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 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 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 7

I’m watching the snow fall. My face is pressed against the left glass wall of the main floor, overlooking the garden which is now completely covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow. Sometimes they let me walk around if I’ve been good but always under the watchful eye of Demetrius. Demetrius was a steroid pumping, six foot four orderly from Russia, covered in tattoos. He was known for abusing his authority and had a really bad temper. He loved to physically abuse patients if they didn’t adhere to his way of doing things. He never hurt me though, but I didn’t receive special treatment either. Through my periphery, I saw him take out a cigarette and light it. The hall was empty; everyone else was at lunch or in their rooms. I had eaten my lunch in my room and he had come to surprise me. He knew I liked looking outside. Image

I yearn to go out and feel the cold on my skin and throw myself onto the ground and make snow angels. They rarely let me go outside; not since the attempted suicide incident when I was first emitted. It was my first Spring here, and they had taken me out to the garden. While walking around, I noticed a sharp rock by an old oak tree and picked it up without anyone noticing. I attempted to cut my wrists but was stopped by two nurses. I was more deranged then.

After that they never let me out, even now I am restricted to these walls. It is maddening really to watch those who can go outside in the Spring and Summer. I envy them. I always plead with them to let me go out but it is futile. This of course drives me into screaming spells which results with me being drugged and locked up in my room.  I cringed at the thought of it.

“Time to go back Lizzie” Demetrius says to me in a strong Russian accent. I didn’t like people calling me Lizzie but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I didn’t want to see what happens when you talk back to him. I was very comfortable with our arrangement. He grabbed my right arm a bit too hard as he led me back to my room. When we got there, he shoved me in and slammed my door shut. I stayed in there until it was time for dinner. This time it was Janice who got me and took me to the cafeteria.

Janice was obnoxious and loud. I towered over her but she was a big woman with very strong arms.  It was around 6:30 p.m. when I got my last meal for the day. I decided to sit at the far right corner of the cafeteria. I was one of the few patients that actually got to eat outside of their rooms. Most patients were fed in their rooms; some were too dangerous to let out. When I was first emitted, I was one of those dangerous patients who reside on the third floor. My tray was slid through an opening in the door and sometimes the orderly would be cruel and shove it in. It would spill the contents on the floor and I would have to eat it.

Then one day, Molly, a shy, petite nurse, came into my room with my lunch. She wasn’t afraid of me. She was nice to me and sat with me as I ate. I took a liking to her right away. The Director was impressed at how Molly had tamed me, that I was given cafeteria privileges. Come my fourth evaluation by the former psychiatrist (which I don’t recall ever meeting) I was moved to the first floor.

Now I sit in the far right corner of the cafeteria, staring at my food tray. It consists of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken breast, fruit bowl and a box of orange juice. I’m not hungry. I think about throwing it out but pick up the plastic white spoon instead and shove it into the mashed potatoes, putting a good heap of it into my mouth.

I eat everything in record speed even the juice is gulped down in less than a ten seconds. I sense someone watching me and turn my head slightly to the left to see Kauffman staring at me. When he sees me looking back, he smiles at me. I quickly turn my head back to look at my now empty food tray and blush a little, glad that my long red hair covers my face.

“Sweet Elizabeth” I hear a familiar distant voice say.

“Henry!” I yelp as I jolt myself off my seat and look around for him. Everyone turns to look at me. I see him across the room and rush to meet him but am stopped by three big orderlies. I fight them screaming for Henry but when I look back to where I had seen him, he was no longer there. He had slipped away once again. I see a nurse inject a needle into my right arm and soon I start to feel sleepy. I am carried off back to my room, locked in for the remainder of the day.

Kauffman comes into my room a few hours later, looking rather frazzled. He hadn’t been sleeping much with my sudden drawback and his ever growing patient list. Despite his lack of sleep and stress, he still managed to keep a smile on his face. Behind him was Victoria or as she called herself now, Marissa.

“How are you?” Kauffman said to me with a smile.

“What happened with you tonight?” He continued to ask.

“I swear he was there!” I exclaimed. I went on to tell him of how I heard Henry call out to me and how I had seen him across the cafeteria by the far left exit door.

“I see…” Kauffman said in a low voice.

“We’ll talk about this further tomorrow morning” he went on to tell me as he turned to exit my room.

“Who is this Henry she speaks of?” Victoria whispered to Kauffman when they were out of Elizabeth’s earshot.

“Henry Betzel, but the thing is there is no record of him. I’ve done my research on her story. He doesn’t exist” Kauffman said to her with a sigh.

“He doesn’t exist?” Victoria replied, chuckling a bit.

“No” Kauffman responded with a yawn. I sat in my room, knees tucked in, shivering. I saw Henry with my own eyes. I wasn’t crazy or maybe I was. If only they had let me reach him. I didn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t.

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.

Grandiose (4)

Kauffman leads Victoria to a table in the center of the cafeteria. The cafeteria is empty; only two food cooks lurk behind the food bar, preparing the morning breakfast for tomorrow.

“What would you like?”

“Sky’s the limit!” Kauffman jokes. Victoria bats her eyes and smiles.

“What do you recommend?” Victoria asks flirtatiously.

“The tuna melt is to die for” Kauffman says enthusiastically.

“Well, I must try it then” Victoria replies, passing a hand through her thick curly black hair. She suddenly realizes that she still had her coat on, so she takes it off and places it behind her chair. She catches Kauffman staring at her chest, only to find the top two buttons of her silk white blouse unbuttoned exposing her busty chest.

“Oh, dear”

“It seems they’ve come undone” Victoria laughs as she slowly buttons her blouse.

“No, I’m sorry”

“It was un-gentleman like of me” Kauffman replied, embarrassed.Image

“It’s quiet alright”

“You are a man, aren’t you?” Victoria teased. Kauffman blushed even more at this.

