The office of Dr. Andrew Clark was, at first glance, like any other waiting room, with bland, unadorned furniture, a muted color choice, and outdated magazines littering the glass coffee table. Sit in this lackluster furniture, however, and you would take back everything you said. Dr. Clark found it necessary to please those in his waiting room with buttery leather massage chairs, understandable, since he was a very accomplished psychologist and probably experienced many fussy, problematical patients. I would have visited the office daily to sit in that machine for 10 minutes.
“Greta?” The nurse called my name from the desk. “Dr. Clark will see you now.”
I inhaled slowly, letting the air fill my trembling body. One step at a time, I made it to the wooden door, heavy and scarred, turned the knob, and experienced the shock of my life.
“Hello Greta,” Dr. Clark exclaimed. The man who I would be confessing my most confidential feelings to was the man who had been loitering suspiciously around the coffee shop. I couldn’t place why I was so surprised. I could have been judging him too harshly when I had first seen him. That was obviously the case, because here he was, a renowned psychologist of New England.
“Hi, Dr. Clark,” I managed. Letting my emotions pass over me, I relaxed the slightest bit as I sat down in the chair.
Surrounding me were gleaming plaques, medals, cups, and certificates of achievement. I managed to peek at his ring finger, which was bear naked. I scanned the room for family photos, cousins, nieces and nephews, girlfriends, parents, siblings, but was unsuccessful. It seemed like my talent of reading people had been correct once again. Although an outstanding man in his field, Dr. Clark was matching up perfectly to my assumptions. I decided to put my qualms on the backburner and focus on why I was here.
“So, Greta, tell me. Why is it that you are here?”
I tried to speak, but attempting to say the words felt like talking with drying glue on the roof of my mouth.
“Well, I’ve bee-” I began, but stalled and thought about the right way to say this.
“Greta, I’ve dealt with countless other patients who boasted stories far worse than yours. There is no reason to feel uncomfortable. Go ahead, I won’t judge you.”
I pondered this man for a moment. He was seemingly oblivious to everything around him, even though he was a psychologist. I was doing my best to appear uncomfortable, but he was either unfazed or unaware of my vibes. I obviously didn’t want to speak, but I was wasting an hour of my life, as well as $200 of my father’s money, so I really had no choice.
“Visions,” I mumbled to myself.
“Ah, visions. Greta, let me assure you that this is very common. I have a handful of patients who experience visions. Tell me, when do these images occur for you?”
I thought for a moment. I really hadn’t taken the time to consider this, but concluded that they came to me in my sleep.
“Dr. Clark, I really just need to stop these,” I said. I didn’t want to be coming here every week, fixing something that seemed so simple.
“Well in order to do that, we need to figure out why you are having them,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Would you please, if it’s alright with you, go into detail about your last one?”
I inhaled. “My last vision, well, I mean they’re all involving my sister, Caitlin.”
He jotted some notes down. “Continue, please.”
“Caitlin is always in some dark place. The first one started with me watching her in a van, being driven away. I can’t make noises. I can’t stop them. I’m always helpless,” I whispered. Until now, I didn’t realize how emotionally draining these had been for me.
“That’s very common. Often, that’s what your brain will do while experiencing a nightmare. They are caused by a traumatic incident, or even just a stressful period of your life,” Dr. Clark said.
I nodded while absorbing this information. “There was more than one,” I said softly.
“Go on, tell me. Tell me all of them,” he encouraged, and I did.
“Caitlin, I won’t be home until later tonight,” my dad told her. “Greta’s going to be out, so I have Mr. Murdoch coming to watch you.”
“Dad, I’m twelve years old. Do you honestly think I still need a babysitter?”
I didn’t understand it really. I had been left alone since I became a double-digit. Ten years old and I could be by myself. My dad was much stricter with Caitlin then he had been with me.
“Just for tonight, because you can’t cook yourself dinner. He’ll be gone by midnight,” my dad promised.
He grabbed his jacket and was gone. I sighed heavily and went to find Caitlin. Alone in her room, with the laptop balanced on her knees, she typed vigorously.
“You won’t be needing any company tonight, since you’ve got your “video chat” and stuff,” I told her. “Have fun with Murdoch,” I added. She was in for a night of entertainment. Mr. Murdoch was a complete bore, always sitting, staring vacantly into the distance, yet there was always a peculiar sense about him.
“Where are you going?” She asked.
She didn’t need to know. I wasn’t like her, with friends surrounding me, party invitations being thrown at me daily. I was happy with myself and my close group. I walked out the door, and the brisk October wind slapped my face. Approaching the house was Mr. Murdoch. He paused briefly, locked eyes with me, and muttered an insincere “hello.” I watched him weave through the bushes, open the gate, and briskly run up the steps of my house. Something about that man seemed uncanny. Manners were unknown to him, and although he didn’t seem sinister, I chose not to trust him.
The town was usually not very lively, with not much to do, so I walked towards the Watch Hill Public Library. The building was a beautiful construction, finished with giant stones that shimmered when the sunlight struck them. Aged white wooden carvings garnished the top of the building where it met the roof. It looked like a typical historical New England structure, complete with a plaque, certifying that it had been built before 1800. Inside, the hushed sound was comforting. You could hear the muffled tone of librarians discussing books with groups, and the clatter of fingers on the keyboards, where college students sat, frantically trying to finish their papers. I made my way to the most enjoyable spot in the whole place: a giant bay window consumed much of the mahogany wall, showcasing the pond which occupied the back yard. There were rows of leather recliners, and I selected one of my favorites off the shelf, but my mind was too cluttered to concentrate. I curled up in the chair, and unaware of my surroundings, drifted slowly to sleep.
You are screaming my name continuously. I had seen this before. You were ripped from your bed, those gruff hands so familiar. I had seen them before, but where? The van is back, and again, you are thrust inside, speeding into the dark night, leaving me with the echo of your screams and a million unanswered questions.
I woke up trembling, leaving the book, the chair, the serenity, and ran home as fast as I could.
The house was silent, but not the peaceful quiet of sleep. No, this was so much more than that. There was a stillness to the atmosphere, with only the hum of the refrigerator noticeable. I called my sister’s name softly, but no response. The lights had all been shut off, but when I moved the switch, the darkness remained. I panicked, rummaging for a flashlight in the drawer. The clock read 10:09 p.m., and my dad was due home in 21 minutes. The door to Caitlin’s room groaned as I pushed it open.
“Caitlin,” I whispered hoarsely.
Her bed was made, the corners of her sheets tucked in snuggly, her nightlight gleaming in the corner. The flashlight slid out of my sweaty palm and met the carpeted floor with a soft thud. I dialed her phone, and when I heard the monotone voice of the operator, informing me that the number had been disconnected, my emotions could no longer be contained. Downstairs, the familiar tone of my father’s voice echoed up the stairs. The lights turned on and exposed Caitlin’s immaculate bedroom, as well as a note that had gone unnoticed.
“She’s gone. It’s too late,” had been scrawled with Sharpie on a piece of lined paper. I took the paper and sank to my knees. My dad appeared in the door frame, breathless.
“What, what is going on? WHERE IS SHE?” He demanded.
Uncontrollable sobs drowned my face, teardrops moistening the rug beneath me.
“YOU DID THIS! YOU TOOK HER, YOU AND YOUR DREAMS. THIS WAS ALL YOU!” My dad’s face was twisted as he sat on the edge of her bed. I stood up and handed him the note.
“You sick child, how could you do this to your own sister?” He muttered.
I was too exhausted to even protest. The look on his face had said it all. I dragged myself out of the room, the guilt overwhelming.