"They say the eyes are the window to the soul. I've always been able to look into people's eyes and judge their character. It's just a skill I was born with. I'm usually fairly accurate, too. I can't tell people's exact personality, but I CAN judge if they're good or bad. I can take a few traits from them, the most important ones they have. That's how I knew Charlie was a good person. I saw kindness and love in his eyes. It's the same look I see in the eyes of my current partner: Apollo. That's how I know he's going to be just as good to me as Charlie was."
The beady-eyed psychiatrist's pencil scribbled across the pad, clearly writing down everything his client was telling him. She wondered if he was only noting this down to turn into a novel. She could see a manuscript on his desk, entitled "Shattered Souls". A very dramatic title in her opinion.
"So, Miss Foster, you can tell what a person's like just by looking into their eyes?"
Mavis nodded, not daring to mention her other "skills". Those would certainly get her taken to a mental hospital or a science lab, or both.
"What can you tell about me?" he asked curiously.
That raised alarm bells in Mavis's head. She was being asked to prove her gift, she could tell. She could do one of two things: lie (but he would see through that) or tell the truth. But that wasn't a good idea, considering Mavis had done exactly that when she first came in and the results hadn't exactly been something to be proud of.
"I'd...rather not," she said slowly.
"Why?" He looked interested, pencil poised. "Is it an ability you can't control?"
"No, I...I can." Mavis fiddled with her fingers in her lap. "I just don't think it's appropriate."
Mr Matthews studied her for a moment. Just as Mavis was becoming scared that he would force her or do something else drastic, he closed his notebook and put his pencil down on the table in front of him. "Alright, Miss Foster. I won't force you if you don't want to."
Mavis breathed a sigh of relief. She hated being put on the spot, especially when it came to her abilities. And she really hadn't wanted to tell this man that the two traits she saw in his eyes were expediency and laziness. Something told her THAT wouldn't go down well, especially since Mr Matthews wasn't being paid to do this session.
"On a scale of one to ten, how much do you think about Charlie Hughes during the year?"
Mavis stiffened. They were back to talking about Charlie. Of course, why wouldn't they be? "Um...maybe three."
She coughed briefly and rubbed her eye with the back of her hand. "Eight or nine."
"Understandable." Mr Matthews continued to scribble down her answers, which made her feel more than a little uncomfortable. WAS he just using this as material for a book? "Did anyone else currently around you know Charlie personally?"
"No. Apollo and Kane never met him, and my parents only saw him a few times very briefly. I guess my brother knew him best, apart from me."
"Your brother…" Mr Matthews paused, thoughtfully tapping his mouth with the end of his pencil. "What's his name?"
Mavis folded her arms and shrunk into her seat. "...Monty."
"Monty Foster?" Mr Matthews's eyes widened. "The former head boy at this school?"
"That's the one," Mavis replied irritably. THIS was why she didn't like bringing up her brother. "Star athlete, star student, star everything."
"Star head boy." The counsellor sat up a little straighter. "I was his tutor for five years."
"So I've heard," muttered Mavis. "Can we please move on?'
"Oh, yes, of course." Mr Matthews cleared his throat, unnecessarily shuffling his papers. "Who amongst your loved ones spends the most time with you?"
"Apollo," Mavis replied at once.
He looked surprised. "Not your parents or your brother?"
"My parents argue a lot nowadays, and my brother is often out with his own girlfriend. Besides…" Mavis hesitated, wondering if she should reveal such personal information to a stranger. Deciding that it would be safe because of patient confidentiality, she said, "I can talk to Apollo about things that I can't talk to my parents about."
"Personal things," Mavis said pointedly, scowling.
Mr Matthews nodded. "Of course, I apologise. Would you say you're as close to Apollo as you were to Charlie?"
Mavis didn't know how to answer that question. "I...don't think that's a fair question. I only knew Charlie for a summer. Apollo and I have been friends for six years."
"If I may ask, are you two dating?"
Mavis squirmed in her seat, a hot blush coming to her cheeks. "Not… Not officially."
Mr Matthews wrote something else down. "What do you mean by that?"
"We're not officially a couple, but we are mistaken for one a lot. We spend so much time together that we may as well be dating, but we're... we're not."
"Do you want to be?" Mr Matthews asked.
She shivered. "W-What?"
"Do you like him in a romantic way?"
Mavis shot up off her seat and grabbed her bag, her face feeling like it was about to melt. "I-I want to leave."
"Of course, Miss Foster. This IS a voluntary session, after all."
At least, that was what Mavis assumed he said; she had already left at the beginning of the second sentence. She stormed out into the schoolyard, ignoring the looks she got from the younger students, and quickly made her way out of the school. Why her parents couldn't have found a counsellor OTHER than the one at the school she had just left, she had no idea. She had realised that people would recognise her as the former deputy head girl, but she hadn't figured out that they'd wonder what she was doing back here. She hated people staring at her, especially if they belonged in the place and she didn't. Not that she'd ever really belonged at that school.
She'd been on a no-sugar diet for a few months now, but she allowed herself today to get an ice cream and a small chocolate bar. She figured she deserved it.
After she'd bought the treats, she sat down on a bench on the other side of the road and slowly licked the ice cream. She didn't have much of an appetite, but the sugar was making her feel better. Sometimes she wished she hadn't gone on that diet, but she knew it would be better for her in the long run.
She sighed, knowing she was about to do something else that she had promised herself she wouldn't do. She grabbed her mobile phone out of her bag and dialled the number that she had dialled so many times now that she had memorised it.
As usual, it was answered on the second ring: "Hey, Mavis. I thought you said you wouldn't call today."
Mavis squeezed her eyes shut; his voice was like music to her ears. "It turns out my session didn't go too well."
"Oh. What happened?"
Oh, I got all upset and stormed out after the counsellor asked if I had feelings for you and I was just a second away from telling him that I do, Mavis thought in her head. Aloud, she said, "I...It was too much."
"I understand," Apollo said sympathetically. "You were literally linked to him, after all."
Mavis shifted in her seat. "Yeah, I was. I've been researching empathy links, and I think that if someone I'm linked to dies, I might be able to communicate with their spirit in the afterlife."
She heard Apollo take in an awed breath. "Seriously? That would be so cool! You'd be, like, a spirit medium!"
"It would be nice to talk to Charlie again," admitted Mavis. "Are you… Are you free today?"
There was a pause. Then Apollo said, "I thought you didn't want to see me today."
"I changed my mind. I need someone with me when I do this."
"Do what?" Apollo asked, sounding a little apprehensive.
"When I try and channel Charlie's spirit."
Another pause, one that went on for a fairly long time. Mavis checked the connection: the call was still going. She could still hear background noises coming from the other end of the phone. Finally, after about two minutes total, Apollo's voice said, "I just cleared my schedule. Where do you want to do this?"
Mavis blinked in surprise. "Cleared your schedule? You didn't have to do that for me. What did you have planned?"
"Just a short training course and a meet-up with my sister. It's okay, Mavis. You're far more important, especially today."
Though some part of Mavis felt bad for making Apollo miss his appointments, she reminded herself that she hadn't asked him to. Besides, she WOULD feel a lot better if Apollo was with her when she attempted this. She didn't even know if it would work, and if something went wrong, she had no idea how bad things would get.
"Alright, thanks. Let's meet at the fountain in the park, then we can go somewhere more private."
She could hear the smile in Apollo's voice as he said, "Great. See you in half an hour."
"Yeah, see you."
She reluctantly hung up the phone. Breathing in deeply, she headed home to get her books.