Afraid of the Dark
Violence: Oh, my yes.
Sex: Yes, some of that too.
Language: There is some abuse of language. Nothing excessive.
Misc: I don't claim to be a psychiatrist, cop, accountant, animator or anything else for that matter. If I made a mistake about the profession I apologize. If you read it and like it feel free to send me a line. If you're a beta reader definitely send me a line. I desperately need a new one! email@example.com
The groan escaped my lips as awareness crept upon me slowly. I could hear the sirens and the confused noise of voices around me. None of it made any sense. None of it penetrated the fog of pain that enveloped my mind and body. I tried to concentrate; I tried to remember, tried to figure out what had happened to me. I couldn't push past the pain. I couldn't see through the blackness that surrounded me. It hurt so badly. Breathing was difficult. Even the tears I knew where leaking from my eyes hurt. Some part of my mind acknowledged that it was the salt from the tears penetrating torn skin that caused the stinging pain. I wanted to reach up and wipe the tears away, to at least stop a little bit of the torment. My hands were just so heavy, too heavy to move.
One voice broke through the din, a voice I recognized. It called my name. I wanted to speak; I wanted to open my eyes. I tried to do all those things it was just so hard and hurt so much. The blackness didn't recede. I could feel my eyes blinking. I knew they were open, not only because the insistent voice plead with me to stay, but also because it was agony. I felt each movement of my eyelids through my entire body.
I screamed suddenly as agony of being moved washed through me. It was the first noise I had made since I awoke groaning. I listened for the voice. The soothing voice that told me: I would be all right, I just had to hold on, and it would all be over soon. I clung to the voice, letting it anchor me in the uncertain darkness. Gratefully I took hold of the hand offered to me. I gripped it desperately before the darkness pulled me down absolutely. The last words I heard as I slipped away from the pain and terrifying blackness was a whispered: "I'm right here with you Melina."
I awoke from the dream with a pain filled gasp, only to find that it wasn't just a dream, but a memory. One that, gratefully, until now had not been present. I didn't want to remember what happened or how it felt. I didn't want to hear the sounds and know the moment when my life had been stolen from me.
I groped for the edge of my bed and swung my legs over the edge as I oriented myself. I could hear Tricia moving around in the living room. My best friend Tricia Moore who had been with me that night. My best friend who walked away unscathed from the accident. I ask myself every minute of every day what I did to deserve this. Why did it have to be me? I wasn't the driver. But, I wouldn't wish this on Tricia, she was the only other person in the car with me, and the only one who could have logically taken this from me. God picked me knowing that I would have gladly taken this pain from Tricia. Yet I'm still angry with her. Bitter that she's all right and I am less than whole. She can see the world and all the colors in it and I am sentenced to darkness. It has only been three weeks since that night and already I've forgotten things. I can't even imagine colors anymore. That's the worst part of all this. I can't picture color in my mind. The blackness that surrounds me has stamped out everything. Even my dreams are colorless. This is what makes me ask 'why me'. This is why I listen to her moving around freely in my house and grow angry.
I can't even be alone in my own home anymore. I felt the bitterness rise up like bile in my throat. The anger that coursed through me made the cut on my face throb. I touched it gingerly with cautious fingertips. It was almost healed but it still hurt. Not physical pain so much as the painful knowledge that it was there. A hideous reminder of that night, as if being blind wasn't punishment enough. Tricia has told me that it isn't as noticeable as I imagine it to be. I know she's lying to me. I can feel the raised skin of the scar that runs the length of my face through my right eye. How can it not be grotesque? In my mind I imagine myself to be horribly disfigured. I can imagine what my countenance must seem to others. Which is why I haven't been out of my house or even my room since I came home.
Every now and then she comes into my room just to talk. She tries to coax me out into the living room, hoping I know, that one small step will help me back into the world of the living. I don't want to join the world again. I just want to be left alone. I've told her this so many times. I've yelled at her, throwing her kindness in her face. Later I hate myself for it. I never want to hurt her. I have loved her for too long. I have been in love with her far too long. I can't count the number of relationships I've attempted only to have them fail. And they failed miserably. In the deepest most hidden part of my heart I know that I sabotaged those relationships so I could be with Tricia. I retreated to my dreams of our friendship and us being together. For a while I believed that she was doing the same thing with her own relationships since none worked out. At least until recently. Tricia has found the man of her dreams. I find it's just another reason for me to be bitter and angry. I knew realistically that there was no chance between us, however the hope burned eternal in my heart. Even if there were the slimmest of hopes before, it's all gone now. No one would have me, disfigured as I am. Damaged. Yet, still there is the niggling thought in my mind that she's here with me. She's taking care of me to the exclusion of anyone else, including her fiancée.
The light knock on the door brought me out of my morose thoughts. "Come in," I said. For a moment I actually wanted to see her. Then I remembered that my eyes weren't closed. I remembered that I would never see her again.
"I thought we could have lunch in the kitchen today. I set the table already." Tricia offered nonchalantly.
I realized that she would probably sound calm and normal to the casual observer but I could hear the underlying tremor in her voice. I knew I had caused this unhappiness in her. My temper and her guilt. I didn't want to join the world again. But I did want to join her again. I wanted her to have a small bit of happiness again. I couldn't deny her that. I nodded my head and stood slowly as I reached for the robe that I knew was at the end of my bed.
"Let me help you with that," Tricia said.
I could hear the smile in her voice as she moved to retrieve my robe. I just shook my head and pulled it on. It's not that I didn't appreciate her desire to help. I didn't want it. This was for her. To make her happy. I had to do it myself.
"I can do it." My response came out harshly. I hadn't meant to do it. I just couldn't seem to control the pain, the frustration. I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes as I stared into the blackness.
It was all too much to take. I felt the tears start to fall and I lowered my head to hide my face. I didn't want her to see this weakness in me. I didn't want her to know how much I wished I had died in the accident. I wished she had left me there. I fussed with my robe until I had some control over myself.
I wiped my eyes and moved forward carefully. There were eight steps to my door from where I stood barely touching the end of my bed. I'd learned that the hard way. I had walked to the door so many times. I'd walked around the room mapping it, trying to memorize how far everything was and where it was. I was determined that at least in my bedroom I would have freedom of movement. I stopped at the door and rested my hand against the doorframe. This was the limit of my knowledge. The rest of my home was a terrifying mystery to me. Tricia stepped forward quickly and took my hand. I concentrated on how her hand felt in mine instead of the fact that she was forced to lead me by it.
Tricia had such soft hands. Long delicate fingers. I used to love to watch her talk; she always used her hands to help express herself. I missed seeing her hands talk.
She placed my hand on the back on my chair. I knew it was my chair, I could feel the sun shining on my face through the sliding glass doors, which my chair faced. I pulled it out and sat down slowly. I pulled myself closer to the table feeling the edge with my hands to make sure I wasn't too close or too far away. I could feel Tricia's eyes on me as I felt around familiarizing myself with where my silverware was. I touched my cup lightly with the back of my fingers careful to not knock it over. I'd done that a few times in my room. I didn't want to embarrass myself by knocking my glass over in front of her.
I waited patiently for her to serve lunch. Like a child. I felt the frustrated tears welling up again and fought them back down. I needed a distraction. "So what's for lunch?" I asked.
I sat waiting for a few seconds for a response. I began to wonder if she was even in the room with me. "I ordered pizza." She told me finally.
I wasn't surprised about the pizza. I knew she was working from here. Apparently accounting was something just as easily done at home as in an office. She did go to her office twice a week, but never for long. I wouldn't even have realized she was gone most of the time if she hadn't told me she was going in. I missed my own work. It was always such a solace for me. Something I could lose myself in for hours. Drawing was impossible for me now. My boss had called me and told me my job was still there. I thanked him and called the human resources department to start my long-term disability. I couldn't see. I couldn't draw. I couldn't work. Animation required sight, I thought bitterly,
"Pepperoni, mushroom and sausage." Tricia offered pulling me from my thoughts. It was my favorite. I raised an eyebrow. She hated mushrooms.
"Half and half?" I asked. I couldn't imagine her contaminating her half of the pizza with mushrooms.
"Of course." I could hear the smile in her voice. I didn't remember the last time I'd heard her even remotely happy. I felt pleased with myself.
"Where's my wallet?" I asked. I had every intention of paying for the pizza.
I heard her chair scrape against the floor. "I'll get it for you."
"No." I said quickly, stopping her. "I want to get it," I assured her. "All I need to know is where it is."
"It's on the table next to the door, in your dish." She told me. I heard the rustle of her clothes as she sat back down.
I was determined to do this. It made Tricia happy and that was reason enough in my mind. I could do this one little thing, just to make her happy. I stood up and faced the door. I knew the direction. I counted off the steps to myself, being careful not to move to fast in case something was in my path. I managed to judge the direction correctly and reached the table without any trouble. I found my wallet after feeling around for a couple of moments. That was when the world crashed in around me. I could feel the money in the billfold but I didn't know what they were. Five? Ten? Twenty? I slammed the wallet down on the table feeling the frustration overwhelm me.
I couldn't do this one simple thing! I couldn't get money out of my wallet to pay for a goddamned pizza! The soft footsteps behind me didn't surprise me. I felt Tricia place a hand hesitantly on my shoulder. She turned me around and lifted my hands up opening the wallet that I still held. I felt her pull the wallet apart looking in at the bills.
"There's a twenty, two five's and three one's. In descending order from the back." Her voice was quiet and calming.
I nodded my head taking a deep breath. The loud knock on the door startled me. I turned and fumbled for the doorknob. I missed three times before my hand finally connected with it. I pulled it open and waited. I panicked for a moment. I was so vulnerable. So open, helpless.
"That's seventeen fifty-three." The driver's voice was deep and I could tell it was above me. He must have been rather tall. At least 5'11 or better. I reached into the wallet and pulled out the twenty and two ones. I held out the money and waited for him to take it. I felt the slight tug on the bills and let them go. The heat from the pizza box wafted over my out-stretched hand. I stepped forward to reach it, knowing that it wasn't very far away from my hand. I was surprised when I tripped over the lip of the door. I'd forgotten about that. I didn't even have a chance to cry out before the pizza delivery guy had caught me by the arm to steady me. That was when it happened. The white flash that flared before my eyes driving the darkness back.
"Melina? Can you hear me?" Tricia's voice came to me through the hazy fog of light and color. So much color. It had been so long. I almost didn't recognize what I was seeing. Then the shapes and color coalesced into definable figures. It was as if I was glimpsing the world through another's eyes. I blinked rapidly; the vision didn't black or even flicker. It stayed with me even as Tricia supported my back and held a cold cloth to my forehead. I watched transfixed. I didn't want to talk or even move for fear that everything would go black again. Leaving me in total darkness. Even as those thoughts flashed through my mind I realized it couldn't be real. It was my imagination; my imagination that I thought had deserted me after the accident. I wasn't seeing my house or even Tricia's lovely face. No, all I saw were police officers swarming over an apartment building. Cars driving by slowly as people stared at the pandemonium going on in the building that spilled onto the street. Then there was the strangled cry of an older woman who was crying and screaming even as she was helped into the back of the ambulance.
The flickering lights of the ambulance attracted me for a few moments. The strobes taking me back to a night not so long ago when my world had been plunged into darkness. I shook it off even as I shook off Tricia's hands. She'd left me to call the doctor. I didn't care. As long as she would leave me alone to see.
I watched as another stretcher was wheeled down to another waiting ambulance. This one had a black bag strapped to it. I felt a feeling of giddiness run through me. Satisfaction, arousal and the beginning tendrils of a warped desire. I shuddered feeling slightly repulsed. I was centered on the black bag that I knew contained a dead body. I even vaguely knew what the body would look like. Though how I could know it was impossible. Of course, it was my imagination doing all this, so probably not so impossible. They slid the stretcher into the back of the ambulance and slammed the doors shut. With the slamming of the door the darkness claimed me again. A strangled cry left my lips. God not again. I couldn't live in the dark again. I was afraid of the dark.
