Raveling you, p.15
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       Raveling You, p.15

         Part #2 of Unraveling You series by Jessica Sorensen
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  And Ethan hasn’t mentioned anything about catching Lyric and I mid kiss. I think he does know about the relationship, though, because every time he sees Lyric and I together, a suspicious look crosses his face.

  I have therapy once a week after school, both my regular sessions and my amnesia one. After all the sessions, my mind is as empty as it was to begin with. Dr. Gardingdale thinks it’s because my fear is blocking my memories. I agree with him, but until I can figure out a way to eliminate that fear, there’s not much I can do.

  After school, I make the ten-minute drive to the office. We start out with my normal session. Dr. Gardingdale asks me the same questions about how I’ve been doing and I give the same answers. I try to stay away from the Lyric subject, not ready to discuss her with him. Yet I somehow accidentally imply that I’m seeing someone.

  “I didn’t know you were dating anyone.” Across the desk, Dr. Gardingdale gapes at me, stunned.

  I shake my head, ready to deny it, but then hesitate. Maybe it’s time to tell someone about Lyric and me, get the secret off my chest. Make it more real. Besides, it’s not like the doctor can tell anyone.

  “Well... I might be, but I just haven’t said anything about it.”

  “Why not?” His overly bushy brows furrow as he jots something in the legal pad he uses to take notes.

  “I don’t know… I guess I’m confused and worried.” I fiddle with the leather bands on my wrist. Endlessly yours forever. My heart still races just thinking about that night, my emotions a jumble. That night had meant something. To me. To Lyric. To both of us. I’m really falling for her. But I still feel so guilty, still feel unworthy of her.

  “Worried and confused about what?” The doctor interrupts my thoughts.

  “About how my parents will react.” I realize I referred to Mr. and Mrs. Gregory as my parents.

  That’s a new one... I don’t even know what to make of it. What it means about me. That I’m progressing? I shouldn’t be so surprised since I’m progressing with Lyric as well.

  I trace the cracks in the wooden armrest of the chair I’m sitting in. “And I’m confused because… I don’t know, even though I love Lyric’s company, I’m still afraid.”

  “Of what?”

  I narrow my eyes at him. “I think we’ve talked enough that you know what I’m afraid of.”

  He drums his pencil on his desk. “I know we’ve talked about a lot of fears, so I’m not positive which one you’re referring to right now.”

  Even though I know he’s trying to heal me, I hate when he makes me say things I don't want to aloud.

  “My fear that I’ve been sexually abused at some point in my life… At some point when I was in that house. And I’m afraid that I’ll never fully be able to get over it—that I’ll never be the person Lyric deserves.” My fingers curl around the armrests. “I don’t know why you make me say it when you already know what I’m going to say.”

  He scribbles in the notepad the sets the pen down. “Because I believe it’s important for you to verbalize them instead of keeping things locked in like you’ve done in the past.”

  I roll my tongue in my mouth, aggravated at myself for being so messed up. “So you think it’s been a good thing for me to go to this amnesia therapy? I mean, it’s gotten me to speak about stuff aloud, even though it hasn’t really done anything to strike up the right memories.”

  “You seem really agitated today.”

  “I’m agitated every day that I have to come to these amnesia sessions.”

  He loosens his tie that has smiley faces on it, conveying happiness that never happens while I’m in these four walls. Our sessions have been about splitting me open and bleeding me dry. Coming here is emotionally exhausting, but as long as Lila and Ethan want me to continue seeing the doctor, I will. They gave me a roof over my head. Got dragged into a police investigation. Got dragged into a mess with a group of people who worship evil.

  “You shouldn’t push yourself too hard.” He gathers a large blue mug from his desk and takes sip of coffee. “If it’s becoming too much for you to handle then it’s too much for you to handle.”

  “The police aren’t really giving me a choice.” I anxiously jiggle my leg up and down. “Well, they are, but if I don’t do it, I’m pretty much refusing to help track down my brother’s killers… and the people who tried to ruin my life. They’ve been really pushy, too, calling Lila all the time and asking for reports.”

  “I’ll suggest he not call so much the next time I speak to Detective Rannali. He needs to understand that these things can’t be rushed and that it takes time.” His phone vibrates on the desk, and he silences it without checking the screen. “How are things going with the Gregorys? You haven’t really said much about them lately.”

  “They’re going good. I feel bad that they have to go through all this stuff, but they seem okay with it for some reason.” It feels late, well past the normal hour I usually spend here. Out the window, twilight has risen and kissed the sky with silver stars. Usually our session ends before the sun fully sets. “Did we run late today? Shouldn’t we be starting the amnesia therapy already?”

