Grandiose 16

“Elizabeth, what are you doing?!” Barbara screams at me. I keep my eyes closed, shivering, as she vigorously dries me off with a white towel. It feels like sand paper against my skin and I cringe at the touch of it.

            “It seems she needs more help than I thought,” I hear Kauffman say with a sigh. I pretend not to have heard him. I have been pretending many of things lately. Sometimes I imagine myself back in London helping mum with dinner while we laugh about silly things. Other times I think about Henry locked in that room strapped to a wheelchair. Nevertheless, reality creeps in like a cold breeze on a summer day and I find myself in my padded white room, alone.Image

Barbara quickly helps me put on my institution issued blue patient uniform. As she guides me out of the room, I slip a weak smile at Kauffman. He doesn’t smile back rather just nods his head. That’s when I notice Victoria and Demetrius walking about the grounds from the open window right behind Kauffman. They are holding hands.

This makes me angry but I act calm as to not upset Kauffman much further. I wonder what they are up to all the way back to my room. Dinner wouldn’t be ready for a couple hours, so I was stuck in there for a while.

I sprawl myself on the floor just staring at the ceiling lights. At first I’m slightly blinded but my eyes gradually adjust to them. I felt like I lay there for hours and thought dinner would not come soon enough. As time went by, I found myself in a trance. The lights danced in front of my eyes but I was oblivious to them. I was on a high induced by the erratic thoughts that now occupied my mind.

They consisted of Victoria and Demetrius. My suspicions about him were not without merit, after all. I now knew he could not be trusted since he was obviously in cahoots with Victoria. I reckon they’ve been planning their evil deeds against me since the beginning. It wasn’t enough that she drove me insane and ruined my life but now she wanted to hurt me even more.

I closed my eyes and let the darkness sink in. I heard and felt nothing. I was dead to the world and so it had gone on without me. Time has and continues to pass me by while I remain frozen in place. Then like an unexpected wave, an orchestra of 300 violins starts to play. They play so vehemently in my mind; growing louder and louder as smooth and beautiful as the calming sea.

Back home, the Elders would say that if you heard violins play in your sleep something magnificent was going to happen. It could either be something terrible yet magnificent or something great and magnificent. I wondered if the latter was true for me.

The symphony kept on playing even though my mind simultaneously transported me back to various flashbacks. Many from my past in England and a few from my time in New York like a really fast picture book. Then I heard the door open and the music stopped. I kept my eyes closed.

            “Time for Dinner” Demetrius barked at me. He was not in a good mood. I quickly pulled myself off the cold padded floor and followed Demetrius out of the room. He walked ahead of me while I stayed closely behind him in silence.

As I walked behind him, I could help but notice his broad shoulders and tattooed muscular arms. He twitched his neck to expose another tattoo on the right side of his neck. It was of a red dragon that ran down to the nape of his neck. I imagined he had about fifty tattoos over his entire body but couldn’t be too sure.

            “What are you looking at?” Demetrius scolds, startling me. I freeze.

            “Nothing” I respond with a gulp, my body starting to shake. He grabs my arms and pushes me against the glass wall. I feel the vibration against my back. I close my eyes.

            “Open your eyes!” He yells. I slowly open them and look into his green eyes. They are not warm but cold. He is cold. He squeezes my wrists but I do not cry out in pain. I pretend he is not hurting me.

            “Say something” He tells me with an evil grin. I don’t respond. He lets go of me.

            “Walk faster!” He says to me as he points towards the end of the hall. I slip past him and start walking ever so quickly towards the cafeteria. My body still trembles and my heart is pounding so fast that I fear I will drop of a heart attack. I could hear my heart pound as if a mad drummer had taken refuge in my soul.

            “Pace yourself” I suddenly hear my mum’s caring voice say to me. I take a deep breath at the thought of her. I try to fight the tears but they come down anyway. Then I really start to cry and fall to my knees, distraught. I don’t even notice the two orderlies coming from the right. They immediately assume I have gone mad and haul me off to the shock room. Demetrius never says a word nor raises a finger.

I scream at them to let me go but it doesn’t seem to help my case at all. They strap me to the cold steel slab, stick a rubber white stick between my teeth, and place a tube on each side of my head. The attending doctor then proceeds to shock me with fifty volts of electricity. My whole body shakes violently and I pass out within minutes. The violins start to play again. At first I can barely hear them but they grow louder and faster with each passing second.

