Writing Prompt: #1

Prompt: “That doesn’t even begin to make it okay.”


“That doesn’t even begin to make it okay,” Alex snapped back. He put his head in his hands and took a deep breath. It took several minutes for one of them to say something again.

“What do you want me to say? I know I messed up. It wasn’t me!” ” Bash asked.  He didn’t attempt to touch Alex because he knew that it wouldn’t make things better so he slowly backed away towards the kitchen. “What can I do to make it up to you?”

“I know it wasn’t you!” Alex shot up. He walked over to Bash in the kitchen and stood facing him. 

“I wish things weren’t like this.” 

“I know, I don’t either. You need help.” 

“I know, but I-I can’t! I want to, b-but I can’t.” 

“Yes, you can. You just refuse to do it.” Alex conceded. He leaned over the marble countertop and rubbed his face with his hands. He sighed loudly and rested his head in his hands to look up at Bash.

“I’m scared.”

“I don’t know how much longer I can handle this. I need some space.”

“Baby, please don’t leave. Please.” Bash pleaded, gripping onto Alex’s arm. He pulled out of his grip and went back to the living room, grabbed his keys, stopped to look at Bash and proceeded out the door. Bash ran towards him, but stopped at the door and watched him walk to his car. Alex looked back at him for a second and continued on. 

Depression Speech

I wrote this speech for a class in my senior year of high school. It talks about my real life experiences with depression, and what I have gone through. I was searching through old documents and I found this, and since this is for writing, I thought I would post something since I haven’t for a while.

Trigger Warning: Talks about Depression, Self Harm and Suicide *****

Have you ever felt so numb that you couldn’t even breathe? As if something was holding you back while you’re trying to gasp for air, and no matter how hard you fought to escape, you couldn’t get out.  It was something you couldn’t even see. Something that told you every single mistake you ever made was unacceptable and that whenever something went wrong, it was all your fault.

It started in sixth grade where everything changed, just like my friends, the people who I thought I could trust, just turned their backs and decided I wasn’t good enough anymore like I was nothing. Stuck in a whirlwind of my blooming depression, 8th grade swooped by and my new “friends” decided my face wasn’t attractive, so they called me ugly, and pointed out all the bad things about me. I became so self-conscious that I didn’t feel the need to eat anymore. My only sense of relief was to cut my skin and let the new pain flood in and numb all the pain I felt inside. Once my parents found out about the scars, they had the audacity to ask me if I was doing it for attention. I started to think that I’m better off dead because I felt so alone. I isolated myself, even from my own family because I knew they’d never understand, just like the rest of them. The aching inside my body started to overflow, filling me up from head to toe, the darkness kept me awake, and weighed me down, refraining from ever moving again, like there were chains on my ankles. I started to wonder if I’d ever feel fine again, but I was used to the pain, I was used to no one ever accepting me, or making sure I was okay. Everyone in school thought I was a freak, and no one would ever notice if I was gone. Suddenly things started to look up again, I felt hope, but every time, that hope was crushed, as if someone had grabbed it and purposely smashed it into millions of tiny particles, so I decided that I’d never get my hopes up again, and I stick to that to this day. I stopped caring about everything, I only did half of my homework, and didn’t do so well on my test scores, and no matter what I did, I tried to be okay.

As soon as tenth grade started, I got a job, and that helped ease my mind from all the distractions that brought me pain. During that same year, I was at my lowest point, but I had a teacher, and he didn’t even know, but all those motivational talks he gave to the class, and his many words of encouragement helped me through the year, and he is still my favorite teacher today, and he didn’t even know he was helping me. The following year, I boosted my grades, and I felt better about myself, and I wasn’t so depressed, and I wasn’t in constant pain. I still do have my moments from time to time about what I experienced in the past; I’m still self-conscious about myself and often put myself down, but I won’t go to the extremes that I used to before. I still feel alone, I don’t have friends in school, and I sit alone at lunch, but I have come to accept that, and I don’t feel sad about it anymore. I wouldn’t take anything that I went through, back because I wouldn’t be the person I am today, I am a lot more confident and strong-minded, and I am here today, alive to prove to all those people who thought they could bring me down, that they were wrong.  I’m grateful, and I wouldn’t change a single thing, because I believe that the person you’re looking at right now can be better, and do better than any of those who brought myself, and any other person down.

Bold Petals

I wrote this chapter in the first semester of my freshman year of college, and I had this big idea of writing about this girl who has OCD and anxiety, and she meets this boy that would help her ease her mental health, to get help. While this boy would be dealing with his own. So basically a romance. I, unfortunately, lost all motivation to continue with this story and idea. So, I thought I’d share with you all something that was once started but never continued.

Chapter one

        I slammed the book closed for the third time in the last half hour, and threw it towards the end of my bed next to my cat, Shadow, making her jump. Although I’ve read the page three times, I have the urge to read it again. What if I miss something important now and then later on? I need to know it! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve reread pages of a book before even finishing it. My friends know how I read books, so they’ve timed me on how long it takes me to fully read a book, and move onto the next one. The last book I read was, Wuthering Heights, but I had to finish it sooner because I had to read it for English class. It took me about two weeks. I over-examined that book just so I wouldn’t miss anything that could possibly be on the test, and so I could participate in the class discussion.

“Annie! You’re going to be late if we don’t leave now.” My mother yelled. I quickly changed into my work uniform. A white shirt with black pants and I ran out of my room.

“Coming!” I shouted as I ran down the stairs. My mother was already waiting for me in the car. I would drive myself to work, but getting in the driver’s side has caused more anxiety attacks than I need. My parents both agreed that driving isn’t what I need to work on anyways. They’re slowly getting me help with my anxiety and my OCD. I think they haven’t fully committed to getting me a therapist yet because they haven’t accepted my mental illnesses yet.

After a short ten minutes, my mother pulled up to the entrance door to the diner, and I jumped out of the SUV and said “goodbye” to her. I pulled open the door, and the bell rang loudly on top of the creaking door.

