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All About Eve - Part 1

by Caitlin McColl 8 months ago in Short Story · updated 6 months ago
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a paranormal short story

All About Eve - Part 1
Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

Eve had seen dead people for as long as she could remember. It was nothing new. Since she was five years old she had seen and heard things that others could not. She was psychic after all. But today was different. Today was the first time she had seen a corpse. She laughed to herself. ‘A real-live dead person‘, she thought.

Eve looked down at the girl lying on the muddy ground; her clothes were wet, legs smudged with dirt, cut and bruised by the sharp river rocks. Thankfully the girls face was covered by long wet hair. Eve didn’t know what to do, so she continued to stare. Glancing around she noticed she was still alone. She heard a voice, but she knew that it was just in her head. One only she could hear - that of her spirit guide Arra. Arra’s voice was irritating sometimes, like a buzzing insect, one that at that moment Eve was trying to ignore. You should go now, said the voice with a trace of urgency. Leave before people see you near this girl.

Eve sent a thought back to Arra, ‘but I’m waiting for her spirit!’ she said petulantly. Then she said outloud, ‘I want to talk to her spirit, find out what happened’. She crouched down near the girl’s bare foot. The girl must have lost a shoe on her journey down the river. Everyone called it a river but it was really just a creek. A large creek, but a creek nonetheless. It ran through Golden Falls into the neighbouring town of False Creek, it’s namesake. Everyone called it a river because no one thought something with a name as innocuous as creek should be claiming as many lives as Golden Falls and False Creek suffered. Eve’s long dark brown hair fell forward over her eyes and she pushed it back behind her shoulder. She was about to reach out to the girl when she stopped. In her mind she saw a group of children heading through the forest, down a path that lead to the river. Go! she heard Arra nearly shout in her mind.

Eve jumped up and grabbed the trunk of a thin poplar tree next to the river and pulled herself up the bank. She ran through the tall grass towards a small copse of oak trees and blackberry bushes. Just as she reached the bushes and crouched down behind them, the small group of children came out of the trees and headed towards the river.

The small, sandy river bank that the body had washed up on was the place that everyone in town used. It was the main swimming hole of the river and was an area of mostly smooth, calm water, but the few whirlpools and eddies that were there was what attracted everyone. That was the fun part. Just before the swimming hole the river flowed quickly and hid a lot of large, sharp rocks just under the surface. There was a section of the river, just past the little stone bridge further up where there was lots of large flat rocks.

In the summer people sometimes sat on the rocks and dangled their feet in the water, or used them as stepping stones across the river instead of going further down to the bridge. But during the fall and winter, when the water rose, the flat rocks became wet and slick and dangerous. Parents constantly warned their children to be careful and not to play on the flat rocks before the bridge. There had been a heavy rainfall a few days before, but today the late September sun was shining strong and the sky was clear and blue. It felt almost as if summer had returned.

Eve tried to control her breathing and slow her heart. Her heart thudded in her chest and her blood pounded in her ears. It felt as if anyone nearby could hear it loud and clear. She watched with dread as the three children went down the bank, towards the body of the little girl with the long blonde hair that was missing a shoe. She saw their heads disappear down the bank, and then held her breath. After a few seconds, the screams came. Eve froze again but the voice of her guide was loud. Run, now. Quickly! Lets go home. Without thinking, Eve pulled at the brambles that had caught on her dress and ignored the thorns that pierced her palms and scratched her bare arms and legs as she ran. She ran down the path in the woods, the same one the children had come down moments before.

She didn’t look back, only straight ahead. Her feet barely touched the ground, she felt like she was flying. It seemed like she had been running for hours, but in reality only minutes later, the voice of Arra came to her again, this time gentle and calming. It’s okay, the voice soothed, You can stop now. You are safe. No one will know you were the first there, that it was you who found‘ there was a pause, ‘her.’

Eve tried to calm herself down and act natural as she came within sight of her house. She took her time walking up the long and winding gravel driveway of her parents' large farmhouse. As she walked up the front steps, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in a window. Her long dark hair was sticking up wildly, thin strands floating in all directions. There was a smudge of dirt under one of her eyes, and a long thin scratch on her neck. She tried to smooth down her hair as best she could and licked a finger to wipe away the dirt. She quickly checked the rest of herself over: Her yellow summer dress was dirty and rumpled and damp at the hem from the riverbank, and her legs and arms had started to sting from the scratches by the thorns. This’ll have to do, she sighed and opened the door.

