Broken Whispers

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Chapter 19

As Faye walked into Dr Billows' office even the motion felt heavier, like the air around her was made of marshmallow and she was struggling to make it out the other side, waves of stickiness trying to pin her in place. Dr Billows tried to keep her face stoic, but Faye could sense the surprise at her random arrival.

"Do you want to take a seat?" Dr Billows asked and Faye shook her head, pacing instead between the Victorian chair and the wall.

"Ok then. Would you like to tell me why you are here today Faye?"

Faye shook her head once more, her mouth empty as if the words on her tongue that had been there moments before had simply evaporated.

Dr Billows slowly lowered herself in the chair, her movements purposeful and drawn out. Faye's gaze flicked over to her briefly before her body once again demanded she move, her fingertips attempting to dance across her bracelet but her mind felt too fractured to concentrate.

"Have you had an episode?" Dr Billows asked gently and Faye froze mid-step. She didn't answer, didn't provide words to counter nor confirm, just stilled for a moment before pacing once more. She heard as a pen started to scrawl across paper, a sound that seemed to send an electric shock through her, her mind imagining the words that were spilling out across the page.

"Faye...Faye, I need you to take some deep, calming breaths for me. Because right now you're at an 11 and what number do we need to be?"

"A five," Faye whispered, involuntarily. As if her mouth just knew the answer without her brain having to find it.

"That's correct. And do you remember why it's best to be at a five?"

"Because..."

Dr Billows remained silent, giving Faye time to remember. But her thoughts were bouncing around like hundreds of ping pong balls, too fast for her to catch.

"Because when we are at a five we are settled. We can fall a few numbers and rise a few numbers before it becomes a severe issue. A five means balance," Dr Billows continued, saying the words that Faye knew but couldn't form. Faye also knew that Dr Billows was trying to be reassuring but her explanation only served to annoy her. Because if Faye could choose to be a five then she wouldn't be here right now, would she? If simply breathing could bring her out of this never-ending panic, then she would already be safely back in her dorm room.

"I can't be a five," Faye forced out, her tone short and slightly rasped, like a snake cornered in the grass. She watched as Dr Billows continued to add to her notebook, a motion that set Faye's teeth on edge. The writing wasn't helping her. Why wasn't she trying to help her?

"But when you are at an 11, you cannot calmly converse with me, Faye. Have you been taking your medication?"

"Why is it that whenever I feel like this it must be my fault! I must not have taken my meds! I always take my medication! It's not my fault it doesn't help!" Faye retorted loudly, her hands coming up to her hair, gripping it at the roots and clawing at them. She relished in the pain that speckled across her scalp, the sensation pulling her back down slightly, cementing her onto solid ground before she spiralled further. Her gaze once again fell to Dr Billows when silence echoed her screams. Her face looked ashen as if all the colour had drained from it.

"How...how long has the medication not been working Faye? Is Avery back? Do you see him again?" Dr Billows pressed, her hand for once freezing on the page upon her lap.

"No," Faye replied but it held little conviction. She slid down the wall slowly, the weight of her episode causing her knees to weaken beneath her.

"No? Then what has lead to this...this psychotic episode?"

Faye couldn't form the words she wanted, no, needed, to share. She couldn't explain it all to Dr Billows, not without sounding even more crazy. The fear that she might force Faye to once again become an inpatient outweighed her need for immediate help. So instead of answering she focused instead on her breathing and getting herself back down to a five.

10 minutes or more passed by in painful silence, the only sounds were her own breaths and the scratching of pen against paper. It distracted her, her gaze darting towards it like a bullet, wishing it harm. Dr Billows allowed Faye the space to calm herself, not attempting any further conversation until Faye was ready.

"Kellan," she breathed, his name seeming louder after all the quiet. She felt guilty for laying the blame on him but if she was honest with herself, he was also a catalyst.

"Kellan? Is he the reason you have been missing our sessions?"

"Partly," Faye said, her fingers finding her bracelet as the panic started to subside, calmness beginning to fill the void it left behind.

"And what was the other part?"

"Everything else," Faye lied. The answer to that question was Avery. He was the other part to everything.

"How so?" Dr Billows asked, her pen continuing to scratch across the page, although the sound and motion didn't quite feel like the assault on her senses it had earlier.

"Starting at college and meeting Kellan at the same time has felt overwhelming. I've been trying to keep up this faรงade of normality and trying to keep up with school. I've been drowning but I didn't care because I thought it was what I wanted."

"And what is it that you want?"

"Something I can't have," Faye continued, not willing to open up further. Dr Billows smiled softly at her, placing the pen and paper onto the desk beside her before leaning a little further forward on her chair.

