Jared eats in the cafeteria and meets an unlikely patient
I grabbed my tray, making a sound of disgust at the familliar slop on the plate and I looked out over the sea of tables. In my days of working here I had never been here in the day. It looked like a bread line where people paid their life's earnings for a half a bowl of soup and some expired milk. It almost made me sick, wanted to puke up what I hadn't even eaten yet. Just because someone was crazy didn't mean they had to be treated like they didn't matter.
There wasn't a place for me so I took my tray to the farthest corner and like the outcast I was I ate there. My mouth tried to fight against the taste but I managed to keep it down and eat another spoonful. If I wanted things to continue this way I needed to act the part. I needed to cooperate. Maybe all this could mean an early release?
I felt a presence come next to me and I immediately stiffened. I hadn't had much contact with many people except the same orderlies and the two doctors I had been assigned. Being next to someone was as foreign as a tan out in the North Pole.
"Heard you killed a patient...we've been waiting for you to come out here." The voice was nearly crippled, a faded sound of a previous life.
I looked up at him and saw what I hadn't expected. He didn't match his voice. He was vibrant, this place hadn't put a damper on any part of him. It was almost amazing. His eyes were bright and the teeth behind his lips were pearly white. He was young, younger than I was and very curious.
"Why'd you do it? I mean, who would wanna join this fold?" He threw something into his mouth and chewed almost furiously on it.
I sucked in my breath and tried to ignore the kid until he walked away. People like him were known for losing interest quickly. In this generation not even Star Wars can keep someone entertained.
"I'm sorry. I talk too much. Everyone is just so curious about you. You must have done something pretty bad to have been in isolation for so long."
I glanced over at him, my finger releasing my spoon. "Don't you have someone else to talk to?" It was starting to feel like a typical day at school except I never ate alone.He laughed and shook his head. "No. I'm just the kid around here. No one thinks I've earned my stripes."
"Why are you here?" I noticed then how something flashed in his eyes. Something that danced between the lines of suffering and nonchalance.
His eyes went blank then and he looked away.
"Can't I be curious too?" I asked, hating that my question was going unanswered as if I had no right to ask a damned thing. I had already lost enough control as it was, didn't I have a say in anything?
"I don't remember why I'm here." There was something distant about his tone like he wanted the subject to drift away and no longer exist. Where was the magic genie when you needed him?
I lowered my voice and moved closer to him, making it confidential. "What do you mean? You don't remember anything at all?"
He shook his head. "Woke up one morning and my mom was crying her eyes out. She kept telling them not to take me but my dad was saying it was for the best." He shrugged a little as if it were a distant memory but with how young he was it probably had only happened a short while ago.
"And you don't know why they wanted to take you?" I felt my confusion rise in me like a pest. It mixed with an unrecognized fear and I felt myself get all mixed up.
Again he shook his head. "But everytime I see my dad he says this is for the best."
"When do you see your dad? Why do you think he tells you that?"
"Because he knows things I guess. Knows things about this kind of stuff....and I see my dad everyday."
"You get visitors everyday?"
He smiled a little and shook his head. He did that a lot. "Nah he works here."
"Here? He works here?"
"Yeah. He's a doctor. Dr. Timothy Lawrence."