I felt Tricia's arms around me. She was cradling me, rocking slowly as she whispered words of comfort. I tried to pull away but she held me tight. "I'm going to help you if you want it or not." She whispered in a determined voice.
I suddenly felt too tired to struggle against her. Too depressed to try to push her away. I needed her. I needed comfort. I closed my eyes and waited for the ambulance that I knew she had called.
I knew I was in a hospital room. It was the smell. Hospitals smelled like cold antiseptic. The thin sheet that covered my body was a dead give away as well. I shivered involuntarily. I hated being cold. Even as the thought crossed my mind I felt a warm blanket being placed over me.
I sighed and listened. Someone was in the room but they weren't saying anything. This annoyed me more than anything else did. It wasn't Tricia because I knew what she sounded like. The slap of her feet against the floor. The way air moved around her body as she walked. After all this time I could pick up her sounds instantly. Besides, Tricia would have said something by now.
I waited. After a few minutes when the silence persisted I cleared my throat.
"Oh you're awake?" Came the deep voice.
I frowned not recognizing the voice at all. A momentary panic seized me. I was so vulnerable and helpless.
"I'm Dr. Davidson. I was hoping we could talk for a few minutes."
I didn't say anything. Dr. Davidson was a familiar name. Ah, yes. The shrink Tricia told me about. Apparently they thought that my being in the hospital and a captive audience was the perfect time to talk. I didn't think so.
"Dr. Davidson," I drawled slowly. Even I could hear the hostility in my voice. "I'm not interested in talking."
"I don't think that's true." He said quietly.
I sighed again. He had his patient doctor's voice out. It would take a miracle to get rid of him, or maybe just an afternoon of silence. There was one thing I was wondering about though, and he was as good a person to ask as my neurologist was.
"I haven't been able to see anything, "I began. "No dreams, no imagining, nothing. But this afternoon I imagined something. Something in vivid color."
"What was that?" He prompted.
'Police officers swarming over an apartment building. Cars driving by slowly as people stared at the pandemonium going on in the building that spilled onto the street. Then there was the strangled cry of an older woman who was crying and screaming even as she was helped into the back of the ambulance.
I watched as another stretcher was wheeled down to another waiting ambulance. This one had a black bag strapped to it. I felt a feeling of giddiness run through me. Satisfaction, arousal and the beginning tendrils of a warped desire. I shuddered feeling slightly repulsed. I was centered on the black bag that I knew contained a dead body. I even vaguely knew what the body would look like. They slid the stretcher into the back of the ambulance and slammed the doors shut.'
"After the doors slammed behind the stretcher everything went black again. I haven't been able to conjure up those images again. No matter how much I concentrate." My frustration was obvious.
"Why do you think you imagined that scenario?" Dr. Davidson asked.
"I don't know."
"Do you remember what you were doing right before you imagined it?" He asked. I could hear his pen scratching on paper as he asked me the question.
"Yes, I was trying to pay for a pizza." I said bitterly. I hadn't even been able to do that right.
"Anything else? Maybe listening to the news or a radio?" Dr. Davidson asked casually.
"I haven't even been out of my bedroom for weeks. I don't listen to the radio. I don't watch television. I can't watch television." I barely whispered.
"Ms. Grayson, it's not uncommon for someone in your condition to have dreams. In fact, it would be abnormal if you never dreamed." Dr. Davidson offered slowly. "You can imagine a scenario like the one you described because you likely had seen something similar before. I don't think there's anything to be concerned about."
"I'm not concerned about the content, I'm concerned that it won't come back." I felt it boiling just under the surface. Fear. I hated how it ruled my life. How it made me react, how it made me act. I hated the tears that threatened to fall. I hated being so vulnerable.
"What makes you think it won't come back?" He asked.
I turned away from Dr. Davidson then. I didn't want to talk to him. I'd already said too much. I didn't want my pain exposed to the world.
It took thirty minutes for Dr. Davidson to give up. I counted the ticks of the clock as the big hand moved. It was amazing what you could hear if you just listened or were forced to listen.
"The victim was Sharon Tremble, twenty-five, Caucasian. She lived with her mother. No boyfriend." Jack Wiggins recited to his partner who walked onto the scene. Jack didn't even bother with a greeting, he knew his partner would want to work the case as quickly as he could. The first thing Jason Craig had taught him when he had been assigned to homicide was that you worked things fast, before the trail got cold.
"Witnesses?" Detective Craig asked.
"Just her mother. Apparently she didn't hear anything or see anything though. She takes prescription sleeping pills." Detective Wiggins shook his head. "The building could have burned down and she wouldn't have woken up."
"The crime scene guys are going over the place now. I know you like to get a look at a scene before they go trampling on it, so I took some Polaroid's." Detective Wiggins handed a stack of pictures to his partner.
Det. Craig leafed through them studying the scene intently. "Just like the others."
"Yeah, I hate to say it, but I think we have a serial killer on our hands."
"Brass probably isn't going to agree with you. It's not good for tourism." Craig noted cynically. "You have someone canvassing the building? Someone must have heard or seen something."
"Like I said, no witnesses so far. I've got patrols interviewing everyone on the block."
"Right. Let's go talk to the mother. Maybe she can tell us who Sharon hung out with or if she'd made any new friends lately."
Detective Craig flashed his badge to the nurse behind the desk. "You brought a woman in here earlier. Mrs. Tremble."
"Yeah, she was hysterical, I think the attending referred her to psych." The nurse said without looking up from her computer.
He hated it when they didn't look at him. "Hey up here." He said as he slammed a hand on the desk. "You wanna direct me to Mrs. Tremble and maybe her doctor while you're at it?" It wasn't a request.
The nurse let out an annoyed breath and stood up glaring at Craig and Wiggins who was standing back while Craig worked. She glanced at the board behind her and nodded moving out from around the desk.
"She's in 103." The nurse explained as she hurried down the hall.
She stopped in front of a door and gestured for Craig and Wiggins to go in.
Mrs. Tremble was resting on the slightly raised bed. The doctor writing on the chart didn't seem to hear them when they entered.
"Doctor?" Det. Wiggins said when Craig didn't seem inclined to say anything.
The doctor glanced up surprised. "Can I help you?" He asked as he put the chart down at the end of the bed.
"I'm detective Wiggins this is Detective Craig." Wiggins said as he pulled out his identification. "Are you Mrs. Tremble's doctor?"
"I was called in to do an evaluation. Mrs. Tremble was very distraught when she was brought in this morning." The doctor explained.
"We'd like to talk to Mrs. Tremble if it would be possible?"
"As you can see, Mrs. Tremble is resting. I doubt she'll be awake for several hours." He said as he put his pen in his pocket and started for the door. He obviously couldn't do anything here and there was no reason for him to be there. He had patients to see.
"If you have a moment, we'd like to talk to you." Craig said as he fell in step with the doctor. Wiggins followed behind making a few notes.
"I don't have a lot of time." The doctor replied.
"Well Doctor " Craig looked at the name on the doctor's badge. "Davidson we won't take up much of your time."
"Fine." Dr. Davidson said as he continued walking.
"Did Mrs. Tremble say anything when she was brought in?" Craig asked.
"From what I understand she was saying quite a lot. None of it made any sense though. No one could understand her." Dr. Davidson told him. "As I said, she was very distraught."
"She didn't say anything to you?" Craig asked as they arrived at the elevator.
"No, I was called to consult. By the time I got there she was out cold. I just approved the sedative they gave her. I'll talk to her later after she wakes up." He said stepping onto the elevator.
"Thank you doctor, we'll be stopping by later. If you patient mentions anything we'd appreciate you calling." Craig told him as he handed the doctor his card.
"Of course." The doctor said as the doors closed.
Craig sighed as he watched Dr. Davidson slip the card into the pocket of his lab coat. "Let's go see what the lab rats have turned up." Craig said to Wiggins as he turned to head for the exit.
"Dr. Davidson didn't stay long." Tricia noted as she entered my room.
"I guess I didn't have that much to say to him." I told her quietly. I was facing the window letting the heat of the sun warm me. It always seemed colder in the dark.
"He can help you."
"I don't need his help. I'm fine." I insisted. Or I would be.
"You're not fine." Tricia said just as quietly.
Quiet desperation. I'd heard that term once when I watched a movie. Someone had used it to describe another character. Until this moment I really didn't understand how someone could be quietly desperate.
"You're not fine at all. You need help Melina." I felt the movement of air as she moved closer to me. The hand on my arm wasn't unexpected. The gentle caress of her fingers on my arm caused me to shiver. "Why won't you let me help you? Why won't you let someone help you?"
I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes. I wanted her help. I wanted to bury myself in her arms and let her take care of me. I wanted the impossible. She offered everything and I just couldn't take it. I couldn't let her sacrifice herself because of me.
"I'm fine." I breathed. I don't think I convinced either one of us. "I just need to go home."
"I believe Dr. Davidson was going to have you admitted." Tricia said softly. Her fingers hadn't quit caressing my arm.
"I want to go home."
I heard her sigh. "I'll talk to the doctor." She said finally.
I nodded my head. It would be easier at home.
"You can't stay here forever. You know you have a life to live too." I told Tricia over breakfast. It had been almost a week since 'the episode'. That's how Tricia referred to it. It had become how I thought of it too.
"I know." She replied as she ate. I wondered idly if she was eating with her mouth open, the crunching was so loud. Or maybe Captain Crunch was just a really loud cereal.
"Don't you think it's time for you to get back to your life?" I questioned.
"I don't want you to be alone. You don't know even know how to live with your handicap." She said in a tender voice.
"I'll learn. After all, man is supposed to be a highly adaptive animal. As a woman I should be able to adapt ten times as fast." I offered with a smile.
"I don't know." Tricia said reluctantly.
"It's not really your decision." I reminded her. My patience was starting to run thin; I didn't want to fight with her. Not now and not about this. Not ever.
"I could come for a couple of hours tomorrow just to make sure you have everything you need." She said finally.
I knew it was all the concession that I was going to get. We were both getting what we wanted. Besides, it wouldn't matter soon anyway. Why not give in?
"Sure." I murmured.
"All right, then I guess now is as good a time as any." She said brightly. I could hear the smile in her voice. "I have to go into the office. How about I stop by after work for dinner?"
"Sure." I said again.
"Well, I guess I'll go back to my place and change then."
I nodded my head. I knew she wanted to drill me about phone number and where things were. It was just her being a mother hen. I had my cell phone clipped to my belt and all I had to do was flip it open and say a name to call someone. I wouldn't be calling anyone though. I heard the door open and close. Then the click of the lock as she locked the door behind her.
I'd never locked my door before if I was home. It was just one more thing in my life that had changed that I didn't want to change. Intolerable.
I stood up slowly making sure I was oriented. I had things to prepare. I wasn't going to do this sloppily. I would plan this and make sure that it was done before anyone could find me. Before Tricia could find me. It would be her that found me after I'd done it. That thought almost made me stop. Almost.
When I first moved out on my own I'd bought a 9-mm thinking that it would keep me safe. Or at least give me a measure of peace when I was alone at home. I didn't touch it past putting it in the closet with the bullets. In seven years I hadn't pulled it out. Guns made me nervous. I counted the steps in the direction of the closet. I hadn't had the opportunity to map out other rooms of my house like I had my bedroom.
It seemed like I'd been looking all day but I knew it had only been a few hours so far. I pulled out box after box looking for the gun. I knew it would take time to find it, I just hadn't expected it to take this much time. I was starting to panic. I still had to put the boxes back in the closet after I found the gun and it was getting late. Tricia would be back soon.
