It was my first day as a member of the staff of Magnolia Gardens Mental Facility. I was making my rounds, familiarizing myself with patients.

Near the end of my rounds, I stopped at the room of one Miss Laurelai Jones. I stood outside the door to her room for a moment, watching her. She sat cross-legged on her bed, her back against the headboard. There was a book open facedown on the bed next to her, as she spoke to someone I didn't see. Hallucinations? I wrote on my notepad. Had I looked in her file, I would have already seen this, but I prefer to draw conclusions myself.

I knocked briefly and entered.

She stopped midsentence and looked at me. "Hello. I don't believe we've met. You must be new. Laurelai Jones."

I shook her hand. "Michael Taurin. It's a pleasure."

"You should wait until you've spoken to me to say that, sir. You may wish to rethink it."

I chose not to comment and pulled up a chair. "So. Would you like to tell me why you're here?"

She sighed. "It's in the file."

"I'd like to hear it from you."

She stared at me for a moment, as if deciding how much she ought to tell me, then began. "Roughly a year and a half ago, I was in the car with my mother and my best friend, Luna. We were in an accident. They died. Since then, I see ghosts."

The way she said it was exceedingly composed, calm, rational, unemotional. I made note of this, then asked, "Are these... 'ghosts'... of anyone in particular? Or just general spirits?"

"Don't patronize me, sir," she said flatly.

"Didn't mean to."

"Yeah, you did." Her voice was devoid of emotion. "They say I have hallucinations. They give me medication for them, but I still see her. Luna, that is. We talk. That's what I do most of the time when I'm here – talk to Luna. That or read. Can't knit because the needles are a weapon and one of the other patients might get their hands on them. I dislike writing or drawing because they go through your stuff here and my work is private. So. It's just me, Luna, and Mr. Koontz here." She held up the novel – Forever Odd by Dean Koontz. "They diagnosed me as borderline shortly after I came here. I don't know if I am or not. They don't know why I have the so-called hallucinations. I don't exhibit any of the other signs of schizophrenia or a brain tumor. They're giving me antidepressants for the borderline personality disorder, and some stronger ones that they think may help the hallucinations." She paused. "I dislike my medications. I don't like how they make me feel. I take them because otherwise they either force-feed them to you or give you an injection, and swallowing them's just so much easier."

I thought for a moment. "Do you have any family?"

"My uncle – my mother's brother – has custody of me. It's easier for him to keep me here than have me stay with him. Imagine – a schizophrenic niece! The scandal!" she said dryly.

"But you yourself have said you're not schizophrenic."

She shrugged. "I'm crazy, remember? What do I know?"

I checked her file. "Well then, Miss Jones. I suppose I'll see you for your therapy session tomorrow."

She didn't reply, just nodded and went back to her book. As soon as I had the door closed, however, she began talking to "Luna" again.

I returned to my office and brought up Laurelai's file on the hospital network. What she had said was true—no one really knew what had been causing her hallucinations. Her uncle had given leave to prescribe any and all medications that were deemed necessary, so she was on several heavy antidepressants. Her previous psychotherapist, Dr. Steinbough, had made several interesting notes. Relatively normal behavior, he said, with the exception of her "friend," and various other things to that effect. She had, throughout her stay, been coherent, calm, rational – exactly as she had appeared to me. Her personality disorder could be relatively easily medicated, and if she were kept under supervision – say, regular sessions with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist – it wouldn't be a problem.

Her only real issue was herinexplicable hallucinations.

I chewed my fingernail for a moment, debating. Finally, I picked up my cell phone and pressed speed-dial.

"Hi. It's me. What are you doing tomorrow night?"