The Ladder – An experimental web-only fiction series that spans multiple story lines and characters…Tune in on Wednesdays for a new installment.
Eyes only. Handle via CATA-9 channels only.
Dr. P: Tell me about school.
Dr. P: Yes, when you were, say, a teen. I understand you went to a high school in New York?
RQ: Yes...( 3 second delay)
Dr. P: Something wrong?
RQ: Dr. Forrester never asked me about school.
Dr. P: Didn't he? What did he ask about?
RQ: He wanted to know about my childhood.
Dr. P: Do you want to talk about that?
Dr. P: Then why don't you tell me about school?
RQ: I don't know.
Dr. P: Did you get along with the other children?
RQ: (4 second delay) I guess.
Dr. P:I think you had a hard time adjusting. A Palestinian girl. (2 second delay) The Jewish kids didn't like you, did they?
RQ: You went to school to get insight like that?
Dr. P: You're not giving me much to work with. But you're right, I'm not exerting myself. But I think there's more to it. Your teachers were kind to you, yes? Students, well, children can be the cruelest of all. One reason why my wife and I have a dog instead of children. In any case, I would be surprised if nothing happened.
RQ: Nothing happened.
Dr. P: No?
Dr. P: When I was in school, I always buried my head in a book. Naturally, I got picked on. Then I found a place to hide during recess, which didn't help me get out of my shell. My parents, of course, were worried that I'd become some stunted fellow with no social skills. But by the end of my first year in college, I'd gotten over it. There was nothing really, to my childhood. But you see, I wasn't...
RQ: Special? That's a word Dr. Forrester used. He used it a lot. I hate that word. Special.
Dr. P: I was going to say I wasn't looking to stand out. But it's interesting you brought up the word special. You don't think you're special? Do you remember what I told earlier?
RQ: I...( 5 second delay)
Dr. P: There was an incident at school.
RQ: Don't want to talk about it.
Dr. P: According to the reports
RQ: Don't want to talk about it!
Dr. P :A young boy by the name of Timothy Palin called you a...
RQ: Shut up! Shut up!
Dr. P: A filthy arab.
Dr. P: A filthy arab, it said in the report.
RQ: Shut up...
Dr. P: And you pushed him.
RQ: Please, I don't want to...
Dr. P: You do know why you're in here, right?
Dr. P: Why you're in here? These walls, I'm told, are the only things capable of keeping you in.
RQ: I...(2 second delay) What?
Dr. P: I don't think that's true. But back to Timothy. You pushed him. A small tap, really.
RQ: No, please.
Dr. P: You broke his collarbone.
RQ: No. Yes.
Dr. P: It was just a tap.
RQ: Just a tap. I didn't mean to.
Dr. P: They believe these walls can keep you in. In fact, that's what they want you to believe.
RQ: Want me to...believe?
Dr. P: That's right. What can I do to earn your trust? Are you ready to fall into my arms? That little trust-building exercise?
RQ: I...I'm confused.
Dr. P: I know. I'm sorry. But sometimes one has to cut the skin to reach the heart. You broke Timothy's collarbone, and then the kids really hated you. The hate that comes from fear.
RQ: I don't want to talk anymore. Go away. Go away!
Dr. P: All right. We'll take a break. Can I bring you anything when I return? Sweets, perhaps?
Dr. P: As you like.
Dr. P: Yes?
RQ: Gummi bears.
Dr. P: Gummi bears?
RQ: I like gummi bears.