Finally I felt the plastic gun case. In the back of the closet of course. A whole lot of good it would have done me if someone had broken in.
I pulled it out and ran my fingers over the metal. Next to it was the clip with bullets already loaded into it. I remember loading the clip before I'd shoved the thing into the closet.
It was cold. Just like I was inside. I wouldn't matter soon.
I picked up the gun and the clip. It took a moment for the clip to slide into place. I had never tried to load it with my eyes closed. I had it backward at first. I chambered the fist round and took a deep breath. Now all I had to do was put the boxes back and be patient. I was prepared now.
I cleaned up and moved the gun into my bathroom. It would be easier to clean up in here. I heard the door lock click even as I was placing the gun underneath the towels under the sink.
"Mel? I've got dinner." Tricia yelled as she came in.
"I'm in the bathroom, I'll be right out." I called back. For a moment there it was like old times. I felt calm. Almost happy.
"I picked up Chinese." Tricia called back to me. "Sweet and Sour Chicken with extra sauce just like you like it."
"Great." I said as I walked back into the living room. I reached out for the couch that should have been on my right. My hand touched the fabric and I turned towards the kitchen walking the nine steps to the kitchen table.
I sat down as I listened to Tricia setting the table. I heard my plate being placed in front of me. "The sauce is at nine, chicken at three and rice at six." Tricia said as she sat down across from me.
"So how was your day?"
Not even a muscle twitched to betray me. I was surprised at how composed I was finally. Not since before the accident had I felt this relaxed and sure of myself. "Fine." I answered as I picked up my fork and began poking at my rice.
"What did you do all day?" Tricia asked between bites.
"Nothing really. Just familiarized myself where everything was. Got used to being alone." I told her.
"You?" I asked after a couple of seconds. I wasn't truly interested in the answer. I just wanted to hear her voice.
"I had my usual day. It's not almost tax season again so it's getting a little busier than in recent months. But, I'm sure you don't really want to hear about my accounting nightmares." She chuckled slightly.
"That's not true." I said as I speared a piece of chicken and dipped it in the sweet and sour sauce. It was hard to tell if it was enough sauce or too little sauce without using my fingers. I shrugged my shoulders while I pulled the piece of chicken off the fork. I used both hands, one hand touching the sauce and the other dipping the chicken in again covering half of it with sauce.
It shouldn't have surprised me when it happened but it did. I gasped and brought my hand up. It was covered in red. A bright red that seemed to darken even as I stared at it. I raised my other hand and saw it too was covered. I was confused. I hadn't touched the sauce with my other hand. I concentrated on my hands, only they weren't my hands. They were larger. Too large. Man hands. I looked down and saw the body lying there. That's where the red had come from. From the terrified woman who stared up at me, her eyes begging for mercy. To be let go.
I surged up onto my feet knocking the chair over and stumbled back, trying to get away from her. I moved but everything stayed the same. I watched those hands reach down for the knife that was waiting next to her prone form. I couldn't get away as it sliced at her drawing thin red lines of blood. She wanted to scream; I could see it her eyes. I could feel myself gasping from involuntary arousal, even as I felt like I was going to be sick. It was a nightmare. I was imagining this. It wasn't real. Not real. Those large hands wrapped around her throat and squeezed. I looked down into her eyes and saw her fear. I watched as she gasped for her last breath, as she struggled against the ropes that I knew were holding her.
The smell surrounded me making my heart hammer with pleasure and disgust. The metallic smell of blood. The smell of fear. Blood red hands against the white skin of her throat were the last things I saw.
The hard floor was the fist thing I noticed. I was lying on the floor? Tricia was rocking me and holding a cold cloth to my head. I sat upright gasping as I remembered what I'd seen. What I'd imagined.
"Shhh. You're going to be all right. I've got you." Tricia whispered as she cradled me.
"I'm imagining things." I told her in a horrified whisper.
"No, no it's not. I'm imagining terrible things." My hands were shaking. "Something's wrong with me."
"I'll take you to see Dr. Davidson in the morning. We'll get through this Mel, together." Tricia whispered as she brushed the hair from my forehead. I felt the press of her lips on the top of my head. I let the tears fall then. Silent tears that I'd been holding back for weeks. I wanted it to end. I just wanted it all to end.
"Hello Melina, please have a seat." Dr. Davidson invited with a reassuring smile. He waited while her friend Tricia, whom he'd met previously at the hospital, helped her to a chair.
He offered Tricia a comforting smile as she turned to leave.
I'm told you had another episode." Dr. Davidson remarked evenly as he sat down. He knew she wouldn't know where he sat but he wanted to be close to her. To offer a comforting and supportive presence.
"I don't know what it was." I responded. I felt so tired, drained.
"Was it similar to your last episode?" He prodded.
"It was different." I hesitated. "Horribly different." I could barely get it out my throat was so tight.
"Will you tell me about it?" He asked gently.
"There was so much blood." I rubbed my hands together remembering how they looked covered with blood. I told him about the nightmare images, I couldn't stop once I'd started.
"Melina have you thought about harming yourself?" Dr. Davidson asked after a short silence.
A quick intake of breath was my only reaction. How did he know?
"I'll take your silence to mean that the thought has crossed your mind." He said quietly. "Will you tell me about that?"
"There's nothing to tell." How could I tell him anything? How could he possibly begin to understand how I feel. How hopeless my life seemed. How dependent I'd become.
"The episodes might be explained by those thoughts." He offered.
"No." Those nightmares weren't what I had planned for myself. Nothing that inelegant.
"What about the dreams frightens you the most?" He asked, trying to come at the problem from another angle.
"I'm not sure." I hedged.
"The content?" He asked.
"The violence?" He questioned.
I knew he was going to keep probing. That was what shrinks did, they kept digging. He'd just keep digging and prodding. I couldn't even leave. I didn't know where I was. I couldn't run away and it made me angry and reckless.
"No! I'm afraid that I won't see it again and that I will see it again. That they'll go away and I'll be left totally in the dark! That they'll be the same horrible images that I've already imagined or worse." I yelled. How could I possibly imagine anything worse.
I took a deep breath trying to calm down. "Don't you understand, I don't want to live like this. I've lost everything." I whispered brokenly.
He clicked on the tape recorder making his post session notes. "Patient demonstrates symptoms of extreme depression and anger. Have prescribed anti-depressant and scheduled follow-up appointments. Unable at this time to recommend admittance into a treatment facility. Inconclusive session." He clicked the tape recorder off as he sat back in his chair.
With a sigh he used the television remote to turn on the set in his office.
"Another murder of a young woman was reported this evening. We have an exclusive at the scene." The anchor reported. "Gary?" She said tossing the show to the dark haired reporter at the scene.
"It's a horrific night here in the East Brook apartments. According to sources a young woman was found this evening horribly beaten, mutilated and finally strangled to death. An undisclosed source close to the investigation said that there were multiple lacerations on the young woman's torso. Sources speculate that an extremely sharp instrument such as a knife caused the lacerations. The victim is twenty-six years old Victoria Cane. The police are asking that if anyone has any information they call this number."
He stopped listening as he stared at the number that flashed up onto the screen. It couldn't be possible, but it was exactly the same. She'd described it perfectly. He pulled out his note pad. He'd written down the description. It was the same. He tapped the pen against his lips. When he was in college he had participated in a study about extra-sensory perception. It had proved ninety-five percent accurate. It was enough to convince him.
He decided to talk to a friend who was on the force. After all, if the police wouldn't accept the possibility that Melina was somehow connected to the murderer, then it wouldn't do any good to bring up the possibility to the already distraught young woman.
He picked up the receiver and stared at it, warring with himself. He needed to protect Melina. He was obligated as her doctor to protect her and guard her privacy, yet didn't he have an obligation to help catch a murderer if he could?
He dialed the number from memory. Greg was a lieutenant now and worked regular hours so Davidson knew he would be at home. He was right, Greg answered on the first ring.
"Greg, its Mike." Dr. Davidson said in greeting.
He smiled as he listened to Greg complain. "Yeah I know, I'm sorry to call at dinner time. But I had to call, look I have a hypothetical question for you."
"What if a person knew of someone who seemed to have a extra-sensory connection to the guy who was murdering those girls? Would the police be interested in that information or shrug it off as being a crank?" Davidson asked.
The doctor listened and began to shake his head. "No, I'm serious. I have every reason to believe it's for real."
He tapped the pen against the pad of paper as he listened. "I can't disclose that information, doctor/patient privilege. I can talk to the patient and see if they'll come forward." Dr. Davidson said intentionally protecting his patient's identity.
He listened to Greg intently. "All right, I'll see what I can do." Davidson responded. "Thanks Greg." He said distractedly before hanging up. God, could it possibly be true?
"Hey, Lieutenant wants to see us in his office. He left a message first thing this morning. I don't think he even was in the office when he left it." Detective Wiggins told Craig just as soon as he walked into the squad room. Craig hadn't even had time to get a cup of coffee.
"Did he say what it was about?" Craig asked annoyed. He had a lot of work to do today. The case was getting colder and colder every hour that went by. He barely took time off to sleep last night; he didn't want to waste time with the brass.
"No he just said he wanted to talk to us." Wiggins said again. He shook his head. Craig always wanted more information than was available. "Oh, I talked to the lab guys already, they've got nothing. That latent they found turned out to be her brothers." Wiggins informed him, referring to Victoria Cane's brother who was in the service overseas.
"Let's get this over with then." Craig said as he strode to the front of the squad room and the lieutenant's office.
He rapped sharply on the door and heard the 'come' before he stepped inside.
"Detectives, have a seat." Lt. Altman said gesturing to the chairs in front of his desk. "I got a call last night about a possible witness." He started. "Before you get excited, this isn't your normal witness. I talked to an old friend a doctor. Apparently he has a patient he things has some kind of E.S.P. connection with our guy." He leaned back noticing the skepticism in the eyes of his detectives. "I usually don't believe crap like this when someone calls, but I know this doctor and I trust his opinion."
"I want you to go talk to him. I want you to talk to this witness too, find out if this can help with the investigation." He stood up and waited for the detectives to do the same. "This case is no where and I'm getting heat. If this patient can shed any light on this case I want to know about it. Take this seriously." He told them before sitting back down effectively dismissing them.
Craig pushed out of the office his face an angry red. This was such bullshit.
I heard the key in the door as I lay in bed. I waited for her to come inside. She was the only one with a key. Strange how that had happened. By this time I always thought that I'd have a partner or at least a steady girlfriend. Instead I was in love with my best friend, who was straight. And as if I couldn't get any more fucked up now I'm scarred and blind. Perfect.
"Mel? You up yet?" Tricia yelled from the kitchen.
"If I wasn't before I don't know how I could help but be up now." I called back. For some reason I was in a good mood. Maybe it was talking to the doctor yesterday. Unburdening myself as I did.
"No need to get smart a simple yes or no will do." She said from my doorway.
It was simply amazing the way I could judge where she was in my house from the strength of her voice. I felt like a bat using reverse radar.
"What are you doing here so early?" I didn't actually know what time it was. I just assumed since she woke me it was early.
"Actually I thought I'd give you a surprise today." She told me. She seemed pleased with herself and I couldn't help smiling slightly.
"Oh, what kind of surprise?" I asked as I sat up. I pulled my tank top down to cover my stomach as I sat up. I'd taken to wearing pajamas recently. Or at least, ever since she came in here and caught me cursing a blue streak, butt naked rooting around looking for a shirt in the wrong drawer.
"I thought we'd have a picnic in the park today. Just relax and enjoy the sun. It's supposed to be a beautiful day today."
My first thought was that it was a wonderful idea. I couldn't remember the last time we'd actually taken time to lay in the park and soak up some sun. Then it all crashed down upon me. I couldn't go out in public like this, especially not in the bright light of day. It was hard enough to go to the hospital where I knew they were used to horrible sights.