        “Hi, Annie.” Debra welcomed me. I mumbled back a “hello” to her. I went into the back room to grab an apron. My boss, Dennis was sitting at his desk, as usual but there was a guy, looking around my age standing in front of him. I try to avoid them, and as I get to the door, Dennis calls me back. I turn on my heels and stride towards his desk.

        “Annie. Oliver. You’re going to train him in tonight. Alright?” He announced. He turned back to look at Oliver. “You pay attention to her, and do as she says, understand?” Oliver nods. We get the go-ahead from Dennis to begin working.

I am so nervous, I have never trained anyone in before. Debra is more than capable to do it. What if Dennis is testing my ability? What if I’m not good enough? I realize that I haven’t said anything to Oliver in five minutes, and he’s just standing there looking at me.

        “Are you okay?” Oliver asks me. I glance at him, trying to think of something to make this less awkward.

        “Uhm, okay the first thing…um, when someone calls, we answer saying ‘Old Town Diner, how can I help you?’” I pause. I realize my hands are shaking as I grabbed the menu off the counter. “Here’s the menu, abbreviate it as though we are able to understand it. The cooks aren’t particularly picky, as long as they get the order right.” I’m doing okay so far, I think. I hand him the menu, and my shaky hands miss his. I just let him grab it himself. I avoid his blue-green eyes, that was staring at me.

        “Am I in charge of the phone today?” He questions. I freeze, I didn’t know the answer to that. What if Dennis told me, and I didn’t pay attention? I didn’t want to go back to ask because what if he thinks I’m unworthy of being a worker here.

   “He’s just watching you work for today. Talk him through different scenarios between orders. I’m taking the tables today.” Debra intervenes, thankfully. I go on to explain some of the normal orders to expect like, our burgers and fries, our fried chicken and in the morning, waffles. When the phone started ringing, I jumped.

         “Old Town Diner, how can I help you?” I answered shakily. The man on the phone told me his order fast, so I had to triple check his order because I don’t want to get anything wrong.  After I totaled his order, we hung up. I sent the order back.

        “Do we really need to check the order that many times?” Oliver asked. I could feel my cheeks burn.

         “Uh… Err, no. As long as the customer has confirmed the order once, you should be fine.” I clarified. “Do you have any questions?”

        “What’s your phone number?” He queried.

   “My w…what?” I stuttered. Oliver laughed, showing his perfect teeth. Dennis came through the back door and walked to us.

   “Since we’re slow tonight, I’m letting Debra go home early. Can you both handle closing up tonight?” Dennis questioned. I haven’t closed by myself before.

        “I think we can handle it.” Oliver intervened. I quickly glanced at him in surprise.  

        “Perfect. Here’s the keys. Goodnight.” Dennis hands me the keys and went through the back door, with Debra following.

        “Goodnight guys!” Debra shouts before going through the door. I hear Oliver mumble it back to her.

        There were only a couple more phone calls after they both left, and one more table. Oliver dealt with the till and getting the orders for the customers, while I was busy.

Truth About Psychopathy (An Essay)

I wrote this essay second semester of my freshman year of college, and I’m pretty proud of this because this was the first time I did an extensive research paper about something, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Nicole Hanson

English 101

March 23th, 2018

The Truth about Psychopathy

    In the TED Talk, Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson talks about his experiences with meeting psychopaths. He talks about meeting a man named Tony, who faked his own madness to escape his prison sentence of five years. As a result, he was put in this place called, Broadmoor, and he’s been in there for 12 years now. After Ronson talks to Tony’s psychiatrist, he explained that he was a psychopath because faking his own madness was considered cunning and manipulative, which are a part of the characteristics of psychopaths. Ronson read about Robert Hare’s psychopath checklist and wanted to discover other psychopaths. He contacted a man named Al Dunlap, a former CEO. As he was interviewing him, he realized he was looking for only the psychopathic information, as he says,“So, whenever he said anything to me that seemed kind of non-psychopathic, I thought to myself, well I’m not going to put that in my book. And then I realized that becoming a psychopath spotter had kind of turned me a little bit psychopathic. Because I was desperate to shove him in a box marked, “Psychopath,” I was desperate to define him by his maddest edges.”To be clear, he’s trying to make a point saying that this happens when patients are being assessed as well as making an example to journalists. As to say the psychiatrists find alternatives ways to make the patients fit into the characteristic traits. He goes on to explain how this is affecting society by saying, “And you know, this is a country that over-diagnoses certain mental disorders hugely. Childhood bipolar — children as young as four are being labeled bipolar because they have temper tantrums, which scores them high on the bipolar checklist.” Psychiatrists find ways to over-assess patients, and it’s becoming a common phenomenon that there is a good percentage that mental illnesses are being misdiagnosed. He soon wraps up his talk, but this leaves the question, what is a psychopath?

A psychopath is defined as, “A constellation of traits that comprises effective features, interpersonal features, as well as impulsive and antisocial behaviors. Although psychopathy is a risk factor for physical aggression, it is by no means synonymous with it. In contrast to individuals with psychotic disorders, most psychopaths are in touch with reality and seemingly rational” (Natasha Tracy). There are twenty characteristics into defining what a psychopath is, which include glib and superficial charm, grandiose estimation of self, pathological lying, cunning and manipulative, lack of empathy, early behavior problems, etc. Not all psychopaths have all twenty traits but as they use the testing system of PLC-R, the score determines whether or not you are psychopathic. How the PLC-R system is set is for each characteristic, it is rated between 0 to 2, depending on how the patient meets the specific trait. The total score is 40, and to be considered psychopathic, you need a score of at least 30. As Jon Ronson began explaining the topic of psychopaths he presented the statistics,“So, here’s the statistics: One in a hundred-regular people is a psychopath. So, there’s 1,500 people in his room. Fifteen of you are psychopaths. Although that figure rises to four percent of CEOs and business leaders, so I think there’s a very good chance there’s about 30 or 40 psychopaths in this room. It could be carnage by the end of the night.”I find this interesting because not all those psychopaths are criminals, or murderers said so to speak, as CEO’s are the highest job known to have psychopaths, but some are just average persons who have a mental disorder.

