Cyan is wide awake atop her sheets

Paul stopped dead in his tracks; he even took an unconscious step back. Cyan was indeed in her room, and she was not asleep. Actually, judging by her appearance, Paul guessed that she had not slept at all over the night. Large, dark circles hung beneath empty and drooping eyes and though she was surrounded by blankets and comforters, she shivered as she clutched her knees and stared absently into space.

C-Cyan, honey? Are you okay, Sweetheart? Mom's got breakfast going, so you should come down and grab a bite to eat before school.”

She said nothing, moved not a muscle.

Ah Jesus,” Paul muttered under his breath. He wanted to be angry with her for her sudden recent bouts with irrationality, but he was all at once mystified and ill-at-ease with the rapidity of onset of her emotional problems. It was something completely out of his realm of expectations he would expect to handle as a father, and a part of him rejected the image before him of his fourteen year-old. But he was still he father, damn it. He would find a way to reach her.


Paul really didn't expect her to answer, and when she did it made him jump a little, “She was here again, Dad. Last night.”

Paul blinked and thought, what? and blinked again, “Who was here last night, Cyan?”

The woman from upstairs.”

Paul grit his teeth – Cyan's mental health had deteriorated considerably already – but held his voice steady, “There IS no woman upstairs, honey.”

For the first time since her father's appearance in her room, Cyan exhibited some signs of life. She blinked and scowled at his response, then gave a quick shake of her head, “I don't know exactly where she lives, Dad, but I always hear her above my head, so I call her the 'Upstairs Lady.'”

Sweetie, that's... gotta be some mice or birds up on the roof, maybe they're hiding under the eaves. I'll check it out tomorrow after work, okay? I promise you there is nobody else here but us. Okay?”

But she left me a present.”

She did, huh? How do you know it's a woman?”

Cyan scratched at the side of her head and responded with absolute certainty, “Because that's what the psychic said.”

Psychic? What psychic?” Paul was losing his handle on the conversation. Where the hell was Cyan taking it?

Cyan looked down at her bare toes as she tried to remember more accurately recent events and pressed her hand more forcefully into the side of her head, “The, uh... woman that was here last week. What was her name? Uh... Braintree?”

Paul crossed the floor, tears in his eyes, to his daughter's bedside, and reached out for her hand. It was unnaturally cold.

Baby,” he said mournfully, “that woman was DOCTOR Braintree, and she was a shrink. Don't you remember?”

The End

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