Terse Tales: Capgras Syndrome
Theme: “Something was wrong”
Cheryl sat stiffly in the metal chair, taking deep breaths as Dr. Brown taught her; she studied the woman across the table. That woman had familiar blue eyes, a kind smile, and hair tucked into a nostalgic messy braid. Cheryl forced a smile.
“Hi, mom,” the woman said, hope and pain in her eyes.
“Addie?” Cheryl started. Dr. Brown nodded optimistically from where he perched on his chair in the corner.
“Yeah, mom, it’s me. It’s Addie.”
There were tears brimming on either side of the table. Cheryl let the edge of a true smile form. She reached across the table and took the young woman’s hand.
But something wasn’t right. Cheryl recoiled, all the joy vanishing.
“No,” she barked, “you aren’t Addie. Addie died. I saw her. She died.” The words were spilling out now, each more agonized than the last.
Dr. Brown was beside her in a moment. “Cheryl,” he said gently, “remember, we talked about this. Addie was taken to the hospital. She li–“
“No, my baby died. You are trying to trick me. It’s all a trick.” Now the words were a full-on yell, and none of Dr. Brown’s soothing made it through. He shared a glance with Addie, then tapped twice on the door behind him.
The orderly helped Cheryl out of the room, a mix of firm and gentle born of compassion and years of experience.
Once the door closed, Dr. Brown turned back to Addie, the customer service smile fading.
“That was a pitiful performance,” he spat. “We’ve got that woman as drugged as we can while keeping her conscious, and she wasn’t fooled for a minute.” His gaze was cold and Addie met it in kind. “Do better,” he hissed as he exited, “or you’ll get us all killed.”