Her mother was in the living room folding a shirt and she added it to a growing pile of ironed clothes. She was watching her favourite TV show, the one about the cranky man running a decrepit hotel, and said ‘Hi’ to Eve before actually looking at her. Eve mumbled a hello back and tried to sneak away down the hall before her mother noticed, but it was too late.

‘What’s happened to you!’ her mother cried. ‘Why are you all covered in cuts and dirt?’

Eve stopped, turned around and looked her mother in the eye. ‘I was just out picking blackberries by Mr. George’s Farm,’ she said, and her eye twitched. She hoped her mother hadn’t noticed. Whenever she lied, her eye always had to give it away and twitch.

Age 5

Eve was five when she first met Arra. The spirit woman first came to her in a dream.

In it Eve was playing with her kitten, teasing it and making it paw at a small piece of rope, when a beautiful woman in a long blue robe with long blonde hair appeared. Hello, Eve the woman said.

I’m not allowed to talk to strangers. Eve said glancing up at the lady, and then turning back to her cat.

The woman sat down beside her and said, but I’m not a stranger, I’m your guardian angel. I’m here to protect you. And you can get help from me. All you need to do is just ask a question in your mind and I will answer, she said reaching out and putting the kitten in Eve’s lap. My name is Arrawyn, the woman continued. I live in Heaven. Some people call me a spirit guide, but you can think of me as your guardian angel. Little Eve just looked up at Arrawyn with her large blue eyes and nodded meekly.

When Eve woke the next morning she jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. ‘Mommy, mommy!’ she cried with excitement. ‘I just met my gardening angel! In a dream! her name is Arrawi-, Arrawy-, um, Arra,’ said the little girl tugging at her mothers shirt. Her mother was washing the dishes. ‘That’s nice dear,’ her mother replied distractedly, ‘but its not a gardening angel, sweetie,’ she said with a little laugh. ‘It’s a guardian angel. Guardian angels protect you from bad things and keep you safe.’

Eve nodded. ‘I know, Mommy,‘ she said haughtily. ‘That’s what I said! A gardening angel. That’s what she told me. Arra…‘ she paused and then repeated, more confidently, ‘Arra’ her five year old mind having trouble saying her full name. Arrawyn became Arra from then on.

Eve constantly talked to the voice of Arra in her head. Being five, she usually talked out loud, not realizing she could just think what she wanted to say and Arra would reply. Her parents thought nothing of this, and assumed she was talking to an imaginary friend. They would often see Eve playing in their large backyard, or out in the fields behind the house, talking away to herself, and they were happy to see her happy. Eve had a few friends, from the neighbouring farms. In the town of Golden Falls, a neighbour could be a mile or so away. Eve’s best friend, Amber, a little girl who lived on the next farm over would sometimes come over to play.

‘I want to go play in the river,’ said Amber, to Eve one day. Eve consulted Arra, as she did with most things, if Arra didn’t immediately supply the advice herself. ‘Arra, can we go to the river? Is it safe?’ she asked. Arra answered simply - yes. Amber looked at Eve, a look of puzzlement on her face. ‘Who are you talking to?

Eve looked at Amber and said knowingly ‘ My Guardian angel’. Amber didn’t respond. ‘Don’t you have a guardian angel?’ Eve asked. Amber just shook her head. ‘Oh,’ said Eve, and it was then she began to realize she wasn’t normal. She changed the subject. ‘Let’s go to the river,’ she said, and Amber promptly forgot about Eve’s guardian angel, as little kids do.

When Eve started her first year of school in the Fall, she happily told all her new friends about her guardian angel Arra. She got strange looks. Some of the little girls started to cry and ran to their mothers and saying they were scared because Eve had an angel. Eve again realized that she was different, and soon stopped talking about her guardian angel to others. She still talked out loud, however. One day when her school friends asked who she was talking to, she started to automatically say Arra her guardian angel, when Arra’s voice came into her head, gentle and soothing and spoke two words ‘imaginary friend’. Eve smiled. ‘I’m just talking to my imaginary friend’.

