“What do you see in this photo, Oscar?” Thomas asked his patient.
The response took longer than normal, but it soon came.
“Very good. What was her name?”
“Nice name,” Thomas said, and he lowered the picture.
“It’s common,” Oscar said as he stared stonily ahead.
“I don’t know many Roisin’s,” Thomas said.
“That’s because you’re not common.”
“If you say so.” He quickly moved onto the next photograph, as he could see Oscar’s knuckles whitening.
“It’s her fault that I’ve got this stupid name.”
“What’s wrong with your name?”
“I hate Oscar Wilde. She named me after him in spite.”
“I like the name. And the writer…” Thomas said.
He quickly moved on, as he could see Oscar’s temper rising.
“What’s in this picture?”
“A little girl.”
“Do you have a name?”
“No. I’ve never seen her before.”
Thomas lowered the picture gently. A repressed memory. The picture had been of his little sister, who died in a house fire as a child.
“Last one now. What’s in this one?”
“A burned down house.”
“Do you know where it is?”
“Well thanks, Oscar. That was a good session,” Thomas said somewhat disdainfully.
“Thanks,” Oscar said.
He was brought back to his room in the ward, and Thomas started to write his report.
“He wants us to believe that these are repressed memories, but it’s clear that they’re not. He has severe post-traumatic stress disorder, but nothing more. He just doesn’t want to face the facts of what happened to him.”
Thomas threw down his pen and sighed. He had never had a patient so difficult to help before. Oscar was disturbed; very disturbed. But he saw the way he flinched when he saw those photographs. He definitely knew what he had been through, but would he ever admit it?
Oscar felt like his mind was polluted. He lay back on his bed. The taste of the putrid drugs that were being pumped into him lingered like a coin on his tongue. The worst part was that he couldn’t help but think that Thomas was on to him. It was easier to pretend that he didn’t remember the horrible things that had happened to him. And the terrible things he had done.
His mother had been an unusual woman. She was obsessed with classical novels, and his earliest memory was of being read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. His sister was called Emily, probably after Emily Bronte, although he couldn’t really be sure. He was seven when his sister and his mother died, and he remembered it vividly, despite what he told Thomas.
The horrible smell of petrol had wafted through the house as she poured it everywhere, proclaiming that the world wasn’t ready for her unconventional mind. He hadn’t understood what was happening. Then she kissed them both on the forehead, before taking out a box of matches. She read her favourite part of Wuthering Heights aloud.
“A most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in – let me in! I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!”
They hadn’t understood until they saw the flames. And suddenly they were engulfed. And the pain – oh, the pain! Agony – the most abominable, diabolic feeling crawled over his skin. But Oscar escaped from the room. The pain was everywhere. And then he passed out.
He had been denying what had happened to him for his entire life. He grew up in a foster home, and appeared a relatively happy boy. The scarring was immense. He often wondered had he himself turned into a scab. He buried himself in the classics. He developed a hatred for his name when he read The Picture of Dorian Gray.
He had stayed away from Wuthering Heights, but in the end, he reached it. Reading it gave such anger to the woman who had stolen everything in his life. His sister, Emily’s sweet little face swam in his mind. He pretended he couldn’t remember her, but she was always there. Her sweet little voice would beg to be let in – eternally proclaiming that she had got lost on the moor.
He never knew why he burned the house down. It just seemed a natural progression. She had killed her family, and she was his mother. Shouldn’t he do the same? His foster parents escaped, but his foster sister Roberta and her friend Maria perished.
That was how he ended up here. With Thomas trying to uncover those deep rooted secrets, medicated up to his eyeballs. His past haunted him. Yes – he was just a tragic character at the end of the day. He was Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and most of all, he was Heathcliff, forever mourning the loss of his loved one.
He stood up suddenly. He would take things into his own hands. It was time to change things for the better, or the worse. He pushed down the door handle – out onto the moor.