Home > Stay with Me(3)

Stay with Me(3)
Author: Nicole Fiorina

   Stanley ran the detector down each side of my waist, and as soon as it met my hip, the beeper went off.

   “Hand it over,” Lynch said with a palm in the air. “Cell phones aren’t permitted.”

   “You got to be kidding me. I can’t even listen to my music?” Screw talking to anyone. I didn’t care if I never spoke with my father or Diane again.

   “I will need your earphones and any other valuables as well.”

   I unwrapped my headphones from around my neck and dropped them into his palm. “Would you like blood and a pap smear while you’re at it?” I sneered.

   Lynch relaxed his shoulders. “That will come after our brief meeting.”

   My brows snapped together. I had been kidding, but he was serious.

   After Dean Lynch collected the only items to keep me sane, I walked through the security checkpoint without any beeps. Lynch ushered me down the hall across the shiny white and gray swirled marbled floor.

   I took in my surroundings as I followed close behind. Natural colored board and batten spread over the walls on each side of me. “We are two weeks into the new school year, so you’re already behind. I understand this is your first year in a university?” Lynch asked as he quickly shuffled ahead of me. He was skinny, breakable, and I hoped if he turned to his side, he would vanish into thin air.

   “Yeah, that’s right.”

   Lynch paused mid-stride, and I almost crashed into him. He turned at the waist, and instead of disappearing as I’d hoped, he peered down at me, his teeth yellow and crooked. “We use our manners here at Dolor.” His face was white, and his eyes were crystal blue and sunken, acne scars covering his expression.

   “Yes, sir,” I whispered with a grin.

   His lifeless eyes sliced into mine, but I held my ground. I’d lived with the same searing eyes for over nine years. Nothing could break me under pressure.

   Lynch faced forward again and continued to walk down the empty hall at the same fast pace as before, but this time I kept a good five feet between the two of us.

   Large portraits lined over the board and batten in a row. Each picture was framed in tarnished brass containing the same lifeless eyes as Lynch’s. It seemed whoever walked through the doors would have the life sucked right out of them.

   We turned a corner and entered an office. Lynch gestured for me to take a seat. Cherry wood bookshelves lined the entire wall behind his matching cherry wood desk, and a large window with a thick red velvet curtain took up most of the adjacent wall. His desk lacked clutter, aside from a single folder with my name printed on the tab. He took a seat, rolled under his desk, and opened the file.

   “Your first year will be working toward your undergraduate degree, which is transferrable in the states. If you succeed the two years here at Dolor with appropriate grading, counseling, and group therapy requirements, along with good behavior, you will be discharged with a clear record.” Lynch pulled a paper from the top and handed it to me. “Here is your schedule. You will meet with Dr. Conway twice a week, and you will start group therapy your second week after you have grown accustomed to our ways. Here is the Dolor handbook. I suggest you familiarize yourself with our code of conduct and dress code.” The thick handbook was handed over to me. “Do you have any questions, Miss Jett?”

   I shook my head despite the fact I had dazed off halfway through.

   “Very well, then. Stanley will escort you to the nurse’s station before showing you to your dorm.” Lynch closed the folder and filed it into a drawer of the desk as I sat in a fog. “Miss Jett, if you miss a session, you will be forced to solitary confinement. If you cause any problems, you will be sent to solitary confinement. If you—”

   An exaggerated sigh escaped me. “I understand. Solitary confinement.”

   “This is your only chance. If you cannot play nice, you will be forced to leave and be admitted into a mental institution per your judge’s discretion. Do you want that?”

   I stared, allowing the words to sink in when he pressed me with a glare. “No, sir.”

   Lynch nodded. “Stanley, she’s all yours.”

   I followed Stanley to the nurse’s station, the only sounds in the empty halls being the heels of my combat boots against the marble and a jingle of keys attached to Stanley’s belt. I debated back and forth on whether or not to try to get Stanley on my good side with casual conversation and charm, but the moment I opened my mouth, we arrived.

   The sizeable sterile room was blinding. All the walls were a crisp white under the fluorescent lights. Three hospital beds with the same fresh white bedding sat in a row, each having the option of enclosure by a thin white curtain. White machines covered in buttons stood against the walls, along with various wired baskets filled with different-sized blue gloves. The smell of hand sanitizer knocked my nose senseless.

   “Do you need to use the loo before we get started?” a dark-skinned woman asked, coming from another door off to the side. Stanley had since left and closed the door behind him, but I was sure he wouldn’t stray too far, possibly just outside the door waiting for me like a good watchdog.

   “The loo?” I asked, turning back to face her. “Oh, that’s right. You guys call it that here … no, I’m good.”

   “Let’s get right to it, then. Drop your bottoms and knickers and lie back on the table. I’ll wait behind the curtain until you’re ready.”

   With pap smear, fingerprints, and blood work completed, I was violated in all ways possible. The nurse explained it was routine to check for sexually transmitted diseases, physical abnormalities, and disabilities as we went over my medical history. We talked about my birth control, which I no longer had control over. She would regulate it from this point forward.

   Just as I had expected, Stanley greeted me right outside the door. We stepped up a flight of curved marble stairs with a black iron railing and walked down a corridor lined with the same board and batten before we turned a corner. “Classrooms are located on the third level. Living headquarters are stationed on the second. There is a map in your dorm.” We made another left. “Here you have the community bathroom, and the mess hall is located straight ahead and to the right,” he said, explaining with hand motions. “You will be staying in the fourth wing, sharing this bathroom with the third wing.”

   “Community bathroom? As in both genders sharing the same facilities?”

   “We are gender neutral and don’t discriminate. You will get used to it.”

   He paused to check for understanding from my part before he turned on his heel. Heavy steel doors lined the hall on each side. The floor was the same swirly gray marble, but the walls were now a cloud blue cement. We approached a door on the right as Stanley came to a stop. “No classes for you today. Get familiar with the handbook. Dinner is at five-thirty PM in the mess hall and curfew is eight-thirty PM. Doors will automatically lock at eight forty-five PM sharp. If you need to use the loo during the night, there’s a buzzer in your room. The guard on night shift will escort you.”

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