Shattered WalnutSubmitted by DaBeast at 2014-09-24 20:31:48 EDT
Rating: 2.0 on 4 ratings (4 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
"How does your head feel?" I'm looking at her, studying her. She's a little thing, no taller than my chin when she stands next to me. When she's sitting, like now, she's even shorter. There are streaks of white and gold and strawberry through her dark chestnut hair, sweeps of them in her bangs, twined along the length of the ponytail all the way to the ends resting on her lap. Her clothes are all in shades of blue and green and her eyes are an azure gleam inside long black lashes.
Today, those eyes seem dull and shadowed. Her seizures are getting worse, more frequent, more intense. They could be mini-strokes; they could be anything, really. Until she's in the right place at the wrong time, no one will hazard a guess.
Her accent is thick with Southern honey, "Beehive." She tightens her lips, clipping the word into a distinct and sharpened point. Almost, it leaves a hole in the air around her. It's obvious that something is annoying her. "Like a shattered walnut." She grimaces.
She glares at me. "That ain't the right question."
"Okay." I draw the word out a little longer than necessary. "Then what's right?"
The gleam in her eye is like the tip of a dagger. "Nothing! They're gonna change me and I'm all alone. I told a few people about it, but..." She shakes her head. "They don't understand."
For a moment, she's quiet but her eyes are moving back and forth as she thinks about it. Unexpectedly, she looks up and impales me with her gaze. "I don't wanna be like her."
"Like whom?" I honestly can not think of anyone that she's mentioned that would cause the woman to cushion any word with such a large amount of vitriol but there it is, like gel, around "her".
She almost spits, "That..." her face scrunches while she works on containing herself. Finally, "I've seen it happen. Seen them go into surgery one way, and wake up another. It's just a little thing, but that tiny thing can be so damned important. I've seen them go in violent and come out docile. I've seen them go in with a belly full of fire and come out with ashes. That little thing, that's important! I've seen it! Oh, God, just make these thoughts in my head shut the fuck up! I hate this! I don't want to be her!"
"Whom?" I lean toward her. This isn't the woman that I have come to know. This woman is tortured by something, some thought, some memory and the scar is a deep one.
Her eyes widen but her gaze settles somewhere on the wall behind me. "Her. I took whatever I wanted, reached out for it and it would be in my hand; I had it all. Until the day I met her." She shakes her head again, violently. "My parents thought... well, I dunno what they thought. That wasn't ever really important. They told me that they wanted to send me somewhere, for a little while, somewhere where I could get help. Like a summer camp. I wanted something new so I went along with it, packed accordingly. They handed me off to a staffer at the mental institution and that's the last I ever saw of them."
I don't interrupt her but I'm glad the recording equipment's working well and I know there's a fresh set of discs so I can afford to let her ramble a bit.
"But, it was fine," she continues, "and it was a pleasant looking place. Lots of trees, scattered little buildings in a sort of pocket wilderness arrangement. It was out in the sticks but that made it kind of attractive. There was a Frisbee golf course, Olympic sized swimming pool, recreational room with video games and such. Hairdresser came on Tuesdays and we had field trips every Thursday night. I liked it."
A shadow crosses her face. "They got me my room, showed me around the floor, and then they took me up to the school. It sat on a grassy little hill at the back, just before the hiking trails and the deeper woods. Little one story building with patios on each end and wrought iron furniture. Inside one end was a lounge area where the doctors would meet up with their patients. One was up there when they brought me, so they took me around to the other door. There was a boy there, smoking a cigarette and looking young and harsh and handsome and dangerous, so I gathered him up and got him to open the door. I could tell he thought it was stupid but he chose to play along. They all did. Except..." her voice trails off.
"Except for whom?" I clear my throat a little bit and take a drink of water from the glass on my desk.
Her glare swings back and stabs me again. "Her. She was the one meeting with a doc in the lounge area. There was one long hallway running the length of the building so when I came in, she was at the other end. As soon as I saw her, I hated her. The walls felt like they were closing in and there wasn't enough room for one person but, somehow, we both occupied that space. She saw me the same second I saw her. Her eyes lit and even her hair seemed to move around her head and suddenly she smiled and it was hungry and feral and... oh, God, make these thoughts go away!"
"What thoughts?" I felt an urgency making my heart rate quicken.
She brings up her hands and pulls at large tufts of hair at the side of her head. "All of them! I don't want to think! I'm tired of thinking! She always thought. She was precise and ruthless and she never, ever stopped thinking! Always a smart ass remark, always a verbal quip, always something witty and cutting and sharp. Like being attacked with a sonic scalpel! I'm turning into her! I can't stop thinking! Make it stop!"
When she collapses against the couch cushions, sobbing as if her heart was breaking, all I can do is sit back, surprised. She was right. Something had changed. This woman wasn't known for her descriptive ability, she was known as an empty headed clothes horse. Usually, what she brought me were gripes about price tags and catty gossip about her friends. If this woman couldn't touch the ground with her mental feet, she'd drown.
"Alright, let me see what I can prescribe for you..." I stand up and move to the desk where my prescription pad lies. One more zombification, coming right up.
Why do I do this job again?