"A mental asylum!" Sam's eyes grew wide and concerned at the thought of my new job offer. "Annie! You said no of course?"
"No, I took the job."
"Annie! So you are as crazy as you look," he teased. Sam lightly nudged my arm and my heart leapt. I couldn't help it. Sam was one of the most beautiful people I had ever met. There was something about him. His aura was warm like there was a hearth deep inside of him always ablaze.
"How is Jemma?" I asked with the utmost lack of curiosity. Jemma was Sam's wife. Quite a wretched woman if you ask me, but then again I'm biased.
"Fine I suppose," he replied. Sam gazed out across the park below us. His feet swung back and forth in front of the stone wall on which we sat. I cocked my head to the side,
"Something the matter with you two?" I hated that I was slightly hopeful at the prospect of a problem in Sam's marriage.
"Oh it's just that the married life is a little dull for my taste," he sighed deeply, "I miss going on adventures with you Annie. I guess I just miss the college life." Sam seems quite adept at playing with my heart strings. It was his favorite musical instrument. I stood up abruptly and turned away from him quite quickly so he couldn't see me blushing.
"I have to go now, it was nice seeing you again Samuel." Feeling flustered I gathered my coat and my handbag. I held out my hand for him to shake and he stood up as well.
"What is wrong with you? A handshake, for me? It's absurd! We've known each other for as long as I can remember!"
"Yes," I whispered, "that is true." My heart was bound to beat right out of my chest.
"What?" Sam sounded genuinely hurt, "what's wrong?" Sam took my hand in his.
"Please don't do this," I said with a heavy heart. I pulled my hand out of his and he let his arm fall slowly to his side. His soft, brown eyes were wide and hurt. My heart twisted. I had to leave right away.
"I'm sorry I just haven't been feeling well lately."
"Annie," he said in a concerned voice, "maybe you should reschedule your meeting?"
"No, no that won't be necessary," I said with a nervous laugh, "speaking of that I must go or I will for sure be late." I turned away and started walking quickly down the cobblestone street in front of me.
"But Annie you said your meeting was at 3:00." I didn't respond. I started to walk more quickly until I was in a full on sprint. The wind stung my eyes as I ran and the tears kept falling soaking my face with salt water. I did not once look back. As I ran, I passed the large clock tower. I had about two hours before my interview at the Asylum. I'm sure whoever I was meeting wouldn't mind if I came a little early. I couldn't go home. Not now. My parents would worry and ask me what was wrong, but how could I tell them? How could I tell them such a thing? I had traveled a fair distance into the center of Augusta. The air was fresh and crisp on this warm July day. The wind ruffled my short, curly, blonde hair as I looked around. I saw that across the street was my favorite bookstore. That must mean that I was at the heart of Augusta. That also must mean the Sanatorium is just a small taxi ride away.
Once I had hailed a taxi, I was on my way to the outskirts of Augusta. I watched in silence has the rows of tall, lush, green trees passed me by at what seemed like the speed of sound. The air in the taxi was stale and humid and I began to feel overheated. I could ask the driver if I could crack the window, but he hadn't spoken a word since I told him my destination. I shifted in the rather uncomfortable, black, leather seats of the cab until, after what seemed like ages, we finally arrived at the Maine Mental Asylum. It strangely resembled the boarding school that I used to attend. I paid the taxi driver and stepped out of the cab. The building was made up of dozens of off-white bricks and held dozens of beautiful windows with the curtains drawn. After taking it all in, I walked up the gravel path to the large, gothic-looking fence. I found it hard to walk on the gravel as my shoes kept sinking in as I moved. I finally reached the gate. I was not entirely sure to do at this point. I'm pretty sure it said in the letter that I got, but that was in my room at home. No more than a few minutes later did a young girl around my age open the gates up.
"Welcome. Welcome," the girl spoke in a manner well beyond her years, "you must be the new nurse, you are a little early, but I am sure Mr. Doppler won't mind." She was struggling with the massive gate and I was contemplating whether or not to help her open it. For a small woman, I was surprisingly strong. She eventually opened the gate.
"May I take your coat?" she asked but did not wait for a response. She simply tugged my long coat off my shoulders and folded it into her arms. "This way if you please." The girl walked quickly and even though I was, at least, three feet taller than her I was struggling to keep up.
"Do you mind me asking your name Miss?"
"It's Hattie, dear," she answered, "and you must be Annabelle Windsor? Such a lovely name."
"Oh please, call me Annie, everyone does."
"If you wish Miss." When we arrived at the main door, I had to gasp under my breath. It was a huge, intricate, oak door with carvings depicting scenes of medics helping patients.
"The door... it's beautiful."
"Yes, yes," Hattie replied, "it's my favorite part of the hospital." She opened the grand door, and a musty smell rushed out. The hallway in front of us was dimly lit and resembled that of an old medieval castle. I half expected sconces to be hanging on the wall along with elegant tapestries, but there was none of that.
"Come along dear," Hattie said. So, at that, I started down the dark hallway into another world and another life.