‘Oh!’ said her friend Jane. ‘What’s your friend’s name? I have an imaginary friend too, her name is Sue. We can go play imaginary friends together!’ said the little girl and ran off towards the play park, her red curly hair bouncing as she ran.

Arra was Eve’s constant companion. A friend you could ask things even in the middle of the night when you couldn’t sleep. Eve asked her questions about what it was like in heaven. Sometimes Arra said she couldn’t tell Eve, that it was a secret. Or that she would tell her later when she was older. Eve always went in a little huff with Arra and refused to talk to her. But this only ever lasted for a few hours.

Eve was walking across the little stone bridge across the river, over the most turbulent area. She looked over the short walls of the bridge and saw something above the water. Stopping, she leaned over to get a closer look. All of a sudden a loud voice rang out in her head. Get back! shouted Arra in a harsh, almost angry voice. Eve let out a small scream and jumped back mostly out of fright from hearing the loud voice in her head. She started crying out of shock. Arra’s voice spoke softly again, soothing. Sorry Eve. I had to tell you to move, because look-, of course there was no one there to point anywhere, but Eve looked anyways and saw what Arra had meant. Where Eve had been leaning over the little wall, a crack had appeared in the stone and a small chunk had broke off the top of the stone barrier and had fallen into the water. Eve sniffed, wiping tears out of her eyes and off her cheeks. The wall is starting to fall apart there. You have to be careful, Arra said. Eve just nodded, still in shock. Eve got up and continued on. After a few minutes she said out loud, but not before looking around to see if anyone was there, ‘You saved me. You helped keep me safe.’ She could almost picture Arra nodding. Arra still sometimes came to her in dreams, but mostly she just was a voice. Yes, Arra said simply. That’s my job.

Eve was walking back to her house from Amber’s across the fields separating the two. Amber was with her. It was the day before Eve’s seventh birthday. Eve glanced over at her friend who has stopped and was leaning down picking wildflowers. Eve opened her mouth, but closed it again. ‘Um,’ said Eve, hesitantly.

‘What?’ said Amber, picking a handful of blue cornflowers.

‘I was just wondering…’said Eve. ‘Remember when we had our imaginary friends?’.

Amber laughed, adding the little blue flowers to her handful. ‘Yes! I still remember mine. Her name was Jill. It was fun, wasn’t it! Remember we played tea party all the time. I don’t have an imaginary friend anymore though. That’s just silly,’ she said, with all the authority of a seven year old, who was almost eight. ‘You don’t still have your imaginary friend, do you? What was her name? Anna?’

‘Arra,’ Eve corrected. Amber gave her a look and so Eve quickly said ‘Oh, no, of course not. I don’t have my imaginary friend anymore.’ She paused and added for emphasis, ‘That’s just silly.’ In her head she said a silent apology to Arra, but Arra said nothing.

Eve was upset that none of her friends understood her. None of them had a guardian angel. They were different. She was different. She started to avoid her friends when she saw them around. ‘They don’t understand me,’ she thought. ‘I can’t talk about you to them,’ she said to Arra.

She had also taken to only talking out loud to Arra, which she preferred, when she was outside. If she was at home she spoke to Arra only in her head. Her mother caught her once, having a conversation with Arra while she was tidying her room. ‘What are you doing?!’ her mother said in that slightly irritated, angry way she had. ‘Oh, nothing, Mommy,’ said Eve, ‘I was just….singing a song.’ Her mother looked at her from the doorway for a long moment, made a little grunt and went away.

Age 10

Eve was in the playroom off the kitchen making a quilt, with advice from Arra, from old t-shirts and other bits and pieces she found in the rag closet, a place where her mother put all old clothes that were torn or stained, to use as cleaning cloths and other uses around the house.

She didn’t notice her mother watching her carefully from the window that looked into the room from the living room.

Later that night Eve was coming down the hall, towards the living room when she stopped. She could hear her parents talking in hushed tones. She tiptoed closer, pressing herself against the large brick fireplace before the living room and tried to breathe quietly.

‘She’s doesn’t have any friends,’ she heard her mother say to her father.

‘Don’t be silly, of course she does!’ he said whispering back. ‘That Amber Evans girl from down the road. And her friends from school’.

