This post is from a chapter in my novel entitled, Switch. It hasn’t been edited yet, so forgive any sloppiness.
The psychologist was a plump woman with a round face and kind eyes. Her brunette hair was worn in a helmet-shaped bob that was unfortunate for her face shape. But her demeanor would put anyone at ease. She had a calming effect about her, and even seemed to be helping me relax.
“So Target, what kinds of things do you like to do?” She asked while watching him with a smile. There was no sign of a pad of paper and pen in her lap; as I had expected. Maybe I watch too many movies.
“I like to build,” Target said as he curiously touched the large wooden maze with balls and wire tracks that sat in front of him. He very slowly and deliberately moves a ball along the track.
“What sort of things do you like to build?” Dr. Wheeler asked. I can’t see her, but can sense her leaning down from her chair towards us where we sat on the floor.
“Houses and stuff . . . . and big cities,” he responds and cranes his neck to look at her on the last syllable. She smiles at him warmly. These easy questions go on for quite a while, and I can tell she is establishing trust and honesty with Target. Finally it is Target, not the Doctor, who gets to the bottom line of why he is there.
“Why did I come here?” he asks sweetly.
“Well I wanted to know more about the man who visits you in your head,” she replies in a completely normal tone. Target is fully into the wooden ball maze now, but looks up quickly when she says it.
“Oh,” he pauses. Then, “Why?”
“I think he sounds interesting and would like to know more about him if you would like to tell me.”
“Enter-esting. You think he is neat, cool and fun to talk to, like me?” He recites his definition of the word innocently. Dr. Wheeler pauses and smiles again, probably at what she perceives as his precociousness.
“I definitely think you are all those things. I don’t know him yet, so I just wanted you to tell me about him.” Target sits back and his eyes go to the ceiling as he recites what he knows about me.
“He’s here,” and I see his hand come up to his head in what I can assume is a pointed finger. “In my head I think. He’s not my friend, cuz, he doesn’t talk to me. I have tried talking to him! I think he’s kinda mean. He, he’s . . . mean cuz I asked him to let me see him so we could play but he doesn’t.” If I could have exhaled loudly I would have. I tried to control my nervousness. Target looked at her again. “Do you know him?” He asks hopefully.
“No, I don’t. Does he have a name?”
“I don’t know,” he says with frustration and returns to the maze.
“And he doesn’t ever talk to you?”
“Why do you think he’s with you?”
“I don’t know. He just is.” If I was Dr. Wheeler I would be losing patience. But that’s why I’m not a psychologist.
“Have you seen him?” She asks evenly.
“I already told you, he doesn’t let me see him,” Target said, not in a smart-ass way, but in a totally honest kid way.
“Ok, I forgot,” she said kindly. “How does he make you feel when he’s with you?”
“Hummmmm, I don’t know. I can’t sleep sometimes.”
“Why? What does he do?”
“Just . . . . he’s there. I can, . . . feel him,” Target is looking the other way, but I think I hear a pen scratching on paper now. I am so torn up for him right now I am afraid of what will happen if he feels my emotion. And sure enough, the next words out of his mouth,
“He’s here now,” and with that he begins to hum quietly as he plays. As if this information were completely normal. Seemingly unfazed, the doctor says,
“Did he just get here?”
“Was it because we are talking about him?”
“I don’t know, I guess so.”
“How is he making you feel right now?” she asks, and Target once again looks up at the ceiling and seems to scrunch his face in thought, because I see his field of vision narrow in a squint.
“Hummmm, kinda weird,” he finally settles on.
“What’s weird about it?” I hear the pen scratching.
“Kinda, . . . tight,” he seems to be searching for the right words, quite understandably I thought. How the hell does a little kid explain this?
“What do you mean by ‘tight’, Target?” She presses on. Target doesn’t answer right away, but slows down when pushing the wooden ball around. She remains quiet and patient.
“I don’t know,” he finally says.
“Do you mean, crowded?” Oooh she’s good, I think.
“Crou-dad?” He asks quizzically. I’ve never seen a kid more interested in words than this one.
“Crowded. Like, too many people in a room makes it feel crowded. Crowded means too close to other people and you want some space.”
“Does he make you feel like that?”
“Yea. Too close.” The pen scratches. It hits me that she might be thinking multiple personality at this point. The concern creeps up in me.
“Target, when does he visit you? Mostly during the day, mostly at night?”
“Anytime. But I don’t like it when he comes at night.”
“Does he ever scare you?”
“Sometimes,” he said the word slowly.
“Does he give you a feeling like he’s bad?” I winced inside waiting for Target’s answer.
“No, . . ,” I could tell he was thinking. “Just, like he’s not happy,” he finished. I was continually surprised at how this kid was perceiving me. Maybe the more I’m with him, the better he can read me. All the more reason to vacate as soon as I can.
“Target, when he’s with you, does he make YOU feel like not a happy person?” she inquired with a slight rise in her voice.
“Mmmm, no. I’m a happy person!” he said with delight. I’m sure she smiled at this but I couldn’t see her.
“Good. I’m glad to hear that.” I hoped that she was ruling out multiple personality, but if she was, with what might she be replacing it? At least the dreaded word, ‘evil’ had not been uttered. Then our next stop would have been a Catholic church.