It’s been a bit of a chilly week here which is perfect if you like curling up with a good book… or ice skating on pavements… and I’m slowly getting there with the cover but it’s painstaking. Yes, that can be frustrating because artwork used to be really easy and quick for me but one of the side problems of having less than perfect vision, is that your eyes get really tired very quickly so I have to be patient and take my time. Computer screens in particular make it even harder but: babysteps, as Aeron would say!
So here is this week’s chapter for you is round two with Doctor Llys and oh, do I enjoy spending time on the page with Aeron and Renee. I like that I got to add in extra nuances in scenes and I’m really excited to get it to you… but… babysteps… So here is chapter 6 for you to enjoy!
Ooh and I’ll be posting more of the Christmas Story too so keep an eye out!
Copyright © 2004, 2022 Jody Klaire
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher/author.
Llys gave me a scolding look as I wandered into her office with the nice guard in tow—the ‘you’re late’ look. The look that one of those folks who are always early for everything often gave those of us who really don’t care—so I gave her a glare right back that said ‘Bite me.’
‘Did you enjoy your exercise?’ Llys asked with a deepening scowl. She must have been mad that the most recent addition to solitary, Uma, hadn’t so much as looked my way.
‘Yeah, especially when the fury fiends landed on their butts,’ I said with my best attitude on show as the friendly guard strapped me into the restraints and headed out.
‘Do you enjoy seeing other people get hurt?’ she asked and tapped her gold pen to the desk.
I sighed. She must have been back to borrowing Doctor Bison’s opinions again and he’d felt I was plotting to take over the entire institution but I’m not quite sure how he thought I was gonna do that but he had been more paranoid than Nora and way past his working expiration date.
‘You get that they were attempting to take my head off at the time?’ I tugged at the restraints. Clearly, she felt the need for extra security.
She raised her eyebrow. Of course she had. ‘Why, when you’re so sweet and innocent?’
One piece of advice: never bug a person locked up in a mental facility for as long as me ‘cause we have a tendency to get feisty. ‘Using patients to fight your battles only shows your weakness and you wouldn’t want nobody in here thinking you were weak enough to target.’
Llys met my eyes but then she nodded. ‘Point made.’
Yeah it was and if she tried it again, she’d have to figure out how to remove that gold pen of hers from somewhere… well, personal.
Llys moved into the prayer pose with her pen in between the tips of her fingers. ‘You were having dreams?’
I glanced at the door ‘cause the friendly guard had been worried ‘bout me. She was too good for this place.
‘You were in distress,’ Llys probed as though attempting to be gentle.
I shrugged. I weren’t telling her nothing.
‘Do you suffer from these dreams a lot?’ she asked but I weren’t even gonna bother looking at her. ‘Aeron?’
I glared at her. ‘You kicked me out of the first session, then tried to get me beaten and you want me to talk to you?’ She was crazier than Bison. ‘Why would I? You don’t care and you don’t even wanna be here.’
Llys eyed me then her eyes filled with realization like she weren’t used to being mean. She threw her pen on the desk and let out a long sigh. ‘You’re right. Aeron, I’m sorry.’ She leaned forward onto her desk. ‘I don’t really want to work here, no, but as I am, and usually I’m good at my job and I do want to help.’
Normally, I would have seen her change of mood as maneuvering but I could see the truth shining around her and it fell from her lips as she spoke. When folks told the truth, that’s what I saw and it was kinda pretty.
‘You saying that we have a truce?’ I stared at her. I hadn’t ever met a psychiatrist that wanted to help.
‘Yes, can we start again?’ she asked and more glitter fell from her bright-colored lipstick.
I guessed I could tell her ‘cause I’d told Bison it a few times so he’d quit talking at me. He’d managed not to snore… once.
‘I dream about standing at the railroad and arguing with Jake and then the train comes ‘round the corner and it hits him.’ I rubbed my sweaty palms over the hand rests on the chair.
Llys nodded and didn’t make notes or look away but kept her cool gray eyes on mine. ‘Where was Sam?’
I scowled. ‘What you mean? How’d you know who Sam is?’
She held up her hands and kept her steady gaze on mine. ‘I read the report… hazy as it is. Sam, who was Jake’s brother, he was at the railroad with you, yes?’
She’d read the report? Must have been bored. ‘Yeah.’
‘So, where was he at this point?’ she asked as though that was real important.
I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I only see Jake and I try saving him and I can’t get to him.’
‘But on the file,’ she said and tapped the papers in front of her. ‘You confessed to his murder.’
‘Yeah,’ I said and nodded not sure why she looked confused. ‘I was sixteen and I let Jake get killed by that train. That’s murder.’
Llys broke eye contact and made notes. I hated it when they did that and I hated not knowing what she was writing ‘bout me. It bugged me so I clenched my jaw trying not to show her how much. I couldn’t read her as much as I could in the first session so I guess she’d figured how to block me. Some folks could do that, they were so good at blocking me that I couldn’t tell what they were thinking or feeling at all. I usually liked that, Sam had been like that, it made me feel as close to normal as I was gonna get.
Llys stilled her pen. ‘Why did you run from the scene? Why didn’t you try to find him?’
