School For The Mediums
“Isn’t it all quite so breathtaking?” Dr. Satori lovingly sighs.
I push my hands into my jacket pockets and turn to stare at her.
A part of me wants to correct her.
Dark. Dreary. Suffocating. Intimating.
Those are the words I’m thinking of.
“It really is.” Mom takes her hands off her hips and settles a soft gaze on me. “What do you think, Hadiza? You’re going to feel comfortable here?”
I see her eyes. She’s got this look. Terrified, anxious, hopeful, wistful. It’s all jumbled together into a mix of scrunched brows, tight lips, and dilated black pupils.
I scared her. I… still scare her. So, now we’re heading on the property of some huge mental hospital for crazy people, where I’m expected to stay until I ‘get better’. She doesn’t know how long that will be, and neither do I. I don’t think anyone knows.
So, she needs me to say yes.
“Hadiza?” Mom tries again. I can hear her trying to hide the begging plead in her voice.
She really needs me to say yes.
But all I can do is grip my fists and turn my back to them. The distant landscape of forest trees and bushes on the other side of the property seems like the perfect view to ignore the stinging look of Mom’s disappointment.
“Hadiza.” Mom sighs.
“Don’t worry, Yuna-san. A lot of the kids when they first come here are emotionally tense.”
“As in emotionally distraught.”
I let their voices fade into the background as I reach for my phone in my back pocket.
“Huh?” As soon as my hand slips into an empty pocket, confusion settles.
Did I leave my phone in the car?
I turn around and march my way past Dr. Satori and Mom. I do my best to avoid Mom’s gaze.
“Yes, some are just emotional---Something the matter, Dizzy Diza?” Dr. Satori stops mid-sentence distracted by me as I pull open the car doors.
I don’t want to speak or answer that awful name, but I feel Mom’s attentive stare.
‘Don’t be rude, Hadiza, it is just a silly nickname. She said she gives all of her patient's nicknames so they can feel more comfortable around us.’ I can already hear her complaining.
With a grimace, I reply, “I left my phone in the car.”
“Phone? You didn’t tell her?”
“Tell me what?” I slam the car shut and whip around to face Dr. Satori.
“There are no phones, computers, cameras, voice recorders, and really any other electronic devices allowed on the Institute’s premise.” Dr. Satori finishes listing it out on her fingers with a smile. “Any outside devices or technology that interfere with the treatments are not allowed.”
I narrow my eyes. “So, you’re isolating us.”
“I wouldn’t call it that.” Dr. Satori laughs, her fox-cut eyes shrinking.
“I’d call it that.” I challenge with a small glare.
“Will you, now?” Dr. Satori is taken aback a bit.
“N-no, no she won’t. Hadiza.” Mom stares at me.
“And you knew about this ‘policy’?” I return her stare.
“… Yes.” Mom locks her throat. I can see the muscles in her neck tightening. “I know how this may make you feel, but, as I understand it, it’s… for you to get better. Dr. Satori says that the outside world may be stressful and could trigger you at any moment.”
“I’m not a ticking bomb,” I snap. My heart rate is starting up again, and I feel a rush of betrayal and anger pulsing in my face.
“No one said you were,” Mom says.
Then why is it I feel like I’m being treated like it? The thought comes, but I don’t have the heart to say it.
“Sure.” I look away and storm to the open car trunk to snatch my luggage.
Of course, Mom packed me with the largest and heaviest luggage, so when I do, I stumbled and almost tripped.
I hear her concern, but I catch myself right before I clumsily topple over.
You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid. You’re stupid.
A faint voice from somewhere in the abyss of my broken head fades in out and out as usual.
Annoyed and more than ready for this day to end, I haul my suitcase and roll it towards the main building I’ve seen in the informational pamphlets.
“Ahem.” Dr. Satori clears her throat. “Well, Yuna-san. She’s ready to go inside, which means it’s time for you to go.”
“Are you sure I can’t come inside?”
Their voices follow me as I roll my bag past them.
“The pictures and the 3d layout and models of the buildings were nice, but it would be better to see it in person. Just so I know, my daughter will be comfortable here. You understand as a parent, I need it.”
“Yuna-san,” Dr. Satori singly buzzes. “You know we have strict policies. You read in the contracts that we do not allow outsiders and visitors to disturb the patient’s treatments. When it is a visiting day, you can come to visit.”
