An excerpt from Interludes
The Woman In The Box
From the desk of Dr. J.T. Pasture
Re: Patient 16854-855
I have observed this poor creature for several months now. I am beyond reasoning as to why you would insist on releasing this lovely young woman who crouches in the corner of her room and hides under the tables in the common area. The nurses have noted that should she be pulled bodily from one of her hiding places, she begins rip out her hair and claw at her face. She responds to Vee when the nurses come to draw blood and see that she eats, but she answers to little else. Yesterday, she flinched when I called her Violet and when the maintenance man smiled at her as he passed on his way to the kitchen.
As this is a private matter, and these words will be read only by those in charge of the hospital, I will call her Vee, and say that she cannot ever be integrated into society. There are no circumstances under which she can be expected to function. Long before she came into our care, her ability to cope outside the box she was kept in was stolen away. It would be as cruel as turning a child out into the woods to survive when they have no skills to care or feed themselves. Vee’s care was handed to those who run this facility and they, as we, are responsible for her wellbeing.
Gentlemen, extrapolating reasoning into emotion is such an impossible feat that we cannot stop inventing new ways to fail at it. After centuries of investigation, experimentation and the subsequent discoveries into the human psyche, we are no closer to understanding the purposes behind the whole facade of emotion. Sadly, most of those who do not express the societal prerequisite array are often labeled as psychopathic and turned over to professionals such as those involved here to house, care for and with luck, give some quality of life.
These lost souls are exposed to the limits of medical breakthrough in order to force conformation on those few who view the world differently. Have any of you considered that perhaps it’s our views that are slightly skewed? It’s not to say that all those who feel little to no emotion are all axe murdering psychopaths, but rather, that there is a slim margin of individuals who do not wish to cause harm but are, simply, unable to express such. I believe that Vee is in the latter category.
If we consider the iceberg as a metaphor, could you not envision several different scenarios or alternate reasonings for certain behaviours? Perhaps, in the case of Vee, we have found someone who is not unable to feel but instead, someone who has been trained and threatened into cold indifference; fear has switched her emotional thermostats to off and she is therefore unable to articulate to any degree, her thoughts or feelings towards being institutionalised. I have wondered if she may be nonverbal and whether her reluctance to communicate is actually inability. The extreme isolation that she forces on herself seems to hint at horrors and it would certainly explain such an extreme response.
Vee is naturally a loner who comes out of herself with surprising consistency to converse with her fellow patients. The time spent learning about a new friend seems to be something she enjoys and I was considering suggesting an outpatient program when she attacked Leonard Rinter with a piece of the mirror she broke in the bathroom. Thankfully, he will survive, although his vision is never going to return and nor will his ability to speak. Vee has had nothing to say about the situation.
Sleep is a luxury Vee rarely indulges in. I began to stagger my appearances in an effort to gauge her sleep patterns and have discovered that she sleeps less than two hours per day, with several short naps throughout her 24 hours. As Vee has had no visitors in the three months that I have been here, she has few obvious attachments and no living beings that she seeks out that exist in life. She also has wildly romantic tendencies that seem to become more outrageous as the number of sleepless nights reach frightening levels.
As you well know, Vee resists any and all medications and so the nurses, under my direction, are forced, at times, to dissolve them in her foods or drinks. Quite often, after too many nights spent afraid to close her eyes, Vee herself will request and take pills that will make her sleep, all while begging for gin to wash it down. This is a behaviour that causes increasing concern.
Vee disarmed the guard who was on E wing several nights ago, and escaped with his weapon and the keys to his truck. The vehicle was found several blocks away at a convenience store with no incidents. The guard has no lasting damage and received medical care for his injuries but up until a four hours ago, there had been no sightings or even false reports.
Tonight at 7:04 pm, a domestic disturbance was called in by a neighbour at the home of Benny Jones. We, being the hospital team, rushed to the location, unsure of what we were walking into. Upon arrival we were witness to shouting punctuated by sharp, short screams that made me weep. Several attempts were made to ensure Mr. Jones’ safety, including two visits to the front door. One of our number now lies cold on the lawn. Someone blew a hole through his chest. There is another in the local hospital fighting for her life.
The sounds of a severe beating grew worse with each interruption. I knocked on the door with my fist, calling her name softly and asked her to come out. I had never been so scared in my life, waiting for someone to answer the door and heard a roar that sent a thrill of terror up my spine. It was inhuman. We waited, cautiously, hoping that Benny wasn’t dead when the dilapidated door slowly opened and Vee stepped out onto the deck wearing a soft, serene curve on her lips that could have been beautiful if she hadn’t been carrying the severed head of Benny Jones. If she weren’t drenched in his blood as though she had bathed in it.
Gentlemen, Vee was a horror dressed in bruises and battle scars; a pretty pantomime of death and she struggled little when the local law enforcement rolled up to survey the damage and lead her away. She whispered to me when I brought her to back that she is happiest when she feels needed in some way, no matter how small it is and showed me a photo with a tiny smile that lit her eyes with less madness and more pleasure. “I matter to someone,” she murmured, holding the photo to her blood soaked chest and stared out the window at the city, “someone who doesn’t see the shackles or scars.”
Tonight, she smiled herself to sleep with her split lip trembling and her photo tight in her hand. I do not think she can help herself from coveting the tiny seed of knowledge that although commitment in any form is a unicorn, that there is a fragile glass spun string of emotion that connects two souls. It’s not a step but a start and one I hope will be just the beginning. Only time will tell.
Dr. J. T. Pasture