Engrossed in myriad, often conflicting thoughts, Susan briskly walked
across the pitch-black asphalt parking lot towards the building ahead.
Although Susan prided herself on her toughness, she hadn’t always been
that way. The circumstances that she encountered during her youth left
her with two choices – give up or fight. She had chosen to fight no
matter what and was known for her fiery temper, reflected in the
fierce-looking dragon tattoo she’d had inked on her left upper arm as
a reminder of her decision.
As Susan approached the large, three-story, red brick office building,
the first thing she noticed was tall, narrow windows that were spaced
relatively close together on each floor. Encased by pale gray trim, the
windows were the only distinguishing feature about the otherwise
non-descript building. Underneath where the roof peaked, there was a
sign written in very large black letters that read “One Medical
Complex." Every window that she could see had identical blinds with
tightly closed slats, allowing little light to enter what were probably
In contrast, Susan found the grounds highly distinguishable-carefully
tended, raised beds, filled with an abundance of flora, engulfed the
building. Soft, smooth-barked, young trees stood proudly, causing
passersby to stare at the large, oddly-shaped crimson leaves that hid
the branches underneath. Neatly trimmed round shrubs beautifully encased
the mulch-covered ground between them. A multitude of blossoms enveloped
the rest of the garden. By design, it appeared as if their seeds had
been carelessly strewn, yet they somehow managed to land precisely where
they belonged. Synchronicity and order were important to Susan; she
couldn’t bear anything else. The leaves were painted with brilliant
colors, ranging from vibrant pinks to, radiant reds, glorious yellows,
vivid violets, and sunset oranges. Freshly cut St. Augustine grass hid
the remaining area between the light pine landscape timbers that
bordered the bed and the cold, hard cement curb.
In front of the building was a covered drive-through area intended for
patients who were, in varying degrees, not ambulatory. As she crossed
over, Susan saw the short sidewalk that led to a pair of double glass
doors. As she opened the door on the left, she felt a blast of cold air,
a welcome respite from the unsparing Texas sun.
The well-lit interior was soothing and helped put her at ease. Ignoring
the descending elevator, Susan looked around until she finally located
the stairs. Effortlessly she climbed; the only thing that slowed her
down was her left hand, clinging tightly to the guardrail. For a reason
she didn’t understand, she started to feel uneasy. I don’t know why,
but something tells me I’m going to regret my decision. She almost
stopped and then chastised herself. With determination, she cast the
feeling aside and increased her pace. Don’t get soft now.
As she reached the second floor, she followed the sign pointing toward
her destination and traveled no more than 15 feet before she saw the
sign she was looking for--Suite 206. Dr. Frederick Duran, Psychiatrist,
was proudly embossed in gold-colored letters against the background of
the tinted white glass door. She hesitated, but for only a moment, then
opened the door and entered her new surroundings, curious about what she
The first thing Susan noticed was the absolute silence that permeated
the empty room. There were no people talking in loud voices, as was the
norm she’d found in most doctors’ waiting areas. Ahead was a counter
with a set of frosted glass sliding windows. Susan walked across the
room towards the counter and saw a sign-in sheet attached to a
clipboard. It was blank. Odd, she thought as she wrote in her name and
time of arrival.
After she was done, she waited impatiently at the counter instead of
having a seat. A few moments later, a window slid open. And a young
woman appeared; her name-tag read: “Dawn, Office Manager.”
Seemingly annoyed, Dawn picked up the clipboard, glanced at it and
curtly informed Susan, “I need to make copies of your insurance card
and photo I.D.”
Ignoring her tone, Susan handed them over and paid little attention as
she made copies. Instead she focused on her surroundings. There was a
matching couch and chair, with a coffee table and end table, whose wood
and carvings, were identical to the legs of the chairs, and thus
completed the set. Its presence overpowered the small room.
Then, startled, Susan realized Dawn had finished and was waiting to get
her attention. After Dawn returned Susan’s items, she abruptly said,
“Have a seat and the doctor will be with you shortly.” Then without
another a sound, she closed the window.
Choosing the chair that was closest to the entrance, or exit, in an
attempt to distract herself from the uneasiness she felt, Susan peered
at the paintings hanging on the walls. They were non-descript and must
have been chosen for their colors because they coordinated with the
golden paisley fabric that covered the couch and chair. The overall
effect Susan found to be hideous.
No more than five minutes later a door opened, and Susan had her first
glimpse of Dr. Duran. Standing in the doorway with black-rimmed glasses,
he looked like a professor who would have been more at home trying to
inflict wisdom into bright, young, inquisitive minds. His light brown
hair had evident streaks of gray at his temples, further accentuating
his scholarly appearance.
Wanting to have the upper hand right from the start, Susan quickly arose
from her chair and went to greet him. Looking him directly in the eye
she said, “You must be Dr. Duran. My name is Susan Moreau and I am
here for my 10 o’clock appointment.” Her actions reflected her
attitude–she was determined to control the situation.
Excerpted from "A Twisted Wisdom" by Stephanie Colbert. Copyright © 2018 by Stephanie Colbert. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.