Tessa looked mildly surprised. She had never seen a child so willing to go to a place like Ridgewood before they knew what was in store for them. But Ava was a special case; she would fit in well there.

“You really want to go there?”

“Yeah,” Ava said, nodding. “It can’t be too bad, can it?”

“Not if you don’t want it to be,” Tessa said softly. She was flipping through the clipboard that she held, and she was looking at Ava sadly. “Your mother is listed as a single parent. What happened to your father?”

“He’s gone,” Ava said, sitting up and pulling her knees to her chest.

“That must be hard.”

“You’re a therapist, too?” Ava asked, raising an eyebrow.

Tessa shrugged. “It comes with being a doctor sometimes. It’s easier to get through to patients if you have a session with them. Do you understand?”

“I think so. How long have you worked here?”

“Seven years,” Tessa replied, smiling.

“Do you like it?”

“Very much.”

“What made you want to become a doctor?” Ava knew she was prying, but she had always wanted to know why people chose the professions they did.

Tessa’s sudden frown reached her eyes and she looked incredibly sad. Instead of answering the question she was asked, she stood up.

“I have to go talk to your mother now,” she said, her voice tight. “She’ll be in soon to say goodnight to you. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll go to the facility then.”

She exited the room, closed the door, and left Ava in the darkness.

She had also left her with the nightmares.

The End

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