            “Are you happy now?” Mum asks me as she brushes my hair. I smell her Chanel perfume and it makes me smile.

            “No, mum” I cry as I reach for her hand but she disappears. 

The Lesbian Diaries

“You will never be alone. Stop chasing shadows and just enjoy the ride.”

Those words stay in my mind like a stain that never fades. As I walked through the sturdy halls of BethenCourt High, I tried not to remember the horrors of last year. I still can hear Amy Winehouse’s, “You know I’m no good,” acoustically blasting from Natalie’s second floor dorm room. Her lifeless body hanging from the ceiling fan incessantly occupies my thoughts, torments me at night and I relive that horrific Halloween night every single day. Image

Natalie was my best friend and lover. It’s hard not to recall those bitter-sweet memories of us because I will always be reminded of them. 

We both attended a really strict, religious, all-girl boarding named BethenCourt High. It was a place for prominent affluent families to send their spoiled misbehaved girls to be reformed into respected educated women. There’s that stereotype or perhaps myth that an all-girl school spurs homosexuality but BethenCourt prided itself of not being sullied by what they called an abomination. 

“Homosexuality is a sickness,” said our prestigious headmaster, Mrs. Rosethorne during our first year orientation. She is a pit bull faced vicious woman who loves to wear pink. She is keen on enforcing strict and questionable policies that can’t ever be disputed. She runs the school like a dictator, even Hitler would be scared of her. Her white Persian cat, Bubbles, isn’t a peck of sunshine neither. 

“Hazel!” someone screamed out my name. I knew that voice; it was Natalie Singborg. It was our year at BethenCourt. We had both been out of control; doing drugs, partying too much and shopping too much so our parents shipped us off to BethenCourt. I turned around and she came running up to me. She planted a sweet kiss on my lips. A kiss I’ll never forget. 

I pulled away from her scared of who would see. “Aren’t you worried we will get in trouble?” I whispered, my heart skipping a beat. She just laughed.

“Did you miss me?”, Natalie asked.

“Of course,” I said.

We had our first class together so we walked there holding hands. News travels fast in BethenCourt so it was no surprise when we were called to the headmasters’ office during our first class. 

“Sickos!”, someone yelled out as we headed for Mrs. Rosethorne’s office. Rosethorne was furious. She didn’t even want to look at us. She immediately called our parents and sent us to counselors in hopes that they could cure us of our “sickness”. My  parents didn’t bother to come no call. Natalie’s parents were outraged and they blamed me for “infecting their daughter,” as they said. 

It was Natalie who had kissed me first. I don’t want to say she seduced me but she made the first move. I never paid any attention to guys in a romantic way, that is. I was always a tomboy and knew deep inside that I was a lesbian.

“How could you do this to our daughter?!”, Natalie’s mother screamed at me. I looked over at Natalie and she had tears in her eyes. Her mother hated her; she never wanted to have her. At that moment I just wanted to hold her. Then Rosethorne, as punishment, had our schedules changed and moved me down to the first floor dorm rooms. 

After that we were harassed for weeks. Girls would spit at us, throw our books from our hands, pull our hair and other evil things. We also received threatening emails and letters. Natalie started getting high every night and cutting herself. Her family had told her if she kept seeing me she was to be disowned. However, we still manged to sneak around and see each other.

The day before her death, we had walked through the school gardens. I should have known something wasn’t right. She seemed distant. Her eyes were puffy from all the crying and for a long moment we just embraced each other underneath the stars. 

The next day a shrilling scream came from the second floor. All the girls had been taking pictures of their Halloween costumes when they heard the screams. Everyone rushed up to discover Natalie’s lifeless body hanging from the ceiling fan. When I saw her I just incessantly screamed. I think I passed out because I woke up in the medical ward. 

A strange letter lay on my stomach. It was vintage paper sealed with a red wax seal. I gliding my finger through it to open it. On it it read, “You’re not alone.” At that time, I didn’t know I was going to be part of a secret society that was as old as the school.

“You will never be alone. Stop chasing shadows and just enjoy the ride.” Those were the last words she said to me. They stay in my mind like a stain that never fades. 

