“Do you think he killed her?”
“Do I think who killed who, Sarah?” Doctor Westfield asked, adjusting the rounded spectacles atop his pointed nose. He was a man of about fifty with a comb of smoothed gray hair atop his head. His eyes were an emerald green and they shifted to focus on the patient before him.
“The new guy, Damien, I think his name is. He’s being talked about by everyone.” Sarah brought her legs up to her chest, arms wrapping around her knees as she caught Doctor Westfield’s gaze and held it firmly with her own pair of blue.
“I cannot say anything about Damien. He’s here for a psychiatric evaluation and nothing more.”
Sarah shook her head at his answer, displeasure apparent in the pursing of her lips. “That’s not what I asked.”
Doctor Westfield folded his hands atop his lap; he knew that he wouldn’t be able to escape the persistence within this sixteen year old girl. Sarah was known for snooping, for wandering the corridors even when she was supposed to be confined to her room during curfew. Stuffing a piece of paper in between the lock and its clasp. Sweet-talking the guards. Curiosity surged through her body, clung to every tissue, organ, and bone.
It had gotten her into trouble: fights with other patients that ended with her in the infirmary, added sessions to her schedule because she used gathered information to manipulate others. She had made the newest patient on level one cry and attempt to claw at her former self harm scars by saying her family never loved her. She had irritated the psychopath on level three to the point where he wound up launching his fist into the wall. “You’re a coward,” she whispered by his ear, over and over again. Doctor Westfield was too familiar with her history; she was his patient after all and one he tiptoed around in order to not fuel her disorder.
“You know I cannot disclose another patient’s session. ”
She huffed. “I think you have wax in your ears, sir.”
“What is it that you want me to answer, Sarah?”
“So now you’re deaf and forgetful. You really should consider a different profession, one that doesn’t involve communication.” She dropped her legs from the chair in order to stand, pacing to his desk and spreading her palms across the wooden surface. She leaned forward, a coy smirk toying with the edges of her lips. “Now, do you think Damien killed her?”
“Why don’t you ask the person who was there instead of the person that has been influenced by mass media and police reports?”
Sarah turned on her heel, came face to face with an expressionless, raven haired, amber eyed boy. There was no curve to his lips, nor a sparkle in his eye, nor a bending of his spine as he stood in the entranceway of the office.
“You said to be here by noon, Doctor.” Even his voice was as empty as he appeared.
“Right, yes, of course,” he began, rising from his seat. “Sarah, as… pleasant as this session was, it’s time for you to leave.”
“Oh come on, Doctor Wanker. I can stand against the wall, listen in. It’d be like I wasn’t even here.”
“The only way it’d be like you weren’t here is if you actually weren’t.”
The boy’s interjection caught Sarah off guard, but immediately her blue eyes turned cold: morphed into ice against his fiery set. Yet, the other did nothing in response: no blink, no twitch of a mouth, not even the slightest fall of a brow.
“I wouldn’t speak to me like that if I –”
“Sarah, please, leave the office before I call security and have you put in solitary confinement for another week!” Doctor Westfield’s sentence was rushed, spoken in an exhaled breath.
Sarah hissed, but obeyed, slipping out the front door and pulling it shut.
“I apologize for the inconvenience. Please, Damien, take a seat.” He outstretched his hand to the chair that Sarah was previously sitting on.
Damien scrutinized it for a few seconds, as if debating whether the fabric of the cushion would be worthy enough for him. ”I’d rather stand.”
“Right, well… suit yourself. Anyway, before we begin, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Doctor Westfield and I’ve been with Morsewood Institution for the last ten years. I’m here to help every patient figure out exactly what it is that may be disturbing them and fix it so they can live life to the fullest. I don’t want you to think of me as your doctor, just someone you can talk to.”
“There are two problems with your logic, Doctor. The first is that you assume I have a problem in the first place. The second is that you assume I need companionship in order to be successful in whatever endeavors I want or desire for the future, further assuming that I desire or want anything at all, so I guess that makes three problems. I apologize for my miscalculation.”
Doctor Westfield stared at the young man before him; he had heard worse, but already the words were odd. The way he structured his sentences, proper. The way he seemed to be analyzing everything based on what was intended to be a friendly introduction. The older man had to consider the cause for this: a mental problem or the result of trauma. It wasn’t everyday that a fifteen year old girl was murdered gruesomely on the campus of a boarding school.
“I’m sorry that you see fault in my greeting, Damien. I was simply trying to introduce myself and assure you that you can confide in me.”
“That’s what the police do too, you know. Read me my rights, say they don’t want anything bad to happen to me and yet when I’m interrogated for a crime that I’m pinned to with no evidence aside from the fact that I may or may not have had a crush on Lauren, I’m tossed in here for a psychological evaluation.”
He was not someone Damien could trust, though trust in itself was a word that got tossed around more often than it should. People existed in the world for self gain: what could allow them to move up in status, in wealth, in power. The only person Damien could trust whole heartedly was himself and the Doctor would learn that soon enough.
“Damien, you are here as a result of a distressing event that happened in your life. I’m here to have a conversation with you, allow you to express your thoughts and feelings on the matter.”
“In which you’ll report back to the police,” he countered, a click of his tongue that released words slicked with venom.
Doctor Westfield remained silent.
“You are here out of interest for a paycheck, for a notch added to the belt of your ego. Don’t try to pretend that you care about me or my interests. If you want honesty from me, Doctor, you should start by practicing what it is that you preach.”
“You’re hostile, Damien and I understand that all of this speculation can be a lot to handle, but –”
Damien released a loud groan, tilting his head back so there was a prominent curve along the trail of his neck. “Another assumption,” he stated, as he lowered his head. “I am fine. I feel no emotional upheaval. I am not about to cry into your arms. What happened to Lauren was unfortunate. Such a young girl and her life was taken away when the prime of her youth was just around the corner. What does remotely irritate me though is how you are looking at me at this very moment, with eyes that are trying to figure me out.”
“I am not doing anything of the sort, Damien. I’m trying to have a conversation.”
“A conversation which is biased because you’ve already declared to yourself that I’m guilty.” Silence again: with nothing to be heard aside from the creaking of the floorboard that Damien’s foot pressed upon.
“If you’ll excuse me, Doctor, I’d like to return to my room where I can be surrounded by something that won’t judge me.”
Doctor Westfield waved his hand forward and Damien wasted no time proceeding to the door. A quick flick of the handle and he was outside, only to bump into Sarah who stumbled backwards, her body hitting the floor.
Damien rolled his eyes, stepping over her as he headed down the corridor.
“Aren’t you going to help me up?” Sarah exclaimed, though by the time she spoke, she had already pushed herself up with her palms, and Damien had entered the bathroom.
He pressed the top of the soap dispenser, observed as white foam covered his fingers and knuckles, ran his hands under the water from the tap.
Cool and indifferent to the hands that were only a few days ago covered in blood.
Megan Manzano recently graduated University with a Bachelor’s degree in English. She has been published in Everyday Fiction, Maudlin House, Firefly, and Fantasia Divinity Magazine. She not only wants to become an editor, but write books of her own. Her favorite activities include reading, blogging, finding ways to travel, and expressing her imagination through writing. You can find Megan at https://meganmanzano129.wordpress.com, on Twitter @Megan_Manzano and check her out on Facebook.