"I don't really think that I'm up for a picnic." I told her quietly.
I heard the scuff of her shoes against the floor and carpet as she moved over to me. The bed sagged where she sat down and I moved over to make room for her.
"I know you're scared Melina." I felt her hand on my cheek and flinched when her fingertips brushed against my scar. "You don't have to be. I'll be with you every second." She paused and I could hear her even breathing even as her fingers traced the length of my scar down my cheek tapering off at my chin. "You're so beautiful, nothings changed."
With those words bouncing around in my mind I nodded my head. "Okay." For a few blissful hours I was determined to believe her.
I was a beautiful day. I was happy she'd convinced me to come to the park as I lay on the blanket letting the sun cover me with warmth. In fact, in all these weeks I couldn't remember feeling happier.
"Are you hungry?" Tricia asked lazily.
I turned towards her voice. I wondered idly if her skin was golden brown after a couple of hours out here? I wondered if mine was or would I have sunburn. Wouldn't that be the icing on the cake?
"A little." I answered with a small chuckle.
"I've got your favorite. A New York Taxi." She said in a sing song voice.
Before she'd finished the last syllable I was sitting up and holding out my hand. I loved the New York Taxi. It was a corned beef sandwich on marble rye bread with Swiss cheese and coleslaw. It was worth killing for that sandwich. If she didn't give it to me soon I was liable to do just that.
She laughed at me and I heard the rustle of the cooler she'd carried from the car. She handed me the sandwich wrapped in so much saran wrap it was like a puzzle. How cruel?! I struggled with the wrap for a minute or two before she took pity on me and opened it. I'd never had much luck at getting my sandwich unwrapped so I didn't feel any anger at needing help. She handed me a bottle of soda in exchange for the sandwich. I untwisted the cap and took a sip. Diet Pepsi, she remembered. I took another sip and sighed. Good stuff. I put the cap back on happy she'd bought bottles rather than cans. At least if it fell over I wouldn't loose my drink and make a mess. I set the bottle down against my leg so I'd know exactly where it was and waited for her to free my sandwich from its plastic prison.
She finally handed it back on a napkin and I didn't waste a second taking a bite. I moaned happily and took another bite. I could feel her eyes on me while I ate. It was so obvious that I finally turned to her and asked "What?"
"How did you know I was watching you?" Tricia asked curiously.
I shrugged. "I could just feel it. You know how you can tell when someone's staring and you look at him or her only to have him or her look away. It was like that." I told her.
"Oh, sorry." She apologized.
"It's ok, I suppose I should get used to it." I joked. I hadn't thought about the gun I'd hidden at all today, until now.
"Don't say that. You look great. If people stare that will be the reason." Tricia told me sternly.
I felt the blush creeping up my neck. I hated that reaction. One day I'd take up Yoga or some eastern mystic religion to learn to control that particular reaction. I decided to change the subject in the hopes that my blushing wouldn't be so apparent. "So, what's up with Steven. I haven't heard you say anything about him and he hasn't called." Suddenly I was intensely curious about her answer. It was unusual. Normally they would have talked a dozen times a day and more than likely gotten together in the evenings. I did understand that recently Tricia had been spending most of her time with me, but I found it strange that Steven didn't want to at least come over.
"He's been busy, you know working and what not." She hedged.
That caught my attention. Tricia never, ever missed an opportunity to talk about Steven at length and in great detail. Sometimes it was nauseating. "What do you mean he's busy?" I asked.
"You know with work and things." She evaded.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked worriedly. Tricia wasn't adept at hiding her problems. She has always been an open book to me. Now it was glaringly apparent that something was wrong. Her voice was a dead giveaway not to mention her reluctance to talk about it.
I waited patiently, then heard her issue forth an annoyed sigh. "I didn't want you to worry." She said slowly. "Steven and I, well we decided to call off the wedding."
"What? Why?" I asked.
"He and I just couldn't agree on things and I won't take an ultimatum." Tricia said after a couple of minutes of silence.
"What exactly does that mean?" I asked confused. This didn't sound like Steven to me.
"He told me I had to choose." Tricia answered quietly. "So I did."
"Choose?" I was baffled. "What do you mean choose?" What was left to choose the entire wedding had been planned out.
"Between you and him."
"You can't be serious." I was horrified. "How in the hell did this happen?" I nearly shouted.
"I don't know what's gotten into him." Tricia said not sounding particularly upset.
"Not him! You! You don't just drop your fiancée for your best friend. He's supposed to be your husband!"
"What in the hell are you talking about!" Tricia shouted back. "If he loved me and cared about me he wouldn't have asked me to choose."
"That's not the point. He shouldn't have had to ask. Don't you understand that he's going to be the one to be there for you as you grow old? Not me! You don't throw that away for your friend!" I couldn't believe she'd done this. Not because of me. Not for me, I couldn't take that.
"Is that what you think, that we won't be there for each other when we're old?" Tricia asked.
I sighed a deep resigned sigh. This had been a talk I'd avoided for years now. It seemed to be looming over me finally. "I think that I have to let you get on with your life and I have to get on with mine."
"That doesn't make any since Mel." Tricia told me. I could feel her glaring at me.
"No, I suppose it doesn't." I mumbled. I lifted my face up to the sunshine and said it. "You're the impossible dream for me."
"Impossible dream? What are you talking about?"
I didn't bother to answer; she was a smart woman she'd figure it out. I waited silently. That was one advantage in living in the dark. I didn't have to see the comprehension and disgust that I was sure was forming on her face. Her quick intake of breath let me know she'd figured it out. Still I waited. It was silly really; I don't know what I was waiting for. It's not as if happily ever after would happen for me. After everything that happened to me recently I've learned not to dream too much or hope to high.
"You never let on, you always dated and talked about other women," Tricia whispered finally. "I never knew."
I smiled into the sun. I'd at least done that right. "I never wanted you to know. I was happy to be your friend and just be near you. I still am," I said softly. I faced her direction and smiled sadly. "But, I knew that you'd have to have a family. That we'd grow apart. It's inevitable and I'm prepared for it. I don't want you to feel tied to me because of the accident. I couldn't bear that."
"I don't feel tied to you because of that," Tricia said placing a hand on my bare arm. "I'm tied to you because you're my best friend. You've been there for me through everything. I love you Melina." She finished simply.
That's when I felt soft lips brush against mine. It was the sweetest and barest of touches. So fleeting yet it far surpassed any thoughts of perfection I'd ever had.
"I don't want you to throw your happiness away," I said even as I trembled.
"If I spent the rest of my life just being your friend I'd be the happiest person on earth."
I couldn't say anything else. I nodded feeling the tears gather and fall silently down my face. Suddenly I had a reason to live.
"You have eleven new messages. Message one." Hello this message is for Melina Grayson. Ms. Grayson this is Dr. Davidson. I'd like you to come in to the office and talk to me as soon as possible. Please call my office and arrange a time. Anytime you're available is fine. If my office is closed my service can reach me. Thank you.
The beep sounded in the room. The answering machine paused before announcing the second message. Ms. Grayson this is Dr. Davidson again. It's imperative that I get into contact with you. Please call my office as soon as you get in.
"What do you suppose this is all about?" Tricia asked as we listened to the messages.
"I don't know." I wanted to shrug my shoulders but I had no idea if she was looking at me or not.
"Message three" This is Dr. Davidson again. Ms. Grayson if you or Ms. Moore could call me as soon as either of you are able I would appreciate it.
"Do you suppose they're all from him?" I asked. I would be just as happy to delete the rest.
"Maybe." I heard the click of a button and the machine skipped to the next message. We heard the doctor's voice again and she skipped to the next. She did that until the very last message. They were all from Dr. Davidson.
"I guess Dr. Davidson wants to talk to you." Tricia told me needlessly.
"Are you going to call him?" She asked when I didn't move towards the phone.
"I don't have him in my cell phone." I explained. "I was hoping you'd call him, or at least dial the phone."
"Oh, yeah. I'm sorry, shouldn't even have had to ask." Tricia said as she picked up the phone and looked up the doctor's number.
I heard the beep of numbers as she dialed. I sat down on the couch considering that a lovely day was about to be ruined by the presence of my therapist.
Someone picked up on the other end; I could hear Tricia saying, "Ms. Grayson returning Dr. Davidson's call."
She placed the phone in my hand. "You're on hold."
I waited with the phone pressed to my ear. The hold music was terrible. Would it be too much for the doctor to get a radio station patch for his hold music?
"Ms. Grayson?" Dr. Davidson asked.
"Yes, you asked me to call?" I wondered why he sounded so excited.
"Yes, yes I did. I'd like you to come into my office this afternoon if possible." He said quickly.
"It's four now, I doubt I could get there before your office closed for the day." I truly didn't feel like going in. Not because I was leery of seeing my therapist, I just didn't want to lose the happiness of the day. I had a feeling the doctor could make that happen very easily.
"I really need to see you. It's very important. I'll wait as long as you need." He offered.
"Oh, all right. I guess we can be there a little after five." I said hesitantly.
"I'll be waiting."
"Thank you, bye."
I hit the off button on the phone and tapped my chin with the antenna. What in the hell could he want? Maybe to commit me. I as much as told him that I wanted to die. He probably thinks I'm going to kill myself. Which, until today, was the absolute truth.
"So what did he want?" Tricia asked impatiently.
"He wants me to come by his office today."
"I got that much from your end of the conversation. Did he say what it's about?"
"No. I don't suppose we could just blow him off?" I sounded hopeful even to my own ears.
"No, if he needs to see you we're going." Tricia answered.
"You're kind of bossy." I noted.
"You like it." She said as she took my hand and helped me up off the couch.
"Ms. Grayson, I'm so glad you could come so quickly." Dr. Davidson greeted.
I smiled towards his voice. "It's not me you should thank. Tricia is the one who brought me here." I replied indicating my friend. I wondered why when we were in session he called me Melina and any other time he called me Ms. Grayson.
"I do appreciate this Ms. Moore." He said sincerely.
"Your messages led us to believe this was urgent." Tricia prodded as she sat down.
"Yes, I need to speak with Ms. Grayson. It may be very important."
"I'd rather she stay with me." I said when I heard the implied 'alone' in Davidson's statement.
"Of course." He replied smoothly as if he'd expected it the entire time. "Ms. Grayson have you been listening to the news lately?" He asked finally.
I frowned slightly. He'd asked me that question before. "No. No I already told you I haven't been listening to anything. I don't like to watch television. I can't see it. It's just a reminder." I said slowly. "Why do you keep asking me that?"
"At first I thought that something might be influencing your episodes. Maybe something you'd heard on the news. But yesterday you came to my office and described a scene."
I heard his chair shifting, I knew he must be shifting to sit forward. I nodded my head agreeing with what he said.
"Later that evening I watched the news live from a crime scene. It was just as you'd described. Everything was exactly the same. At first I thought that they'd aired this broadcast earlier, they didn't it was breaking news right then."
"What are you trying to say?" Tricia asked finally.
I had a feeling I already knew what he was getting at.
"I believe that Melina is actually seeing what the killer is seeing. I think she might have some kind of connection to him." Dr. Davidson finished.
Neither Tricia nor myself said anything. It actually made perfect sense to me. Or maybe we were both a couple of fruitcakes.
"You can't expect us to believe this." Tricia's voice was laced with disbelief and derision.
"I realize what it sounds like. How impossible it seems but I assure you that this isn't unprecedented. I participated in a study in college where such things were proved."
"It's ridiculous." Tricia spat.
I felt her hand on my arm. It was so warm. Soft, warm and comforting. "Mel I think we should go. We can get you another doctor."
I shook my head slowly. "No. I think he's right." I sat forward pulling away from her. I covered my face with my hands. "You don't know what I've been seeing. It couldn't come from me."
"Then tell me what you've been seeing. I can't imagine you'd believe this crap." Tricia implored.
