Sarren O'Condellen pushed open the heavy glass doors. Sun poured through the glass ceiling and walls, bounced off the marble floor and into her eyes, temporarily blinding her. When her vision cleared, she looked around. The lobby was full. Business suits. Expensive shoes. Sarren wore jeans and sneakers. I look like I'm in a fog or... They probably think I'm stoned. She couldn't shake the notion they were judging her. But Sarren didn't speculate about them. They were an open book to her. Hopes, dreams, fears -- one look and she knew everything. That was why she'd come; why she couldn't leave. I have to get his help. That thought propelled Sarren to the elevator. She pressed the button and waited, shifting her weight from foot to foot -- adjusting the backpack straps that hung over her shoulders. A buzzer sounded, a door slid open and Sarren walked into the elevator car. She shed her heavy backpack and placed it beside her on the floor, leaned back and closed her eyes. I need to tell him... He needs to know... She rehearsed her speech as she had countless times before. She'd made the appointment immediately after listening to a local radio call-in show that had featured Doctor Zimmerman. Sarren had been impressed by his soothing, confident voice and his drug-free methods. He'll help me. And soon this curse will be lifted.
"This is the twenty-second floor," a disembodied voice announced.
Sarren jumped. The door slid open and she hurried out, momentarily forgetting her backpack. But she hopped back in, grabbed it and hopped out before the door closed. The corridor was well lit, which aided her search. Door after door, nameplate after nameplate until she found his office. She turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. The receptionist's desk was at the far end of the waiting room. Sarren kept her eyes trained on the clock that hung on the wall behind the desk as she passed Doctor Zimmerman's other clients.
"I have a one o'clock appointment," she told the receptionist.
The receptionist ran her pencil down a list of names. "Ms. O'Condellen?"
"Please have a seat. Doctor Zimmerman will see you shortly." The receptionist was pleasant but not unnervingly so.
Sarren found an empty chair beside a stack of magazines. She selected one and tried to read, but she couldn't help herself, she looked up. A man with oily hair just stared at the floor. Drug addict. Sex offender. A woman flipped through a magazine. She turned a page and scratched. Another page, she scratched her arm. Another page, she scratched her hand. Another, she scratched her nose. Neurotic. Paranoid. Sick. Crazy. Insane. Sarren returned the magazine she'd been trying to read back to the pile. I don't belong here. Not. Here.
"Ms. O'Condellen," the receptionist called. "Doctor Zimmerman will see you now."
But maybe he will help me. That hope kept her from flying out the door. And instead she allowed the receptionist to usher her into the office. Sarren left the hardwood waiting room and set two feet onto the deep pile carpeted office. Rescued?
The receptionist pulled the door closed, behind her.
"Sarren, I'm Doctor Zimmerman." He had a black handlebar mustache, black tie and black suit. A villain in a silent movie. Where is the rope he'd use to tie me to the track? Where is the train that will crush me into pliable clay? His words floated across the room but Sarren let them drift away from her. He swept a hand out, indicating a leather sofa. "Please have a seat."
Trapped? Sarren perched on the edge of a sofa cushion.
Doctor Zimmerman picked up the alarm clock, set the timer and placed it back down on the coffee table. He flipped pages in a leather notebook, clicked his steel gray pen and crossed his pencil thin, long legs. "Please begin."
Sarren tried to think but all she heard was the ticking clock. The click-clack of wheels on a track. "Well, I...I...I'm not sure. I--" The carefully prepared speech was gone.
"I'm listening." The doctor pushed a box of tissues closer to Sarren.
"I...I...hear voices. People are talking to me--telling me their stories: happy, sad, haunting stories. I hear them mostly when I'm sleeping. You have to make them stop."
"Stories?" Doctor Zimmerman twisted an end of his mustache.
"I haven't slept a wink, not a wink, in months. Please you have to help me."
"Tell me more about these stories." The doctor clicks his pen, once, twice, sets the tip on a page in the notebook.
"I'm no English major. I'm a waitress. I'm sure as hell no writer. And still they keep waking me--night after night after night." Sarren unzipped the backpack and pulled out a stacks of paper.
The doctor uncrossed his grasshopper legs, twisted his mustache, rubbed his hands together and grabbed several manuscripts. "Stories," his tongue licked the word as it fell from his lips.
"They burn a hole in my head. Force me out of bed, in the middle of the night. I write every word, thinking that I'll be free. But the next night another..."
He smiled when she told him she was desperate. Turned a page when she explained he was her last hope. He finished reading the last page and interrupted her entreaty with a question. "Are there more?" He cradled the manuscript in both hands, like it was manna for the gods.
"I have boxes and boxes in my apartment."
"Excellent," he purred. The timer rang. "Sadly our time has now expired."
Crestfallen, Sarren reached for the stack of paper.
"Ah, no. I'll need this to assess your case, you understand." The doctor flipped open the manuscript. "Next Thursday. Same time. Bring those other boxes and any new manuscripts. I assure you I will help you." He said while he read.
Next post: Sunday, July 3rd (approximately 5 PM) Sarren's Curse (short story) 2 of 2
What happens when Sarren returns? Ah, my friend, for this you will have to read the next post. Thank you for your interest.
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