Secrets of the Psyche 

(an excerpt) by Halie Krawczyk 

I start counting the second I hear feet hitting the ground. It takes roughly ten steps to get to the room in which I am waiting, depending on the walker. Their weight, speed, and height determine the approximate result. There are two sets of feet stepping my way right now; one is recognizable as my nurse. I can tell it’s her by the sound her thick-soled flats make against the cold pearly-white tiles outside my thinly reinforced steel door. She is walking at a pace of 2.9 miles per hour, due to her height of 5’2″ and short strides. The person who is with her sounds a bit more distant, walking behind her, unfamiliar with the hospital’s layout. Obviously not a staff member. Their footsteps make a heavier thudding noise typical of heavy work shoes. As determined by the amount of noise, I can say that this person is decently young and decently tall. Based on genetics and varied statistics around this fact, I can say that this person is probably a man. 

Only five more steps to go and they’ll be at my door. Four: the metallic clattering of the twenty-three keys on my nurse’s keyring just outside my door. Three: the resonant clinking of each key against another as she tries to single out the one marked with my name. Two: the sudden silence as she finally finds the key to the one-cylinder mortise lockbox where she will then present her staff I.D. card. One: the sound of the keys sliding into its lock and clicking as it’s turned into place. Then, the sound of the biometric lock beeping as it accepts her card. Finally, the clicking of the bolt as it slides out of place and my door is pulled outward to make sure I’m not hiding behind it. 

My eyes snap over to my nurse’s companion. It’s a male, and based on appearance and stature I can assume he’s somewhere around twenty-five years old. He has straight, dark black hair, slicked back to make him look more professional. His eyes are a bright silvery color, staring at me with such intensity that he almost immediately reveals why he’s here. He has an extended shadow goatee and is wearing a black three-piece suit. After doing some basic mathematics I can determine that he is 6’3″ in height and has a muscular build. I also notice that he has a briefcase in his right hand, and based on the way it is slightly crooked, I can tell that he is left-handed. My nurse is the first to talk. “Michael, this is Annabeth, the one we were telling you about.” And now I know his name is Michael. 

“Thank you, Corrine, I can take it from here.” I am oh-so curious as to what they are talking about. “Anna, he’s just here to talk to you. He’s helping to conduct a study that’s being done at his university.” She hides her lips from him with her left hand as if somehow he won’t hear her. She smiles. “He’s a psychology major.” 

“Well, I do suppose the best place for things like that would be an insane asylum, wouldn’t it?” I respond almost sarcastically. 

“Well, that’s the thing,” he scoffs. “You’re not insane, are you?” “My file says otherwise,” I leer, wanting to test his patience. “Your file says a lot of things,” he retorts. Choosing to ignore his last remark, I continue assessing him. It’s not that I suspect him of doing anything, I just enjoy seeing the face people make when I get everything right. It’s just who I am.

“Well, even if it is true—that I’m not insane—you’re here to do research on psychotic people, correct? So what brings you to my lovely room?” 

“Curiosity,” he mumbles cautiously. 

“Oh!” I exclaim, looking over to my nurse, who is still standing next to him. “I like him.” 

She smiles hesitantly and walks back out the door, closing it behind her. She never really liked me, I suppose. 

“So why are you really here?” he asks 

I wonder why he’s so interested in me of all people? Oh well, just this once I won’t question it; after all, he’s just like the rest of them. Our time together will surely end in more experiments.