"Melina," Dr Davidson broke in. "I contacted a friend of mine from the police department about this case. If you're willing the police would like to interview you. If you're not willing you won't be bothered. They don't know who you are." He told her.
"Would they believe me?" I asked. It was one thing for a doctor to believe something like this, but a cop I would imagine would think it's a hoax.
"They believe enough that they want to talk to you." He offered.
"What do you think?" I asked turning towards Tricia.
"I think you should do what you think is right. But, I still want to know what's going on."
"Then maybe you should sit in on the police interview." I told her. I didn't want to be alone.
"At your request we've read Dr. Davidson's transcribed sessions." Detective Craig said in a bored monotone. "What else can you tell us about what you saw in your dream?"
Dr. Davidson suggested that I allow the detectives and Tricia to read the transcripts he had of our recorded therapy sessions. He thought it would be easier on me.
"It was exactly as you read it." I told him for about the fourth time. "Except I was seeing it through his eyes."
"You didn't indicate that when you first told Dr. Davidson about your dreams."
I was getting annoyed. It was obvious that the detective didn't believe a word that he'd read. My annoyance was compounded by the fact that Tricia had been allowed to read all the transcribed session. I wished the doctor had only given her the pertinent parts. However, I was glad the detectives read it. I couldn't take hearing my own voice describe these things. I certainly didn't want Tricia to hear those things described by me.
I sighed heavily. "I didn't realize that I was seeing anything other than something I imagined until the second time," I explained patiently. "It was when I realized that they weren't my hands that I knew it wasn't me."
"But you still thought it was your imagination?" Detective Wiggins asked curiously.
"Of course, I never imagined anything else until Dr. Davidson contacted me."
"So according to you he was watching us work the scene the first time?" Craig asked again.
"Did he do the same thing the second time?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know. I told you what I saw the second time."
Detective Craig directed his bored gaze to the doctor. "Would you object to me taking these session transcripts?"
"I can make you some copies as long as Ms. Grayson doesn't have any objections." Dr. Davidson replied.
I assumed he was looking at me and shook my head, indicating I didn't really care. They were obviously just trying to placate us with a gesture. I was still concerned about what Tricia was thinking though. I couldn't wait for this interview to be over so we could talk.
I heard movement and knew the detectives were standing. "Ms. Grayson if you have any other dreams please don't hesitate to call." Det. Craig said.
He didn't try to shake my hand and I didn't really care. I could tell from his tone that he would dodge my calls if necessary. Not that I could blame him. This all seemed rather far-fetched to me too.
"Of course." I agreed. I turned to where I knew Tricia was sitting and whispered. "I think I'd like to leave now."
"All right." She said as she stood up and helped me to my feet. "Dr. Davidson, we'll see you tomorrow." Tricia said before she began leading me to the exit.
"Good night doctor." I said quietly. I didn't want to come back tomorrow. As far as I was concerned now that we knew why I was having these flashes I shouldn't have to undergo any more therapy. I decided I'd talk to Tricia about that later as well.
"You're not saying much." I commented after agonizing minutes alone with Tricia in the car.
"I'm not sure what to say." She admitted. "It's not everyday you hear something like this."
"I guess it is kind of frightening." I said questioningly. I didn't really think it was frightening. Different things frightened me now. What did I really have to be scared of? Not from those images he projects, if I am to believe my doctor's theory. Certainly not what could happen to me should he know about me like I know about him. Death is a succor I've held onto with both hands. A way of ending the misery. For now though I was content to sit in the car and talk to Tricia.
"Was that a question?" She asked shocked. "Aren't you frightened?"
"No." I responded truthfully. I could never tell her everything. She wouldn't understand. But I refused to be dishonest with her. Especially not with her.
"I'm terrified, I don't understand how come your not."
"I don't know. I guess I don't fear death anymore." I knew I'd said too much even as the words escaped my mouth.
I heard her breath hitch. I imagined her eyes turning a darker shade of gray as they usually did when she was upset. I almost wept when I realized that I had actually imagined her, her eyes, even the shadow that passed over them when she was hurt or angry. She was beautiful.
"What were you planning?" She asked.
She knew me too well. That was the problem with best friends they knew your personality, they knew your secrets. You just couldn't hide from a best friend. "A way out." I said simply.
"So Dr. Davidson was right. I read the transcripts. I didn't want to believe them."
I wondered what exactly Dr. Davidson had in those transcripts. I hadn't thought I'd given anything away. Not really.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Tricia whispered.
"What exactly do you want to hear?" I asked angrily. I felt cornered. An animal was always more dangerous when cornered. "Do you want to hear that I don't want to live like this? I don't! I wake up everyday and wish I had died out on that highway!"
"I don't." She said quietly.
"You're not me though. It's not you that this happened too." I sounded defeated even to my own ears.
"What did you have planned?" She asked again after a long pause.
"Ms. Grayson, in the bathroom, with the pistol." I joked in Clue like fashion.
"Are you still planning it?" She asked. I could hear the angry tears in her voice.
I touched her lightly on her arm. Not because I needed her help, not because I wanted her attention, but because for the first time since the accident I wanted to touch her. I wanted to touch anyone. "Not right now, but I can't promise that I won't feel this way again. I'm not that strong." I admitted.
The car stopped slowly. I couldn't imagine that we'd driven home so quickly. But the sounds that surrounded me were sounds of home. I heard her shift in her seat and waited to hear the door open. Instead she poked me in my arm.
"You are strong. I know you are." Tricia whispered fiercely. "Don't you dare leave me, you're all I have dammit!"
We were all either of us had really. I nodded my head not able to force anything out of my throat. All the big changes in my life seemed to happen in the car.
"I told you it would be a complete fucking waste of time." Craig muttered as he strode towards their car. "That doctor is just as wacky as she is. Don't they have to get licensed? How the hell did he slip through the cracks?"
"But everything was exactly as she described it. The second one was before the body was even discovered." Wiggins pointed out.
"Even if what those fruit nuts says is true she didn't do our investigation a bit of good." Craig told him as he shoved the key into the lock on the car door. "Any profiler or psychologist in the world will tell you these nut jobs like to watch."
"Maybe she'll see something we can use. Hell next time she has one of these episodes maybe she'll be able to call us."
"And exactly what good would that do us?" Craig asked as he started the car and headed back towards the station. "It's not like he's going to have the address written on a piece of paper and look at it. Besides, I didn't really get the feeling that she wanted to help catch this guy."
"No?" Wiggins asked.
"No. She didn't seem scared to you did she?" He asked glancing at Wiggins to make his point. "And you read those transcripts just like I did. She doesn't care what happens as long as she can see it. If you ask me, she's just as sick as that jerk nut who's killing those women."
"I don't know," Wiggins said contemplatively. "She seems more scared than anyone I've ever seen before."
Lieutenant Altman met the two detectives at the entrance of the station as he was leaving. "Did you get in contact with Davidson and the woman?" He asked.
"Yeah, we talked to her." Craig told him impassively. He remembered that the Lt. had told him to take her seriously.
"Well did she have anything to say?" He prodded annoyed that he had to pull the information out like a dentist with teeth.
Craig pulled out a copy of the transcript the doctor had made for him. "It's all right there. Nothing really useful. Apparently our guy likes to watch us work. Nothing else very helpful."
"Keep up with her. If she 'sees' anything else I want us to be the first to know." Lt. Altman told him as he handed the transcript back. "I want a preliminary report on my desk tomorrow morning. I need to brief the captain."
Craig watched Altman walk away and muttered under his breath. He hated reports and he hated brass. They were a pain in his ass. He glared at the civilians staring at him. It never amazed him the amount of people who were around a police station any time of the day or night. He made his way to his desk with Wiggins not far behind. Wiggins was better at reports than him, he probably had the entire thing written in his mind already.
"I'll type it up." Wiggins offered as if he was reading Craig's mind.
"Good, I have to return some calls." They had other cases to work. It never seemed to stop.
We ate dinner in silence. An uncomfortable silence. I don't think we've ever had an uncomfortable silence before. I didn't like it at all. But then maybe I was the only one who was uncomfortable. Maybe she was just quiet because she didn't have anything to say.
"Are you still angry with me?" I couldn't stand it anymore. Dark and quiet was the worst combination in my world.
"I'm not angry. Hurt maybe, but not angry." She said softly.
Hurt, it was such a small word and expressed so much. It wasn't a hurt I could take away with a word or even a promise. "I'm sorry." I murmured.
I heard her sigh. "You don't have to be sorry. You can't help the way you feel. I just wish you knew how much you have to live for."
It wasn't a discussion I wanted to have. Not tonight. "I'm pretty tired, I think I'll go to bed." I was running and we both knew it.
"Good night." She told me.
I could feel her eyes following into my bedroom. I stopped at the door and turned. "Are you staying the night?" I asked.
"I was hoping too. I'm somewhat without a home right now."
I nodded, I should have realized sooner that since she and Steven broke up she'd move out or he would. I wasn't surprised that she moved out. It was just like her not to want to up heave him any more than necessary.
"Stay as long as you like." I invited. She knew what I meant. She could live here if she wanted for as long as she needed.
"Welcome." I said as I shut the door.
The click of the door pulled me from the half sleep that I'd been languishing in since I'd gone to bed. I reached out to turn on the light before I remembered it wouldn't do a bit of good. I listened for a second wondering if maybe the wind had pushed open my door.
I could hear breathing. "Tricia is that you?"
There was no response just the sound of footsteps approaching my bed. It was he! He knew about me. He'd figured out somehow who I was and had come for me. In that instant of clarity, when I knew I was going to die, I realized that I didn't want to die.
I felt the mattress sink down where he sat down and I pulled back and drew in a deep breath to scream. It was too late; I felt the hand on my lips. Only it didn't cover my mouth. I felt two fingers press against my lips, two soft fingers.
My heart was beating so hard I thought it would pound through my ribcage but gradually it began to calm. As the fear began to fade I could sense other things. I smelled Tricia's perfume and knew it was her even breathing next to me.
I opened my mouth against her fingers to complain about her scaring the crap out of me, only to have her 'shhhh me'.
I felt the bed shift as she leaned towards me. I could feel the heat emanating from her body, I felt drawn to that heat. Then soft lips brushed against mine. Just as sweet as the first one we had shared in the park but rife with promise and passion. I tried to pull away, I was confused as to what was happening and why. Then I felt the press of her tongue against my lips parting them. I was lost. I kissed her back. Velvety soft tongues stoked against each other. I felt her hands run over my body igniting fires that had been embers for far too long.
She pulled my tank top over my head. It seemed like her hands were everywhere at once, caressing and coaxing me higher. I'd never imagined her being the aggressor in my secret fantasies. It had always been me leading her through a sensual web of my own design.
Her lips surrounding my nipple made me gasp. I pulled her head closer, holding her to me. Her shirt had disappeared as if by magic. I knew she had to have removed it. I ran light fingertips down her back, tracing the muscle and bumps along her spine. I pressed her impossibly closer. Her hot mouth left my right breast and trailed over to the other one enveloping it in the same wet heat.
I stroked the sides of her breasts reaching any part of her I could. She lifted her head finally and captured my lips in a searing kiss that left me breathless and scattered, unable to think clearly. I moaned as her hands pushed down my shorts. I felt trembling fingers run over my swollen lips.
Each breath I took was more ragged than the last. I was so close; I didn't want it to end. My thighs parted as if they had a will of their own. Her fingers dabbled in my wetness. I could feel the moisture running down my thigh and onto the sheets below. She swirled her fingers around my throbbing clit and I choked back a sob.
My entire body was shaking, sweat pooling at the base of my throat. Even as my mind registered this, her lips were moving down my neck. She passed her tongue over the small pool, collecting every drop.