Her mother sighed, ‘Okay she has friends, but she doesn’t ever see them anymore. Doesn’t ever go out to play. She just sits by herself.’ Her mother then lowered her voice further and Eve held her breathe to try and hear. ‘Or goes out and plays by the river,’ her mother said, sounding anxious.

There was a pause and her father said simply, ‘I see’.

‘Yes,’ continued her mother, ‘and sometimes I hear her talking to herself. She can’t still have an imaginary friend, can she? Not at ten!’

Eve imagined her father shaking his head. ‘I don’t know Claire,’ he said to her mother. ‘She did seem quite attached to that imaginary guardian angel person. She was always talking about her.’

Eve slowly turned and tiptoed back to her bedroom at the end of the long hallway. She quietly shut the door behind her and then thought to Arra, ‘What should I do? They are starting to see that I’m….different’.

She heard Arra’s laughter in her head. But you are different, Eve, you know that. You have me, for one. None of your other friends have a spirit guide. Because that’s what I am, she went on to explain, I am a spirit. In another plane, another realm. In the spirit world.

Eve hadn‘t given Arra much thought. She was just a regular part of her life. ‘Are you a ghost, then?’ asked Eve through thought. She had never thought of Arra as a spirit, just as an angel, a guardian angel. But without wings, of course. Arra never had wings when she came to visit Eve in her dreams. She just looked like a regular woman, except that she had a aura of light around her.

Eve could almost hear the smile in Arra’s voice. Not really, she said. I have never been dead. I have never lived on your world. I am just from the world of spirit. There are lots of us up here, and it is our job to help guide you down there on earth. Help you through your problems and troubles, and keep you safe from harm. That’s why we are called spirit guides. We guide you from the spirit world. That is our job.

Eve climbed onto her bed and lay on top. She wanted to pretend she was sleeping if her mother or father came by the check on her. She closed her eyes and continued to question Arra. ‘So you’re not a ghost, because you’re not dead and have never lived here.’

That’s right, said Arra softly in Eve’s head.

This was a lot for a ten year old to take in, but Eve wasn’t a normal ten year old.

‘You said there were lots of you guardian, I mean, spirit guides? Helping other people?’ Eve started to feel sleepily, lying on top of her soft fluffy quilt. She yawned.

Yes. Everyone has a spirit guide. Or sometimes even more than just one. Arra said.

Eve could see Arra now, looking the same as ever, waist length golden hair and a long, flowing, blue dress, almost like a robe. Arra came forward and sat beside Eve who was now sitting on an ornately carved stone bench. Eve looked around, not surprised. ‘I’ve fallen asleep,’ she thought calmly.

‘Hello Eve,’ said Arra, placing a hand on her shoulder and then giving her a gentle hug. Arra smoothed down Eve’s flyaway hair. Her thin hair always did that, giving her the look of a dirty halo around her head.

‘Hi Arra’ said Eve. ‘Nice to see you, again’ she said giving Arra a big smile and showing a gap from a missing tooth. Eve looked up at Arra with her eyes wide and full of understanding. ‘ So I’m not the only person to see you? I mean, other people can see their spirit guides too?’

Arra nodded, her golden hair moving like a shimmering wave. ‘Yes, but only certain special people, like you, can see their spirit guides’.

Eve saw something out of the corner of her eye and turned to look. A little further away from where they sat the air was moving, shimmering like a mirage, or air on a hot day over paved roads. It took on a life of its own. Eve was about to ask what it was when Arra put her hand on Eve’s cheek and turned her face to hers. ‘Never mind that,’ said Arra. ‘It’s nothing to concern yourself with.’ Eve had always listened to Arra, she had always helped her when she needed it, so Eve simply nodded.

‘So why I am special?’ asked Eve bluntly.

‘Because you are psychic,’ said Arra. ‘That’s why you can hear me, and other people can’t hear their guides.’ She laughed and brushed back a strand of hair that had fallen across Eve’s face.

‘So you mean I can tell the future?’ Eve asked, incredulously.

Arra laughed again. ‘Maybe. We’ll have to see. And now you’re old enough to learn what you can do,’ she said. ‘That’s why I’ve told you now. Because you’re ready.’

