Doctor Rosenberg, this is Doctor Monroe. Willow detected a familiar accent as the recording continued. We have spoken before about a former patient of mine. The voice paused as if allowing the listener to register the new information. I have some information that may be helpful to you. I am in town for the weekend and would like to arrange a meeting if you are available. Lessening in intensity, the straightforward recording continued. I can be reached at... the message went on to repeat a telephone number before cutting off.
Willow scribbled the number on a nearby pad and erased the message. It was Sunday morning and she had finally listened to the recording, disappointed that it had taken her so long. There was a good chance that Doctor Monroe hadn't left town yet, and so Willow quickly grabbed the phone and punched in the number.
Doctor Rosenberg once again cursed her choice of location for the meeting. The "hole in the wall" restaurant she had chosen was nearly empty, which meant she didn't have much going for her in the way of witnesses if something were to happen. The redhead admitted that the thought was unusual, but she was completely unsure of what to expect. Although her previous conversation with the older man didn't guarantee much trust, the fact that he was Tara's former doctor was what really made her accept the meeting.
If the doctor knew anything useful that would help Miss Maclay, Willow was more than happy to listen. However, she couldn't help but prepare to put up her own walls. If Mr. Monroe was nothing but an old doctor wanting Willow to load her patient with drugs and send her own her way, then the redhead wanted to be careful about appearing weak and complying.
A shadow looming over the table startled Willow from her reverie. With a large folder tucked under his left arm, the newcomer stretched out a hand in greeting.
"Doctor Rosenberg, I'm Doctor Monroe" his grip was firm yet pleasant. Willow returned the combination as she shook the man's hand and gestured for him to be seated.
"Thank you for meeting me," the elder doctor waited when the waitress brought them menus, and then pushed a folder across the table until it rested near Willow's hands. Other than the simple pleasantries, Willow hadn't spoken until now.
"What is this?" Calmly, the red-haired doctor looked down at the paper binder.
"Miss Maclay's file," Doctor Monroe frowned before suddenly remembering why the other doctor was strangely staring at the file.
"I already have her file, well, a copy of it at least." Curious, Willow opened the folder to the first page and scanned the handwritten and typed notes.
"The copy you have is," he paused, searching for the right word, "inaccurate." The frown on the young woman's face deepened, "The documents have been forged." Watching closely, the doctor waited for Willow's reaction.
Searching through her bag, the redhead pulled her own copy from its place and set it beside the older file. She studied the two folders.
"I don't understand," Willow shook her head, allowing her confusion to show. "How is that possible? How can it be a fake? You cannot just make up a document, especially when the original copy is locked and guarded by security." Her inner thoughts rationalized as she spoke aloud.
The older doctor didn't offer any response, but only waited for the red-haired doctor to continue.
"How can no one notice the inconsistency of Tara's file?" She read over both front pages, comparing what she saw. Very few details were the same, and those that were the same were not significant to Tara's treatment.
Doctor Monroe noted the first name use of his former patient. He fixed his glasses so they rested against the grayish temples of his dark hair. "Miss Rosenberg, dozens of patients go through hospitals where they have been drugged, experimented on, and passed along to the next facility. The question of why the changes in Miss Maclay's file have gone unnoticed is because people simply do not care." He realized his response was a bit harsh, but knew it was the only way to make the young woman see the truth.
If Willow was taken back by the reaction, she didn't let it show. "I've only visited her three times, how do you know if you can trust me?"
"Rupert Giles." The name caught the redhead off guard. Although she remembered Giles mentioning that he had known other doctors at Pines View, Willow was surprised by the chance of him knowing Tara's former psychiatrist. "We were distant acquaintances. Until recently, Giles has been unaware of my involvement with your patient." He finished.
"Tell me why you changed it? What is so important, so shocking that it needs to be removed from the file?" Willow asked, frustrated. Secrecy. Although some things were better left unsaid, others needed to be exposed.
"Not shocking, Doctor Rosenberg," he frowned as if wondering what more to say. "You have to understand that I was protecting my career." Doctor Monroe knew his words and actions were self-absorbed. "Consider this my atonement." Without another word, he rose from the table and left the restaurant.
Willow remained seated long after the elder doctor had left, her thoughts racing. What was going on? Her mind went through the situation as she knew it. There was Tara Maclay, locked behind the walls of Pines View; the remorseful Doctor Monroe; the two different files; the uncooperative nanny; the unnamed sister; and a list of questions that continued growing.
Deciding against reading the new, or rather old, file in a public area such as the restaurant, Willow packed up her things and left. During the ride home, the redhead passed the exit that would take her toward Pines View. She could wait another day to see Tara, but the knowledge that she had just received combined with her own feelings of uncertainty increased the need to make sure everything was okay.
Halfheartedly, she wondered if she should call the institution. Granted the call might appear somewhat odd to the staff or whoever answered the main telephone, but even a brief conversation with someone at the hospital could dispel her nervousness. Before the nerve left her, Willow dialed the number into her cellular phone and waited for the receiving end to pick up.
"Hello, Pines View Psychiatric Hospital," after the third ring, a bored voice spoke tiredly into the telephone. "My name is Peter, how may I help you?"
"Hello, I'm calling about a patient of mine, Tara Maclay." Willow spoke evenly into the telephone. "Has a status report been made available for today's date?"
"Name?" The emotionless voice asked.
Willow lightly bit her lip before answering, "Doctor Rosenberg." She could hear the faint sound of computer keys being tapped on.
"Verification numbers, please." Unchanging in tone, the young man asked. The red-haired doctor thought a moment before giving him the correct information.
"Subject 45 is reported as being stable." Willow scowled clearly unhappy with the robot-tone flowing through the phone, and also not liking how the speaker identified her patient.
"Has she been given any medication?" The doctor asked.
"Only the basic sedatives and antidepressants." The lack of explanation or actual drug names unnerved the redhead.
"Do you have a list of these medications?" Used to the normal runaround, Willow knew the answer and wasn't surprised when she heard the expected "no." She couldn't fault the bored receptionist, knowing that little information was given to the young man.
"Alright, thank you." Pressing the "end" button on her cellular phone, the young doctor sighed as she pulled into her driveway.
Kept company by the white cushioned room that seemed to shrink each day, Tara pressed herself into the wall. Shivering, the young blonde stared at the closed door as the air-conditioning unit whistled lightly. The door opened and a short figure stood within the frame with two paper cups in her hands.
"It's candy hour," she chuckled and stepped into the room. Handing the two cups to Tara, she waited as the patient swallowed the pills and chased them with water.
Unknown to the nurse, Tara had quickly pushed the pill into the far corner of her cheek where it stuck to the gum. The water made the pill soggy, but the woman left Tara alone before the medicine had the chance to melt.
The young woman moved toward her mattress and carefully peeled the bottom edge of the padding down until a small hole appeared. She spat the pill into her palm and dropped it into the hole before wiping her hands on her cotton pants and sealing the opening.
There was no way to tell how many pills were hidden in the mattress because many of them had dissolved or had been crushed by the movement of the bed. It was even harder to know when Tara had stopped taking her medication. The nurse who usually gave her, her "candy" never stayed long enough or checked well enough to see that the pill was fully swallowed.
White pills, they were always the same color. White was so she didn't remember. But Tara did remember. She remembered blue, clear and always shining... no, smiling. And yellow hats. And roses... no, lavender. Yes, lavender.
Spinning faces and singing voices, yes, she remembered. White wasn't going to make her forget. But there were things she wished she could forget.
I'm doing this for you.