That Sanity of Ours

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IT WAS THE dead of the night when Violet was pulled awake from her sleep from the sound of knocking. Someone on the other side banged against the surface incessantly, refusing to let up and allow Violet even a second’s worth of quiet.

In the beginning, Violet assumed that she had been imagining it all. After all, the nights in Steinfield Asylum were anything but silent. Sometimes, the hallways would be scream-ridden, its floors soaking all the horrors and echoes before relaying them throughout the rest of the building. However, this time, the sound hit a little too close to her ears. It seemed as though it was her door that parted her from an unwanted and unknown visitor, not someone else’s.

“I know you’re awake,” the voice said from the other side, his velvety voice slightly muffled.

At his words, Violet’s eyes shot open. She eyed the door, narrowing them into slits with a frown. Holding her breath, she was careful not to make a sound. A part of her was curious to know how far the person on the other side of the door would go to get her to open up the door. If she had played dead, would he kick the door down? Or would he leave in fear of the guards catching him on their patrol route?

“You’re not fooling anyone,” the voice continued in a sing-song tune. “Open the door.”

With that, Violet jerked awake. She sat up, pulling the poor excuse of a blanket up her chest a little more even though she wasn’t even feeling cold. It was more for a false sense of safety. Slowly, she shuffled her way towards the door before fiddling with the peephole. Looking through, she was met with a pair of green eyes staring right back at her, glowing like a cat’s.

“Finally,” the person heaved, exasperated. He took a step back, allowing Violet to take a closer look at his features. “Is it that hard to open a door?”

Once he was a short distance away, Violet could finally recognize the person that had been pressuring her from the other side. Tall with broad shoulders, the new patient that had been dragged into Steinfield just a day ago stood towering with his arms folded across his chest. His lips were curled up slightly at the corners— not to warrant it as a smile but just enough to make him look amused.

“Recognize me?” He echoed the thoughts in Violet’s head, making her frown deepen.

“You’re the new patient,” Violet answered, careful with her words. “How could I not?”

“Ah.” This time, he smiled broadly, sinisterly. “But I’m sure that’s not why you recognize me. There’s another place you’ve seen me before, haven’t you? It’s a small hole but it’s enough to see your eyes. And darling, we all know that the eyes are windows to one’s souls.”

It was indeed a small peephole. Positioned right at eye level, it was a small rectangular opening that could be opened from both the inside and out. It was a way for the patients to check who was at their door and for the nurses to ensure that the patients were still inside their rooms without the need to unlock the door and step in. Why the new patient hadn’t just opened the peephole himself, Violet didn’t know. However, a part of her was grateful for his respect for her privacy.

“Do you want to be recognized?” Violet countered. She struggled to stabilize her voice, trying her best not to make it quiver.

“Everyone that does something out of the norm is someone who wishes to be recognized on some level,” came his reply. “And you seem to know what I’ve done, now, don’t you?”

Wisely, Violet chose not to answer. Instead, she swallowed the bile in her throat, clenching her fists at her sides to stop herself from shaking wildly. She chanted in her head, constantly reminding herself to be careful of her words, to be aware of her own actions when in front of this man. He was different from them. Unlike them who were prey left to rot in this hell, this man was a predator that called hell its den.

“Well, aren’t you going to invite me in? That’s awfully rude, you know.” The man playfully chastised, pretending to look hurt.

“The doors are locked,” Violet retorted flatly. “I don’t know how you got out but I would rather not get caught with you anywhere near my room at this hour.”

“Afraid of a little trouble?” He smirked.

“I just like to ward against it.”

“You’re a killjoy, darling.” His eyes darted downwards before pivoting back to look at Violet’s eyes. Inside his own, there was a twinkle of amusement that she caught in the dark of the night. “Then until morning, Miss Harper. Perhaps it will be more convenient to talk then.”

He took a few steps away from her door, prepared to disappear into the shadows as if he hadn’t stepped into the light at all. However, he hadn’t even taken more than three steps before he turned back, much to Violet’s dismay.

“Oh.” He clicked his tongue, raising a finger up as he turned to smirk at Violet. “A present. For you.” He flung something small towards Violet, expertly aiming so that it would fly through the small peephole and into Violet’s hands. “To commemorate our first official meeting,” he clarified. “I’m sure it will come in handy for you one day.”

After that was said and done, he turned and finally made an exit. When he was gone, Violet looked down into the palms of her hands, uncurling her fingers to reveal the ‘gift’ he had left her with. Under the silvery moonlight, the small item in her hand sparkled gold. It was a small key fashioned into a necklace with a matching gold chain. It was smaller than her index finger and much cleaner than most of the keys Violet had watched the guards and nurses use.

However, she wasn’t going to test the key’s usefulness. Not when the night was almost over and the sun would soon direct the nurses over to her room. Instead, she clasped the necklace around her neck, stuffing the key into her shirt before returning to bed.

That night, Violet couldn’t fall back to sleep after the surprise visit. Not even a wink.

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