“But that is one day out of the year, at the very end of the year. That’s a very long time, and this is my daughter we’re talking about,” Mom emphasizes.
“You formally accepted and verbally agreed that you understood our treatment policies, and will comply with what the Institutes needs. We are professionals. We have these measures to help the children. Please trust in our judgment.”
I turn around and quickly interrupt. “Just leave.”
I’m tired of hearing them go back and forth.
I’m stuck here whether or not Mom’s holding my hand through this process.
“Hadiza?” She’s clearly hurt.
“Just go.” I turn away.
“But, Hadiza, I just want to make sure you’re settled in and are truly comfortable.”
“Don’t need it.” I start walking ahead.
“You heard her.” I can still hear Dr. Satori’s calm and certain voice.
“Off to the car you go, Yuna-san!”
“Oh, b-but Dr. Satori, I need to at least give her another hug and---.”
“—Yuna-san, there will be plenty of hugs and kisses when you come to visit in a few months.”
I keep walking.
“Come on, Yuna-san, it’s time to leave.”
Just for a moment, I peek back at them. Defeated, Mom stands a little hopelessly by the car door while Dr. Satori eagerly tries to usher her into the seat.
As soon as she manages to get Mom inside, Dr. Satori quickly slams the car door. She then walks over to the driver’s side and lightly knocks on the car window.
After she firmly closes the car door, Dr. Satori
Slowly, it rolls down just partially to where I could see the top of a head and the beginning of eyes. All I can see is pale skin and platinum silver hair, but just before I can make out the full details, Dr. Satori leans in front of the window.
She’s muttering something, and all I can make out are a few simple words. “… can… have… bubble gum?”
Those words weren’t anything notable until I heard a familiar, distinct sound of someone popping and smacking gum.
In fact, it sounded just like those weirdo-maybe-reporters who were standing in front of my house a few days ago.
I hear it again as Dr. Satori steps away from the car window.
My heart drops.
Pale, milky white skin, and hair the color of white sliver. That man and woman who stood in front of my house before are now in the driver’s seat of the same limousine that drove me here. It’s also the same one that’s about to drive my mom back home.
My suitcase handle slips from my grasp.
I don’t think. I just started running towards the car.
“Mom!” I screech and squawk like a bird and flap my arms around just as wildly. “Mom!”
But my timing is too late. All I’m doing is running towards a car that’s already halfway down the main road.
“Woah, slow down there, Dizzy Diza!” Dr. Satori chuckles.
I’m panting and sweating bullets by the time I stumble to the spot where they’ve just left.
“What’s going, Dizzy Diza?”
The nickname annoys me, but I keep my focus straight. “My… mom….” I stop to pant between breaths. “There were some… I think stalkers… they stalked my house and now they… they’re… they were in the car with my mom.” I finish with a gasp for air.
“Stalkers?” Dr. Satori tilts her head.
“Yes!” I finally have enough breath to exclaim loudly at her.
“In the car with your mom?”
“Yes! They were at my house and I thought were reporters or just some weirdos who wanted to see me because my heart stopped but now---.” I stop and knot my tongue.
The way Dr. Satori is staring at me… it’s almost like she knows.
I feel the blood drain from my face.
I take a step back from her.
“Hadiza-san, what’s wrong?” She smiles.
Her smile makes my stomach twist.
“Hadiza-san---?” When reaches out for me, I whip around and prepare to burst into a sprint.
What is going on?
What is going on?
The question is hammering in my head as I pump my legs. I don’t know where my panicked adrenaline rush is going to take me but I know I don’t want to stop---.
Something sharp pierces my back. The pain is sudden and short, but the shock alone knocks me to my knees.
Everything feels weak as my body crumbles to the ground.
Tap. Tap. Crunch.
I hear footsteps approaching, but the rest of my senses are turning numb and my vision fading. All I can see in my spinning world is Dr. Satori and an unfamiliar man in a tie-dye lab coat looking down at me.
“Haah.” Dr. Satori tilts her head at me. “You just had to shoot her with a tranquilizer, didn’t you?”
“She just had to run, didn’t she?” I can’t make out the features of the man’s face through my closing eyes.
“You know, Mirani is going to be mad at you.”
“Good. I like that little nose crinkle she gets when she’s mad. It’s ugly, but it gets me every time.”