Just as I thought I might die from the sensations she entered me with two fingers making my back arch. My senses were in overload. She kissed me in rhythm with the pulsing of my body. She brushed her thumb over my clit even as her fingers pushed in and out.
My climax descended upon me in a rush. A tidal wave washing through my body making me scream.
I bolted upright, the smell of sweat and arousal in the air, just as the door to my room flew open. I heard the light switch and almost cried. It was a dream. It was a dream! It had been so real. I didn't know whether or not to be upset or ecstatically happy. I had dreamed and I had seen. But it was just a dream.
"Are you all right?" Tricia asked anxiously. I could hear her moving towards me, just like the dream. Only this time she was talking and very worried.
"I'm fine," I mumbled. "It was just a dream."
"Not another episode?" She asked. I could hear the lingering fear in her voice from me scaring her.
"No, nothing like that." I replied trying to keep the blush from washing over my features. I wished she'd left the light off.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She asked as she sat on the side of the bed. Again mirroring the dream.
"No." I wanted so badly just to lean over and kiss her. God, just go away.
"Are you sure?" I felt her hand on my bare arm. Normally it would have been comforting and appreciated. Right now it almost made me crazy. I wanted her to leave before she detected the scent of arousal in the room. How could she miss it? It was all I could smell.
"Very." I assured her in a husky voice.
"Call me if you need anything." She told me as she patted my arm.
"Sure." I replied as I listened to her footsteps recede to the door then out of my room. I flopped back onto my pillow and groaned. God why couldn't this one dream be true?
"It's been a pretty quiet week." Tricia commented.
I didn't answer at first because I was trying to chew a bagel covered in cream cheese. I hadn't realized how much eating really involved seeing the food.
It was almost eight days since my erotic dream of the two of us together and I still hadn't managed to banish it from my thoughts. At the oddest moments in the day it would pop into my head, it was all I could do not to give myself away. Not for the first time in my life I was happy to be a woman. The signs of arousal were less obvious than a man's.
"Yeah it has." I agreed, after pulling myself forcibly from my thoughts.
"No episodes?" She asked needlessly.
I shook my head no. "The cops called though." I added.
"Oh? When was that?" She asked curiously.
"A couple of days ago when you had to go to your office. They must be at a stand still on the case if they're calling me for help." I laughed derisively. I figured they called just for the entertainment value of harassing me.
"Did they say anything else?"
"No." I said dismissing the subject.
"So, what are you planning for today?"
I licked some errant cream cheese off my fingers wondering what exactly she thought I could do. It wasn't as if I was comfortable going out on my own. I was barely comfortable out of my room but I was making an effort.
"I don't know I thought I might go to the mall then maybe take in a movie." I didn't change expressions, looking perfectly serious.
Her bark of laughter startled me at first but I couldn't keep the smile off my face. "Probably just the same old, same old." I told her more seriously.
"You know if you want to go out I'd be happy to go with you. In fact, I need a few things at the mall if you feel like getting out." She said hesitantly.
I heard the apprehension in her voice. I couldn't blame her, in recent times I'd been less that gracious to her offers of help.
"I don't think I'm quite ready for that." I admitted. I wished I could take those first few weeks back, that I hadn't caused her so much pain.
"I think you're ready for anything."
I snorted. What good would it do to disagree, we all had our separate opinions. "I still don't think I want to go out."
"How about this," Tricia tried again. "I go to the mall and run my errands and we go to the park for lunch again. You could use some more sun; you're fish belly white. It's actually painful to see." She teased.
"I wouldn't know." I murmured, but I nodded my head before taking another bite of my bagel.
"I'll pick something up for lunch." She said as she got up from the table to take her dish into the kitchen.
"Okay." I mumbled around my food. It was hard to think about lunch at breakfast.
I heard her set something on the table next to me. "Here's your phone. If anything happens or you need something call, okay?"
"You bet." I said feeling around for the phone. I picked it up and shook it smiling. "I've got everything I need."
"I'll see you soon then."
"Bye." I held up my hand in farewell and shook the phone again. I knew she was looking.
It was warm again, the sun shining down making it feel as if the world were a sauna. Tricia and I had already been here an hour. Tricia had gotten back later than I thought she would so it was almost five o'clock now. More dinnertime than lunch time. I was starved.
"So what did you bring to eat?" I asked when my stomach growled so loud it scared even me.
"Ah, the colonel. Sides?" I loved Kentucky Fried Chicken. Well, actually I mostly loved the skin part.
"Mac and cheese and mashed potatoes with gravy. Extra biscuits." She told me provocatively.
She definitely had my number when it came to food. "Great! Let's eat."
I could smell the food; it made my mouth water. If she didn't hand me a plate in the next fifteen seconds I was going to make a spectacle of myself by diving in face first. I was just opening my mouth to suggest she share when a plate was put into my hands.
I learned two things in the course of this meal. First, chicken grease got everywhere no matter how careful I was. Second, biscuits and gravy were not invented for blind people. I was wearing more gravy than I actually got into my mouth. I must have looked like a fool, but I couldn't find it in myself to be embarrassed in front of Tricia.
"I'm thirsty still." Tricia informed me.
I listened as she wiped her hands on the endless supply of paper napkins she'd brought with us. I'd never noticed how much they sounded like notebook paper when they were crinkled up.
"Are we out of soda?" I asked.
"Yeah." She sighed. "I don't suppose you feel like walking over to the convenience store with me?"
There was a convenience store not far from us at the entrance of the park. I definitely didn't want to walk over there no matter how close it was though. It was too public. Too many people going in and out.
"I'd rather not. But, you go ahead. I'll be fine here." I encouraged her. I realized, as I was urging her to go that she was just as scared to leave me as I was to go.
"Are you sure?" I could hear her reluctance to leave in her voice.
"Of course, go. I'll be right here." I assured her.
"I'll be right back."
"Bring me back a diet Pepsi please?" I asked as she stood up and brushed herself off.
I heard her footsteps on the leaves fading as she walked further and further away. I lay back letting the sun hit my face. I wondered if a tan would make the scar on my face more noticeable.
Probably, right now I found it hard to care. I heard the sound of leaves crunching and wondered at how fast Tricia had gotten back. She must have forgotten something. "What did you forget?" I asked when I heard the footsteps top next to where I was laying.
She didn't answer and I frowned. "Well?" I prodded impatiently. I hated it when people didn't talk. Tricia had never done it before and I was fast becoming annoyed by it.
I sat up ready to make an issue of it when I heard, "You're blind?"
The deep voice frightened me and I moved away from him. I wanted to run I just didn't know where to run too. I instantly went on the offensive. Fight or flight, and I couldn't run.
"What in the hell do you want?" I asked angrily. "You don't just walk up to people!"
"I didn't think you would be blind. They didn't mention it." He said curiously ignoring the outburst completely.
That got my attention. What did he mean he didn't think I'd be blind? Who the hell was this guy? "What do you mean?" I asked.
"You've been watching me." He told me instead of answering.
I snorted. "I don't know if you've noticed but I can't watch anything."
"The police seem to think you're watching me." He said silkily.
Cold fear ran down my spine at those words. I knew who he was. I knew exactly who he was. "What do you want?" I whispered fearfully. I could hear my voice shaking.
I heard him chuckle softly. "You're scared. Don't be, I only wanted to see you." He said conversationally. "I've been watching you. I wanted to know the person who was watching me."
When I didn't say anything he continued. "How did you get that scar?"
His voice sounded loving almost as if he thought it was beautiful. "I was in a car accident." I stammered. I had to get away from him. Tricia would be back soon was all I could think.
"Ah, my work is so much neater than that." He said smugly, meaning my scar.
"Your work?" I repeated quietly to myself remembering every cut he'd inflicted on that poor woman.
"You know an artist usually has to be dead before people appreciate his work." He told me. "It's nice to be appreciated before that."
I was dumbfounded. He thought I liked it? Where on earth did he get that idea? I was horrified.
"I should go, it looks like your friend is coming back." He said even as I heard the crunch of his feet on leaves. "Oh by the way Melina, I wouldn't bother going back to Dr. Davidson. He's been retired."
I couldn't hear him moving and knew he was still near me somewhere. Not as close as before but still near. "You know she looks like the others, doesn't she?" He said before striding away.
I was terrified to think about what his words actually meant. Yet it's all I could think about. He was right Tricia did look like those dead women. The thought of Tricia being tortured made my skin crawl. My next thought was for Dr. Davidson.
Detective Craig watched as the crime scene technicians crawled all over Dr. Davidson's office. He'd received a frantic call from Melina Grayson about the killer following her and killing Davidson. He hadn't believed her at first but decided to check it out to be safe.
He and Wiggins had found the doctor almost decapitated, slumped over his desk. Blood had covered the open file under his head. It had been Melina Grayson's file.
"So do you think it was the same guy?" Wiggins asked as he looked around. The smell of blood permeated the air. He could even taste it. It shouldn't have bothered him but it did. How long would it be before he didn't want to vomit every time he smelled it?
"I don't know," Craig said with a sigh. "We'll have to wait for the lab guys to do their thing. Hopefully the M.E. will be able to tell us if it was the same weapon."
"But she knew about it." Wiggins persisted.
"Yeah she did." Craig agreed. "We'll need to go talk to her as soon as we're done here."
"I bet he regretted ever getting involved in this mess." Wiggins observed quietly.
"Me too." Craig mumbled to himself.
"Neither of you can tell us anything about him?" Detective Craig asked in a frustrated voice.
"What do you expect? For me to give you a description? I'm fucking blind!" I nearly shouted. I was pacing frantically around my living room. I felt like I would jump out of my skin at any moment now.
"No." Tricia replied patiently. She'd already told them he was long gone by the time she'd returned.
"Did you see Dr. Davidson's murder?" Wiggins asked.
I shook my head as I continued pacing. "I didn't see anything."
"Don't you think that's unusual. He's murdered two women since your accident and you've seen both murders." Detective Wiggins pointed out. "It stands to reason that you'd see this one too."
"How the hell am I supposed to know. I'm not the expert! He's dead," I spat.
I heard footsteps approaching me and knew it was Tricia. I could smell her subtle perfume. A mixture of her natural smell and some fragrance I could never remember the name of. She put a hand on my arm and whispered that I needed to 'relax'. I couldn't imagine ever relaxing again but I nodded my head and took a deep cleansing breath before sitting down on the sofa.
"Maybe," I began slowly, the thought forming even as I spoke. "Maybe he didn't enjoy this one as much as he did the others," I offered. "Maybe that's why I didn't see anything. Dr. Davidson mentioned to me that what I could see might have a lot to do with his or my emotional state."
"When did he tell you this?" Detective Craig asked. It was news to him. The doctor hadn't mentioned anything like it.
"He mentioned it in our last session."
"Did he mention who the 'they' were he heard about you from?" Craig asked. There was no one else who knew about Melina Grayson besides Wiggins, himself, Dr. Grayson, Ms. Moore and the Lt.
"No, he didn't."
Craig tapped the pen against his notebook thinking furiously. Who in the hell could have said anything? It certainly wouldn't have been the doctor. He had doctor/patient confidentiality to deal with. He knew Tricia Moore wouldn't have said anything. That only left them. He hadn't told anyone anything about Ms. Grayson except for the lieutenant.
He stopped tapping and became very still. Wiggins and he had talked to the lieutenant right in the middle of the squad room with suspects and cops mingling close enough to hear every word they said. He stood up and began pacing, silently berating himself the entire time. How could he be so stupid? They knew the guy liked to watch. It made perfect sense that he would watch the cops too. This was his fault. All these years and he was making stupid rookie mistakes.
Craig turned to Melina who was sitting on the sofa with her face in her hands. She looked as worn out and as frightened as he sometimes felt. "We'll need you to make a statement. I'll come by in the morning an pick you up." He offered. She looked tired. He didn't really want to drag her out for something like this. There wasn't anything her statement could do to help anyway. It was already too late for Dr. Davidson.