Although there isn’t a clear way to cure psychopathy, there are brain scans to see the chances of being a psychopath. A man named James Fallon discovered he had psychopathy. He explained his discovery,“I found out that I happened to have a series of genetic alleles, “warrior genes,” that had to do with serotonin and were thought to be at risk for aggression, violence, and low emotional and interpersonal empathy—if you’re raised in an abusive environment. But if you’re raised in a very positive environment, that can have the effect of offsetting the negative effects of some of the other genes.” It depends on what your environmental setting is likely to determine how your psychopathic setup will form. If you live in a positive environment, you are more likely to “remove” your psychopathic disorder.You can test your children as early as two to three years old. Although it isn’t recommended to tell the family that early because the brain isn’t fully developed and could eventually change. As an example, he said,“I started working with some psychiatrists and neurologists who would tell me that they could identify a probable psychopath when he or she was only 2 or 3 years old. I asked them why they didn’t tell the parents and they said, “There’s no way I’m going to tell anybody. First of all, you can’t be sure; second of all, it could destroy the kid’s life; and third of all, the media and the whole family will be at your door with sticks and knives.”This, I agree with his statement because it can negatively affect the child and their family, but as soon as a doctor makes a mistake, they basically get attacked for being wrong. I do believe that it could be helpful to know though, because it could be “prevented” by teaching them different things around the psychopathic tendencies, and how the child is being brought up, and how they interact with others.

To explain how the brain functions before puberty started, he describes,“Before puberty, a lot of your brain–your frontal lobe and its connections—has to do with the orbital cortex, amygdala, and that lower half of the brain that controls emotional regulation. It is also the origin of people’s natural sense of morality when they learn regulation and the rules of the game, which are ethics. Before then, generally, a normal kid is very much living in a world of ideating, drinking, some sexuality—but they’re also extremely moralistic. So, those are two things that are fighting each other those first years.”I agree with this because your brain controls your emotions, and as I can describe it, it’s a confusing time because before you hit puberty you go through a range of emotions and phases, and based on what your environment is like, your emotions develop based on experiences.

After puberty, your brain and your tendencies come about if you still have the psychopathic traits. James Fallon pointed out, “Some people have this psychopathy or are almost psychopaths, and they get into trouble and go right to jail and end up in the prison system as 18-year-olds. It’s awful because they get unlucky and they don’t have enough impulse control to pull it back at the last instant.” people don’t know they have any kind of psychopathic trait, they aren’t aware of their impulses. Not all impulses are bad, but it’s knowing that they have a lack of control. So, without knowing, they haven’t learned how to control their impulses, and as soon as it happens, they’re in jail and they don’t have a fair chance because psychopaths are deemed as criminals, not mental disorders.

There are differences between men and women in their psychopathic tendencies.“First, with regard to behavioral expression, manipulative women were reported to be more likely to be flirtatious, whereas men were more likely to engage in conning behavior. Also, in females, impulsivity and conduct disorder were characterized by running away, self-harming behavior, manipulation, and complicity in committing crimes (essentially theft and fraud), whereas in males it was more likely to characterized by violent behaviors. This is consistent with the empirical literature” (Forouzan, Elham, and David J. Cooke). This isn’t for all women, but on average most women are not violent in order to get what they are searching for. They are to be considered manipulative towards their goal to get what they want. Another difference between men and women are social norms are explained in the article,“societal norms may affect the assessment of some psychopathic traits among females and males. For example, some degree of material dependency may be socially and culturally acceptable for women, whereas similar behaviors are perceived as ‘‘parasitic’’ for men. A woman who reports relying on her family (husband/partner or her parents) may not be considered as parasitic, whereas a man reporting that he relies on his family is more likely to be perceived as parasitic. Such gender-linked variations will adversely affect gender equivalence” (Forouzan, Elham, and David J. Cooke).It’s been for many years that women are supposed to rely on men to work, and women are supposed to stay home, as in this generation it’s changing drastically, but some women are still dependent on men’s money. Although this is common motives for women, men are easier to give to these women because they still get what they want, maybe sexually or societal attention.

Another difference between genders is symptoms. The article discusses,“If psychopathy is manifested differently across gender, then the symptoms considered as the best indicators of psychopathy in men may not be appropriate—or sensitive enough—for identifying psychopathy in women. If this is the case, then the diagnostic criteria and, as a consequence, the process of assessment of psychopathy in females should be based on other characteristics than those established for psychopathy in males” (Forouzan, Elham, and David J. Cooke). I suppose you have to take into consideration of the situation of how you’ve come to need to diagnose the person because not everything will be the same per patient, but I can agree that if there is a significant difference between men and women while assessing the psychopathic traits, then there should be separate tests for them, and if not, it should be based on the specific case itself whether or not if it’s appropriate. Lastly, in this article, it talks about the study rates on women who have psychopathy as they clarify,“Although female cases of psychopathy have been reported for as long as male psychopathy, the core characteristics of this personality disorder among females have been subject to little systematic investigation, as yet. Despite the growing number of studies on psychopathy in females, little research has been carried out on the etiological, affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics of psychopathy in women. In addition, studies of the base rate and symptomatology have failed to provide clear and consistent results. The continued application of the male template is likely to be misleading. This is not merely a problem for research, but it is also a problem for ethical practice” (Forouzan, Elham, and David J. Cooke). I believe there are less known woman psychopaths so I can believe that there are less conclusive results. Maybe the personality of most women wouldn’t want to know if they had psychopathic personality, or it’s commonly known for women’s behavior to act a certain way, so it isn’t deemed as bad. Men and women can be identified as psychopathic with similar traits, so maybe they have some distinctive characteristics that can be differed when evaluated, they can use that well they test between genders.