“So, the tuna melt, you say?” Victoria smiled.

“Yes, that’s right!” Kauffman said, relieved to change the subject as he made his way to the food bar.

“Benny, my man, how’s it going?!” Kauffman yelled out to a frumpy looking bald man with a full dark brown beard.

“Hey, Mr. Kauffman” Benny said as he walked up to the kitchen side of the food bar.

“How can I help you?”

“Can you whip up two of your famous tuna melts?” Kauffman asked with a grin.

“No problem, Mr. Kauffman” Benny replied as he headed back into the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Kauffman and Victoria talked more about the position and Elizabeth. Victoria was getting tired of talking about Elizabeth, noticing how much Kauffman fancied her.  She quickly shifted the conversation to suit her own insidious interests.

“Why work for a loony bin?”

“Why not go private?” Elizabeth pried. Kauffman was slightly taken aback by Victoria’s over-bearing inquiry.

“I would appreciate it if you would not call it a loony bin. It’s a mental rehabilitation facility” Kauffman told Victoria firmly.

“Did I say loony bin?” Victoria said, pretending to be coy.

“I meant mental hospital”

“Pardon me, my manners just go off the bat when I’m hungry” she said as she placed a hand to her heart. She smiled to herself, because she had purposely vexed him.

“I guess we all do silly things when we’re hungry” Kauffman smiled.

“Benny, are those melts ready yet?!” Kauffman turned his head and yelled out.

“In just a minute! Do you want chips with ‘em?” Benny yelled back.

“Sure, that would be great!” Kauffman replied. A few minutes later, Benny came bustling out the kitchen entrance, from the far left of the room, carrying two red trays. He set them on the table, each facing their corresponding owners.

“These look great” Kauffman beamed at Benny.

“Thank you, anything else?” Benny smiled.

“Oh, Benny, I’ll like to introduce you to my new nurse’s assistant, Marissa Croon.” Kauffman said to Benny.

“How do you do, M’am?” Benny smiled at Victoria as he tipped his head.

“I’m fine, thank you” Victoria smiled back.

“Well, Bon’ Appetite, I have to get back and finish cooking tomorrow’s breakfast. Good night, ya’ll” Benny said in a Texas drawl as he headed back to the kitchen.

Kauffman and Victoria didn’t talk much during their meal. Kauffman was still trying to figure Victoria out; she hadn’t talked much about herself and he was curious to find out more.

Over the next few weeks, Victoria made sure to always be on Kauffman’s good side. She made sure he had his favorite cup of tea ready in the morning, brought him strawberry scones (his favorite), and even gained Elizabeth’s trust; which Kauffman found to be very impressive. She had him under her spell. She wondered how long it would take for him to sleep with her.

During one very cold November morning, Victoria decided to pay Elizabeth a visit. Elizabeth had been coiled on the far right corner of her room, murmuring.

“Hello, Elizabeth” Victoria said coolly. Elizabeth lifted her head and smiled. The lights were brighter here than any other place in the facility and everyone thought that was quiet peculiar.

“Hi” Elizabeth replied in a baby voice.

“Do I know you?”

“Of course, it’s me, Marissa”

“You look like someone else” Elizabeth says to her.

“May I ask who?” Victoria asks as she steps closer to Elizabeth.

“I can’t remember….” Elizabeth whines, frustrated by her own incoherence.

“I’m sorry you can’t remember” Victoria replies, trying to sooth Elizabeth.

“Let’s play a game, Elizabeth”

“Do you like games, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, what kind of game?” Elizabeth asks eyes wide with excitement.

“Truth and Tell”

“I ask you a question and you answer truthfully. You can ask me questions too and we’ll just go back and forth” Victoria says to her.

“Okay” Elizabeth replies in a baby voice again.

“I’ll go first” Victoria says as she leans down on her knees in front of Elizabeth.

“What do you talk about with Mr. Kauffman?” Victoria asks.

“We talk about me mostly, of what I can remember of my past, anyway…” Elizabeth replies, trailing off.

“What do you remember?” Victoria continues.

“Hey, it’s my turn” Elizabeth scolds Victoria.

“Yes, I’m sorry. Ask me a question.” Victoria says coldly.

“What’s your name?” Elizabeth asks.

“I told you that earlier, it’s Marissa” Victoria replies, frustrated.

“Marissa, that’s pretty” Elizabeth says.

“Your eyes, you look so much like her…” Elizabeth started saying but stopped when she saw Kauffman approaching.

“I see you’re up and early” Kauffman chimes in as Victoria turn her head and smiles.

“Oh yes, she’s quite a girl” Victoria says sarcastically.

“Victoria” Elizabeth whispers.

“What was that?” Kauffman asks Elizabeth.

“Victoria!” Elizabeth screams so loud that Kauffman has to step back.

“Calm down, who is Victoria?” Kauffman asks, curiously.

“She’s Victoria…” Elizabeth points at Victoria.

“No, Elizabeth, her name is Marissa. You are confused.” Kauffman says in a soft voice.

“She’s obviously confusing me with someone else” Victoria laughs.

“You remind her of Victoria, that’s interesting” Kauffman says as he looks at Victoria.

“Who is this Victoria” Victoria asks, masking her nervousness.

“Someone she knew, but I can’t be sure” Kauffman replies.

“Oh look at the time, your first session is in ten minutes, we must prepare” Victoria urges Kauffman.

“We’ll discuss this further” Kauffman smiles at Elizabeth as he heads out her room with Victoria holding onto his left arm. They close her door and Elizabeth is left rocking herself on the floor murmuring again.

“Her eyes… it’s her eyes” Elizabeth repeatedly babbles.