Dallas AlderMature

I was standing outside taking a drag from a cigarette when a car came into the parking lot, and since I didn’t have any other appointments today but this one, I knew exactly who it was. When Kendall got out, she looked up at me, her golden eyes glassy.

I watched Christian take her hand and they walked toward me. For a split second I was envious of this teenage romance, but I was glad she had something stable in her life. Though I’d barely talked to Kendall for more than a few minutes, I knew she was troubled.

Then she got that phone call in my office and everything changed. I had met John Monroe once or twice in my life, but I liked him, and I’m sure Kendall did too. Now that he was gone, and I was here to help her, I wondered if—

“Hello, Dr. Alder,” Kendall said softly. “How are you?”

I looked at her face and saw how drained of color it was. She looked like she hadn’t slept in a few days, as well, because of the dark circles under her eyes. I frowned and dropped the cigarette onto the ground, stomping it out with the heel of my shoe.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” was all she said to me before she looked at Christian. “You can come in or wait, if you want.”

Her boyfriend looked at me and said, “I think that’s her call, Scott.”

I saw Kendall bristle at his use of her last name. I didn’t understand her reaction, but I didn’t gauge it either. Instead I said to Christian, “You can do whatever you’d like. If she feels comfortable enough for you to sit in, I think it would be okay.”

“He should hear what I have to say,” Kendall said.

As I turned around to head into the building, I heard her say something quietly to him. She told him that he was free to leave if he couldn’t handle this. Whether it was to leave the session or her, I wasn’t sure.

The door shut behind me and I turned to see Kendall staring around at the waiting room like she’d never seen it before. I didn’t say anything. I took out of keys and unlocked my office door, standing aside so they could come in.

Christian took a seat on the couch and whistled softly. “That’s a lot of awards,” he said, smiling, as he admired all of the plaques on the wall.

I shrugged. “I guess I’m good at my job.”

Kendall sat in the chair across from my desk. She didn’t look at anyone, just straight ahead at the empty chair. When she started to shake, I came forward and touched her shoulder. She lifted her head, her eyes filled with tears.

My eyes widened and I knelt down. “Oh, Kendall. What’s wrong?”

She shut her eyes and shook her head. “I’m scared,” she whispered.

Christian stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders. He leaned his head down toward her ear and said, “You’ve got to tell her about the dreams.”

“Dreams?” I asked. “What kind of dreams?”

Kendall opened her eyes. They were clear and sharp and deep golden. She exhaled slowly and muttered softly, “I have these dreams where I’ve done awful things. I’ve killed people, Dr. Alder, in my dreams. I’ve killed them and they’re all dying around me for real. First John Monroe, then Cassie Winters.”

“Cassie Winters?” I asked, looking up at Christian.

“She went to school with us. My friend’s dad found her body this morning.”

He didn’t say how she died, which I was thankful for. I didn’t know if he was sparing the details for my sake or Kendall’s. My guess was both.

“Kendall,” I said, “you can’t possibly think you’re capable of taking a human life, do you? They’re only dreams. They’re not real.”

“Then what is going on?” she hissed. She put her hands on her face and brought her knees to her chest. “What’s wrong with me?” she mumbled.

“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “But I think you should come back next week and we’ll talk more. Is that okay?”

“Okay,” she said.

“Do you want to tell me about when the dreams started?” I asked, standing and taking a seat at my desk. I grabbed a notepad and a pen and leaned back in the chair.

“It’s been a few months,” Kendall said, looking at me. She dropped her legs so they hit the floor. “I didn’t understand the first one and I hate labeling them as a nightmare. I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.”

“Nightmares don’t mean that,” I said. I shook my head. “For the record, I don’t think you’re crazy.”

“I don’t either,” Christian said, squeezing her hand. He looked at me and smiled from behind Kendall. Then he gazed down at her. “You’ve always been the one with the wild imagination.”

“It’s more than that,” Kendall said quietly. She was becoming more comfortable, which was good. “If I didn’t do this, if I didn’t kill anyone, then that means one thing.”

I leaned forward and waited for her to finish.

“It means that these dreams, these nightmares, aren’t mine.”

The End

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