*A/N: If you've made it this far, first thank you very much and secondly, sorry about the novel description, I'm crap at writing them.
When I was eight I remember seeing a little boy in a striped shirt and beige shorts in my backyard late one night. It was just before my mother was going to tuck me in and read me to sleep, I went to get a glass of warm milk to help me sleep when I noticed a ghostly figure on the other side of the glass kitchen doors. He looked lost and afraid, cold and frail. He was holding tightly on to a heavily worn teddy bear covered in stains in one hand and a handful of grass and dirt in the other. He didn't say anything or move, he kept his position, staring at me, shuffling the dirt and grass in his hand.
"Hello?" I said as I slide open the glass door. Though I was greeting him, it came out as if I were asking him a question. Asking him what he was doing in the porch this late, out in the cold by himself?
He didn't respond to me, or seem to even notice me, but he kept on shuffling the dirt between his fingers.
"You know…." I began not sure what to say, slightly put off by his odd appearance, "…if you…if you come in you can have a glass of warm milk and my mama will call your parents." The cold autumn breezes blew brisk and sharp, pushing my thick black curly hair in my face and I reached up to tuck it behind my ear.
"Do you have any parents?" He still didn't respond.
I stared at him, he stared back at me. It was almost as if we were playing an intense more eerie game of who could stare the longest before breaking eye contact.
"Mama!" I yelled without taking my eyes off the boy.
The boy didn't budge, but he broke eye contact and he turned his head down facing the damp ground.
I stood there, frozen, unable to move. "Mama!" I yelled again. She still didn't hear me, or at least she hadn't acknowledged that she had.
The boy seemed almost unfazed by my presence. Slowly I lifted my left foot from the cold soil and inched closer him.
But he didn't move.
So I took another step.
Still he still didn't move. So I took another step, and another step, and another step until I was mere inches away from his pale, clammy body and that's when I noticed a faint aura around his body. It was a low light, barely visible, yet hard to miss at the same time. Intrigued by his strange appearance, I reached out for him, eager to touch him. But my hand didn't stop atop of his clammy white skin, instead it went through until my hand was completely through his arm, terrified I jumped back pulling my hand with me and rubbing it.
The boy looked up at me, lifting his hand that was filled with dirt, twigs, and grass out towards me, thrusting it at me as if he wanted me to take it. As if he were ordering me to take it.
"Help." He said faintly, his mouth barely moving. "You have to help me."
"I…I…I can't." I froze, frightened by his sudden desire to speak. To acknowledge me. Though my feet were softly planted atop the moist ground, they felt as if they were planted dozens of inches deep within the soil. Firm. I couldn't move, I willed myself to, to run away, to go get help, to wake up because this was all a dream, but I didn't. I stood there, feet in the soil, slowly rubbing my right hand, eyes darting wide open when I heard my mother call behind me.
"Willa." I heard her voice travel, realizing she must be coming towards me. I felt her warm hands clasp the top of my arms and yank me, not harshly, but forcefully towards her. She look terrified as if she'd seen a ghost.
"Willa." She said again, this time sounding out of breath, "Who were you talking to?"
I felt my body go limp. The little boy I thought. As if it weren't strange enough that my hand had gone completely through his arm and that he was slightly glowing, my mother couldn't see him and that scared me. Why couldn't she see him? Why was she pretending that the little boy wasn't standing there in front of us? Why couldn't she see that he was in trouble and that he needed help?
I forced myself out of her grasp and spun around, the little boy was still standing there. Wasn't he? I dropped my right hand and stuck my index finger in his direction.
"Hi..him." I was barely able to get it out.
"Who?" My mother said. I could hear the fear and sadness in her voice. "There's nobody there Willa."
"Mama," I whined, afraid, shaking, "look he's right there." I continued. "He's right there, Mama why can't you see him." I cried, tears welling up in my eyes.
"And what happened after that?" Dr. Rose asked me. He played with the pen in his hand and made slight markings on the yellow pad of paper in his lap. Notes.
I looked up at him. "I've told you a thousand times already, I don't remember, it's like, like it never happened, as if it were a dream…or rather a nightmare. I managed to somehow block out whatever else happened that night."
"I doubt it was a thousand times." He remarked and slightly chuckled, when he looked up at me and saw that I was smiling he shifted in his seat uncomfortably and faked a cough, "So…" He trailed off as if he didn't know what to say next.
"So…" I said annoyed, "You're the doctor, you're supposed to be helping me."
"And I am trying to the best of my ability Willa, but I can't go far from here. You won't tell anything before or after the incident. You have to trust me Willa. I promise I'm here for you and I want you to get better but you have to trust me. And you also have to start taking the prescriptions that I prescribed for you." He said realizing his mistake.
"How do you know that?" I asked forcefully, rude, angered.
"I talked to your mother."
"You talked to my mother, I thought these meetings were supposed to be private." I bobbed my head downwards a little, but kept my eyes focused on him.
"They are Willa, I promise. She came in a few weeks ago and told me she found the pill bottle in the waste bin, full."
"Well," He sighed, placing the pen and pad on the coffee table in front of us, "She asked me how you were doing, and if we were making any progress, I didn't want to upset her or give her false hope, so I brushed it off, told her that I couldn't say much and told her that it was going along."
I scoffed, shaking my head and slightly laughing to myself.
"Is there something else you're not telling me Willa?"
How could he tell? I suppose he was a doctor, a psychiatrist, it was job to be able "to tell."
The room was filled with an awkward silence for a moment. The window was cracked open and a soft autumn breeze seeped in, swaying the curtains and the leaves of Dr. Rose's plant that sat atop a shelf in the corner of the room. The room was homey, pushed back in the center was his desk and to the left another potted plant. The walls were painted a honey color and sprinkled sparingly along the walls were reprints of Klimt's and Picasso's works, but also paintings of faeries and mushrooms. The office was odd, but had warm feeling, a feeling of openness and trust and sudden I began to feel safer.