"Then perhaps you need to accept that some things are just not meant to be. If holding onto them is causing you harm then you need to let them go. Focus on what is in reach. Baby steps if need be, but don't aim for the glass ceiling if you're going to get cut by the shards when it shatters."

Faye knew what Dr Billows meant. She had felt it all along. Avery was the cause of most of her hardships, especially the mental ones. Because being around him, indulging in the fantasy, meant coming back to reality without him was always too much to bear. So she needed to be stronger. For herself. For him. She needed to be strong enough to let him go and focus on reality.

Kellan was her reality.

"That makes sense," Faye replied as she stood slowly, smoothing out her hair and trying to ensure she looked less dishevelled now she felt calmer and more in control. Dr Billows stood in unison, approaching her quietly but with the soft smile on her face that always reassured Faye.

"I do have another appointment Faye but I would feel better if we arranged another appointment for tomorrow. I think it might be time to reassess your medication if you are still having episodes like this."

"This isn't a regular thing," Faye reassured although she knew her words provided little. Dr Billows went to place a hand on her arm but stilled, allowing it to fall loosely by her side instead.

"Even so. I'd feel better if we at least discussed it."

"Alright. I'll make an appointment before I leave," Faye lied, hoping she wouldn't walk her out. Dr Billows thankfully nodded and allowed her to leave, passing the very anxious-looking gentleman that Faye had seen earlier in the waiting room. His balding head lay beaded with sweat, his hands tightly clasped in his lap as he sat, clearly unsettled by her disruption.

Faye barely made it 15 minutes down the road before her phone started to vibrate loudly in her pocket. She pulled it out hoping it wasn't who she believed it to be, the word Mum flashing on the screen sending ice through her veins. She stared at her phone, contemplating pressing the cancel button but she quickly decided against it. Her mother would only become more insistent if she ignored her and the last thing Faye needed was her arriving on campus.

"Yes mum," Faye answered, trying her best to keep her voice light but likely failing. Her hand tightened around the phone, awaiting her mother's voice.

"Faye? Oh Peter she answered... Faye where are you?" Her mother replied, concern woven into every single word that spilt through the telephone.

"Walking?" Faye said, her eyes darting around in case her parents' silver ford was driving by or parked up watching her. The sea of cars driving past were full of reds and blacks, the odd blue filtering in as if a stray fish in the river.

"Dr Billows called."

Those three words halted every single movement in her body, sure that even her heart had skipped a beat at the sentence. Her grip tightened even harder and Faye was surprised she didn't accidentally crush the phone in her palm.

"Faye? Are you still there Faye?"

"I'm still here," Faye assured, her voice coming out small. She stood frozen on the street, knowing what was about to come next.

"Stay right where you are. We are coming to get you. Peter, grab the keys. Faye, Faye can you tell us where you are," her mother continued and Faye could hear the level of worry in her voice. It was shrill and choppy, anxiety and anger swirling between each word and it made Faye feel a rush of guilt for yet again causing such stress.

"No mum. Seriously I'm fine. Dr Billows shouldn't have even called you."

"Shouldn't have called me? I'm your mother. Why on earth would you suggest that she shouldn't have called me," she replied, pitch hitting an octave higher than usual, one more and only dogs would be able to hear their conversation.

"I didn't mean it like that mum. I just meant I'm fine. I'm going to take a walk and clear my head. I'll then come straight home ok? I just want some air but I'll come home and stay the night. Deal?" Faye countered, trying to offer anything for a few more hours of peace. She knew the moment she walked back into that house it would be like her childhood all over again. Her mother would hover and her father would avoid. And she was in no rush for that level of nostalgia.

"We are worried about you Faye."

"I know and I'm sorry. But I really am fine. College was more overwhelming than I thought it would be and I have been so busy with the work that I've missed some sessions with Dr Billows, that's all. But I feel better now I've seen her. A few hours I promise and then we can talk at home."

"Alright, if you're sure. But Faye two hours. Any longer and I'll send your father out to look for you."

Faye didn't even try to continue their negotiation, merely pressing the disconnect button whilst there was a break in their conversation, one that wouldn't automatically cause a redial. She allowed her feet to carry her to her favourite place in the world, hoping that an hour or so on her quiet bench, listening to the bees and the trees, she would leave feeling replenished enough to deal with her mother.

Walking up through the grove of trees, Faye took a deep breath in, letting the smell of the forest seep into her body, easing the tension that acted like glue in her joints. Her eyes focused on the floor beneath her feet, at the grass that tried to tickle her ankles and the flowers that bowed in the breeze.

"Faye?"

Her movements halted, her breath catching in her throat as she refused to look up and face her demons. She wasn't ready. She wasn't ready to force him out, to say goodbye. Not after last night. But then Dr Billow's words flooded through her like a mantra.

๐˜๐˜ง ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ.

"Avery."




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