SHADOW

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CHAPTER 15

“HELLO,” SAID THE plump-sized woman, beaming kindly at Alan as he took his seat before her in the small consultation office. “My name is Paula Goodson. What’s yours?”

Alan adjusted in the soft leather chair, reclined backward gently and just stared at her.

“What’s your name?” she repeated, maintaining the same excited pitch and tempo. A psycho-therapist and clinical evaluator, the woman was full bosomed, with a plain, intuitive look in her small, bead-like eyes.

For weeks on end, his mother had made his life miserable by suggesting that he visited a therapist, because she worried that the whole situation around the tragic accident and conflict in the home were having a severe toll on Alan’s psychological wellness and, if unchecked, who knew what might happen.

Samantha Prince had read of kids who never recovered from such trauma, and she didn’t want her son to be one of the statistics in years to come. By God, she would do all within her powers to help him pull through these trying periods, and she thought that getting him to speak with a therapist was the way to start.

“I’m not seeing a shrink, Mom!” he’d flared at first.

But Mom did not relent. She pressured him until he finally gave in, even if reluctantly; just to get her off his back. She was right now waiting on the hallway outside the door to drive him back home as soon as the session was done.

“Alan Prince,” he answered, twiddling his fingers subconsciously whilst quietly contemplating the cool, all-white office.

Ms. Goodson smiled softly, took a moment to observe the patient. “Do you know why you’re here, Alan?”

Alan shrugged. “My Mom is worried about me, told her she doesn’t need to, that I’m okay.”

The woman kept smiling. “Are you?”

He shrugged again, feeling laidback. “I guess so.”

The Psycho-Therapist paused, stared at him, ticked off a spot on the note pad in front of her. Then she looked up. “What’s on your mind, Alan Prince? What’re you thinking about right now?”

“Nothing.”

She grinned discretely. “Everyone thinks about something, Alan Prince.”

Alan shrugged again. “Nothing,” he repeated.

“Tell me; since when have you been thinking about nothing?”

Alan gave her a blank stare. “For a while now.”

“How long do you reckon? Give me a time line.”

He hesitated. “A year, maybe more.”

“Since the accident?”

Alan paused, realized that the woman probably already had a dossier on him. “I guess so,” he replied quietly.

Ms. Goodson took a moment to breathe. “Tell me, Alan Prince; what do you think of your parents getting separated?”

Dumb question, thought Alan.

But then, something she said seemed to set him off, because she saw a sudden flash of venom in his cold eyes. “Can we not talk about that, please?” he said curtly.

“Why not?” she asked him. “Why don’t you want to talk about your parents, Alan Prince?”

This time, Alan fought to control the edge to his voice when he spoke: “Because I don’t feel comfortable talking about them; can we just respect my opinion?”

Goodson hesitated, gasped quietly and ticked another point in her assessment sheet. “Of course, Alan Prince,” she said, after a long pause.

It was a good thing Alan’s hands were placed on his thigh just beneath the oak table, because if not, the woman would have seen his clenched fists. But even then, she did see the hard, cold look in his eyes.

“Why do you keep saying my name like that?” he asked, frowning.

“Like how, Alan Prince?”

The frown deepened. He sighed, shook his head irritably, and raised his eyebrows. “Like that; Alan Prince!

The therapist smiled, nonplussed. “But that’s your name, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but…” He hesitated, clenched his lips and looked away. “Never mind.”

“But what?” she asked, seizing what she thought was an opportunity and prompting him to go on. “You can talk to me, Alan Prince.”

“Yeah, right,” Alan snorted disdainfully.

She took his aloof, disrespectful manner in her strides, took down a short note in her pad. Then lifted her eyes from the desk and continued her next line of questions. She ensured to look at him squarely. “Are you on any kind of substance, Alan?”

“What!” he said, surprised.

“Do you do drugs?”

“No,” he returned, his voice tight and resentful.

“Do you have friends who do?”

“I don’t have friends at all,” he replied, folding his hands across his chest.

“What would you say gets you hot-wired, Alan? What turns you off?”

He paused, thought about it for a moment. Then he shrugged. “All kinds of things, you know. It depends,” he said.

Ms. Goodson looked at him. “Like what? Give me an example of what might get under your skin.”

Alan grinned slyly and reclined back in his seat again. “Like someone asking me all kinds of silly questions about myself as if they know me.”

Being in the practice for several years running, Paula Goodson was used to speaking with all kinds of people at different levels of psychosis, so she couldn’t really be bothered by Alan’s attitude just then. Unfazed, she sat forward, placing her hands on the table with a small smile on her fleshy face.

“Why don’t you tell me about yourself, then, Alan?” she told him quietly. “That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Pretend I’m a girl you would like to date.” And she smiled at the thought. “Just speak to me; tell me about yourself. I believe you know the lines. It should start with something like, ‘Hi, I’m Alan’.”

Alan paused, smiled uncertainly at the idea. Then he seemed to have an even better idea. “Sometimes, girls do the asking, don’t they?”

The woman sat back and dropped her pen on the table, folded her hands across her chest and looked at him quietly. “Aright,” she said, “what d’you want to know about me, Alan?”

“Nothing,” replied Alan, suddenly losing interest in the whole thing. Then, “Can I please use the bathroom? My bladder’s bursting right now.”

She pointed him in the direction of the restroom while she proceeded to fill out the sheet on her table. In her honest, professional opinion, the kid needed help desperately. He was losing it slowly, going round the bend. If the trend wasn’t interrupted, he might go over the edge soon and become psychotic. Already, he seemed like a loose cannon about to explode. The signs were there – defensive, reclusive, drug use, lack of interest in friendship, irritable, broken home, anger and bitterness.

She quickly finished her brief report and closed the file just as Alan got back into the office and heaved himself down on the seat. He was frowning, still.

Sure, she thought, smiling at him. This one definitely needs help.

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