‘You ever seen a high speed train? It would have taken miles to stop.’ I yanked at the restraints. ‘An’ I was scared maybe… we’d stolen stuff… Maybe I was in shock or something… I mean, I loved that kid.’ My throat clogged. ‘I really loved him like he was my own kid brother.’
Llys’ aura flickered and warmed as though my words resonated with her and somehow she understood that loss. Guess she was human then. Go figure.
‘The police report stated that neither you nor Sam told anyone what happened until you confessed and Sam has continued to deny being there.’ She cocked her head, again, looking far to human.
I nodded. I’d told Sam to say that ‘cause it was bad enough I hadn’t been able to stop Jake getting hit and it was my fault. It would be better if he denied my version and everybody would believe him over me anyhow. It had worked too and no one, not even my dad who’d arrested me, had believed a word I’d said. I was the loner, the odd one out, the freak that no one wanted around. It had been easier on everyone to lay it on me ‘cause no one wanted to believe the son of the mayor had committed any crime let alone been involved in Jake getting hurt.
‘So, Sam lied?’ Llys asked and placed her pen down to hold my gaze again.
I wasn’t sure what it was when she held my gaze but it kinda disarmed me. ‘Course he did. Sam had a big future ahead of him. I was just a thieving little runt.’
Llys frowned. ‘You were the daughter of the police chief.’
‘The only part my dad played was before I was born,’ I muttered then shifted in my seat.
‘But on your file, it said that your parents were still married?’ Llys said it like she didn’t quite trust the paperwork.
‘And she had ‘bout as much input,’ I muttered trying to break eye contact with her. ‘They preferred their ambition. I rebelled.’
Llys smiled and her aura laughed. ‘Explains the thievery.’
‘What better way to get my dad’s attention than to make him look bad in front of his colleagues,’ I said then felt exposed. I hadn’t told anybody this.
‘Did it work?’ Llys sat back in her chair.
I laughed. ‘I could have robbed the local bank and paraded the money on top of his desk and it still wouldn’t have made no difference.’
Llys’ eyes swirled like that resonated with her again somehow. ‘Why do you think that was?’
‘I weren’t a boy,’ I said and tugged at my restraints again. The chairs were for short folk with tiny arms. ‘He only managed one measly kid and I was a girl to boot.’
Llys studied me again but I was happy to let her ‘cause while she tried to read me, I read into why she was here and didn’t want to be.
‘So, you believed he didn’t want you?’ she asked, searching my eyes.
‘I know he didn’t want me. He may as well have said so. They worked a whole lot less than they said and used to shove me out the door so they could have dinner parties without me there.’ I wriggled in the chair again. ‘My mom borrowed a girl from school when the partners in her firm came ‘round ‘cause they didn’t want anybody to know I was theirs.’
Llys’ eyes filled with compassion. ‘Where were you?’
‘With Nan.’ I closed my eyes as nights spent in the cabin next to the river with its waterwheel churning and groaning gently. Nan would be there with her bouncy white hair and sunshine filled eyes baking cookies or sitting in front of the fireplace knitting. I could even still see the sloshes of water from the wheel hitting the window.
‘Did you get on with Nan?’ Llys asked in a gentle tone.
I opened my eyes. ‘I loved Nan and I’m sure she felt the same but I didn’t really know who she was.’
Llys furrowed her brow. ‘I thought you said she was your nan?’
‘No, I mean she could have been?’ I went to rub my hand over the back of my neck but the restraint pulled and I cracked the armrest. ‘She didn’t speak much… or at least I can’t remember her speaking but she could have been my nan or she might have been a nanny or her name might have been Nan, I ain’t sure.’
Llys glanced at the clock on the wall but did it like she didn’t really want to be impolite. I didn’t know why, I didn’t care if she let me leave so somebody else could get bored by her. I was good with leaving.
‘Aeron, I have another session now but I would prefer to continue this,’ she said with a reluctant sigh although her aura kinda mirrored it like she meant it. ‘However, if what you’re telling me is the truth. You didn’t murder Jake. I know you might not wish to acknowledge my opinion but I’m concerned that until you have worked through this, you will be unable to get through your grief process.’ She picked up her pen. ‘And it’s understandable that you are angry for many reasons but I think working through this guilt you are carrying may help you find some calm.’
I shrugged. She was most likely right but it didn’t matter what I worked through I was always gonna be guilty in my head.
She walked over and undid the restraints on my chair as though it was a peace offering and I winced at the pain she had in her back. Still her hands where strong like she worked out a whole lot and although her nails were long and brightly painted, they looked like they’d be more suited to having a football in them and dirt or oil smudges.
‘I’m sorry about Jake,’ she said and held my gaze. She meant it and her lips shimmered with her words and my resistance crumbled.
I could only just manage to nod as I waited for her to head back behind her desk before I got up. ‘I hope you enjoy your dinner,’ I mumbled as I turned to the door.
‘I thought we had a truce?’ she shot back but in a gentle tone.
‘We do,’ I said and pointed to the cocktail dress hanging on the back of the door. ‘And every inmate knows you guys have a conference this weekend.’ I glanced back at her. ‘We get agency staff to run around.’
Llys chuckled. ‘Well, in that case, thank you.’