A big factor in the stereotypical psychopath is defined by society. Society sees psychopaths as criminals and murderers, but that’s only because that’s what media talks about when a criminal case comes up. Most people ignore the reality of what goes on inside a psychopathic mind because regardless, they’re still bad. I understand that serial killers don’t have good intentions, considering they kill people, but my opinion is that not all of them can control themselves in a sense of where obviously they have an impulse to murder these people because it’s like an itch they can’t get rid of, and then after they feel relieved. Some psychopaths cannot feel remorse for what they did, so they don’t see why it’s wrong because it’s a thing in their brain that prevents them from it, unlike “normal” brains, like ours can see that it’s wrong. In an article I read, it explained how society views psychopaths by saying, “Psychopaths are continually presented as criminals and feared due to their supposed aggressive tendencies, stemming from the excessive labeling of murderers as psychopaths by the media and popular culture.” Which means they stigmatize them and assume they are all bad. Through research and testing they concurred that, “While we found preliminary evidence for a negative correlation between the presence of psychopathic traits and the degree of stigmatization towards psychopaths, it is not possible to definitively establish the reason for this trend.” Which simplifies to mean that there isn’t enough evidence to determine whether the actuality of the fear towards psychopath’s aggressiveness is causing the negative correlation. The media only exploits psychopaths as criminals and violent, which make psychopaths maintain that reputation. A good majority of psychopaths aren’t violent or criminal, they are “normal” human beings with a mental illness. Those people wouldn’t be publically open to say that they are, so it’s typically known to come up during criminal situations. The media has a strong influence on how most of society views certain things because they hide the reality of the full truth.

There is a long process of discovering murderous crimes; in the book written by Richard Tithecott, he explains what the FBI goes through by saying,“But while the nature of serial killing is figured as mysterious, we are nonetheless keen to identify its symptoms. While its nature may be the secret of unworldly, satanic deities, we do our best to identify signs of its earthly manifestations. We look for and find those signs in spaces whose relation to society as a whole can go unnoticed. Our policing of the serial killer safeguards the idea of social order by identifying the serial killer’s “asocial” origins” (32). I found this interesting because this book talks about the psychopaths who are serial killers, and how difficult it is to create a list of suspects linked to serial murders because they go unnoticed for so long, it’s hard to become discovered, resulting in lack of evidence. Tithecott goes on to explain later in the book,“what police have to solve compared to the crime by saying, the “nature” of the serial killer we identify, what makes him “tick,” is figured as a mystery, and for the most part we are content to leave it as such. Without “motive” but with Douglas’s and Hazelwood’s terms, “organized” or “disorganized,” becoming part of everyday discourse (used in articles without quotation marks, used with no reference to their origins, used as part of a discourse which is self-evidently “scientific and true”), our construction of the serial killer becomes an inhuman figure, an automaton who is either out of control or follows a program whose writer remains unidentified. “It” is either in control, or it is not, either adult, sober, nondrug using, and sane, or some or none of the above” (28). There are many meticulous details that go into figuring out the murderer because you need to think of their motives, how organized and clean the crime scene is and the location of the murders, this will link them to some sort of connection, and unfortunately, it doesn’t connect until there are more linked murders.

An example of a serial killer referred to in this book is, Jeffrey Dahmer. As he moved when he was younger, he began to be afraid of people, and by the time he was a teenager, he began isolating himself and drinking excessively. After he graduated from high school, his parents got divorced which must have set something off because soon after he killed his first victim. Jeffrey Dahmer is known to be homosexual, cannibal, and serial killer. He admitted to killing 17 young men, who were mostly black and gay. He kept Polaroid pictures of his corpses, a 57-gallon bucket of acid and kept a severed head in his refrigerator. I won’t go too much into detail of these murders because of how gruesome and horrific they were. During his trial, he tried to plead guilty due to insanity, but was declared sane and sentenced to 15 life sentences but died later after a brutal attack in prison.

Another example of a psychopath is, Aileen Wuornos. She grew up in the care of her grandparents (which she believed were her actual parents) after her parents abandoned her and her brother. They were brutally abused by her grandfather, and her grandmother didn’t do much to stop it. Aileen was known to be introverted and wouldn’t get along with others; before she hit puberty, she had a bad temper and had random outbursts. She began participating in criminal acts such as shoplifting, and she began drinking and starting fights. She gave birth to a baby but had to give them up for adoption. Soon after she dropped out of school and left the home of her grandparents. After some time, she became a prostitute and landed herself in jail for burglary. After, she continued the life of prostitution and partying met her long-time girlfriend, Tyria. During their relationship was when she killed her seven victims, claiming they raped her and killing them in self-defense, although none of it added up to the forensic evidence. As she began trial, she changed her stories multiple times and was eventually convicted and executed.

The Ted Talk, Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test lead us to the question, what is a psychopath. I pieced out different aspects of what it is, how it’s discovered, the difference between genders, how society views psychopathy and gave some examples of psychopaths. I believe the Ted Talk is misleading because Jon talks about misdiagnosing patients and only looking for the bad, which I don’t believe is true. As I read more about psychopathy, it was mostly based on society’s negativity towards them, which gives the impression of all psychopaths are terrible criminals, which is also false. Overall, the psychopathic testing is accurate and there are multiple situations and topics in the category of psychopaths that aren’t aware in our society.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Arrigo, Bruce A, and Ayanna Griffin. Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos: Attachment Theory, Psychopathy, and Predatory Aggression. May 2004, eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=31818668-1088-4714-a424-fb3e7dc47e17%40sessionmgr4008.

“Dahmer, Jeffrey Lionel (1960 – 1994).” World of Criminal Justice, Gale, edited by Shirelle Phelps, Gale, 1st edition, 2002. Credo Reference, http://ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/worldcrims/dahmer_jeffrey_lionel_1960_1994/0?institutionId=479. Accessed 04 Mar 2018.

Durand, Guillame, and Erika Mastumoto Plata. “Negative Attitudes towards Psychopaths: The Role of One’s Own Psychopathic Traits.” Https://Www-Sciencedirect-Com.ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/Science/Article/Pii/S0191886916312351, 4 Jan. 2017, www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/science/article/pii/S0191886916312351.

