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The Darkness of Her Shadow
The patient sat properly on the chair across from me, her back perfectly straight, knees together and ten perfectly manicured fingers folded neatly on her lap. The only indication that she held the anger management problems her mother mentioned were her eyes, which seemed to glare at everything in the room while still leaving nary a wrinkle on her brow. It was quite unsettling not just as her psychiatrist but also as the acquaintances we had just become. When she first walked through the door in her flowery sundress I had assumed she was actually a kind girl and her mother was simply over reacting, as mothers do. First impressions can easily be wrong.
She stopped looking around and focused her hateful eyes on me, making me wish I hadn’t spoken a word. Talking to this girl was going to be tricky. With this realization, I switched tactics and pulled a sheet of paper from the top of my desk.
“Delilah, what do you see?”
I handed the piece of paper to her and she held it delicately in both hands. Her arms were so graceful the gold bracelet which dangled from her thin wrist barely even tinkled.
“A blank sheet of paper.” Her words were filled with resentment as she stated the obvious. It was clear by the way she cocked a blonde and nearly invisible eye brow that she wanted me to feel stupid, but I’ve asked this question to many of my patients and was expecting an answer along those lines.
“I was referring to what was on the paper.”
She glanced down at the piece of paper briefly before rolling her angry green eyes. “There’s nothing on the paper, stupid, hence why it’s blank.”
She tapped a long fingernail on the side of the chair as though she was irritated by a boring conversation, but I had a gut feeling that I knew exactly how to capture her interest. She’s clever and cocky and because of this school probably bores her. All she needs is a good puzzle to get her mind at work.
“I assure you, there’s something on the paper, but only a special few are skillful enough to see it.”
Her eyes lingered on me a moment as though to determine whether or not I was being serious. She studied the blank piece of paper and I could almost see her mind at work. Usually with teenagers like her, they don’t trust me the first meeting, but typically by the third I can get them to open up. Understanding people is a helpful talent of mine.
“Can’t you see it? I mean, you’ve been staring straight at it for a few minutes now.”
“Who are these skillful few you speak of? Surely not those imbeciles crude men such as yourself have locked away in an asylum.”
To her surprise, I laughed. It wasn’t a genuine laugh. I just wanted to see her reaction to laughter, especially in the face of scrutiny. Apparently people don’t often laugh when she discourages them in some way.
“I suppose the great Vincent Van Gogh was crazy enough to be put in an asylum or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart naughty enough to be rejected by society and thrown in a loony bin.”
Which this clue she studied the paper again.
With this word, she looked at me expectantly, so I gave her an approving nod. She was a clever girl, that’s for certain. She’s quite well spoken as well. All of her words are clear, concise, and precisely chosen.
“Do you see anything inside the paper?”
I was expecting her to take some time, but it was her turn to surprise me. She answered immediately and without hesitation.
“Shadows. Shadows make potential imperfect.” She looked down as she spoke, looking into something only she could see.
This was the first time a patient had described a drawing on a piece of paper as making the paper imperfect, but Delilah wasn’t like any of my other patients. Then again, no human being is truly the same as another.
“And what is a shadow?”
“Darkness that never lets you alone.”
What was before a graceful hand now shook. She looked into the blank piece of paper ever harder, her eyebrows burrowing into a frown.
“What is in the darkness?”
Her eyes widened but then quickly shut as she looked away. She saw whatever was in her darkness.
“There is nothing in the darkness, for there is nothing on the paper. It is blank.”
She stood up on graceful legs and strode out of the room, her blonde curls trailing behind her, taking the piece of paper with her.