Coffee and Croissants
There she was - dressed in the darkest haze of shadows, with strands laced among her cheeks. She came here for her, but would soon find she was here for them. Her name was Cece; her father gave her the nick-name when she was a baby. He was the typical drunk, loved his family but never showed it. The absent kind. She still loved him. He was all she had left. Cece's mom passed away while hiking; the doctors said it was a heart condition. She did have her art though, her one true love.
Today was her interview. It was the day she was waiting for. Would Ms. Reynolds enjoy her art? Would she hate it? Cece couldn't wait to find out. She scurried into her red slacks, black slinky tee, and her favorite black blazer. It was a tad too warm for the blazer, but that didn't matter.
Cece began to draw when she was young. She had constant nightmares about the Asylum down the street from where she grew up - the Klein asylum. Her dad would often go on intoxicated rampages about the people there and how they were ruining society. Cece found that the Asylum began to inspire her passion of art. The characters in her dreams always ended up on her paper. Now she just needed to show the rest of the world.
"One more block down" she frantically called to the driver. The building looked as she imagined. It wasn't very modern: red brick layered the bottom to the top, small windows dressed each floor, ignoring any perceivable pattern, and an old mail room was visible through the clear glass door. She dropped her half-eaten croissant and still full cup of coffee in the trash. She lived on coffee and croissants. She rode the elevator with excitement but apprehension. Was this her debut?
She opened her portfolio slowly for one last glance. When she lifted her eyes, Ms. Reynolds stood in front of her outside the elevator door. Cece just knew it was her.
"Nice to meet you Cece, I'm Ms. Reynolds. Glad you found it ok."
"The pleasure is mine!" Cece shook her hand with delight.
The office was dank, something felt quite eerie, but rather interesting. She felt passion spark within her. Cece showed her portfolio to Ms. Reynolds and patiently waited to see her expression. She stopped at one of Cece's favorites. It was a charcoal sketch of a man with a sword through chest; his chest made of stone and snakes. Cece drew it after one nightmare and it became a part of her soul, as odd as that sounds.
There was always a constant character though in her dreams. He was an older man: he wore glasses, had a rusty-red beard, and very pale skin. He always looked suspicious. Cece was scared of him and never actually drew him.
"Well Cece you have the job!"
What....she didn't know what to say.
"You mean, your hiring me? Really?"
"Yes, sort of like giving you your first assignment and we'll take it from there."
"Wow. Thank you!" She was so happy she wanted to hug Ms. Reynolds, but of course she restrained herself.
"I want you to visit the Klein Asylum and meet with the patients. Get some inspiration for our gallery opening. The patients are all agreeable to your visit and excited to talk and share with you. Just keep a journal and let your creativity flow. We will need five pieces created with a small excerpt on each patient, with their permission of course."
Uh... "Really the Klein Asylum?" Cece was obviously hesitant.
"Yes Cece I believe you have what we are looking for."
Just like that Cece was off to the Klein Asylum for her tour. She was welcomed by Mary, the head nurse. From there Cece felt comfortable but stressed. As if she knew why to expect but had no recollection of meeting anyone here before. Cece was shown each dark-lit room along side Mary and met several unique patients. Some appearing normal but when triggered, became completely different individuals. Some were sad. Some were lonely. Some just wanted to die but weren't granted that right.
Cece always wanted a sibling. She felt lonely often and used her dolls to keep her entertained. Her mom was kind, but couldn't relate well to Cece. Plus, she let her drunk husband call the shots. Cece hated that. On the most lonely nights, a nightmare would be coming. She always left her pencils and paints next to her bed incase she needed them right away.
The tour was coming to an end. She then heard a voice shout her name from upstairs, a familiar voice. She slowly walked upstairs, escorted by Mary.
"Hi Cece are you ready to paint?"
It was the man in her nightmares: he wore glasses, had a rusty-red beard, and very pale skin. Cece thought she was just having another nightmare; she tensed up and couldnt speak. His name was Mr. Frederick and he was the head Psychiatrist at the Asylum. Cece sat down next to him, as if someone else controlled her body now. He handed her some pastel oil paints and smiled. He placed his hand on her thigh. Cece's temperature dropped lower. She thought his was part of the assignment; perhaps, a test. She began to draw and blocked out the touch of his hand on her red-covered thigh. A few seconds later, she looked down and noticed her pants were no longer the shade of red she slipped on this morning. No black blazer in sight. All she saw was blue. Her hair longer than it was this morning. Cece began to feel the heat come back to her.
"What the fuck is going on! Get your dirty hands off me!"
"Cece it's okay it's me, Mr. Frederick."
"What the fuck! Is this a test?"
"No tests sweetheart, we are just drawing today..."
She glanced around the art room and realized only her art covered the walls. Smack in the center was her favorite piece; it was a man with a sword through his chest- his chest made of stone and snakes.
She began to have a flash-back. She had been here before.
"Cece you're okay, it's just a bad day. You're home at Klein."
"Are you fucking crazy, you were just trying to fuck me or something a minute ago!"
"Cece your father was molesting you since you were a child and you have been in and out of hospitals since for depression and PTSD. I touch your leg sometimes because you only draw with physical contact. We have been decreasing that each month your here."
"He never molested me! You are though!" The nurses came up and closed the door so the other patients didn't hear. I saw they had a syringe in heir pocket.
"Cece you were pregnant with your fathers child at eighteen and your mom didn't believe you. You miscarried in your second trimester. I have touched you to help you stay creative and to cope. I know it's not right as a doctor but it was the only way you would keep expressing yourself. I never raped you or made you perform anything on me." Just like that, memories flooded her vision.
She asked "how long have I been here?"
"Since you were eighteen. About seven years."
"Are my parents alive?"
"Your mom passed away several years ago in a car accident. You like to envision her hiking and usually cope with her passing by remembering her that way, being in nature. Your dad, I'm sorry to say, was killed in prison a few weeks ago. We have not yet been able to process his passing, but we will with time..."
Her head dropped. She felt confused but remembered it all now. The truth was now reality.
"But what about Ms. Reynolds? The interview?"
"You often have dreams of showing your art to the world and opening a gallery. These are thoughts we encourage and this room has become your studio."
It was then I heard my favorite voice shout up, it was Mary. "It's time for coffee and croissants everyone!"