Hi! Welcome to my first novel on fictionpress (I usually only post my short stories, but I figure, what the heck). I've already finished it, and I'm posting chapters as I edit them, so updates will be frequent and rapid. PLEASE review. I'll be more than happy to return the favor. Oh, and this story deals with controvertial subject matter such as homosexuality, violence, death, gun control, ect. If you don't like that sort of thing, don't read.

End Of The Hallway:


Office of Dr. Bellany, PhD, present day

Anna hugged her knees to her chest and tried to wriggle deeper into the couch. The leather was already glued to her bare back and shoulders, ripping at her skin every time she moved, but she didn't really mind. She was used to the leather chairs in her living room at home.

The branches of a maple tree outside stretched past the top of the only window in the room, even though she was on the second floor. The tree had looked even taller from the sidewalk.

Anna closed her eyes and listened. Sounds from the waiting room nearby drifted in through the mahogany-stained door of the office- the scratching of pencil on paper, toy blocks banging together, and eventually the scrape of stiletto heels on a tiled floor.

The heels stopped outside of the room, and someone pushed the door open. Anna turned her head and looked at the face of the stranger that she'd been so worried about meeting- her new psychologist.

She studied the woman's face in pieces, starting with her eyes. They were large and brown and full of energy, like a child's, and only a few small folds at the corners hinted at her age. The rest of her face fell behind those eyes. A few strands of hair that had slipped out of her bun framed her cheeks.

Anna made sure to keep her own face blank, just in case. The strange woman looked nice enough, she was even smiling slightly, but she hadn't proven herself trustworthy yet, and Anna didn't let herself trust just anybody. Anna had learned to treasure smiles. She didn't see genuine ones often anymore.

"Anna?" The woman held out her hand and waited. Anna stood up. Her skin made a squelching sound as it peeled away from the sticky leather couch. They shook. "I'm Dr. Bellany."

"I'm not afraid of you," said Anna, trying to convince herself that she wasn't lying. Anna was a good liar.

"Good," Bellany said without missing a beat. "We can't get anything done if you're afraid." She smiled and settled herself in the empty chair across from the couch, flipping open a brown notebook that she had brought in under her arm.

Anna squinted her eyes at the notebook, and Bellany noticed. "By the way, everything you say to me is, by law, strictly confidential. I'm not allowed to tell anyone what we talk about in here, unless you're planning on physically harming yourself or another person."

"How do I know you aren't lying to me?" Anna asked. "And what's the notebook for?"

Dr. Bellany patted the blank page in front of her. "Oh, I don't do a lot of writing in it, really, I mostly listen. I just jot down anything I think of so that I can remember what we talked about during future sessions. I can put it away if you'd like. I don't need it."

Anna nodded her head slowly, surprised that the psychologist was willing to negotiate. "Yeah, I would… Like that, I mean. Thanks."

Bellany closed the notebook and slipped it under her chair. "Better?" she asked.

"Better. So, is this the part where I tell you all of my deepest, darkest secrets?" The question was completely serious. Anna was too tired to be sarcastic.

Bellany looked at Anna and shrugged her shoulders. "We could do that. Or we could talk about how your day went. We can talk about politics, current events, books, TV shows; anything you want." She tucked her ankles under her chair and leaned forwards.

"You've probably read all of my deepest darkest secrets in the newspaper, anyway. You don't need me to tell you."

"Well, yes," Bellany admitted. "I've read about what happened…"

"Who hasn't?" Anna asked. Her voice was bitter.

"But I want to hear what you have to say about the shooting, not what the newspapers want people to read. What happened to Anna that day? Everyone already knows what happened to Michael. Telling the story over and over was probably incredibly painful for you."

The girl nodded. "Going through it once was traumatic enough. Everyone thinks I'm crazy. Why do you think I'm here?"

"Not by choice," Bellany said. Anna thought she caught a hint of a smile on Bellany's lips, but it was gone before she could look again.

"Good guess. My mother made me come. She tried to get me to see a psychologist before, when I came out to her, but I wouldn't do it. I didn't want to listen to some fat, greasy old bald man tell me that he and God were going to help me fix my 'problem'."

"Seeing a psychologist might have been good for your mother, actually," Bellany mused.

"Definitely," said Anna. Her respect for the psychologist soared. 'If anyone in our family needs a shrink,' she thought, 'it's my mother.'

"I'm glad you agree with me. It might be wise to bring the issue up with her later, but for now, let's concentrate on you."

Anna dug her teeth into the side of her cheek and winced. "You really want to know?"

Bellany nodded. "Yes. I do."