"I can drive her." Tricia offered. It was the first thing Craig had heard from her all evening. He took a minute to wonder at their relationship. He'd never met anyone so devoted to a friend before.
"If you're sure," Craig asked. "I don't want to imposition you."
"It's quite all right. I don't mind." Tricia replied graciously.
Detective Craig nodded his head and signaled Wiggins towards the door. "We'll see you in the morning, Ms. Grayson. We'll have a patrol swing by here a few times to make sure every thing is all right."
"Thanks." I said not bothering to get up. He wouldn't come after me. At least not yet.
"Things certainly haven't been easy for us lately." Tricia noted.
I wanted to laugh. It was such an understatement. Things like this only happened in the movies or on that X-Files show Tricia loved so much. "You have a gift for understatement."
She laughed softly and I couldn't help smiling at the sound.
"I have a serious problem." I told her seriously after a couple of minutes. The laughter couldn't dispel the truth.
"We have a serious problem you mean." She shot back.
I shook my head. I didn't want her involved in this anymore. Not after his innocuous comment about her resemblance. "I don't want you in this." I told her firmly.
"I'm already in this," She told me. "I'm not going to just run away when things get tough or scary."
"You should." I implored.
"Why? Because of what you told the police he said?" She asked, hitting the nail on the head. "You said yourself he wouldn't come after you and I'm with you. I feel perfectly safe."
She was lying. I could hear it in her voice. I never realized before how transparent she was. Maybe this was just another aspect of being blind. I was like a natural lie detector now.
She laughed softly. "Well, maybe not perfectly safe. But, I'm not leaving so just drop it."
I nodded my head again. Who was I trying to fool? I didn't want her to leave.
"I need to do something." I said finally.
"What?" Tricia asked curiously.
I wondered if she missed what I'd said or if she wanted to know what I needed to do. I decided to go with the latter.
"I need to make this stop."
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"I don't want to see what he wants me to see. There must be some way to stop them." I told her as I wrapped my arms around my stomach.
I heard her start to say something then stop.
"What?" I demanded.
"There are drugs." She said haltingly. She was loath to mention the options Davidson had suggested to her at one time.
"Drugs." I repeated. That's true, doctors had drugs for everything. Drugs that could even make people stop thinking.
"It couldn't hurt to talk to a doctor." She said thoughtfully.
I nodded my head in agreement. Although I doubted that Dr. Davidson would agree with that statement.
At nine o'clock the next morning Tricia and I drove to the police station to give statements. I didn't actually have to write mine, which made me wonder why I had to come down here at all. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to do this last night or even over the phone? I did end up signing the document stating that these were the events as I remembered them. Of course, the officer writing down my statement could have just written his grocery list and I would have signed it. How was I to know?
Tricia finished with her statement quickly. Apparently having less to write about. Why ask for a statement when she didn't see anything?
"That's all we need." The officer taking my statement said after I'd signed the form and Tricia finished hers.
I stood up then paused, "Are the police going to continue to maintain a presence at my house?" I questioned. I was anxious they continue. I was still worried about Tricia.
"You'll have to talk to the detectives on the case ma'am." The officer responded while picking up the statements. "If you would like to wait I'll see if I can find either of them to talk to you."
"Thank you." I said, sitting back down to wait.
"I thought you weren't worried about him coming after you?" Tricia questioned as the officer hurried away to locate the detectives.
"I'm just being cautious."
I knew she didn't believe me. "So, I'm concerned about you, there's nothing wrong with that." I defended.
"She's absolutely right Ms. Moore. There's nothing wrong with being concerned about your safety." Detective Craig interjected as he entered the room, obviously catching the tail end of the conversation.
"We will continue to step up patrols in your neighborhood." He told them, not bothering to sit down. What he wasn't telling them was that they were the best hope he had of catching this guy. If using the women as bait was the way to get him then he would do that. Craig felt pretty confident that he had the manpower to keep things from going bad. He had a patrol outside Ms. Grayson's house twenty-four hours a day. If anything happened he'd know about it immediately.
"Great." I said, relieved. It was one less thing I had to think about.
"In the mean time if you have any other episodes or contact please call me immediately." Craig told her this time giving Tricia a card with his cell phone and home phone scrawled on the back.
"Thank you. The officer will escort you out." He said before leaving the room.
"Ladies?" I heard the officer say as he waited to do just that.
"Why didn't you tell him what you were planning?" Tricia asked once we were in the car and headed towards our next appointment with my new doctor.
"I didn't think it concerned him."
"You don't think he'd be interested in knowing you were going to try to severe your connection with this guy?" Tricia asked skeptically.
"No, I'm sure he would be interested. I just don't think it's any of his business." I said pointedly.
"Hey, I'm on your side." Tricia said disarmingly. "I just wanted to make sure you weren't making a mistake by not telling him."
"We don't even know if it'll work. So, there's really no point in getting him all hot and bothered about it."
"True." She agreed. "What made you decide to do this anyway? I mean really?" Tricia asked softly.
"I don't want to see it." I told her honestly.
"Not too long ago you didn't care what you might see as long as you saw something." Tricia reminded me. It was obvious she'd read all the transcripts Dr. Davidson had given her.
"Things have changed," was all I replied.
"What things?" She prodded.
"I had a dream." I said quietly.
"You mean with him?"
"No, a real dream. A happy dream, in full living color."
"That's wonderful," she told me, happiness evident in her voice. "What was it about?"
"Nothing really important," I stammered. "Just visions of a happier time."
"I'm happy for you." Her voice was sincere.
"Aren't you worried that the drugs could stop those dreams as well?" She asked, the thought just occurring to her.
"I guess it's just a chance I have to take. It won't be forever, the police will catch him eventually."
Tricia maneuvered expertly in and out of traffic on the way back from my new psychiatrist's office. It actually felt like I was on Mr. Toads Wild ride. I didn't want to say anything though. She was sensitive about her driving.
"I didn't think we'd ever get out of there," Tricia said as if she were reading my mind.
"I know." I agreed.
We had a hell of a time trying to explain my situation to the new doctor. Finally in the end we had to call the police department and request a copy of my file from the evidence room. Detective Wiggins had been kind enough to expedite the process and faxed over what could be copied.
What followed was one doctor disparaging another doctor without actually calling him a quack in so many words. I heard comments mumbled as the doctor perused my session notes. At one point I thought I heard the word schizophrenia. I was starting to think that the entire idea of coming to this guy was a mistake. Then he sat back and just agreed to help.
Maybe he thought I was schizophrenic and he was helping or maybe he believed me considering we had to get my file from the police. Either way I didn't care. I'd get what I wanted.
He outlined an intensive treatment and therapy regiment. At some point I zoned out of the conversation letting it all roll over me. The word tranquilizers brought me back into focus.
"What," I asked? Stopping the doctor mid explanation.
"You had a question Ms. Grayson?"
"What was that about tranquilizers?"
"I want to use tranquilizers to combat the delusions your presenting." He explained.
"I'm not delusional." I disagreed. "I merely see things."
I imagined him looking at me with a combination of a knowing yet compassionate face. Like he knew best or was right. What did I care if he thought I was a fruit loop, at least it would stop. I wasn't surprised when I felt Tricia's hand on mine, offering comfort.
"As I was saying," Dr. Tratnor resumed his one sided conversation.
I tuned him out as I wondered if all psychiatrists were that self-absorbed or was it just the one's I had contact with. I don't know how long I sat there daydreaming but the next thing I knew he was asking if we had any questions.
"No, I think you covered everything." Tricia told him.
I could tell she couldn't wait to get away from the good doctor.
"I'd like to get you started on your drug therapy as soon as possible Ms. Grayson." He addressed me. "It may take a few weeks to get the proper dosage so I'd like to make sure you're closely monitored."
"I'll be with her." Tricia said to him.
"I'd like you to start taking them orally then when we establish your optimal dose, we can move to a shot which will be less frequent. Perhaps once a week." He offered.
"Fine." I responded. I was more than ready to get out of here.
"If you'll just see my receptionist she'll make sure you get everything you need." Dr. Tratnor said as he ushered the two women out of the office.
"Oh, doctor?" Tricia said as they were exiting the office. "Dr. Davidson had Mel taking an antidepressant, will there be a problem with her taking both?"
"Obviously it isn't strong enough to stop the delusions, however, I see no reason why she should stop taking it. He diagnosed her with depression and by the session notes I believe that it was working effectively."
"Thank you." Tricia said nodding.
I didn't say anything. He said that word again, 'delusional'. He'd see how delusional I was if my little demented stalker decided to pay him a visit as well. That fleeting thought made me grin. Always a silver lining to every cloud.
Tranquilizers. There's a reason for that name. I felt like I was floating, floating in a very relaxed, tranquil place. It really was a nice place to visit but living here was no good at all.
One entire day at full dose was all it took to decide that full dose was too much dose. I couldn't even feed myself. Lifting my hand seemed like a monumental task that was too hard to even comprehend.
I listened in a hazy, uncaring daze as Tricia called my psychiatrist and told him what was going on. He recommended that we reduce the dose by half. So instead of two pills three times a day I had one pill three times a day.
Almost two days later I didn't sleep all day or sit around as if I didn't have a thought in my head. We both noticed that I was easily distracted. More than anything else I found myself listening to music. I could lose myself in the music. I wondered why I hadn't bothered to listen before.
At first the ringing phone didn't even penetrate my mind. One pill was still enough to send me packing to la la land.
"Don't get up, I'll get it." Tricia said as she picked up the hand set.
"Okay." I smiled angelically at her. I really did feel good. I didn't listen to her conversation past the first initial hello. When I heard the phone slam down I sat up wondering what was wrong. Just like that my buzz was immediately and irrevocably gone.
"What's wrong?" I asked worriedly.
"Nothing." She assured me. "That was Detective Craig he wanted to know if you might have 'seen' something."
"Nothing but black." I joked.
"Apparently there was another murder." Tricia said sitting down beside me. "He didn't go into details but it was the same guy, they're sure of it."
"He wants to come over to talk to you. He wouldn't take 'no' for an answer."
"Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'm under a doctors care, he can't make me see them." I assured her.
"You're sure you didn't see anything?" She questioned.
"Those little miracle pills of Tratnor's seem to be working."
"Why didn't you inform me of this before now?" Detective Craig asked angrily.
"I didn't know I had to inform you of anything." I responded calmly. I couldn't respond any other way really. Sometimes I didn't feel anything at all. I was just present.
"You're our only link to this guy. You're interfering in our investigation Ms. Grayson."
"That's not my intention," I told him somewhat misleadingly. I knew this would make him angry but I had to weigh my needs against theirs. I wasn't a police officer; I didn't want to see those things anymore.
"I want you to talk to your doctor and tell him you want off these drugs until I conclude my investigation." Craig demanded.
"I don't think that will be possible Detective." Tricia spoke up coming to my defense. "Dr. Tratnor has diagnosed her as schizophrenic, he won't take her off her medication."
"I'll talk to the doctor." Craig flung out. He was desperate. The brass was putting the screws to him to come up with something. They didn't have any leads. No evidence other than the descriptions of a blind woman. He might as well just turn over his badge now.
"He's liable to put you on the same medication he gave me." I joked.
"Look it's not up to us, it's the doctors decision. She's placed herself in her doctor's care. If you want anything else I think you should talk to him." Tricia told him. I knew her patience was running thin by the tone of her voice.
"I'll be in touch." Craig said grimly as he stalked out of the door.
I didn't say anything when he left. I wondered if Tricia thought I was a coward like Craig did. I could hear it in his voice. I heard her footsteps move towards me. Then felt the cushions depress as she sat down next to me.
I parted my lips to speak when I felt her fingertips on my lips. It was so like the dream I'd had of her. The same softness, the same warmth. The thought drifted across my mind that this must be a dream. I'd hoped in my heart of hearts that this particular dream would be repeated.
