Every Friday in November, the flash fiction will revolve around the main characters in my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel, Sarah's Nightmare. These are not scenes from the novel but instances in the character's life. This week, you'll meet thirteen-year-old Sarah Richards. In my novel, Sarah is twenty-nine going on thirty.
I'm Not Crazy
"Sarah, what would you like to talk about?"
Sarah shifted in the seat and tucked her right leg under her. Her left leg swung back and forth like a grandfather clock's pendulum, counting the time until her session was over. She popped her gum and stared at Dr. Johnson.
"I know this is difficult for you. We can talk about anything you like." He poised his pencil about the notepad and waited. She gave him nothing. "Would you like to talk about your grandfather? Your parents told me he recently died. I'm sorry."
Her fingers curled around the chair arms, and she clenched her teeth.
"They tell me you sleep with the light on at night. Are you afraid of the dark? There is no shame in it. A lot of children are."
"I'm not afraid of the dark." A spark lit up her gray eyes before they dulled again. Her leg swung faster. She wanted to run, leave this cold, harsh room.
"Why do you sleep with the light on then?"
She didn't say anything. He would think she was crazy.
"Tell me about your grandfather. How do you feel about him being gone?"
"He's dead. I knew it was going to happen." She bit her lower lip hard enough to cause tiny teeth indents. She had said too much.
"You knew. How?"
She shrugged, and her leg stilled. "He was sick. I knew he was dying." She couldn't explain the soul feeling any better. She just knew. Wasn't that enough?
"Why do you sleep with the lights on?" He changed tactics.
"I can't tell you."
"You'll think I'm crazy." She admitted it. She was crazy. She was too old to believe in monsters.
"I don't think you're crazy, Sarah. I won't judge you. Anything you say is safe here. I want you to feel safe here." His voice was calm, soothing.
She started swinging her leg again. She didn't feel safe here. How could she tell him what came out of the darkness? "I lied. I'm a little afraid of the dark." Her lie dripped off her tongue.
He scribbled something down on the notepad. "There's no shame in being afraid of the dark."
"Yeah, I suppose so." She glanced around, noticing the diplomas on the wall, the rows of books. She liked books but not the ones he had. She needed to go home. She didn't want to think about monsters in the dark or her grandpa's death. She couldn't tell him about the nightmares, the voices, the shadows clinging to the light. "Can I go now?"
"We still have thirty-five more minutes. What would you like to talk about?" He smiled, encouraging her to continue speaking.
She had to stay away from monsters and the dark. She talked about school and mundane things. Anything to fill up the next thirty-five minutes. Her leg ticked down the seconds. Gum pops punctuated the minutes, and she talked so he couldn't.