And so the lessons began. Arra had Eve go sit in a quiet place. Eve found that up in the loft of the barn was best, she could be there for hours with no one to disturb her.

‘All you have to do is clear your mind,’ Arra said. ‘Try to not think of anything. If you have a thought, just put it in an imaginary bubble and let it float away.’ They were simple enough instructions, but Eve had difficulty. ‘I keep trying to clear my mind, but thoughts keep coming!’ she whined. ‘Like pictures of the river, and of the candy store down by Mr. Arches place out by the old logging road.’ She flopped backwards in a mound of hay that was stored in the loft for the horses and sighed in frustration.

‘What else can you see?’ asked Arra patiently.

‘Nothing!’ Eve cried. ‘It’s all gone blank. My thoughts have gone now!’ she opened her eyes in excitement. ‘I got rid of my thoughts!’ she shouted, then clapped her hands over her mouth when she realized she’d spoken aloud. A group of pigeons up in the barn rafters took flight at the outburst.

‘No, you had already cleared your mind,’ explained Arra’s voice. ‘You were seeing things.’

‘Seeing things?’ asked Eve

‘Yes, seeing things as they were happening. Did you see anything or anyone down by the river or at the candy store?’

‘Well, I saw Amber and Jake and Ella playing down by the river. And I saw Mrs. Adams with little Joe standing outside the candy store talking to Mr. Hillsborough.’ Eve said. ‘I remember Joe had chocolate all over his face and he had chocolate on his blue shirt too!’. Eve clapped her hands together, excited that something seemed to be happening.

‘Good,’ said Arra calmly. ‘ Now why don’t you go see if that’s true?’

Eve jumped up and climbed down the rickety old ladder that lead to the barn loft. She ran across the field and turned left down the dirt road that lead to her house. She headed for the candy store at the edge of town which was closer than the river which was further out in the opposite direction.

Eve nearly collided with Mrs. Adams and her son Joe at the town crossroads. ‘Oh sorry Mrs. Adams!’

‘Hello Eve, my dear, how are you today?’ said the woman holding her little boy by the hand. Eve looked down at little Joe and noticed he did indeed have his face covered in chocolate and some chocolate stained his clean light blue shirt. Eve stared.

‘Are you okay Eve?’ asked Mrs. Adams with concern.

‘What?’ she said, distractedly. ’ Oh, yes, I am, thank you’. She was raised to be a polite girl. ‘Have you just been to the candy store?’ she asked. ‘Is that why Joe is covered in chocolate?’

Mrs. Adams laughed. ‘Oh yes, he certainly loves his sweets!’ she wet a finger and wiped off some of the chocolate smudged around the boys mouth. ‘I was just there when I ran into Mr. Hillsborough. We were just chatting away on the porch of the candy store.’ Mrs. Adams smiled. ‘He’s such a nice man, Mr. Hillsborough, isn’t he?’

‘Yes,’ Eve said, nodding.

‘It’s a real shame what happened to his wife last year, isn’t it? She was so young, that Ellie. And pretty too,’ said Mrs. Adam pulling little Joe’s hand out of his pocket. ‘Come on, you little monster,’ she said to the boy, and started to move away down the road. ‘Say hi to your parents for me, won’t you Eve?’ the woman said as she dragged her boy behind her.

Eve waved and nodded. She could barely think. Barely breathe. What she had seen in the barn was real. It had happened! Eve let out a scream of delight.

The next morning Eve entered the kitchen where her mother was washing the dishes. She got a cereal bowl and got a bag of oatmeal from atop the fridge. She started to make the oats, pouring some water into a small pan on the stove. She hadn’t asked her mother this for a few years, but for some reason this question occurred to her and she blurted out, ‘Mom, why don’t I have a little brother or sister? I know you want me to have someone to hang out with, if I had a little sister, I’d have someone to play with.’