  “Yes, but Lila just requested that I spend an extra hour with you today before we delve into that.” His phone hums again. This time he picks it up and presses a few buttons. “She felt that with everything going on, you might need some extra time to discuss how you’re feeling.”

  “How I’m feeling about what?” Removing my keys out of my pocket, I trace the jagged edge of across the palm of my hand, trying to channel my restless energy stemming from knowing that shortly we’ll be trying to crack open my head.

  He sets down the phone and overlaps his hands on his desk. “The fear that your capturers might still be out there.”

  “That’s not a new revelation. I’ve always known they were out there.”

  “I know, but in a way, the loss of your brother has brought the memory of that back into your life. And the incident with the break-in—it has to be hard to deal with.”

  “The police don’t know for sure if our kidnappers were the ones who killed my brother or broke into my house.” A lump swells in my throat at the mention of my brother’s death.

  “I also heard you played your first concert.” He avoids my statement. “That had to be stressful.”

  “Not really. Playing relaxes me more than anything. Lyric was pretty nervous, though.”

  “Lyric, the girl you’re dating?” he asks, even though he knows her. Not only because I talk about her sometimes, but because she had a session with him after William assaulted her.

  I nod. “That would be the Lyric I’m talking about.”

  He opens a file and glances at a paper inside. “Does she know what’s going on with you at all?”

  I nod again. Lyric knows more than most people. Maybe even more than my therapist.

  “Do you talk to her about your past a lot?” he asks, shutting the folder.

  “Sometimes.”

  “About what exactly?”

  “Everything I can.”

  He meticulously examines my expression over, hunting for cracks in my façade. Like always, I grow uneasy. What does he see? A broken shell of a guy that may never be fixed?

  My phone abruptly vibrates from inside my pants pocket, giving me an excuse to look away from his scrutinizing gaze.

  Lila: Hey, when is your therapy going to be done? I want to know when I should start dinner.

  Me: We should be starting the amnesia therapy soon. It usually only takes about fifteen minutes.

  Lila: K. See u soon. And drive careful, sweetie.

  “We should wrap this up.” I stand up and stretch my arms above my head, ready to get the next part over. “It’s getting late and Lila needs me home anyway.”

  “Alright, lie down on the sofa then.” He motions at the leather couch nestled in the corner of the room near his filing cabinet and the window.

  The ceiling has an unpainted spot where the plaster sh
ows through. I don’t know why, but whenever I lie down, I always find myself picturing it caving in and the sheetrock raining down on me.

  The doctor turns on some mellow music, a symphony of violins. Then he turns on the camera, sits down in a chair in front of me, and clicks on a timer.

  “Close your eyes, Ayden,” he begins with a droning tone. “You’re in a safe place, where no one can hurt you. Now, let your mind relax.”

  Like always, I fleetingly feel like I’m falling.

  Down.

  Down.

  Down.

  Then I crash into a wall.

  You can’t think about it.

  You aren’t allowed.

  There was a reason for your amnesia.

  You think we’d let you off that easy.

  You think we’d really let you go.

  Don’t think too much.

  Or you’re going to lose control.

  We’re going to come after you.

  Dark eyes… thin bodies…. yellow teeth… blue and red lights flash as sirens near closer to the home. Someone is banging on the door, shouting, “Open up!”

  My sister lifts her head, life in her eyes for the first time. My brother is curled up in the corner, though, thin, frail, so close to death.

  Our capturers flee, but not without an impending warning.

  “No one escapes,” the woman whispers as she stabs her fingernails into my hands. “We’ll come back for you.” Her face… blurred… but the pain… is excruciating.

  My eyelids spring open to the patch on the ceiling. The room is quiet, but my heart thunders like a storm inside my chest.

  Dr. Gardingdale waits patiently at my side with pen and paper in his hand and hope in his eyes that I’ll tell him I remembered the identities of the people.

  “I saw a few images, but everyone’s faces are blurred over and honestly, none of what I’m seeing makes sense,” I tell him as I sit up and plant my feet on the floor. As usual, the room twirls around me in hazy colors and shapes. “They threatened us, though, when we left the house. Said they’d come back for us.” Invisible fingers wrap around my neck and my oxygen supply dwindles. “You should probably tell the police that. Or I will.”

  He nods his head at the camera. “They’ll see this when I give them the video tomorrow.”

  I massage my aching chest. “Did I say anything aloud to you by chance?”

  He sighs heavily. “Unfortunately no, which I find strange, especially considering you’ve been sleep walking and talking so much at home. It’s like your mind opens up after the sessions.”

  “Is that common?”

  “It’s hard to say.” He removes his glasses and cleans them off with the bottom of his shirt. “This therapy—hypnotherapy as a lot call it—isn’t something performed that frequently. And your case is extremely complex.” He slides his glasses back on. “But, Ayden, if this doesn’t start working... I… there might be some other treatments you might consider trying… they’re a bit more experimental and have risks, though.”

