"Good morning, Alison."
Bah. No. It is not a good morning. I frown and cross my arms at the good Doctor Harcott. It is not a good morning at all.
We are together, the good doctor and I, in the therapy room, the room for talking about feelings. I am annoyed with this waste upon my time. I would much rather be reading the red book. But the rules say therapy time is for everyone (except for books) and with that I will be in trouble if I do not go. It has become much a routine annoyance. I tolerate the going. But little else.
"Now, what should we talk about today, Alice? Any ideas?" No. There are no ideas. But I do not speak, merely frown into brown eyes. He gets nothing from me today. I am not in the mood.
"No? Then I guess I may pick...how about that book of fairy tales you seem to love? The one with the red cover?" I freeze. This...is more excitement than I typically enjoy in a session. I do not know if I like it. But it may relieve the boredom. Perhaps today I will play along with the good doctor. After all. He is not such a bad man. Dull and strange, maybe. But not bad. I turn to look straight at the doctor, tilting my head slightly. He looks curious, and pleasantly surprised that he has gotten a reaction, any reaction from me. On a normal day, I stare away and think of no things as the good doctor attempts to talk at me. He must be very pleased. I am perversely happy at that. Strange.
"Yes? I have seen you reading it often. I imagine it has some very good stories, yes? How about what you like best about it, can you tell me that?" I watch him curiously as he speaks, absentmindedly taking in what he says. I think about what he asks me, what he tells me, turning it over and over in my head like a puzzle. Then I decide. Perhaps I will, as they say, make his day.
I speak: "I...like the stories." My voice is hoarse. I do not speak often, and my throat is dry. "They feel like...home."
"Home?" The good doctor is very excited. "What do you mean by that, Alison?"
I do not know. Home? Why did I utter that word? The red book reminds me nothing of the asylum with its white, white walls. Rather, the red book feels a pleasant change from my life, one I hold as dear to me as the red. And it is not as if it can remind me of anything else. Though I know I have been here in the white asylum only a few years, I can remember nothing else. My earliest memories are of a slightly younger me, wandering the halls in a daze. Home? Why would fairy tales remind of home? The good doctor is expectant, waiting for me to speak, but I do not, lost in the wanderings of my mind. He is too used to my silence to really be offended. He goes on.
"What can you tell me about home, Alison? Anything?" No! Nothing! I know no home, none that you do not know! Why do you ask me these things! I am angry, coiling into my thoughts like a snake, huddled around the kernel of red. This goes beyond annoyance. I do not want to hear what the doctor has to say. Nyah nyah nyah, can't hear you. Somewhere in my mind, the words echo, drawn up from a hidden place. I want to scream.
The book, the red book, comes to mind. The story of a princess in a castle. I sink into the words, away, away. The words of the doctor fade away into a hum, and I fall into the rabbit hole.
"Good morning, Alison."