The fear of who I'll come to be of all the weaknesses in me. I truly thought I was prepared, but now I'm panicked and I'm scared. But how did I become a coward?

The tone of the email had thrown off her entire week. Any kind of interaction with that man usually did. The Chief of Psychiatry was not beloved by his staff, but there was a respect for him - whether or not that respect was earned or a result of fear was a different story.

Roxy only ever had to work close with him on a few occasions since her start at the hospital three years ago, including the internship program she was involved in before becoming a full time hire. In those few occasions, she had felt an unease with him, and she wasn’t alone. It was something about they way he spoke, but more so in the way he would look at you. Especially if you were of the female variety. There had been whispers about his conduct with some nurses, even doctors, but those were usually squashed as soon as they were started, forgotten by those who were the original source, or in rarer cases, unexplained shift changes or dismissals. There was also the rumor about this being true of the female patients as well, but Bridgewater Hospital only held male patients, and no one really knew much of his time before he came to the hospital almost 20 years ago.

The rumors were enough to keep her on guard as her heels clicked down the quiet hallway leading to his office, but she was more concerned with losing her job than any rumor. After all, she had had a private meeting with him a few weeks back to discuss her future with the hospital, and a potential raise. While he had not answered her then, he had been nothing but professional then. Somewhat put off as he normally was, but professional.

She had purposely come to the hospital early to get this meeting out of the way, knowing that he was at the hospital himself by 5 am. Briefly checking her watch, she saw it was nearing 6:30 and her colleagues wouldn’t be arriving for another hour at least. This way if she happened to be fired, there was no walk of shame she would have to bear. Eyes silently staring as she cleaned out her office, full of questions and comments that she did not want to answer, or hear. As she turned the corner she noticed his assistant, Nancy, wasn’t present at her desk. At least, that’s what she could see from down the hall. Save for the guards and the night nurses in the infirmary - and of course, the patients themselves - they were all alone in the twilight of early morning.

As she walked, it seemed the hallway stretched on into forever and her mind raced, thinking of the everything that had crossed her mind over the last week. She had been a model employee, at least, she thought so. Even on the weeks she couldn’t remember when her other self took over, she was still present - save for calling in once or twice in what she presumed was under the pretense of a sick day. As unhinged as she knew the other counterpart that inhabited her psyche was, she had to give her credit for at least making sure that Roxy was present when she needed to be. As long as the roads were open and there were no states of emergency that put the city of Boston into a curfew. Maybe her other self craved a small taste of normalcy, she couldn’t tell. She was only grateful that there weren’t many instances where she had to explain an absence that she couldn’t even remember.

She did know that the most recent vacation was taken rather suddenly, but as far as she could tell, she had contacted all the right people to ensure that her work was carried out while she was away. Hadn’t she? Thinking about her correspondence with the hospital pushed her thoughts back to the email she had received that spurred this meeting. What was that line about her patients, anyway? Whoever she was outside these walls, while here she performed her duties and helped her patients to the best of her ability. Many have shown remarkable improvement, even the more challenging had become less so as of late. Plus, no one had died under her care. The same couldn’t be said of Bergmann, but she wasn’t about to bring up a highly sensitive subject that had just started to die down, nor was that a sure fire way of getting a raise.

So what was all this? Why make her suffer for a week wondering what she had done? He couldn’t have been a sadist and purposely wanted her to squirm - could he? The knock on his door seemed to echo in the small space and she adjusted the glasses that sat on the bridge of her nose. She could hear the rustling of papers from within before a muffled ’Come in’ was heard from behind the frosted glass.

”Ah, Ms. Addison,” he started. “Please have a seat.” Stepping into the office, she shut the door behind her, biting the inside of her cheek in annoyance. She did not work her ass off for years to receive her doctorate just to be called ‘miss’ in a professional setting. Casual sexism or purposeful diminishing her accomplishments aside, she ignored it and sat in front of his desk, waiting. He was in no hurry as he continued to read whatever was on his computer screen, not speaking as he typed something quickly. Finally he turned to acknowledge her. The uneasiness returned as she watched him study her, leaning forward to rest folded hands on his wooden desk.

”Did you have a pleasant vacation?” he asked, starting what was clearly going to be an unbearable meeting with small talk. She was starting to wonder if her masochist theory was true.

“I did, yes. It was very nice. Educational, too.” Her hands were placed in her lap, fingers fidgeting as she pulled one at a time, nervously. He nodded once. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I asked to see you this morning,” he began. She inwardly rolled her eyes and snorted. ‘Yeah, no shit.’ she thought, waiting for him to continue.

“I know you came to me recently asking about a pay raise, since your anniversary is coming up. You’ve been here how long now? Two years?”

“Three.” she stated, before he could continue. “Plus, the internship I started while still working on my doctorate.” She finished, making sure to put emphasis on the doctorate part.

”Yes, yes. Three years.” He looked at her briefly and she felt a wave of apprehension. Did he just look at her chest? The movement was so quick, she couldn’t have been sure. Regardless, something in his voice “You’ve don’t some fantastic work in that time. You’ve shown real promise and I hear nothing but good things from the other staff - and patients. You have a way of speaking to them, an understanding that not many have achieved here. You’ve always conducted yourself well in court, and it’s clear you’ve become a key member of the team while you’ve been here.”

Her stomach had unclenched at this point, and she was trying to suppress a small smile. She wasn’t getting fired after all! From the sound of it, he was going to give her a raise, and a pat on the back. She wanted to laugh - she felt so silly for worrying so much about this meeting and letting it throw off her entire week.

