This is the first episode of a short story that will be posted every ***week starting from when I came back, sorry guys! Catch this every Wednesday, my goal is pump out some periodic short stories going forward!
“So, tell me what you’re feeling,” the woman said, a pair of cat eye spectacles across the strong bridge of her nose, a warm smile across her lips. The man sitting across from her shifted uncomfortably, his legs crossed, his foot shaking in an anxious rhythm. He had been sitting in total silence in her office for approximately ten minutes, mulling over his choice of words carefully, withstanding her gentle prodding.
“I-” he started, stopping, for a moment. His eyes looking down at the carpeted floor of the psychiatry office, scanning as his brain searched for words that escaped him in effort to explain circumstances and inner turmoil which he felt escaped every other person around him. The pause sank with a palpable weight into the room, wedging between the luxury furniture which both sat, blaring the deafening silence.
“Please,” she interrupted, “don’t be afraid, I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to listen and help.”
He swallowed, reached a hand out to the complimentary bottle of water and took a drink. He grappled with the question, mulled over whether he wanted to rehash the same generic information about his childhood and family life, but felt more compelled to just cut to the point. “I feel I suffer from something that you’ve… that maybe no one has ever tried to help someone with.”
“It’s very easy to feel that way,” she said, nodding, “but believe me, people are very empathetic, and we all share experiences which can help us understand the feelings of others.”
The man gave a harsh, breathy snark, shook his head, burying his eyes into his palms. The psychiatrist observed, and reconsidered her strategy.
“Really,” she said, a light, prodding tease in her tone, feeding off of his sarcastic energy. “Try me, I’ve heard a lot of things from a lot of people, I’ve been in this practice for over a decade, I assure you, whatever you tell me, I’ll have heard the same, or something very similar, before in a different person, with a different life, and a different voice.”
He gave a more sincere laugh, chipped off a corner of his proverbial wall, and tossed her a few pebbles. “Fine,” he said, a heavy exhale deflated his chest, he leaned forward again, but only to push his face closer to hers, to gain a deeper sense of intimacy for the confession he was to bare. “You ever get dejavu, doctor?”
She thought for a moment, analyzed where this might be going and thought back to his diagnosis, a high functioning, highly intelligent, cripplingly anxious man with obsessive compulsive tendencies. “I think so,” she began. “I’ve felt the strange feeling of living a memory, seeing an object or scene, normally while simultaneously hearing a noise or word, and even though it was an innocuous, even meaningless moment of time, the strange sensation of this has happened before sets in?”
“More than that,” he said, looking away, the shake in his foot returning, his face falling into a pang of disappointment.
“What do you mean? What’s more than that?”
“I know it’s not always me, myself, when I see these things.”
“It’s not you? Like, you’re someone else sometimes?”
“Exactly, like I can see through someone else’s eyes, I can experience what they will soon.”
The woman narrowed her eyes slightly, but caught herself from her moment of judgmental skepticism, and returned to a more stoic, yet warm expression. “When did this start? You said that you’ve always had difficulty managing jobs, have these premonitions been to blame?”
“Yes, every time,” the man said. “I had experienced them randomly as a child, but as I got older, grew up, they began to bombard me, tear down any opportunity which came my way. Grappling with them and the anxiety they cause, is ultimately what cost me my job.”
“Tell me about the ones you’d experience as a child.”
“I would see my dad cutting the grass in the outfit he was going to wear the next day, I would see my mom drop stuff, my brother break things, before they happened. Sometimes weeks before they happened. The bowl, the utensil, the way the pancake batter whips and splatters across the floor, all of it I saw before it happened. As I got older though, I saw more, like the affairs between our neighbors, the affair my mother eventually had with her coworker.”
“When do you have these… visions?”
“They only used to come at night, but as I grew up they began to come at any and all times. Anytime I’m alone, if I’m sleeping, I’ll definitely get visions. If people are around me, I can’t really see them, the visions, that is, but if I’m alone, if I allow myself to wander around inside my mind, they come to me.”
“What are they like? Are they like dreams or–”
“Yes, when I’m dreaming they’re like dreams, and when I’m awake and I receive one it is like a daydream, a movie playing in my mind’s eye. Not a movie though, not my imagination, far too many times what I’ve seen has come true. They always come true.”
“Well, surely they don’t all come true…” the woman said, read his expression of mild annoyance at the assertion, and continued. “When you said these visions cost you your jobs, can you tell me more about that?”
A sardonic laugh fell from the man again, he shook his head and gripped his hands angrily. “It got to the point that I couldn’t concentrate, I would try to work but all I could think of were the dreams I had the night before, and any new visions I would get throughout the day. Being around those people all the time, being around anybody for a long period of time… I start to see everything about them. I’d come home and it was like my brain was downloading everything it could about them. Random images, words, voices, sounds, kids laughing, dogs barking, other times kids crying, glass breaking, parents screaming.”
“Everything about them?” The psychiatrist asked, a skeptical look on her face.
“Probably not everything,” the man said, a soft shrug lifting his shoulders, “but I see a lot. I see them playing with their kids, having dinner with their families, drinking after work, but other things too, like cheating on their spouses, drug use by people you’d never expect. Eventually I knew so much about everyone around me, all the interpersonal relationships, I couldn’t work there any longer. At that point it’s impossible for me to concentrate on anything, it’s just so much information coming through to me.”
The woman, finishing jotting her synopsis of his words, underlined: delusions of grandeur and obsessive attention on others around him. Circled her last entry: possible schizophrenia. When she pulled her gaze back to the man his face was frozen in a shock, the color drained, his bottom lip quivering, his eyes glazed over in a trance. Finally, he tore his eyes back from whatever vision he saw, and met hers with bleak terror.
“You…” he murmured.
The woman felt a shock of fear from the man’s gaze, a hard swallow audible from her throat. “James…”
“James. It’s okay. Just–”
His face contorted in anguish, his hands fell into his hands. “Why, why, why did I think this was a good idea, why did I come to anyone?! Anyone?!”
The woman leaned forward to him with apprehension, she watched his every minute movement as the words parted her lips.
“Please, it’s okay James, I’m here to help you, remember, you can tell me anything.”
The man struggled, shifting himself back and forth, back and forth on the chair, almost writhing in pain from the sight that flashed in his mind’s eye.
“I saw you… I saw you get hit by a car. Leaning down, looking at a key on the ground.” Tears broke from his eyes, his body shook from the intensity of the vision. He ripped himself from the chair, and before she could stop him he ran out the door, his feet patting against the floor as he descended through the office.