Forouzan, Elham, and David J. Cooke. Figuring Out La Femme Fatale: Conceptual and Assessment Issues Concerning Psychopathy in Females. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2005, eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=3f84700a-088b-4adb-aa06-67310c46962f%40sessionmgr102.

“Hare Psychopathy Checklist.” Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Hare-Psychopathy-Checklist.html.

Loving, James L. Treatment Planning With the Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R). 1 June 2002, journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.lib.uwstout.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/0306624X02463003.

Ohikuare, Judith. “Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 21 Jan. 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/.

Ronson, Jon. “Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, Mar. 2012, http://www.ted.com/talks/jon_ronson_strange_answers_to_the_psychopath_test.

Echo of the Sea

This is a short story I created for my creative writing class in my senior year of high school, it’s a bit long so, enjoy. 🙂

She sat in an old wooden chair, flipping through the pages of an even older book, lost in her story until reality came crashing through.

“Elsie, there is a young man who requires your assistance, he is right over there.”

Florence announced. Elsie looked over to the young man that Florence was pointing to, a shorter, wiry-looking lad with light brown hair shining in the sunlight. He wore a formal suit, almost seeming to be at odds with the sly smile upon his lips. She closed her book, and nodded to Florence while standing up from her seat; She straightened out her dress and walked over to the young man and offered her assistance.

“How can I be of service?” Elsie asked the young man. He turned to look at her and smiled.

“I was wondering if you had a copy of Moby Dick.” Elsie nodded and ushered him to the left side of the library.

“Hmm,” She scanned the bookshelf. “Ah, here it is.” She said as she pulled out the book. Elsie offered the book to him, and he accepted it with grace.

“Thank you. You must know this library pretty well, I presume.” Elsie smiled at him.

“I know this library better than anyone here. I’ve been coming here for quite some time.” Elsie recounted.

“May I ask your name?” The young man inquired politely.

“Elizabeth, but you can refer to me as Elsie.” She responded.

“What an interesting name that is, Elsie. Well, my name isn’t as fancy as yours, but it is William.”

“Well, William, although it isn’t as fancy, it is distinguished all the same.” Elsie paused. “What has peaked your interest in Moby Dick?” Elsie pondered.

“My associates brought up the subject of whales, and this book in particular, so I was interested as to why they had found it so fascinating. I’ve always enjoyed the sea as well, so it has piqued my curiosity even more.”  He mused

“I’ve never been to the ocean before, actually,” Elsie confessed. They went on to talk about the book, and all things related to it, until William glanced up at the clock and realized he must go.

“Would you like to accompany me to lunch this afternoon?” William questioned.

“I’d be delighted.” Elsie agreed.

“Brilliant! Meet me at Lyon’s Corner House at noon.” William strode away excitedly. Elsie was blushed and smiling. She turned to view Florence giving her an approving look.

Elsie returned to her previous seat, an older wooden chair, grabbing the back of her dress so she wouldn’t sit improperly upon it. She rested her favorite book, The Picture of Dorian Grey onto the cracked wooden table and proceeded to open it and begin reading. Occasionally she would peer up and look at the clock because she has to make sure she’s on time to her appointment with William. Elsie had read over fifty pages by the time she looked up at the clock again and realized she was going to be late if she didn’t leave that instant. Elsie excused herself from the library and rushed down the pavement. Big Ben just finished ringing, which signaled the coming of midday, causing her to hurry even faster. When she finally arrived at Lyon’s Corner House, William was leaning against the wall, side to the entrance door.

“Forgive me, have I made you wait long?” Elsie apologized politely, hoping she hadn’t kept him waiting.

“Oh not to worry, love. You’d be worth the wait regardless.” William reassured Elsie whilst he opened the creaking door for her. They went inside and seated themselves, waiting for their waiter to arrive. Elsie took off the sweater she was wearing and put it on the back of her chair.

“Thank you for inviting me out to lunch, William.” Elsie thanked him.

“It is my greatest pleasure.” The waiter came by and handed them their menus and asked them which beverage they prefer, Elsie chose tea, and William, lemonade. Elsie was looking around the tiny restaurant, while William’s eyes were fixed upon Elsie.

The waiter returned with their beverages and proceeded to ask what they would like to eat for lunch. Elsie chose the vegetable soup, and William chose fish and chips. The waiter left to request their order.

“Elsie, tell me a bit about yourself.” William requested.

“My life is rather dull,” Elsie began. “What are you interested in knowing?”

“I want to know everything, try beginning at the start.” William offered with a grin.

“Well, I am an orphan, or was, I shall say and I’ve always been a quiet person.” Elsie paused. William was looking at her with intent. “My friend, Gracie, I met her at the orphanage, and I’ve known her for quite some time now. I have worked in the library for quite a long while, it used to be my hiding spot when I was young. I do enjoy reading, I dream of becoming a novelist myself one day.”

“I enjoy reading myself actually, but I never seem to be able to find the time to do so,” William added. Elsie’s interest peaked.

“What do you mean you have no time?” Elsie questioned him.

“I work as a shoe cobbler during the day, and when I arrive at home, my parents force me to do the household chores, because most of the time the maids run out of time to do a lot of them.”

“A shoe cobbler? How interesting. What made you deci-?”

“Here’s your soup, and your fish and chips.” The waiter interrupted Elsie. The waiter then left, leaving her with a sense of annoyance.

“Are you alright, love? You mustn’t let that waiter bother you, I bet he never learned proper manners.” Elsie chuckled a bit. She took a spoonful of her soup but her body jerked back from the hot temperature, burning her tongue. She reached for her tea but suddenly realized that she couldn’t drink it because it was just as hot.

“Would you care for some of my lemonade?” William offered, reaching out his lemonade towards her.  Elsie instantly went red in her face, she hesitantly accepted and took a couple sips.

“Why don’t you tell me about yourself now?” Elsie appealed, trying to pretend nothing had happened.

