“Please… please get away from me,” I say. I speak softly, knowing that if I begin yelling she will react immediately. It is my last plea for help, my last words spoken.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” She asks me.
“There’s nothing wrong.” If I let her see weakness, she will dive towards it.
“Okay.” She smiles and sits down in a chair, gesturing for me to as well. I stand back, careful to make sure she hasn’t thrown something at me with the flick of her hand. The chair looks normal, but it’s carefully cushioned to hide the spikes underneath while still dealing the pain. I will not sit down. She seems content with the fact and will probably force me to later, just as she does every time. Sometimes it’s because she wants my information, but I think it’s mostly because she enjoys watching pain. but for now reaches inside the desk, pulling out a clipboard and a pencil.
The pencil’s too sharp. It sits poised in her hand, waiting. If it were sharpened anymore the tip would break off. It mocks me. It knows the next thing she will do. In my mind’s eye, I see her arm lifting up. From this position it would be easy. She could throw it straight into my heart, like a dart. Or into my eye, to blind me and torture me for my information.
I take a few deep breaths and step away slowly, eyeing the door. It’s just behind me. My only escape. Still, it’s too far away to make a move. She would get me in an instant.
She coughs, pretending that it is just a normal, awkward conversation. She’s playing with me, toying with my emotions. She shouldn’t play with her food. “Would you like to tell me how your day has been?”
I look at her. I not fall for her wiles. This woman – this creature – did not want to ask me about my day. She enjoyed playing this role too much. I wish she would spend less time mocking me before she goes and breaks me to shreds. I can see it in her eyes. She’s been waiting for this. She’s been waiting for me. It’s absolutely sick. The way this world works, with the monsters being in charge and us – the normal ones, the ones who see through the horror – forced to be hidden away, with no power and no hope for survival. They think they can fix us by turning us into one of them.
“It’s been just fine,” I say, looking toward the door again. I have no chance. I turn and consider the chair once more, wondering if its worse than usual, if she’s poisoned it with some sort of plague. I’ve seen them before. There’s the ones that dull your consciousness, forcing you to see things that aren’t there. The ones that delay your senses. Or maybe she’d done something more childlike, undone the screws so I’d fall. That would give her the chance to jump on me. To attack me. I couldn’t take the chance.
“And your mother?” She asks me, all too innocently. “How has she been?”
“I tell you she’s fine,” I say, gritting my teeth to take away my anger. She was going after my mother too. After what I’d seen her do to families, making each one watch as the others are taken away from them, as the others are changed. . . no. She can take me, but she cannot take my family.
Taking a deep breath, I still my heart rate. I can’t let her know that she’s gotten to me. She’d seize on the chance.
I remember the water pitcher sitting outside in the other room. While it may not be her true flaw, she is susceptible to it. I consider going for it, but then decide against it. She’d see right through my plan. Just as she always will. It is her nature. It is the power of her species.
“You seem uncomfortable, sweetheart,” She says. Sweetheart. I can see her tearing into my flesh, wresting for my bones. To her, my heart would be sweet.
Memories of the way she works filter into my mind. Images of smashing, gnashing teeth tearing into my being awaken, and in a moment of weakness I fall behind my chair. In the moment she sits up straighter, her back perfectly angled, her eyes shining with an unnatural green light. Her arms reach to the chair, ready to stand up, ready to pounce. “Are you sure there’s nothing wrong?”
“There isn’t.” Both the desk and the chair are now between us, and I feel more comfortable with the extra barrier.
“And what about school? How have your friends been?”
Her smile is glinting. Her teeth are too long, too clean, too white. The lamps give them a strange light, making them look sharper. I can imagine them streaked with blood, running down her mouth to her chin. I am next. “Don’t talk to me about school.” I was not going to tell her anything, no matter how much she tried. She could torture me all she liked, but I wouldn’t give up my friends.
“But that’s what we’re here to do, isn’t it, sweetheart? To talk?”
“No, it’s not,” I say. Immediately I know it was the wrong thing to do.
She sits back in her chair, feigning bafflement. I stare the pencil down. It is aiming straight for my neck. “Well then what are we here to do? Can you tell me?”
I give it up. She has seen through my line of defense. She has gotten to me. “You are here to ruin me, and don’t pretend you’re not. You want this. You want me to be scared. Well, let me tell you something, I am not scared of you! I will never be scared of you! You want to break me, but you won’t! Because I will not let this happen! You witch! You tyrant! You… you…”
She leans forward once more, and I want to just about strangle her for that knowing look on her face. “Sweetheart, I’m just therapist. I’m just here to help you discover the truth about yourself.”
I crumple to the floor, sobbing, shrieking. “You monster!”
Olivia Alcabes, Age 13, Grade 8, The Calhoun School, Gold Key