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 14

Near the garden maze entrance, I remained frozen and stared into its never ending abyss, for it was a perfect evening to get lost. On nights like this the trees shivered and dreaded the strong winds. The garden would come to life on these strange nights even though the moon’s light was scarce.Image

The trees would whisper silently as the over-grown wet grass tickled my bare feet. Something or someone deep inside the maze called out for me and I slightly stepped forward only to move backwards again. This was the second time that my room was left unlocked. It wasn’t an oversight anymore; it was deliberate. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how I managed to make my way to this part of the grounds. I think to myself that this must be a dream.

An old owl perched on a high branch of an old oak tree on the far-far right side of the garden hoots a sad song. After it was done it blew in the wind and the wind carried it away to a new land; a happier land I like to believe. It was a cold night even though the present humidity caused my hair to frizz; a cold shiver ran through my spine.

“Elizabeth” someone called out for me again from within the maze but yet again I remained frozen in the same place. I can’t move. It is like my bones have been turned to stone and my body has become part of the garden; as if I was a flesh statue.

From the air she would resemble a dark yet alluring fortress that would easily charm and lure you to your death. Many have nicknamed it, properly so, “The Siren”, because those foolish enough to enter it have never been found nor returned.

The side of her long structured well manicured arms, stretching out like angelic wings, was the most memorable part of the labyrinth, and most of the rest of her was covered by over-grown grass and wild flowers. Only toward her head where vintage Victorian statues and man-sculpted animal shaped shrubs had much enchantment, as she pretended to be an art form worthy of exaggerated admiration, creatively disguising her evil intentions.

She called out to me once more in a somewhat ethereal voice and again I remained frozen where I stood. It was like an invisible force was keeping me there, protecting me from her. Then the patient lock-down alarm shook me from her trance, reality sinking in again. They finally discovered my absence and a wave of relief swept over me.

I heard the orderlies shout out orders from a distance, their flashlights flickering in the dark.

“Follow procedure!”

“Bring her in safe and secure!” I heard Demetrius scold. I suppose he was their master now. I imagined him as Hitler shouting orders to his minions. I didn’t try to run or escape not for lack of trying or fear. I just couldn’t move.

“I found her!” I heard a loud raspy voice yell out. As if to break me from a spell, I slowly turned around to have a bright light being shined upon my face, briefly blinding me. The orderly was about a few inches shorter than me, had bloodshot red eyes and was stronger than he looked. He grabbed my right arm and yelled back again, “I have her!”  Then the real terror began.

Two orderlies dragged me back into the main building and somehow I knew they weren’t taking me back to my room. A scary silence took over the grounds that made my heart skip a couple beats. Only her fading whispers called out to me.

“Take me back to my room” I yelled, kicking my legs. My screams and pleading proved to be futile. In a manner of minutes I found myself in a well-lit white room strapped to a cold steel table drugged with two rubbery tubes placed on each side of my head. The light hurt my eyes and my mind swarmed with thoughts of her. She was in my mind now, tormenting me from afar. I shook my head to get rid of her. Still I heard her whisper my name in her oh so otherworldly tone of voice. I tried to occupy my mind with thoughts of Henry to escape her grasp.

“Doctor is she sedated” I heard a familiar voice ask. It was Kauffman.

“Yes, she is” an unfamiliar male voice responded.

“Shall we begin” he continued.

“Ye-Yes” Kauffman stuttered. A tingling sharp pain ran from my head down to my legs. I couldn’t scream because there was a thick white stick between my teeth. My whole body shook violently. The pain continued for half an hour and I thought I would die. After an hour, I blacked out. Even in my dormant state, there was still a buzzing sound in my head. I don’t know how long they kept me in that room, but when I came to, I found myself back in my room with the top half of my body constricted into the dreaded white jacket.

My long red hair lay wet and flat against my face while my legs trembled violently. This caused me to bite down on my lower lip. I felt the warm blood trickle down to my chin; suddenly finding myself licking at it like a cat mending a wounded paw. I was unaware of Victoria and Demetrius standing right outside my door peering at me through its window.

“You think that did the trick?” Demetrius asked Victoria in his strong Russian accent still staring at Elizabeth.

“We shall see soon enough but I don’t think I have to worry about her much longer” Victoria replied with a smirk.

“As discussed, we’re right on schedule” she continued, and then they both went off separately in opposite directions. A strong lavender aroma swept into Elizabeth’s room causing her eyes to jolt wide open from their weary state.

“Victoria!” she screamed repeatedly, the aroma stimulating her ever growing frustrations and madness.

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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