“Well, I am adopted, I was an orphan by the age of two. People say that I have a talent for singing. I do enjoy going on adventures from time to time.”

“You must let me listen to your singing some time.

“Indeed I must.” William agreed. They were silent for a while, occasionally chattering about their interests. They both finished their meals around the same time; they were in no rush to leave.

“Come on an adventure with me this weekend,” William said abruptly. Elsie was flustered.

“W-what manner of adventure?”

“One you would enjoy.” No one had ever asked her to do anything so spontaneous, or much in general just as well.

“I…I don’t know. I must get back to the library; Florence is probably very busy without me.” Elsie stuttered at the beginning before making an excuse for her to leave. She arose from her chair, and grabbed her sweater, and hurried to put each arm through.

“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Please, sit down again.” William pleaded. Elsie gave him a doleful gaze.

“I must be going, thank you for lunch. Next time, I’ll return the favor.” Elsie had gone out the glass entrance door; William watched Elsie scurry past the wide glass window.

Elsie returned to the library, it was quiet as usual. Florence came out of her office and smiled at Elsie.

“You’re back already? How did it go?” Florence asked.

“It went well actually,” Elsie confessed.

“It is clearly not busy here, you should return to your flat and get some rest, you begin the university tomorrow.” Florence tried convincing Elsie. Elsie nodded and turned to go back through the door.

She wanted to stop by and see Ms. Wright before she went back to her flat. She turned the corner to stroll through the vacant pavement. Elsie thought of William, she liked how charming he seemed. She wondered what William thought of her, she assumed by now, he’d think she’s mad because of how abruptly she had left. She turned another corner, there were more people strolling through. Elsie smiled at the people passing by her, them smiling right back. She crossed the street and faced a dark wooden door. Elsie grabbed the black door knocker, at the top of the door. A short, young, blonde haired girl opened the door.

“Hello, Annie.” Elsie greeted her. Annie gave her a wide smile and rushed out to hug her.

“Hiya, Elsie!” Elsie took Annie’s hand and guided her back into the house. A rush of nostalgia came towards Elsie as she walked through the entrance hallway. There were many hooks that held the children’s coats, over the beige walls; there was a shelf the held all the children’s shoes on. The entrance hallway led to the kitchen; it had enough room to fit the five working women, it even had an island in the center. Off from the kitchen lead to the dining room. It was just enough to squeeze the children in at the table. She hasn’t been inside the orphanage for quite some time now; she left before she was even eighteen. She would visit Ms. Wright usually every month, or whenever she wasn’t busy.

“Elsie,” Ms. Wright beckoned. Elsie turned around, and so did Annie. “What a nice surprise.”

“Hello, mum.” Elsie let go of Annie’s hand, Elsie smiled at and hugged Ms. Wright.

“What are you doing here, dear? You should be resting considering you start the university tomorrow.”

“Mum, I’ll be fine, I was on my way to my flat and thought I would stop by. I haven’t seen you for quite some time.” Elsie answered.

“Oh alright. Why don’t you stay for dinner, then dear?” Ms. Wright offered and Elsie agreed to stay. Annie pulled on Elsie’s arm, and Elsie tilted her head down to look at her.

“Why do you call Ms. Wright, Mum?” Annie questioned. Elsie kneeled down onto the cold wooden floors, resting her rear on her heels to be able to look at Annie properly.

“Ms. Wright has been there for me ever since I was born, she was the one who took care of me the most, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you did the same,” Elsie told her. Annie smiled and ran off to go play with some of the other children in the other room. Elsie stood back up and walked over to Ms. Wright.

“Have you gotten a doctor to see about Annie’s problem?” Elsie queried. Ms. Wright frowned.

“She’s asked you why again, hasn’t she? The doctor says there’s nothing we can do.” Ms. Wright admitted.

“I wager families have rejected her because of her memory problem. She really is a fine young lady, but they’d think she’s just mad after they realize her condition.” Elsie conceded.

“The families love her. They come and visit on the weekends, and she can remember their names and who they are, but she cannot remember anything else that they’ve told her. That is when families decide they need to look for a new child to adopt. There is currently a family looking at her, and they’ve noticed it, and they do not seem to mind. The family does look promising, although.” Elsie glanced over at Annie giving her a sorrowful expression, but Annie hadn’t looked over.

Elsie helped cook and serve the children their dinners. All the women who work at the orphanage eat after all the children are finished and returned to their respective rooms.

“How are you doing, Elsie?” One of the women asks her.

“I’m doing well, actually. I met a very charming man today.” Elsie mentioned. The women were quite surprised.

“A man? You must tell me about him.” Ms. Wright insisted, looking at her with intent. Elsie told the women all she knew about William.

“He even asked me to go adventure with him this weekend. He must be mad.” Elsie laughed.

“What’s wrong with a little adventure? Elsie, dear, you must go. You seem to like this man; don’t let him slip away because of your fears.” Ms. Wright encouraged her.

“I’m not one to rush headlong into things.” Elsie had informed her.

Elsie agreed to talk to William again after Ms. Wright finally convinced her. Elsie didn’t exactly know how she was going to meet him, but if she saw him, she’d confront him. Elsie chatted with the women as she helped them wash the dishes, and put the leftover food away. She then gave them all goodbyes and dismissed herself from the orphanage.

Elsie awoken, and arose from her bed at the crack of dawn, put her formal dress on and went on her way to visit with Gracie at the coffee shop nearest Brunel University. Gracie was already sitting at a table in the left corner; she was looking absentminded through the window.

“It’s somewhat rare to see you up so early in the morning, is there anything I should know about?” Elsie had interjected upon Gracie’s daydream.

“Nothing, in particular, I just woke up earlier than usual today,” Gracie admitted. Elsie and Gracie recounted the common news, such as the Spanish flu epidemic.

“There were over 50 million deaths, in less than a year, I’ve seen in the newspaper.” Elsie avowed. Gracie kept noticing a younger man that kept taking glances at Elsie, and so Gracie tapped her forearm before Elsie could continue talking about the epidemic.

