“Calling Adrian, Adrian Bauers,” a voice came over the intercom, “You have a guest to see you.”
Adrian sighed, and moved to rub his gloved hands through his hair, only barely stopping himself. The visitor could have been his mom or dad, but Adrian doubted that was the case. Instead, it was probably her. He would go see her, though it was always a painful experience. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he just hated her, since he could just ignore her if that were the case.
As he entered the lobby, Adrian saw her. Her short cut brown hair was just as cute as it had always been. She was Grace Howe, and theoretically Adrian’s ex-girlfriend. She could have been visiting him as just a friend, but Adrian was sure she still had feelings for him. He definitely still had romantic feelings towards her. Part of the reason he broke up with her was because he cared about her.
She waved when she saw him, and walked up to him. She started to reach her arms out for a hug, but then lowered them. Instead, she just smiled. “Hello. How are you doing?”
“I am well,” he looked down at his gloved hands, “At least, as much as I have been lately.” She stood there awkwardly, obviously wishing for that hug, but not saying it. Adrian shook his head. “You know why I can’t hug you. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Grace smiled sadly and held up her hand. “You won’t hurt me. See? I’m fine.”
Adrian shook his head. “Not on purpose, of course. It wasn’t on purpose that time either.”
She shook her head. “Even if that happened again… I think this hurts more.”
“Maybe.” Adrian nodded. “You know, you could stop coming to see me.”
“I could, but I care about you, and the doctors say it’s good for us to meet.” She paused for a few moments. “Plus, I can’t help but miss you.”
Adrian sighed. “It might help, but it just feels like it’s making things worse.” He almost sighed again, but stopped himself. “Well, how about we sit down? What’s been happening in your life lately?”
From the notes of Dr. Odran Crocetti
Patient Name: Adrian Raine Bauers
Notes: Has an extreme fear of any physical contact with people. He does not seem to have an extremely large personal space, however. For example, he is fine sitting next to people, provided they never touch at all. He seems to have some incidents in his past involving his girlfriend. He claims to have hurt her, but does not seem to have struck her, either in anger, accidentally, or otherwise. However, it seems related to his current haphephobia, though I don’t have any details. Like with Ken, I would demonstrate that the problems are imaginary, but I fear causing irreparable damage to the patients in an attempt to fix them. Perhaps I can find the root cause through further investigation.
Ken Baker sat waiting in the game room. He liked this room because it had no windows. There was the slight problem of it often involving physical activity, and thus tripping, but he was content to sit at the side and watch table tennis. Or table hockey, or table soccer. Sometimes, he would even stand up and go to a pinball machine, but only when nobody was around. Right now, though, he was waiting for Brian. Then he showed up, right on schedule.
As usual, Brian opened up with a handshake. That was how things always were, which brought with it a nice sense of familiarity. They both turned to watch the games. Ken wanted to play, but couldn’t. Or wouldn’t, anyway. He didn’t know why Brian came here, because he never went and played himself. Company, maybe? That was fine for Ken, because he didn’t have many friends.
Perhaps it was the way he walked, or his creed of absolutely avoiding windows. Well, that second one kept him away from the cafeteria, which was one of the great socialization areas. It was one of the sacrifices he had to make to avoid falling out a window into the sky, or tripping and falling down a hallway.
Not that he told Brian this- instead he joked that he was afraid of exercise. Brian seemed to understand that this was not the truth, but Ken was also not comfortable actually telling it, so he said nothing. Perhaps if he knew Ken slept in a padded room, he might not want to be his friend anymore. Those who were in padded rooms were usually a particular kind of crazy, but Ken wasn’t. At least, he didn’t think so.
As they sat and watched other played games, they would give each other a high five anytime anyone did something great. Ken found it rather silly, but Brian was quite into it, and that made it kind of fun for him too.
Today, however, was boring. Thus, they eventually parted with another handshake. Ken couldn’t help but think about Thursday, when they would watch Space Ninjas. It wasn’t a good show, but they both enjoyed it. In fact, the best way to describe it was that it was cheesy, but only if the moon were made of cheese and one were on the moon. That seemed about right. Too bad nobody else liked the show.
Patient Name: Ken Myron Baker
Condition: Severe agoraphobia (open spaces), acrophobia.
Notes: A fairly typical example of his condition, with but one significant exception. He is afraid of heights, and more specifically any large rooms or open places, because of his belief that he might fall into the sky. He strongly believes that he will fall in whatever direction his feet point. He is thus very careful with his steps, and avoids places with many people to avoid possible collisions. He also sleeps in a strange manner, with his knees and the edge of the bed and his feet hanging down. He prefers small rooms, and especially the basement game room where he spends time with Brian. I have requested he demonstrate the effect, but he adamantly refuses. I believe this is because he doesn’t want to admit to himself the truth- that no such strange function of gravity is possible. However, I hope with time that he will come to terms with reality, after which he will be able to live a normal life. I am unsure what could have caused his condition. Perhaps a particularly nasty fall? There aren’t any medical records of such, but if such a thing happened, it could very well undermine his confidence in his own body. As for fearing falling “up”, the same incident or another could have involved a lingering confusion to the sense of direction or equilibrium.