The Road To Recovery

The silence that followed my inquiry was an uncomfortable one. Connor looked like he was torn between telling me about his afternoon, asking me about the temperature reading and, though I’m sure this last was purely my own paranoia, demanding to know what I was looking so guilty about. I gave him my best smile and waited for him to decide which option was the most pressing. Thankfully it turned out not to be the third one.

“It was great – I won my chess match!” He gave me a nod and a triumphant smile before continuing. “And I had a great chat with Doctor D – she’s really nice.”

“Yes, she’s really something alright,” I replied through grinding teeth. Forcing my jaw to relax, I asked, “Did you talk about anything in particular?”

“Oh, you know,” Connor replied as he moved across the room and took a seat on his bed, “a bit of this, a bit of that.”

“How terribly… specific of you,” I said with a strained smile. I was finding it difficult to hide just how concerned I was about their conversation while still finding a way to discover its contents. The fact that Connor was staring up at me without blinking wasn’t helping anything. “I’ll be sure to speak with the good doctor to see if she has any thoughts on possible treatments for you. Unless she already mentioned some to you…?”

“Well, now that I think of it,” he said, his cheeks darkening slightly, “I guess I did do most of the talking – I didn’t really give her much room to say anything at all. But hey, speaking of treatments: shouldn’t I be doing something to make me better?”

“Sorry?” I was too busy being relieved that Helena hadn’t messed up my work that I wasn’t prepared for Connor’s follow up question.

“It’s not that I’m not enjoying my stay here or anything,” Connor said in a rush as his eyes dropped to my feet, “it’s just that I do want to get out of here eventually, you know? And sitting around and playing chess and taking tests don’t seem like things that will make that happen.”

“Oh, right. Of course.” I covered my mouth with one hand in order to hide the smile that had leapt to my lips. I never would have dreamed that we would reach that point so soon. When Connor brought his eyes up to my face a few seconds later I had managed to return to my usual detached expression. “Well, as it turns out, I’m in the process of completing my assessment of your particular situation and I’ll be working with our resident pharmacist to plan out a drug therapy plan to set you on the road to recovery. I’ll also be putting together a few exercises for you to do, both mental and physical, that should help you regain an optimal level of mental health.”

“Oh, really?” He looked so excited and relieved and full of hope that I didn’t have to conceal my smile that time – just the meaning behind it. There would be no need to consult with Dr. Ng in the pharmacy, other than for the sake of appearances. The safe in my bedroom at home already contained all of the placebos, psychotics, anti-psychotics, hallucinogens, and analgesics to turn Connor’s mind inside and out a hundred times over. I had to stop myself from rubbing my hands together like a child in a candy factory.

 “Of course, Connor – you understand that it is my primary duty to get you back home, healthy and happy, as soon as safely possible, don’t you?”

“Yes, absolutely,” he replied but I thought I detected a slight hesitation and reluctance in his words. I made note of it and promised myself I would consider the matter later, when I could give it some uninterrupted thought. “But, um, not to question your approach or anything, seeing as you’re the professional here, but I was hoping that drugs wouldn’t be necessary.”

“Taking medication to help set things right is not a sign of weakness,” I told him in my best counsellor voice. “I realize there is a stigma attached to resorting to pills but let me assure you: they are there for a very good reason. They are needed and they do good work. You have my word that any prescriptions I give you will be completely safe and will only make you better faster. That is what you want, isn’t it?”

Of course it was. Magic in a bottle is too tempting for anyone to pass up, especially when the alternative is to remain in the nut house even longer. With that matter settled I turned for the door, eager to return to the sanctuary of my office.

“Um, Doc Esco?” Connor called as I reached the doorway. I turned to face him and raised a questioning eyebrow. “I was just wondering if you had a chance to check the temperature in here yet.”

“I did indeed,” I said as I held up my measuring device. “And it is, in fact, 72 degrees in here. Not only that, the staff have informed me that your room passed their air quality test with flying colors. I can show you the temperature reading now and I can pass along a copy of their report if you like.” I flicked the switch to the on position and was alarmed to see a reading of 71 appear before the one quickly transformed into a two. I gave it a shake before turning it so that Connor could see the display.

“You sure it’s working okay?” he asked, his forehead crinkling with doubt. “Because I’m-"

“Not a shadow of a doubt. I’m sure you’ll get used to all of the little differences around here sooner than later – just in time to get sent home, I bet!” I stepped out into the hallway and gave him a comforting smile before pulling the door closed between us. Letting out a heavy sigh of relief, I turned and strode down the blessedly empty hallway, already trying to decide which unmarked pill would get the honour of being the first down Connor’s gullible gullet.

The End

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