Jack and Jill.

The treachery of images (This is not a pipe) La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) Rene Magritte
The treachery of images (This is not a pipe)
La Trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe)
Rene Magritte

I never really liked colour white, it is empty and disturbing, it is for that reason that I feel uncomfortable in hospitals, too much emptiness and loneliness. However, in my line of profession you can not be picky, so I put on my white robe and shoes and go to interview a new patient. It is never easy with new patients, they are so certain they are right about the way the see the world, about how they see themselves and how things have to be or could be. The more I work here the more I realise that it is true for everyone even if you are in no need of special treatment and care.

He walks into the room slowly and we watch each other curiously, cautiously, methodically on my part, meticulously on his.

– Do sit down.

– May I?

– Yes, of course, please feel comfortable.

We talk but he does not feel comfortable and I even more so.

– You have amazing memory for dates and years, – I remark.

– It comes easily, I used to be good at mathematics just like you in high school.

This is not the first time he is using “just like you” in this conversation. I am jotting it down, shivering from the cold that these facts give me. They are like icy wind blowing through my brain. I look up.

– Just like me?

He switches to a different topic, trying to cover it up as a slip, I feel it is done on purpose.

– Were you good at mathematics yourself?

He does not answer, he slightly nods and looks outside.

The more we talk the more certain  I become about the fact that I am not interviewing him but it is the other way round and sometimes it is not even a dialogue, it is a monologue on his part about me. I regard it as coincidental imagination, thinking of all the fancy medical terms I can think of to give his state a name, I am frustrated even, I want to send him away.

– The same colour your wife liked.

I stop and look up from my paper.

– Which colour would that be? – I say impatiently.

– Why? Green.

The moment I felt I lost my patience, I lost it all. I could not handle this interview anymore. I sent him away. Looking though all the notes I have made so far, how neatly they stick together, starting from my high school days, up till my medical career, marriage, divorce and the fire the hospital I worked previously at.

Why was he transferred to this place at all? I look at his record realising that he escaped the same fire I did in the previous hospital. I pick up the receiver and dial my old acquaintance who went in a different line of work after our medical years but luckily we have not drifted apart.

– Hi, Jack. Are you busy?

– Hey, no no, have time for a cons ilium of you ask me.

– This is exactly why I am calling. I need your advice.

I tell him about today’s events rapidly at times chaotically, repeating myself to make sure it is clear. Jack is patient and professional about it, I can feel it. He listens and nods, I can feel that too.

– You need to take him to a different environment, rather than the hospital one, it might be that another environment is going to effect the way he is telling the same story differently.

I think about that trying to apply this advice and see how it is going to work in my case.

– Thanks Jack. Do not tumble down, talk to you later.

I look over my notes before I go to sleep and then do not got to sleep at all. Instead of tossing and turning, I’d rather be walking and jogging. I go outside. The air is heavy with the darkness of the night, it weights on me making my thoughts even heavier. I am trying to put it all in order.

Margaret loved green. I am good at math and the fire was no coincidence.

Next morning I make a point of calling Jack first thing but somehow never come round to that. I need to make a series of interviews with the patient in order to learn more about him and somehow myself.

– Tell me more about the fire.

– The fire was an arson organised by a patient in the hospital in order to escape, – he says without slight hesitation.

– What makes you think that?

– It is as clear as day, you set the fire to the building and escaped.

I feel like the room is turning around me. Is he accusing me of an arson of my previous work place?

– I was there, – he continues, – among other doctors.

That’s where heavy thoughts overpower me.

– I need to make a phone call.

– To Jack? You still call him, ha?

Up Jack got and home did trot,

As fast as he could caper;

And went to bed and bound his head

With vinegar and brown paper

I look into his eyes and see my reflection, it is a scary realisation of how glassy his look is, sober, straightforward and glassy.

– You may make your phone call, Jill. If you still like to be called that.

I dial again and again but no one picks up. He, however, picks up my white empty, lonely robe,puts it on and like all those times walks outside of the room closing the door silently behind himself and I hear him say.

– The diagnosis is the same.


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