“What is it?” Elsie questioned Gracie.

“That man keeps looking at you, he’s quite handsome,” Gracie informed her. Elsie looked over at the man Gracie had been talking about. He was sitting with his back towards her; she felt as though she knew who this man was.

“Go talk to him.” Gracie nudged. Elsie hesitantly agreed because she was curious as to whom this familiar man was.

“Hello,” Elsie muttered, hoping it was loud enough for him to hear what she had said. He turned his head to look back at her; William gave her a wide smile. Elsie’s heart beat faster than normal because she had forgotten about his offer until that moment, but she still gave him a smile.

“Elsie, I apologize for making you feel uncomfortable yesterday.” William apologized. He made a gesture for her to have a seat next to him, and she abided.

“It was my fault, so I apologize for leaving abruptly. In honesty, no one has ever asked me to anything extemporaneous before, mind, barely has a stranger even dared to say hello to me before you.” Elsie conceded. William was taken aback.

“I think you’re a lovely woman, just knowing you after one day. Even if you rejected my offer yesterday, I’d be glad if you’d agree to meet with me again.” William confessed. Elsie blushed, putting her hands her face to feel how warm it was. She glanced over at Gracie who was patiently waiting for her return to inform her of the details.

“Why, thank you, William. I’d like to accompany you on your adventure if the offer still stands.” Elsie affirmed. William gave out a little chuckle.

“Of course the offer still stands.” He chortled.

“On one condition.” She started. William raised an eyebrow, giving her a quizzical expression. “You must tell me where you will be taking me.”

“Everywhere. There isn’t just one destination in an adventure. You begin at one place, but you shouldn’t end at the same place you started.” William described.

Elsie and William talked a bit more, and William informed her that he made note to his parents about her, and would like to meet them before they go out this weekend, she agreed. Elsie returned to visit Gracie and promised her to tell her the details of how she had met William because she had to excuse herself from their meeting.

The week dragged on slowly for Elsie, she needed to wake up forcefully early to make it on time to her classes, and in between, she helped Florence with the library. Once her final class was finished, she’d run over to the library, and do her homework, and help in whatever way was needed. Elsie was falling asleep before she even had left to go home. Florence had offered to cut her hours at the library so she’d have more time, but Elsie declined. Elsie was also concerned she might have to cancel plans with William of how busy she has been. During that week, the Great War ended with the Central Powers lying in ruin and Britain celebrated, with thousands of people gathered in the streets for days long celebrations. By the time it was Saturday, everything had cooled down, and her schoolwork wasn’t piled high, and weekends at the library were rarely ever busy. Elsie was relieved that she hadn’t canceled their appointment.

Elsie had woken up earlier than she usually does, most likely because she was nervous for her meeting with William and his parents. Elsie stopped by the library for a couple hours but Florence did not need her assistance so Elsie sat there and read Wuthering Heights. She usually finishes a book in a couple days, unless she’s busy. She had read at least half of the book before it was time to dismiss herself from the library and accompany William. She slowly rose from the wooden chair and announced to Florence that she was leaving. Considering it was Saturday, there were many people out and roaming the city streets. Elsie had to push her way through the crowds of people to get to her destination.

As she arrived at the written address William had given her, it was very noticeable that it was a house for the rich, the outside of the house was a light beige color, with many windows and the gardening outside on the shrubs and hedges are cut precisely and well kept. Elsie was astonished at how beautiful and grand the house was. She minced up the steep steps leading to the front door. She carefully knocked on the door, and patiently waited until someone who had come to the door. A woman opened the door; she was wearing a black dress, with a white apron over it, and had a white bonnet.

“May I help you?” The woman spoke with impeccable mannerism. Elsie smiled at her.

“Yes, I am looking for William, is he in?” Elsie asked politely. The woman went back inside keeping the door open and called for William. A few moments later, William appeared in the doorway.

“Elsie, come on in, love.” William gestured her inside, and she followed him. The entrance way to the house was purple; the stairs were only a few feet away from the door and between the stairs and another wall formed another hallway leading to the lounge. William formed a fist and rested it on his hip and gestured Elsie to put her arm through. He led her to the lounge where his parents were sitting. His mum was sitting down on the couch with her legs resting upon the square ottoman. His father was sitting in an armchair facing the opposite direction as them, reading the newspaper.

“Mum, Dad, this is Elsie,” William waiting for his parents to bring their attention to him. “Elsie, this is my mum, Marguerite, and my father, Alfred.” Elsie looked at both of them, in turn, giving them polite smiles.

“It is a pleasure to meet you both.” Elsie greeted his parents.

“Us as well, darling.” Marguerite had stood up and walked over to where Elsie was currently standing. Elise talked to Marguerite and Alfred for quite a while, but they were not impressed with her. They were the type of people who dismiss the poor, which Elsie was.

“How is it possible to afford to go to the university with such little money?” Marguerite questioned rudely.

“I reluctantly accepted an offer from my mother, in which she would provide the necessary funds to complete my education,” Elsie answered somewhat shamefully. She didn’t mind their scoffs and sneers, she didn’t care what they thought. If need be, she’d defend herself and reference how far she’d come while being on her own. William had noticed his parents’ facial expressions of disgust and disdain throughout the discussion, which at this point had him silently fuming.

“Elsie, we should be taking our leave now. If you’d excuse us.” William put an end to his parent’s criticism. Elsie stood up and made her way towards William, but turned back to his parents.

“Once again, it was a rare pleasure meeting you both.” Elsie politely excused herself from the lounge. Elsie was stopped by William before they went outside.

“I’m deeply sorry for my parent’s behavior, do not think that I would ever dismiss you on the way you live, or how you look,” William assured her. Elsie smiled at him.

“William, it is alright. I care not what they think, it’s what you think that matters to me because you have shown me the respect I’m due.” Elsie finished with a smile. William nodded and informed her that they would take his parents car, as it was an easier way to travel than a train. Elsie admitted that she’d never ridden in a car before then.