Her mother, who had been drying a mug, jumped and the mug slipped from her hands and smashed on the ground. ‘Oh!’ she cried out in surprise. Her mother immediately got down on her knees to pick up the pieces that had spread across the floor. “Evie,’ said her mother in a shaky voice, ‘I’ve told you before, you don’t need any siblings, there’s lots of kids in the neighbourhood to spend time with. Why don’t you do that?’ she said picking up the larger chunks of the mug. ‘And you know your father isn’t earning very much money with the farm at the moment, since the big new automated farm hold started up outside False Creek,’ her voice had calmed again but her hands were still shaking. Eve went to get the pan and brush from the cleaning closet and knelt to sweep up the smaller bits of mug. Her mother continued, ‘I might have to take a job at Mrs. Milligan’s millinery shop, making clothes.’

Eve went back to her oats on the stove and didn’t say another word.

~*~

Eve was sitting in the backseat of the car, on the way back from her 11th birthday party out at the roller rink in neighbouring False Creek. She was looking out the window, but not paying attention to the scenery that rolled past. She was thinking of how she had seen Missy Robinson fall and twist her ankle in the middle of the rink floor. But she saw it happen half an hour before it actually did. She was so preoccupied with her thoughts Eve didn’t notice her parents take a different turn, not the road heading home.

She woke from her reverie when the car turned into a strange paved driveway, lined with planters full of flowers. “Where-’ Eve began, before her mother interrupted.

‘Get out of the car sweetie,’ her mother said firmly, opening the car door and stepping outside. The car was parked in front of a low one-level wood-slatted house, with two narrow windows either side of a door. The whole house was white except for a large sign tacked beside the door. ‘Dr. Hannigan, Psychiatrist and Counsellor’ it read.

Eve stood on the strange driveway and stared at the brown and red sign. ‘What are we doing here?’ she asked her parents suspiciously.

‘Come on Eve, we’re going to talk to this nice counsellor. Nothing to be scared about.’ Before Eve could react her mother grabbed her wrist and dragged her towards the front door of the small house transformed into an office. Eve tried to pull away but her mother’s grip tightened. ‘Ow!’ she exclaimed, ‘you’re hurting me mother!’

‘It’s for your own good, sweetie,’ said her mother, not looking at Eve as she spoke, just pulling her closer to the house.

Her parents pulled her up to a small reception desk just inside the front door.

‘We have an appointment with Dr. Hannigan,’ said her father gruffly, through his heavy moustache. ‘For our daughter Eve, here,’ he gestured to Eve who looked angrily at both of them.

The young woman behind the desk smiled warmly. ‘Don’t worry honey. Dr. Hannigan won’t bite, he’s a very nice man, you’ll like him.’ The woman, with blonde hair tied severely back pressed a button on her desk. “Mr. Hannigan, there’s an Eve…’ she paused looking at Eve’s parents.

‘Hendry,’ said Eve’s mother.

‘Hendry,’ repeated the receptionist into the intercom. A strange look came over the receptionist, one Eve couldn‘t read.

A voice crackled on the other end. ‘Okay, thanks Julie, they can come in now.’

Julie indicated a door down the short narrow hallway. ‘You can go straight in.’

Eve’s parents held her hands and walked down the hall. As they passed a side hallway, Eve saw a little boy standing there, looking at her. ‘That’s odd,’ she thought. ‘A boy just standing in a hall, no one there watching him.’ There was something else strange about the boy but Eve couldn’t place it. And then there were in the office and she thought no more of it.

Dr. Hannigan was a pleasantly plump man, with a neatly trimmed greying beard and small circular glasses. He looked like he could have been one of Santa’s elves grown up. He gestured to a large plush leather armchair across from his desk. Eve sat down her feet not even reaching the floor.

Eve’s parents sat in two small chairs at the back of the room, in front of a wall filled with various certificates and awards.

Dr. Hannigan smiled at Eve and clasped his hands in front of him on the desk. Before he could say anything Eve asked meekly ‘Why I am here?’

Dr. Hannigan glanced behind Eve at her parents sitting in back. ‘Well, dear, your parents are worried about you.’

‘But I’m fine! I’m okay,’ Eve pleaded. ‘I don’t need to see someone,‘ she paused ’like you’.

Dr. Hannigan smiled warmly. ‘Well, your parents are worried about you because they say you don’t spend any time with your friends anymore. Your friends at school, or even your best friend Amber.’ Eve turned around to look at her parents, and glared at them. ‘How dare they tell this stranger all about me!’ she thought.