I grasped her wrist holding her hand in place. I brushed my lips across her fingertips. It was so light as to be barely discernable. I brushed my hand up her wrist and forearm, brushing across her neck, letting the backs of my fingers and hand move against her hair. It was silky soft. I wrapped my hand around her neck and pulled he to me slowly. I moved my lips against hers, feeling lingering on their softness. I slipped my tongue between hers and heard her gasp.
That was when I realized that unlike the other time I couldn't see it at all. I recoiled from her. Trying to put distance between us. I was mortified that after all this time I'd let my guard slip and done the one thing that was taboo in my life.
"I'm sorry," I said as my voice faltered. I could barely choke out an apology. "I didn't mean too do that, I swore I would never do that," I rambled apologetically.
I sat in a miserable silence when she didn't say anything. She hadn't even moved. I was the one cowering at one corner of the sofa afraid to even move lest I accidentally touch her.
When she finally spoke I flinched.
"Swore? You've wanted to kiss me," she asked hesitantly.
I thought furiously about what I'd said and knew I'd said too much, again. "I might have thought about it." I admitted. "I mean you remember our conversation in the park."
"For how long?"
She had an unerring ability to ask questions that I didn't want to answer. "How long have we known each other." I tried to joke.
"I didn't know you thought about it."
"Of course I thought about it, you're the impossible dream. You think about dreams, that's why they're dreams."
"Why didn't you say something?"
I smiled sadly. "You're straight, what was the point? It wouldn't accomplish anything besides making us both uncomfortable around one another. Besides, you told me that day you wanted friendship."
"You can't have known that, you can't know that there wouldn't be a point."
I frowned thinking about that. What did she mean? "What?" I asked confused.
"You didn't even give me a chance to make a decision. Would it surprise you to know I've always had a little crush on you?" She asked.
Yes it would have surprised me. This had to be a dream. It could be a dream or it could be real. I hated that about the drugs. Never knowing if what I was hearing or doing was real or not. Of course, it wasn't much better before I started taking the drugs either.
"And if you had the decision to make now?" I asked quietly.
It was too important a question; I almost took it back. Did I really want to know that there was no hope for us ever? Was I ready to face that kind of disappointment? It wold be even harder than loosing my sight.
I felt her take my hand and my heartbeat so fast it drowned out everything else. I thought I might start to hyperventilate at any moment. I took deep breaths trying to get myself under some semblance of control. That's when I heard the phone ringing.
"I should get that." Tricia told me.
She still held my hand and I knew she didn't want to leave the conversation. But it could be the police or even my doctor; she had to get it.
I listened intently this time when she answered the phone.
"Hold on please." She said as she walked towards me with the cordless phone.
She handed me the phone and telling me it was for me. I was surprised. My friends and co-workers had quit calling me long ago. The police and even my doctor seemed more comfortable talking to Tricia, they wouldn't have asked for me.
"Hello?" I said into the receiver.
"You didn't watch this time. I did it just for you and you didn't watch!" It was the same deep voice I remembered from the park.
"I know what you've been doing Melina. I watch remember, just like you were supposed to do. If you won't watch what I spent so much time setting up for you; then I'll bring it to you so you have to watch." The line went dead before I could say a word.
I jabbed at the off button, remembering where it was. When I finally heard the beep of the off button I immediately punched the talk button to get a dial tone. It was dead.
"I need my cell phone." I was frantic. He was coming; I had to get the police.
"Where did you leave it?" Tricia asked recognizing the fear in my voice and reacting to it instantly.
"In my bedroom, I think." I told her as I got up to go to my bathroom. I never did take my pistol out of there. It was like a security blanket for me. I stopped next to the sofa slightly confused. I was disoriented, unable to remember which direction I should go or even how many steps it was.
"What's the matter?" Tricia asked from near my bedroom door. I heard her turn on my cell phone.
"I'm not sure how to get to the bathroom." I responded. I was rapidly approaching hysterical.
"I'll help you." Tricia said as she moved towards me.
"No, call the police and tell them to get over here. He just called." I explained as I walked towards her voice assuming that was the direction to my bedroom and the bathroom.
"He called just now?"
"Yes, hurry." I told her as I passed her. My hand slapped against the door jam of my room and I almost cried in relief. I heard the door to the back crash open at the same time. I stumbled into my bedroom and towards the bathroom. I fell on the linoleum and tore open the cupboard below the sink. The towels were in the way and I threw them out looking for the nine millimeter. Finally my hand touched cold metal and I grasped the gun as if it were a life preserver in rough seas.
I heard Tricia cry out in the living room and surged to my feet. I hid the gun in the back of my pants having the presence of mind to know I'd only get one shot. I couldn't afford to go out there brandishing a gun when I couldn't see a target. I needed to know exactly where he was.
I heard my name being called by a deep voice. I could also hear Tricia whimpering. I stepped out into the living room presenting a perfectly composed front, even as my insides where trying to get outside my body.
"Ah, there you are." He said happily. "As I said if you couldn't see it before, I'd show you now. I don't want you to miss it. It's my best work to date."
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"You can't see it?" He asked frustrated. "Even this close?"
"No, I don't see anything." I backed against the wall trying to place where his voice was. It was so easy with Tricia why couldn't I do it with him.
I concentrated on the air moving in the room, his scent that was fleeting from one moment to the next letting me know that he was moving. Possibly pacing by the sound of his footsteps.
"It's those god damn pills you're taking, isn't it?" He said angrily. "I heard you talking to him about it."
He must have been watching when detective Craig came over.
"It's no use," I told him as I started to inch my hand behind my back. I wanted to be ready when I had my chance. "Those pills make it so I can't see anything. Not even dreams."
"NO!" He shouted. I wanted to do it then but I heard Tricia's muffled scream as he grabbed her.
"You'll just have to hear it." He sounded insane. As insane as I knew he was. Before he'd sounded normal. "Let this be a lesson to you. No more little pills." He said softly.
I heard the sound of a knife being pulled free of its sheath. I lurched forward with my hand out. "No, don't!" I thought desperately for some way out of this. Someway to get Tricia away from him.
"She's precious to you, I know. But it has to be this way. You have to at least hear."
"If you kill her, I swear I will keep taking them. I'll never see anything you want me to see. I'll leave and you won't even be able to make me hear it." I threatened. It was a weak threat, but the only one I had.
"You wouldn't," he said knowingly. "You can't live without it."
"I've been living without seeing anything for quite a while now. Nothing would be worth seeing if she was gone anyway." I said truthfully.
"You want her," he said with deceptive softness. "Then come get her."
I walked towards them. I could hear Tricia trying to talk. I imagined she was telling me to run to just leave her. But I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. I was going to get her out of this. We had a conversation to finish. Suddenly, I wasn't as afraid of hearing what she had to say.
I felt my foot hit something. I knew it was Tricia. That meant he was somewhere nearby. I listened for him. For the sound of his breathing, the movement of air as I knelt down next to her. I ran my hands over her to make sure she was all right even as I kept listening for him. I removed a gag from her mouth and she started to whisper to me.
It was too late. I knew he was making his move. He wanted her to die in my arms. With a flash I saw it in my minds eye. I saw what he saw. Me helping Tricia to her feet as she watched terrified as he came at her with the knife. I turned into the knife at the last possible second pushing Tricia down and out of the way.
It was excruciating. Even the accident hadn't been this painful. I saw him looking at me with angry, hate filled eyes. I'd ruined it. Ruined everything. He pulled up on the knife, splitting open my stomach with brute strength. Then he and I both watched as blood ran down between us. I could feel it soaking my clothes and running down my leg. He didn't move back, he left the knife in me holding it and me like he would a lover.
We both heard Tricia's frantic cry of my name. Then his attention was centered on her. I had my chance now, just for a few moments. I reached for the gun at my back. My arms were so heavy, I felt so weak.
I forced my hand and arm to move telling myself it was the last thing I had to do. He didn't seem to notice what I was doing. I pulled the gun free pushing the muzzle against the middle of his chest and before he realized what was going on I pulled the trigger.
The force of the bullet slamming into him at such close range threw him back. I went part way with him before I slumped to the floor released from his grasp.
Everything was pitch black again. I knew he was dead and I wasn't far behind him. I could barely hear anything. Tricia was calling my name just like the night of the accident. I couldn't hang on for her though; it was just too hard.
"God, don't leave me." Tricia begged me.
I tried to talk but the effort made me cough. I could taste the blood in my mouth and knew I'd coughed up blood.
"Shhh, don't try to talk." Tricia soothed. "Help will be here soon."
I wanted to tell her I knew that. I wondered how long it would take them to show up. It seemed like years had passed since he burst through the back door but I knew it was only ten or fifteen minutes.
I couldn't breath. I was gasping, I could hear Tricia crying and calling my name, calling for help, the police, anybody.
I felt tears fall on my face. I wanted to reach up and touch her face but I couldn't move anymore, it was an effort to gasp for breath. I felt her lips on mine then; the softness and warmth mixed with the wetness of her tears.
"Do you think she'll be ok?" Detective Wiggins asked as the paramedics loaded Tricia Moore into the back of an ambulance. They'd already seen the body bags loaded. One of there own officers was in one of them.
"I don't know." Craig responded as he looked around the living room of the house he was in only hours ago. Nothing had gone right with this case.
"Come on, let's wrap this up. I just want this day and case to be over." Detective Craig told Wiggins.
"We still have to go over to the hospital to get statements." Wiggins reminded him.
It was dark here. I had to be dead. I knew I was dead. I didn't hurt, and I knew that I should hurt. I remembered the pain of the knife pushing into me. I always thought it wold be like this, nothing. The dead trapped in nothingness. It was almost like being blind. It was too much like being blind.
I wondered why I felt warm, why I felt the sun on my face. The warm feeling made me think of the last time I'd sat in the sun with Tricia, in the park.
"Melina? Mel? Are you awake?"
It was her voice. I didn't think I'd ever hear her voice again.
"I'm alive?" I croaked. My throat felt like I'd swallowed glass.
"Yes, and if you ever do that to me again I swear I'll kill you myself." Tricia told me quietly as she moved the hair off my forehead.
I chuckled lightly. "You're welcome."
I heard her breath hitch. "Thank you for saving my life." She told me sincerely.
I nodded my head. I couldn't find the words to even begin to describe what I felt.
"How long have I been here?"
"Two days." She told me.
"That long?" I wondered aloud.
"It seemed like forever to me too."
"Are you all right?" I knew she hadn't been hurt, but that wasn't what I was asking.
"I've never been more frightened." She admitted. "But I think I'll be fine now."
I nodded again, silently turning over those words. 'I think I'll be fine now'.
"Do you remember that conversation we started that night?" Tricia asked.
God yes I remembered it. I remembered every word. I was still terrified to hear it her answer. "Yes."
"You asked me if I had the decision to make now about us, what would it be."
"I remember." I told her huskily. I could feel my hands shaking.
"I'd want you." I could hear the tears in her voice.
I couldn't breathe. Or rather I couldn't remember how to breathe. "Really?" I choked out.
"Yes. I'm very sure." Two days of praying and watching Melina struggle against death again had clarified the decision into a diamond hard determination.
"I'll never be able to see again." I admitted needlessly. She already knew this, but I had to remind her of what she was getting into.
"That means when I get fat and ugly, you won't notice." Tricia joked.
"I could have more visions." I told her quietly. It was almost enough to make me afraid to be with me. I remembered not too long ago any kind of sight would have been better than no sight.
"Then we'll deal with them." She paused, "You're not getting rid of me, so just accept it."
"Okay." I agreed with a smile.
I felt her lean down, the bed shifting under her as she did; she brushed her lips against mine. A promise. A confirmation.
Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell. ~ Emily Dickinson
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