Elsie and William were in the car for at least two hours with Elsie becoming more and more impatient to know where he was taking her first, whilst William was remaining very persistent in not telling her. They conversed the entire time, about their likes and dislikes, and what they wish for the future and so on. William turned the car onto the side of the street. Across the road, they could see a massive sign with the name, Dance Craze in bold letters.

“We have arrived at our first destination,” William announced. Elsie turned to William and gives him a wide-eyed expression.

“You’re taking me dancing?” She questioned him with a surprised look on her face. William grabbed her hand and guided her across the street and into the building. There was loud, boisterous music playing, and a massive crowd in the wide room. The flooring was marble and had long red Victorian drapes over the long, wide windows. The people inside were dressed formally, with expensive dresses and tuxedos. Elsie was intimidated by the crowd because she felt underdressed and she had no prior dancing experience.

“Let’s go, love.” William gave her a wide smile and lent out his hand for her to grab, and brought her into the middle of the dance floor. Elsie had shown a sense of discomfort, William reassured her by saying, “It’s alright. Let the dance floor be yours, no one is watching anyway.”

Elsie had felt overwhelmingly special, more special than she’d probably felt in her entire life because William had chosen her because he liked her. William never took his eyes off her as they danced; they twirled and spun in circles, holding each other together. Elsie kept stepping on his toes and losing her balance. William had suggested to Elsie that she should keep her feet upon this, and she obliged. Elsie felt a sense of closeness and comfort while being held together with William, which made her feel at ease.

William planned to leave the Dance Craze after two hours of arriving there, but they ended up staying for over three hours. William finally convinced Elsie to move on to the next destination after a few tries. William drove Elsie to a diner, which was fairly vacant because it was so late at night. They were starving after dancing for such a long period of time. After their stop at the diner, William drove Elsie to the Guildhall Art Gallery.

“The museum is closed, you do know that, right?” Elsie inquired. William grinned at her.

“I do know that, but we’re going to break in anyways. We’re not going to steal anything, of course, we’re just going to take a look around.” William assured her. Elsie looked horrified.

“We are not going to break into a museum!” Elsie protested loudly. William frowned.

“Do you trust me?” He questioned. Elsie nodded slowly; she opened her mouth, but immediately closed it again.

“I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I promise.” William promised. Elsie reluctantly agreed to go inside, even though she was questioning the whole thing. William led her to the back entrance of the museum; he had prior experience with unlocking secured doors without the keys. William fumbled with the door hinge and quickly unlocked it. Elsie was quite impressed, but also somewhat concerned. They walked inside, the room was quite empty, but the walls were filled with paintings. There were sculptures spaced out in the middle of each room, the walls were white so it wasn’t so distracting for the people to view the paintings, and had medium brown, hardwood flooring. Elsie’s face brightened immediately upon entering; she loved it just as much as the library. William loved watching Elsie’s reactions to the different pieces of artwork. He never understood a thing about art, but he knew that Elsie would enjoy it greatly, so he knew to bring her there.

Elsie started getting drowsy after an hour of walking around, she kept yawning and rubbing her eyes. She almost never stayed up past midnight, only every once in awhile when she was particularly restless. William noticed her weariness and only stayed a little while longer.

“I have one more destination for you, and you can rest on the way there,” William announced.

When they arrived at their final destination, William touched Elsie’s arm and shook her awake politely. She slowly opened her eyes, feeling very groggy. “We’re here,” William whispered in her ear and kissed her temple. Elsie gave him a weak, but happy smile. They both got out of the car, and it only took Elsie a minute to realize where he had taken her. The ocean was right in front of them. Elsie beamed; she was ecstatic to view the ocean.

“It’s so grand. I find it completely miraculous that such a large body of water could be so beautiful.”

Elsie ran towards the waves, taking off her shoes on the way and she dug her toes into soft, squishy sand. It was pitch black outside, but there were enough lights from the town for them to be able to see. William ran towards Elsie to catch up with her, and he took off his own shoes as well. William grabbed her and picked her up from behind, and carried her into the water. She began shrieking, which turned into laughter.

They stayed at the ocean for several hours, though they never went swimming in the water, they splashed each other often, and ran through the sand. They climbed rocks and found a perfectly flat stone for both of them to sit down on. It was higher up so they had a perfect view of the water and the sand. They talked for hours on end, and the more they did; the more they realized how much they have in common, yet so much was different.

“Elsie, this might be a little soon but, I fancy you. You may be quiet, but you’re not dull, you’re full of life, and as you most likely haven’t realized it, you’re full of adventure. You’re intellectual and beautiful, and I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten the chance to meet you.” William complimented. Elsie was tearing up. She had never felt wanted, she had hardly any families wanting to meet her at the orphanage, and even though Ms. Wright was practically her mother, she hadn’t been a complete stranger.

“What’s wrong, love?” William questioned concernedly. He grabbed her hand and held it close to him.

“I find it mad, you are the only person who has ever wanted me in their life, I mean besides Gracie, but when I was in the orphanage, I wasn’t ever looked upon by the families. It’s almost mad to say that I fancy you as well, and I’ve only known you for such a short while.” William gave Elsie an appealing look.

“Time means nothing, love,” William assured her.

“And your parents? It’s clear they aren’t as taken with me as you are.” Elsie questioned

“They’ll come around, I promise,” William vowed. He moved closer to Elsie, brushed the hair from her face, moving it behind her ear. He caressed her cheek and leaned in. His lips met hers, and it was a pleasant, soft touch, and their lips moved in sync. They broke from the kiss, and they both smiled. Elsie had never been kissed, and she was just glad she had a perfect one. She sacrificed her values to go headlong into this adventure with William, and she was grateful that she had found love along the way, that someone had truly wanted her. Elsie took another glance towards the ocean, while William’s eyes were fixed upon her. As she turned back to face him, she laughed and they briefly kissed once again. They sat there for a long while, and as the sun rose from the horizon, they rested their heads against each other’s, they were at peace, and their adventure had just begun.