She suddenly heard a voice in her head. Arra. Stay calm, Arra said. Don’t get upset. Eve looked upwards, it was an automatic reaction whenever she heard Arra. As if she was trying to look into her head to see the voice that was talking.

Dr. Hannigan noticed and looked up at the ceiling. ‘What do you see?’ he asked, looking back at Eve.

Eve thought quickly, ‘Oh, nothing, I thought I heard a bee’.

Dr. Hannigan smiled his professional smile and said, ‘Your parents think that it isn’t normal for a ten year old girl like you not to have friends and be out playing with them.’

‘But,’ Eve started and then stopped. She was about to say ‘But I do have a friend, my best friend Arra’.

Dr Hannigan raised his eyebrows. ‘Yes?’

Eve opened her mouth and stopped again. She was going to say, ‘but I have an imaginary friend.’ That wouldn’t have been good. Was it normal for a ten year old girl to still have an imaginary friend? She thought not. She thought back to the conversation she had had with Amber a few years before, where Amber told her it was silly to still have imaginary friends after all this time.

She thought quickly. ‘Well, I see my friends at school all the time.’ The Dr. nodded, hands still clasped in front of him. And then I like to be by myself when I’m not at school.’ She paused. ‘I have my cat, Kitty, and all our animals on the farm.’ The Dr looked at her with kind eyes. ‘I like horses,’ she said. She didn’t really like horses, but it seemed like something a little girl who lived on a farm would say.

And then before she, or Arra, could stop herself, she said ‘I’ve said to my mom that if they had a little sister or something, I’d have someone else to play with.’

Eve heard a sharp intake of breath from behind her, and just caught the end of a look from Dr. Hannigan to her parents behind her.

‘Well,’ said Dr. Hannigan clearing his throat and moving a large stack of files on his desk. ‘I think that should be about all for today I think,’ he said, getting up and coming around the front of the desk. He sat down on the edge of his desk and looked at Eve in a friendly fatherly way. ‘How do you feel about coming to see me again next week?’ he said.

Eve looked behind her at her parents. Her mother had her arm on her fathers. They were looking worried, but hopeful.

Eve sighed, and shrugged.

~*~

The following week Eve was once again walking down the narrow hallway of the white wood paneled converted house. Her parents had dropped her off and had gone to pick up some groceries from the store. They were told to come back in half an hour after the session was over.

Eve was about to put her hand on the doorknob to enter Dr. Hannigan's office when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She looked and once again saw the little boy she saw last week. ‘That’s strange,’ thought Eve. The boy was about her age and wearing long tweed shorts and a strange hat. He looked sad. Eve was about to say something to the little boy when Dr. Hannigan’s spoke through the door. ‘Come in, Eve.’ So she simply gave the boy a small smile and opened the door.

‘Who is-,’ Eve started as she headed for the large leather chair in the centre of the office again.

Arra’s voice came through loud and clear, almost making Eve jump. No. Don’t. she whispered harshly.

Dr. Hannigan looked puzzled. ‘Who what?’

‘Who is playing the music on the radio,’ said Eve, lamely.

‘Oh,’ said Dr. Hannigan chuckling. ‘That’s The Beatles. They’re a bit before your time.’

‘Oh,’ said Eve, about to climb into the big chair, when Dr. Hannigan interrupted.

‘How about,‘ he said, gesturing to a long, flat table-like couch, ‘you come over here and lie down for a little bit. Get comfy, and I’ll ask you some questions.’

Eve bit her lip, unsure, then slowly walked over to the couch and sat down on it.

Dr. Hannigan sat down in a chair next to the psychiatrist's couch and gestured for Eve to lie down. Grudgingly she did so.

‘Don’t be afraid, Dr. Hannigan said. ‘This isn’t like what they used to do to children years ago. That needed….’ Eve knew he was going to say help but instead said, ‘guidance‘. He shook his head. ‘Never mind, you don’t need to know about that.’

But Eve did know. She had seen what he had been thinking, and it surprised her. That had never happened before and what she saw scared her. She saw children being strapped down on gurneys, with wires and electrodes strapped to their heads and linked to large machines. She tried not to show her fear, instead squeezing her eyes shut as she lay down.

~~~~~

Check out part 2 below to continue!

Short Story

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Caitlin McColl

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Aeternum Tom Bradbury

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