"That wasn't the only time." I said under my breath, muttering so he could barely hear me.
"Excuse me?" He dipped his head forward as if it would help him hear me better.
"I said, that wasn't the only time. It happened a few other times. But after I saw the way my mother looked at me that night I couldn't tell her about the other times. She thought I was crazy. A few days after that night, I overheard her talking to my father, she said I crazy, that I had been seeing things and that I needed help and that they should send me away."
Dr. Rose looked at me with disbelief. "Your mother, she said that, that, that you were crazy."
"I cried myself to sleep that night after she didn't come and tuck me in. My mother was never a strong woman, she frightened easily and she was very forgetful, but she loved me and she tried, tries," I corrected myself, "to be the best that she can be, it has become very hard recently for again, after my father passed away."
Dr. Rose pulled his glasses up to his face and picked up the pen and pad again and begin writing quickly.
"How come you never told me your father passed?"
"After that night, my mother wasn't the same. She couldn't chalk it up to an imaginary friend or that I was sleep walking or something else, it got to her really bad, I don't know why though, I guess he couldn't handle it, he got up and left seven months later."
Dr. Rose didn't say anything, he kept writing, and when he noticed that I stopped longer than to take a pause from talking he motioned for me to continue.
"My mother would stay in bed for long periods, days, weeks, without getting up, I had to cook for her, for myself, I didn't know how. After a while, she started to get better, then it happened again, I saw an old woman standing in the middle of the street holding a green umbrella over hear even though it wasn't raining. A bus drove through her and I knew she wasn't there. I ran home. That same afternoon when I got home, my mother was waiting in my room for me, she bought me a sweater and some gloves, told me to pack some warm things and that we were going to Utah to ski. I was twelve. On the flight back she told me that she was going to be a better mother, she apologized for everything. And she was a better mother after that, I didn't want to ruin it, so I tried to forget about the old woman, the middle aged man I saw at a diner once, and everyone else I occasionally saw after that. I needed a mother, and I got mine back. But she still missed him, my dad, after all that time, after he just left us like that. She would write letters to him even though she didn't have his address and store them in an old shoebox," I paused, fidgeting in my spot, not wanting to tell him the next part.
"Is everything okay Willa? You can tell me, whatever it is."
"A few weeks ago, at the pier, I saw him."
"Saw who, Willa?" Dr. Rose asked jotting some more things down.
Dr. Rose froze. He didn't say anything, but his mouth was slightly ajar. He noticed his glasses had slid too far down his nose again and he adjusted them.
"Go on." He nudged his hand towards me.
"I had just gotten off the Ferris wheel with a friend and she ran off to get some cotton candy, told me she'd be back. I ran over to the water and dipped my feet in when I noticed something in the water. A man. And then I realized I recognized him. It was my dad. He was just standing there. Not moving, just standing there, and staring at me. There were kids in the water near him and they didn't notice him, even swam right through him. And I knew he wasn't really there. I was so afraid. I never knew why I was seeing people or why I was able to, but I always assumed that they were dead, that's why I saw him and that's why they appeared the way they do."
"What do they look like, they don't look normally?"
"They do. I mean, like I said they all have this odd glow, it's not really a glow actually it's just a faint light and they all look clammy and uncomfortable, it's hard to describe."
Dr. Rose didn't say anything. He just looked down at his paper, pretending to write something down. I could see he was drawing squiggly lines and leaves on his paper. Then he looked back up at me.
"Willa." He began, "Please, continue on."
I eyed him warily, nervous to start again. I knew he didn't believe me and that he thought I was crazy.
"I was so afraid, I left right away, and I told my mother. She spent the next few days in her room. Then she got a phone call from my aunt, her sister, she somehow she got word of my father's death and phoned my mother and told her everything. He was killed in an accident by a drunk driver. She didn't take the news well, but she didn't lock herself away, but she hardly spoke to me either. Three weeks ago she told me she phoned a doctor and told me that I had to meet with them about whatever was happening to me, I didn't want to go, but she told me she'd put me in a hospital if I didn't."
Dr. Rose was silent again.
"How could I see him?" I asked. Though I knew he didn't know the answer and I wasn't sure why I said it.
"I'm not sure Willa, but I know that sometimes trauma causes such incidents, sometimes people conjure up things, see things that aren't really there."
"You don't believe me do you? You think I'm crazy." I said half thinking that I might actually be crazy. It was harder to hear someone basically say that I was. First my mother, then Dr. Rose. I stood up, about to leave and grabbed my bag.
Dr. Rose stood up quickly dropping his notepad and pen on the coffee table.
"No, of course not, but that doesn't mean that you don't need help."
I wasn't crazy. I wasn't making this all up. Was I? There was no trauma, other than the fact, I had seen my father, my now dead father, cold and clammy in the beach water staring at me.
"Look." He said grabbing my attention as he walked over to his desk. He shuffled around in the drawers looking for another pen and another pad of paper and he scribbled something down on it.
"Here." He said, holding his hand out and handing it to me as he made his way across the room.
"I want you to take it this time, Willa, just for a couple of weeks at least, see if it helps, with the visions, with your anxiety, with your overall well-being." He smiled, still holding the paper, waiting for me to take it.
I took it from him and read what he had sloppily scribbled on the paper. "What if it doesn't work?" In fact I knew it wouldn't. I knew I wasn't imagining things. I knew those people that I had seen were real people.
"If." He implied as if he knew it was going to work, "if it doesn't work, then will go from there."