her.

“No, my name is Marissa” she says to me like I am mentally challenged with a wink. She slowly lingers two fingers upon my lips as she slides them downward, over my chin and down my neck.

“Stop” I tell her. She chuckles and blows me a kiss.Image

“Is everything alright?” Kauffman chimes in as he walks towards us. Victoria steps to the side so Kauffman could look at me.

“Are you ready to begin?”

“Do you remember where you left off?” he asks me. I nod rather awkwardly, wobbling my head like a wobble-head. I had to force myself to stop.

Victoria snorts a bit and Kauffman glares at her. She heads off to the far right of the room and slides into a metal school chair. You know the ones that have the table attached to them and starts reading a book. I can’t tell what the cover says because my hair is obscuring my view. From time to time, I catch her in my periphery, staring at me.

“Now, let’s begin” Kauffman announces the beginning of the session as he sits across from me. I close my eyes and take in the scent of his after-shave; letting the words pour out of me as the images swarm my mind.

When I got back into my room, I placed my cup of tea unto a sturdy espresso colored dresser, reaching into my right back pocket for my cell phone. I immediately called Uncle Leo. The phone rang a couple times before he answered.

“Hello” I heard a raspy voice answer. It had been a while since I heard his voice.

“Uncle Leo, it’s me, Elizabeth” I cheered.

“Darling, how are you?” he gushed.

“I’m fine, thank you” I lied.

“How’s Victoria treating you?” he asked.

“Victoria, she’s a character” I said hesitantly.

“Yes, she can be a bit over-bearing but she’s a doll” Uncle Leo said in efforts to comfort me.

“Over-bearing is an understatement, she’s a real jerk” I said, feeling a bit ashamed for whining like a child.

“Oh, she’s not so bad, tell you what, why don’t you two come over for dinner?” he tells me.

“A home cooked meal sounds good right now” I reply with a sigh.

“Brilliant! I made my famous meatloaf.” Uncle Leo exclaims. I smile at this.

“Come ‘round 7:30, okay” he says to me.

“Okay” I reply. He goes on to tell me that Victoria is a great girl and that I should give her a chance. I tell him I would try to get along with her and reconfirm our dinner plans; taking note of his address.

My new room had the same maroon carpeting as the outside floor hallway but it was fluffier. I lay down on it and stare at the ocean blue ceiling. I don’t know how long it was, but I lay there emotionless for some time. I might have fallen asleep but can’t really be sure. A few hours later, I hear the door open and see Victoria towering over me.

“What would you like for dinner?” she asks.

“We can go out if you like?” she continues.

“What time is it?” I finally respond.

“It’s 6:30” she says.

“Uncle Leo invited us for dinner” I reply as I make my way up off the floor.

“Nice” Victoria yelps.

“Did he say what time?” she asks.

“Seven-thirty” I tell her.

“We should get going, traffic is a killer at this time” Victoria urges.

“I’ll call us a taxi” she yells out as she rushes out the room. I decide to change my clothes. While re-dressing, Victoria hollers that she would be heading downstairs to meet the taxi and again advises me to hurry up. It was close to seven by the time I was done.

In my rush to get downstairs, I bump into somebody coming out the elevator. He had been carrying a pack of manila folders that go flying into the air and rain down upon us, spilling all their contents.

“I am so sorry” I cried, beyond embarrassed.

“I can be such a bloody klutz sometimes” I blabber on.

“That’s alright, we all have our flaws” he jokes as we both bend down to pick up the disarrayed manila folders. Then as I hand him what I could put together of the mess, we have that epic moment where we look into each other’s eyes and smile in unison. It was just like that, magic.

“Hi, my name’s Henry” he says to me as he stretches out his right hand.

“I’m Elizabeth” I muster the courage to say as I shake his hand. I couldn’t help but stare at his eyes; they were blue, grey and green. I was in awe of them. We stood back up and I realized he was really tall; about 6’4. He had brown wispy hair, symmetrical face features and a strong jaw. He wore a chestnut brown blazer with a light blue white pinstripe shirt, blue jeans and dark brown loafers that looked really expensive. He also carried a brown cross-body briefcase with him.

“Are you new here? I’ve never seen you before” he said, breaking the silence.

“Yes, just moved in” I responded with a nervous smile, realizing I was still holding onto his hand. I quickly slid my hand out of his. Then my phone rang and I jumped. It was Victoria reminding me to get downstairs because the taxi driver was getting impatient.

“Sorry, but I must go”

“It was lovely to meet you, Henry” I said to Henry.

“Nice to meet you too” He smiled.

“Be careful now, don’t go bumping into more strangers” he joked, giving me a wink as I headed to the elevator.

“I’ll try not to” I laughed.

In the elevator, I couldn’t stop smiling. I kept on thinking about how great he smelled and how gentle and soft his hands were. But most of all, I was captivated by his eyes and how they glistened even in the dim hallway light. I finally knew what people meant when they said, “It was love at first sight”, stepping out into the cold November night.