She sat there, wringing her hands.
I sat in front of her and was transfixed by her hair. It was white blond, almost platinum. Her face was painfully young, even at sixteen. I cannot believe her to be a day over twelve. She had a pinched look about her, an elfin prettiness that was emphasized by her unusual hair. I found myself checking her ears and I was almost disappointed they weren't pointed.
"Is today a good day for you, Tania?" I asked her. She looked at me straightforwardly and shrugged. The movement caused the neck of her hospital gown to slide down her left shoulder, revealing scratch marks. She pulled it up again, and the pink tag on her wrist briefly flashed then was gone again.
"I see you have been taking your medicines." I wanted her to talk. She's been unwilling to tell me what happened. It's been fifteen days. "Every day, religiously?" A smile fluttered on my lips. I saw her study my face and then she nodded.
"'Cept the night cocktails." her voice was a croak. Unused for so long.
I tried to hide my surprise. She's talking today then. "You never really told me why."
She sighed, a hint of exasperation apparent. "You won't believe me if I tell." She suddenly made an angry face and then sobbed. Her eyes looked up at me, and I saw a brief spark of hope in there but it soon vanished into a green steeliness. Five seconds later, she was composed again and sat still as a statue. "You and your clipboard. You and your coifed hair. You and your impractical shoes."
She made a litany of all the things that I am. Me and my diploma on the wall. Me and my lounge chair. Me and my black glasses. Me and my very sanitary self.
"You and your theories. you and all the other shrinks who just never had a clue." It was disconcerting how flat her voice sounded, how completely devoid of emotion her recitation was. And yet she was mocking me, hating me for not being able to help her.
"Yes, I'm all that. And I am all I have. And right now, I am all you've got." I answered, unable to keep the steel from my voice. I leaned forward and caught her eye. "Will you talk to me, Tania? Will you tell me how to help you?"
She started sobbing again. "I am not safe here." She started shaking her head wildly. "They can get to me, even inside the padded cells. Look!" With a violent movement, she tore her gown down her shoulders showing me the marks I saw there earlier. "They hurt me like this here. And Jack -- Oh, he's there."
"Jack, your brother?" I said, not meaning it to come out as a question. Of course, Jack. I knew him. That's why I took on Tania's case in the first place. "Nobody can find Jack, Tania. Do you know where he is?"
"Yes and no." Tania started to weep.
I could not get another word out of her. Ten minutes later, I had to call in the nurse to lead her back to her room. She did not resist being removed from the office, but before she stepped out into the hallway, she whipped her head back to look at me. Her pale hair flashed in the slanting afternoon light.
"Another night it is." she said and then the door closed.
*** ***** **** ******
The next day, the burly male nurse acknowledged my presence as I stood outside Tania's room.
"Another try, Doctor?" he asked.
"Yes, another try until we get there." I did not mean to sound so tired, but it was how I felt.
I did not go immediately into her room. I stood there for half a minute gathering my wits and, my courage too, I suppose. Outside, the sun was hidden by the clouds and I saw it was nice and cool outside. Inspiration hit me.
"Travis,"I said to the nurse. "I will meet with Tania outside."
"Beg your pardon?"
"Bring her to that elm tree over there, I will be waiting. " I said. I turned my back so as not to be questioned again.
"If she resists?" he asked.
I did not stop walking. I shook my head and forced out a laugh. "She will not."
To be continued...
God, I started writing this February last year... Now I can't remember what I wanted to write. I need to find this story thread...