My thumbs circled one another waiting on her reply. This was the seventh office I had sat in within three years. Each adorning the certificates on the wall, the dusty fake plants, the all-too-eager-to-welcome-me chairs, and let’s not overlook the bookshelves full of psychological books. Swallowing, I heard a page flip, as if she still had to read the notes one more time before starting the session.
“So, Miss Lydia Talia, am I correct that I am the seventh psychiatrist you’ve seen in regards to your…” Another flip, the pursed lips and dark pools on the old woman’s face seemed skeptical. “For these hallucinations?”
“Y-yes ma’am.” My heart pounded so fierce my chest ached, eyes locked on my thumbs, afraid to let them wonder.
“And I see you’ve been on a number of medications with no results?” Two pages were flipped and scanned before she sighed, shutting my folder and tossing it to the desk beside her coffee cup. “What makes you think I can help you?”
Biting my lip, I closed my eyes to answer in earnest, “You have better qualifications and far more experience than the doctors I’ve seen before, Dr. Asiza. I-I am hoping you can help me, where others have failed.”
Another painful pause filled the air, my thumbs slowing.
“I see…” Her chair creaked and in my peripheral I could see she now leaned onto her desk. “Is he here? Do you see this man now?”
I tensed, thumbs stopping. Willing my eyes to move, I looked around the room. My face was red with the heat of my blood pressure rising. Anxiety was gripping at my throat and breathing became painful. Checking the corners of the room first, I soon spiraled across every inch before my eyes came back to my hands. My thumbs began to spin once more.
“N-no.” My mouth was dry, swallowing did nothing to soothe the sensation. “He is not here… yet.”
“Yet?” Her voice was one filled with intrigue. “Then has he shown in a session before?”
“Y-yes.” The thumbs sped up with my heart. “That’s how I lost the last two doctors.”
“They said nothing in the file about that…” Her hand touched the manila folder, as if to have it speak for itself of this lack of information. “Exactly how would he cause you to lose your doctor?”
Flustered I looked up, my words failing. My eyes rested on her coffee cup sliding towards her. Teeth gnashing tight, I watched it slide under her arm and into her lap. She jerked up, unaware of the hand that moved it and the mischievous man standing so close to her. My eyes frantic, they dropped to my thumbs. If only they could spin faster.
“Christ…” Dr. Asiza muttered under her breath. “Excuse me a moment. How clumsy of me.”
The door to the office opened, and with a horrendous click, it was shut. I was alone. With him.
“This is a crock of shit, Lydia!” He was angry, again. “Why don’t you believe me when I say I’m real?”
Closing my eyes tight, I did everything in my power to will the masculine voice away. It invaded my head as if I were connected to someone else’s thoughts. Flinching, the manila folder hit the wall beside me, papers fluttering across me, the comfy couch, and settled across the floor at my feet. Tears came hot and heavy, tapping across me clasped hands, choking sobs making my lips tremble. I could feel the heat of his stare, still standing behind the doctor’s desk.
“I said I’m real! How much proof do you need!” The wheeled office chair was sent tumbling against the wall with a kick. “You can’t deny it! Shit, even the doctor’s couldn’t explain it.”
The door to the office swung open and I cowered where I sat.
“What in God’s name…” Dr. Asiza stumbled to a stop, papers across the floor and her office chair toppled over. “I do not take kindly to client’s who destroy my office, Miss Talia.”
“I-I haven’t moved.” I shook with fear, my eyes braving to look into hers. “Check the camera. Check the footage. I don’t know if you can see him, but he’s angry. He doesn’t want me here.”
She took in my shaking frame and with morbid curiosity marched over to her laptop. Spinning it around on her desk, she logged in and double clicked and tapped away. Kneeling she started to review the last few minutes. I had noted the camera and its green light on the shelf in my observation. Granted, he always stood out of frame. At least it was focused on where I sat, proof that I hadn’t moved or even ventured close to her desk.
The cushion next to me sunk under his weight and he leaned toward me. His lips tickling at my ear, “I’m sorry.”
I started to rock, closing my eyes again, clenching my jaw.
“Lydia, I mean it.” His fingers tucked hair behind my ear and he sighed. The next words from him were deep with sorrow. “I wanted to be with you, but how can you love someone you can’t hold hands with, can’t look in the eye and hear with your own ears, or tell others in your life that I exist? How jealous I am of your world, how angry I am to be nothing more than your shadow.”
I ceased my rocking, opening my eyes to see the doctor straighten her back and rewind the footage.
“Lydia, I am in love with you.” My eyes, slow and wide, turn towards him to see the faintest of faces with pale blue eyes, such sad bitter eyes. “But I am torturing you, denying you a wholesome life. I can’t leave you, they’ll come for you the moment I am away.”
“Who are they?” I asked in wonder.
“Demons and monsters, but you’re safe.” He was melting away, what little I could see dissolving before me. “I will become your shadow and nothing more. Forgive me… I was a jealous, I thought I could, that we could…”
“My God…” Dr. Asiza stood, spinning towards me. “Dear child, you are not hallucinating…”
I looked to her paled face, her wrinkles stretched with the weight of terror.
“You don’t need a doctor.” She covered her mouth. “You need a priest. You need an exorcist.”