“But I’ve decided to not give you a raise.”

Her stomach dropped deep into her intestines. The butterflies she had started to feel in excitement for her career progression had turned to ask and before she could stop herself, she muttered something outloud:


Her voice came out harsher than she had intended and he seemed surprised that she had even spoke, his eyes rounding for a moment. But...was that a hint of a smile on his lips? It couldn’t have been.

“While you have been an exemplary employee, Ms. Addison, I just don’t think that a raise is best at the moment. The hospital is in a bit of a situation with the patient committing suicide two months ago, and there is a strain on our resources. Plus,” he paused, eyeing her. “There are other things to consider.”

She looked at him with a questioning look on her face. “There’s been instances of you calling out of your rounds on very short notice, without explanation and, most recently, this vacation that you happened to get approved with hardly a day’s notice. I know the ‘use it or lose it’ policy with vacation days, but you know the policy calls for at least two weeks advanced notice.”

She started blankly at him, not knowing what to say. She knew why the vacation was so short notice, but she couldn’t tell him that. He’d have her committed. The doctor becoming the patient. She would have laughed at the irony of it is she wasn’t so frustrated. She heard him sigh after a beat of silence and she looked up as he rose from his chair. He circled around the desk and rested against the wood, tapping his fingers against the top.

“I know that this isn’t what you wanted to hear, and I apologize for that.” His hands moved to remove his glasses, wiping them with a small microfiber cloth he pulled from his pocket. “But I must take everything into account when considering my staff for a raise.” Glasses were placed into his pocked and the look he gave her sent another wave of apprehension washing over her. He seemed almost gigantic standing before her, and much older.

Before she realized what was happening, she felt a hand on her bare knee and her eyes shot up to look at him. He wasn’t matching her gaze, instead staring at the bit of skin that was revealed through the unbuttoned portion of her blouse. “Roxanne,” he began, and he smirked in her confusion. He had never used her first name in her entire time of working here. “I’d love to help you out, really, I would.” His thumb began to move back and forth against the skin of her knee and she shuddered. Her eyes lingered on his hand and she mentally cursed herself for wearing a skirt today.

If he had noticed any of her physical cues of being uncomfortable, he ignored them. Removing his hand from her knee, she watched as he stood at full height and circled behind the chair. She could feel his presence against her back and head and froze as his hands were placed on her shoulders. It was a firm enough hold to keep her seated, but not so much that she couldn’t push him off - which she desperately wanted to do, but shock kept her motionless, even as one hand moved to touch the skin of her neck.

“Roxanne,” She didn’t know when he leaned over so his lips were near the top of her ear. His breath was warm against her hair and she felt the dread start to solidify in her chest. His hand had moved to her collarbone as he continued. “Maybe there is a way we can help each other..”

Her body tensed, and she instinctively jerked, but his fingers pressed firm against her shoulders, keeping her in place. “Just relax,” he murmured, fingers now tucked beneath the opening of her blouse. She hadn’t noticed that his other hand had unbuttoned the next one down the line, her cleavage now ever present in the harsh lighting of the office. “I’m a reasonable man,” his hand had moved further down into the fabric of her shirt, painfully slow and firm, not wanting her to jerk away from his grasp again. “You’re a very attractive woman. Maybe we can come up with an arrangement where you do get your raise, hm?”

She could feel his fingers brush against the fabric of her bra. Ever fiber of her being screamed for her to move. To fight. To run. But she sat there, numb with shock, hurt and anger - a toxic mix that settled in her stomach and made her feel like vomiting. She opened her mouth to speak, but the words couldn’t form, her mouth opening and closing with a frantic expression.

Just before his hands slipped completely into her shirt and assaulted her further, his door burst open with the chipper sounds of a ‘Good Morning! heard from his receptionist lips, but stopped in surprise seeing Dr. Bergmann stand abruptly straight and turn to look at her.

“Oh!” Nancy exclaimed. “I didn’t know you were in meeting, I’m so sorry! I’ll leave your coffee on the..” Before she could finish Roxy stood violently her face flushed. She couldn’t meet her eyes to either of them and excused herself and pushed past them, hardly registering him saying they would continue this conversation at a later date. Once out of the office she ran as fast as she could, heels clicking frantically underneath her.


She burst into the cold, tiled bathroom breathless, gripping the sink for support. Her entire body was shaking as she stood, trying to catch her breath and staring down at the stained sink she was holding on to. Once her breathing had evened, she straightened her back and lifted her head, catching her eyes in the reflection. Her cheeks were inflamed, and her eyes sparkled with the threat of tears. Slowly, her eyes traveled to the places where he had touched. There were no signs he had even been there, only the feeling of disgust that seared into her flesh with an invisible brand.

Her hands reached up and began to clumsily button the buttons he had opened on her blouse, taking longer than necessary because of her shaking hands. Her vision blurred as she felt hot tears roll down her cheeks and she stopped, crumpling onto the floor and letting the feeling of embarrassment and shame cover her, giving into her tears and wrapping her arms around her chest.

Sometime later, she stepped out of the bathroom and down the hall, still red and slightly puffy, but with an expression of cold steel set on her normally cheerful face. Now was not the time to let herself be overtaken with emotion and disgust with not only herself, but the Chief of Psychiatry. Later, she would allow herself to feel. Later, she will slowly realize that this wasn’t her fault.

Later, she will still hate herself for being a coward.