The screaming didn’t stop after the lights flashed on. Nor did it stop when two sets of hands wrapped themselves around the young girl’s wrists, trying to hold her down. Tessa wanted to sedate her, but once Ava calmed, there was no need.

Ava gasped, squeezed her eyes shut against the harsh white light and turned her face to shove it into her pillow, breathing in.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

A hand soothed her sweat-slicked hair away from her face. “It’s okay,” Tessa said softly.

“Where’s my mommy?” Ava asked, one of her hands clutching the pillow, the other settled underneath.

Tessa, for a moment, couldn’t speak. She sat next to the girl, in complete awe of how vulnerable she appeared to be; Ava Delong was now reduced to a simple child with less than simple fears.

“I want my mommy,” Ana repeated, her words slightly muffled now as her head joined her hand under the pillow. “Please, let me see her.”

“Ava, it’s okay,” Tessa said, putting her hand on the girl’s back. “I’ll get her after we talk about your dream. You’ve been fine up until now.”

“I haven’t been fine!” Ava whined. “I’m sick, Dr. Hadley. I need help.”

Tessa went to say something, but closed her mouth. She knew better than anyone when discussion wasn’t an option anymore. When she took her hand away, Ava lifted her head.

“I’m going to get her,” Tessa said as she stood. “I’ll be right back.”

Ava didn’t wait for her to leave before she whispered, “Leave the lights on. I don’t want him to come back.”

The End

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