Entertaining Ideas

"If you could just follow me, Mr. Steely."

I did my best to both keep up and take in the surroundings. Glancing back over my shoulder towards the entrance driveway, I sighed as the scraggly pine trees shrouded what little I could see of the rest of the world. An interesting dichotomy, I thought, that something considered so calming and peaceful like pine trees could create such a harsh, cold barrier.

The etching on the glass front doors (well, I thought they were glass, but upon my own brief inspection I noted they were plexiglass) bore the fairly-scrolly name of the place: The Burckhardt Institute. The middle part of the name registered as "I've seen that somewhere within other context" in the mental catalog, but I couldn't remember where I'd seen it. I couldn't help thinking I didn't like the association for one reason or another, though.

As the two white-clad men led me down the stark halls, I whiffed the stale air. The scent surprised me; I always figured hostpitals and mental institutions would smell the same, but I was mistaken. A hospital, people say, smells like despair, but I don't think so. Comparitively, hospitals smell more like inconvenience. But this, this place reeked only of maddening despondancy. I could only pray I wouldn't come to smell like that. If I wasn't insane already, that could very well send me down that slippery slope into complete and utter textbook-madness.

"Mr. Steely?" I jerked from my olfactory reverie; apparently I'd stopped walking. Funny how things can happen like that when you're deep in thought. I looked up at my escorts. "This way, please," the left one instructed.

I caught the right one rolling his eyes and mutter something about lunatics.

Our pilgramige came to a halt in front of a door marked "Evaluation Room." I wonder what goes on in there, I thought to myself with a mental smirk. The left one opened the door and motioned for me to enter the blank white.

"The doctor'll be in shortly."

There was a click, and I was left alone a moment, which surprised me. Weren't they worried a supposed lunatic would try to escape?

"Well, technically, you're not comitted yet," I reasoned aloud. I stood up and began meandering around the table. I pondered a moment, cradling my chin in the crook of my hand. "Although, who am I to know it hasn't been predetermined for me that I'm stuck here?" I asked the stiff air. "I mean, this whole 'examination' could just be some placebo, give me a false sense of security... or sanity, in this case."

That was an interesting thought to entertain, predetermined comittment. Entertaining ideas often amused me, unless the idea happened to be finicky, or just downright unpleasant, as this one proved to be. I knew predetermined fate had been mathematically disproven (I crunched the numbers myself once, just to reassure myself), but that was just fate in general. The numbers stayed mum as to whether others jerking you along some path could happen, like one of those string-puppets that used to frustrate me as a child because they'd tangle the instant I touched them.

I must've been very deep in thought again, because I didn't notice someone enter the room until I looked up. It was a different man than the two who'd brought me in, which I took as relief. Those two and their condascending stares made me want to just crawl into a hole. This man's tinted skin and stature reminded me of a happy little Havanese violinist I met in The Village once. In my mind, though, it seemed like the violinist was stretched out to be a bit taller, left out in the sun for a while, and was none too happy about it all, resulting in this guy.

I coughed awkwardly and slid into a chair. He looked me up and down a moment, adjusting the folders and assorted papers in his hand. "Connor Steely?"

"That'd be me. Nobody else here that I'm aware of," I replied with a bit of a smirk.

"Were you expecting anyone else to be here?" he inquired.

I admit, I was taken aback by this question. "Well... no, it's just that you addressed me as if you were in a room with a bunch of other people, and you weren't quite sure which one went by 'Connor Steely'."

"I see." He set his paper on the table. "Now, before we begin your evaluation I wanted to ask you a quick question."

"Fire away... erm..."

"Dr. Escobar."

"Alright then. Fire away, Dr. Escobar."

"As I was approaching the door, I heard you speaking. Were you talking to anyone in particular?"

I shook my head. "Oh no, sir. I was just reasoning aloud. It helps me collect my thoughts, you see."

He nodded, picking up a laden clipboard on the top of his pile and seating himself opposite me.

At that point I realized he had yet to take his eyes off me. Now that he was a bit closer I could get a better look at his eyes; I was a bit surprised to find that they, like mine, were a steel grey. I'd run across my second dichotomy that day: I've been told more than once my eyes were a rather warm grey, a vibrant grey, a living grey. His eyes were the almost absolute antithesis: cold, lacklustre, but they still held a spark of some kind of enthusiasm. Now, I'm all for enthusiasm, but there was something I saw that made me squirm ever so slightly.

The End

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