Bailey didn’t want to visit a therapist. As far as she was concerned, she wasn’t the one that was messed up. Her mother was a drunk, her father wasn’t home much, and her sister was a brat. They could use some help.
It was an unfortunate fact she was too young to decide for herself, so here she sat on an overstuffed, brown couch in a room made to look like a fancy living room.
The carpet was a plush tan color. There was a chair across from her made of a deep brown leather. The room smelled like cookies, and quiet music played in the background. The therapist was also fond of those vinyl quotes people stick on their walls.
On the wall to her right: Believe in yourself!
And to her left: “The road ahead, lies within”
Bailey rolled her eyes. She knew what manipulation was. She read it in one of her books and looked it up in her dictionary. This therapist created an environment to manipulate her patients into thinking this was a safe, comfortable, place.
Not today, lady.
She would not be manipulated. To her, the carpet looked like quicksand, and she wished it would suck this lady right up and suffocate her.
The deep brown leather chair could still have the spirit of the animal it was taken from, and the seat cushion could lift up and a great big mouth with huge teeth would bite the lady’s head off. She would run around flapping her arms like a chicken.
Bailey tried her best not to laugh, but a smile snuck its way onto her lips anyway.
The therapist sat across from her in the chair. Her gray hair was painted with so much hairspray, Bailey knew if she grabbed the old bat by the hair it would make neat little crunching sounds in her hands.
“Hello Bailey,” she said.
“My name is Ms. Roberts.”
“Okay.” Like she gave a crap who this lady was.
“Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? Let’s start easy. What’s your favorite color?”
This could be fun.
“I like red.”
“Oh? Red is a nice color. Why do you like red? Is your favorite toy red?”
Oh gosh this woman knows nothing about me. My favorite toy? I haven’t touched a toy in a very long time.
“No — because blood is red.”
For a moment, Bailey was back on the playground, watching the blood pool…
The therapist raised her eyebrows, waiting to see if Bailey would say more.
She scribbled something in her notebook.
Probably all the ways she can “help” and teach me how to “adjust.”
“Okay. If you don’t play with toys, what do you do for fun?”
“What kind of books do you like?”
“I like scary books.”
The therapist smiled. “My nephew loves those Goosebumps books! Which one do you like the most?”
Bailey rolled her eyes. Is this woman for real?
“Goosebumps is for babies. I read real horror books. Like, Stephen King and stuff.”
Ms. Roberts sat back slightly in her chair and raised her pen to her mouth, biting it before lowering it back to the book in her lap.
“Aren’t you a little young for Stephen King? Where do you even get these books? Your parents allow you to read that stuff?”
“My parents don’t pay attention to what I do. And I get my books from the library trash a lot. They throw them out in boxes and leave them by the dumpster.” She didn’t understand why anybody would throw away perfectly good books, but she was glad they did.
“I don’t get an allowance, and the librarian doesn’t want me checking out adult books. They throw them out once a month or so when they’re used up. So I pick through them.”
“Very resourceful,” the therapist said. “What’s your favorite Stephen King book?”
“It’s not a book, it’s a short story. But it’s the best thing he’s ever written.”
“Oh yeah? Which one is that?”
Ms. Robert’s eyes widened, and then narrowed in study, and her nose wrinkled.
That got her attention.
“What happens in this story?”
“Well, there’s this big machine inside a laundromat. And it sucks people up and eats them. There’s a lot of blood and guts and stuff.” She felt the excitement in her body; she was talking fast and getting worked up. “Oh! And it’s possessed by a demon! It breaks free! And then —“
“I think that’s all I need to know,” Ms. Roberts said. Her face looked like she smelled something really bad. Bailey knew she was grossed out, and it made her feel good.
“So, anyway, you said your parents don’t pay attention to what you do. How does that make you feel?”
“Honestly, I kind of like it that way. I don’t need them to tell me what to do. I do fine on my own.”
“Your parents tell me you’re having trouble adjusting to your little sister, Annie?”
Bailey crossed her arms over her chest and gritted her teeth.
“I’m not going to adjust.”
“Why do you think that is?”
Bailey stared at Ms. Too-much-hairspray, and clamped her lips tightly shut. This was not something she was interested in talking about. The therapist was supposed to be interested in her, not Annie. This hour should be all about her. As usual, attention was turning to that damned baby.
“Bailey? Where did you go just now?”
“I’m sitting right here.”
The therapist smiled, but Bailey could see irritation behind her eyes as they narrowed, locking in on hers. “Yes, I see. But what were you thinking, just now?”
“I don’t want to talk about Annie.”
There went the pen again, scratching across the paper. It sounded like someone dragging a metal pipe across concrete in her head.
“What are you writing in there?”
“Oh, just notes. Nothing for you to worry about.”
This time it was Bailey’s eyes that narrowed.
“What kind of notes?” She leaned forward on the couch, prompting Ms. Roberts to lean back in her chair.
“I just want to remember everything you’ve told me. That way I can provide you with the best help possible.”
“I don’t need your help. Let me see your book.” She reached her arm out.
“No, Bailey. You cannot see my book. Please sit back on the couch.”
Bailey threw herself back against the cushion.
“Now, back to where we were. Why do you think you won’t adjust to your baby sister?”
“Because I don’t want to, and I don’t need to. I have my dog, and he’s the greatest thing in the world because all he does is follow me around all day, every day.” She felt a heavy weight on her chest, like someone was squeezing her too tightly.
Ms. Roberts nodded, but said nothing.
“He watches everything I do like I’m some super hero. All he ever does is kiss you and gnaw on you and want to play. And if I talk to him he just sits there and listens.” Her throat tightened, but she fought back the tears. “Nobody else in my house does that!”
“Well Bailey, you’ve made some progress today, I think,” Ms. Roberts said. She laid the notebook down on the table, still open. “But our time is up.”
Bailey stood up to leave and glanced at the notebook.
It was a grocery list.
Nobody ever listened to her except Barkley.
Bailey’s story will appear in my upcoming anthology release: Patchwork, published by Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. To keep up with her, follow me on my Facebook author page: Desiree Byars – Author. Information will also be posted in the Facebook group: Sanctum of Depravity.