The Dark and Shadowy Places

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The Rorschach Test

I sat in a small grey room, wearing a matching grey jumpsuit. They weren’t very creative here. Why should they be? I thought with a shake of my head. It’s not as if they try to make you comfortable. It’s not like home. There’s no place like home, I thought, and I tried to suppress the smile that tugged at the corner of my lips and the laugh that threatened to burst out of me, thinking of the girl that sat on my left. My roommate. This is not the time, nor the place. It would just lead to questions. I stared straight ahead, trying to avoid the gazes of the three other women who sat around me in a circle. We all wore the same matching grey outfits. As if this place wasn’t depressing enough. I tried to look at the girl who was sitting opposite me and make it so her body blended in with the wall behind her. She had long blond hair, almost like mine, but lighter, brighter. Or it used to be, I thought. Now it looked lank and greasy, as if she hadn’t washed it for a few days, and didn’t care what she looked like. I knew how she felt. I’m pretty sure I looked the same way. She was taller than me, I saw. I could tell even though she was sitting. And she had blue eyes, like me too. Though hers were lighter, brighter than mine which were the dark blue of a lake on a sunny day. Without meaning to I started to imagine what she was like before. It seemed to shine through her dishevelled appearance, radiating from her. She used to be beautiful, and hold herself with grace. Though by the slouch of her shoulders, the slackness in her round face, that I could tell was pretty, even after a spell in here, and that the light had gone from her eyes, dulling them like a storm, that she had been beaten before. She had felt like this before, like we all did right now – imprisoned. There’s something about being trapped, that extinguishes a light inside you.

I realized I was staring at her, and she caught my eyes and gave a small, sad smile, raising her head slightly, removing from view the bright blue headband she wore, ineffectually, on her head. I averted my gaze.

We were alone at the moment, just the four of us, waiting, anxious, wondering what to expect. This was my first time here, and from a brief glance around the room at the knees bouncing up and down, the hands twisting in laps, the picking at fingernails, and the nervous humming, I wasn’t alone.

I moved the baggy sleeve of my dull jumpsuit up, distractedly rubbing the tattoo on my wrist. I saw my roommate watching me from under long eyelashes from the corner of her eye, and I saw her open her mouth, as if to say something, but she closed it again, afraid. She was small, smaller than me anyway, with long brown hair and brown eyes. She banged her feet, loudly, nervously against the legs of her chair. I noticed her bright red shoes and shook my head in dismay at her stupidity.

I looked around the room again, at the ceiling, with its Styrofoam square panels, and the sickly buzzing of the fluorescent lights, just naked tubes and then moved to the featureless walls – there was not even a single picture. The only thing in the room was the door. It was big, heavy, metal, with only a thin vertical slit in it for a window. Eventually my eyes fell on the girl who was sitting to my right in the small circle of chairs. She had mousey brown ringlets, tied back in a pony tail. She was the one that was humming. I noticed a patch sewn on her chest – Darling, in neat block letters. Her last name, just like mine was sewn on me. I looked to the girl across from me. Hers read Tremaine. I turned to the girl at my left. Her name was hidden by her hair, but I knew it anyway. Gale. The door opened with a squeak that made a shiver run down my back.

I bowed my head, and dark, polished high-heeled shoes came into view. I raised my eyes slightly and took in her sleek, tight pencil skirt, and fitted blazer, all black of course, over a crisp white blouse. Her hair was black and her presence seemed to suck whatever it of life was left in this room away. She held a tray with four thimble sized paper cups. She stood over at me, glaring down through her dark rimmed glassed. “Drink this,” she said, almost thrusting the cup in my face. I cringed at those words, it was automatic. She laughed, loud and sharp. “Don’t worry, Alice,” she said. I could hear her chiding me in her tone. “This isn’t going to do anything to you.” The woman paused, then added, “well, nothing like you might think anyway.”

I took the thimble-full of liquid carefully between my fingers. My sleeve moved down, exposing my tattoo. The woman’s eyes narrowed at the sight of it and she clucked her tongue. I hastily dropped my arm and the image of a small white rabbit disappeared again under the grey. “Alice, I wish you wouldn’t still cling to your fantasies,” the woman said as she passed out the remaining paper cups. “And that goes for all of you,” the therapist admonished. When her back was turned, I tipped mine out on the ground. I’d had enough bad experiences drinking potions.

The woman took a seat in an empty chair between Darling and Tremaine. She turned to look at each of us. “Now Alice, Wendy, Ella, and Dorothy. I hope you know why you’re all here. You all failed the Rorschach test.”

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