  My brows furrow. “What kinds of experimental treatments?”

  He pushes his feet against the floor, wheeling his chair back toward a printer. Then he collects a thin stack of papers and hands them to me.

  “Shock treatment.” Words jump out at me from the pages. Ice cold water. Injections. Electricity.

  “They’re risky procedures,” he explains, looking as though he doesn’t really want to be discussing this with me. “I honestly don’t believe it’s a great idea, but I want to give you the choice. I think that’s important. Just like I know it’s important to you to find out who killed your brother.” When I don’t respond, he sighs. “You can throw them away if you want to. I just want you to be informed. Since you’re still a minor, though, I can’t do anything without your parents’ consent, so you’ll have to talk to your parents.”

  “I’ll be eighteen in a couple of weeks,” I tell him, even though I want to throw the papers away.

  Some of the treatments are appalling. But as I think of my brother lying dead in his own blood outside that home that stripped us bare, I fold the papers up and stand up to leave.

  “I better go. It’s getting late.”

  “Ayden,” he calls out. I pause, twisting around. “Remember, if you ever need to talk, I’m here. Even when it’s not a session, you can always call me.”

  I bob my head up and down then exit the office, pretending his words don’t affect me as much as they do. But the fact that I have people in my life who care about me still gets to me and makes me feel warm and cold inside. Warm, because it’s amazing to have people in your life rooting for you. And cold, because it’s terrifying having people in your life, putting themselves in harm’s way to help you.

  My thoughts drift to my brother who probably had no one in his life. Who died all by himself.

  “Why were you there?” I whisper to myself as I enter the crisp night. The moon is crescent in the dusky sky and a haze conceals most of the stars. “Was it because they had you against your will?”

  A depressing thought occurs to me. I might never get the answer to those questions. I might never know what happened to my brother.

  But I can still find out about my sister. If I can find her.

  On my way to the car, I check my email on my phone, hoping there’s a message from Rebel Tonic. Almost three weeks later and still no word from him, I’ve pretty much lost hope that he’ll ever get back to me. More than likely he played me, and like a sucker, I fell for it.

  No new messages so I stuff the phone away and speed up across the vacant parking lot. The sole lamppost that usually lights up the area has burnt out so I can scarcely make out the outline of my black Mercedes. As I find my way through the dark and approach the vehicle, I pat my pocket for my keys but can’t find them. Wondering if I left them in the building, I flip around to head back inside. Mid turn I notice something in the trees lining the property. Movement? A figure moving? I can’t quite tell.

  I dodge to the right and skitter for the door. It has to be a dog or something. No need to get paranoid. With everything that’s happened over the last couple of months, my mind’s just playing tricks on me.

  Then I hear a bloodcurdling scream reverberate from nearby.

  Fuck, dogs don’t scream.

  Freezing, I scan the trees, the closed stores across the street, and the office building, but I can’t see anyone or anything around. I jog for the door, my boots thumping against the pavement. As I reach the curb, I hear another scream. This time the noise fractures my heart into a thousand pieces.

  This time I recognize the scream.

  “Sadie?” I frenziedly whirl around again. Branches snap and leaves rustle. I fumble for my phone as I inch toward the tree line, prepared to dial nine-one-one if needed. “Sadie, are you in there?” I call out as the tips of my boots reach the border of where the parking lot shifts to a shallow forest. I squint through the darkness, but it’s pitch black. Too fucking dark.

  Darkness settles

  a heavy quilt

  suffocating.

  I can’t breathe.

  Whisper the words,

  They say

  Whisper them and we’ll free you.

  Whisper.

  Whisper.

  Whisper,

  that you worship us.

  Belong to us.

  That you’ll do anything for us.

  We’re coming back for you.

  I swipe my finger to unlock my phone and illuminate the screen. Then I aim the light toward the forest. A screech echoes from amongst the thick leaves then a figure zips from the trees at me. I stumble back, clumsily drop the phone, and darkness smothers me.

  Find the fucking phone.

  Footsteps rush around in soft pitter-patters.

  I collapse to my knees.

  Find the fucking phone.

  “Ayden, Ayden, Ayden,” a low chant echoes around me. “You think we’d let you get away that easy?”

 
; Ayden, Ayden, Ayden,

  do you hear us calling your name?

  Feel the cuffs around your wrists.

  We own you now, Ayden,

  there’s no getting out, even when you leave these walls.

  Ayden, Ayden, Ayden,

  Do you see what we can do?

  Do you see the blood that stains the ground?

  If you leave, we’ll come after you.

  “Ayden, Ayden, Ayden.” Whispers mix with the wind. “We have her. Your sister. And we’re coming for you.”

 
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