With A Little Help, by Brittney D. Herz
His stare doesn’t leave the floor. I look too, thinking maybe there’s a unique pattern or shape hidden among the wood vinyl. Nothing of importance looks back. A young woman in white scrub pants and a flowered scrub top opens the door and calls Colton back after almost a half hour of waiting. He doesn’t acknowledge me as he glides towards her honeyed voice.
I pick up a few magazines and flip aimlessly through them. Every time I turn a page my eyes go to my forearm which is now a group of dark brown spots where a gray bruise was a few days ago. I thought a long sleeve shirt during our hot July would be more noticeable than not covering it at all. Colton’s hands had fit completely around my arms. I’m not sure when he got that big, and strong, but I keep trying to remember the baby I rocked to sleep so many years ago.
There’s another mother in the waiting room with her son. Her son is much younger than my Colton, maybe ten or so. He seems to have a tic that causes him to scratch his neck vigorously. Little scars are hidden behind larger newly scratched pieces of flesh. Little white shreds of skin sit on top of pink and red. He tries to busy his hands with a game but his eyes don’t stay on the screen very long.
“Hmm?” I snap back into my body. “Oh, yes that’s me.” I follow the same young woman back to an office.
Colton is sitting in a seat right next to the doctor’s desk. His hands still in his pocket. His eyes still on the floor. I try to keep my heels from making too much noise as I enter in further knowing how much that bothers him lately. The doctor seems to notice the hesitation in my steps. His large hands stay braided together on top of a desk that would seem obnoxious with a normal sized person behind it.
“Mrs. Ireland it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
I give a small smile. “I wish I could say that same Dr. Moore.”
He gives me a nod before looking over at Colton.
“Colton would you like to go out in the waiting room while your mother and I talk?”
Colton finally lifts his head. The gray under his eyes has begun to melt to his cheeks. The almost baby blue of his irises had darkened. Stray pieces of blonde hair fall into his face. He looks at me, squinting hard.
He stands and lets himself out.
I shake my head. “I don’t understand. He never, never, acted like this before. It was like he just woke up the other day and hated my guts. Everyone’s guts.” I sit back. For a moment I wished it was the fifties so I could light up a cigarette while talking to the doctor anxiously.
“Yes I can see by your reactions that this behavior is quite sudden. After reading your statements and speaking with him I believe that Colton has schizophrenia. Usually in cases like his something triggers it for it to be as intense as his seems to be. Also you usually see a break in the odd behavior and see glimmers of his old self, which from what you told me on the phone doesn’t seem to be the case.”
I shake my head.
“I’m going to prescribe some medications that you need to make sure he takes every night starting tonight.” Dr. Moore looks down and catches the bruised skin on my arm in his sights. “Do I have any reason to think you shouldn’t be okay with him at home?”
I shake my head harder. “No, no we’re fine. I’m obviously just worried about him.” I clear my throat and stand to leave.
Colton sits on his bed still staring at the floor. There’s a flutter in my stomach that makes me want to run away from him. Stronger than that is guilt for almost doing it.
“Colton, you need to take these pills the doctor gave me. They will make you feel better when you wake in the morning.”
He doesn’t look up but I sit them down with a glass of water and turn to leave. I get to his door when something jars me to turn. Colton’s eyes are wide and close enough to my own that I can see his veins.
“Get out!” he screams at me. The power of his voice causes me to stumble back and fall out of his room. His door slams shut, leaving me crying on the floor of our hallway.
I wake to the smell of grease. Confusion drives me to dress quicker than I normally would on a Saturday morning. I get almost all the way down the stairs and hear Colton’s soft voice singing. I can’t tell exactly what he’s singing but his voice sounds light, airy.
His back is to me when I walk into the kitchen but I can see his hair has been combed and he is only wearing a blue t shirt, no hoodie.
My voice almost cracks but I manage a small “good morning.”
Colton turns. His eyes are still dark and his face is still gray but he actually smiles.
“Good morning. I’m cooking some bacon. Yours will be extra burnt, like you like it.”
I can’t help but smile. “Why thank you, that’s very sweet.”
He turns and goes back to humming. On the table there are two plates and two cups of orange juice already out. I am about to sit down when my cell phone rings.
“I was going to go down to the church yard sale if you want to join me?” I say to the air. I expect either silence as a response or a resounding “no” but instead Colton nods.
“I can do that.”
I answer my phone and tell my friend Caitlyn that Colton and I will be there shortly.
Sitting on my couch I start to go over last week’s new patients. I like to give them a good run through before the next week starts. Right on top is a patient I hadn’t stopped thinking about since he left my office.
He said his name was Alastor and that Colton was gone. I called him Colton a few times and he would twitch just so slightly and his eyes would dart as if he was hearing me from hundreds of yards away. When his hands weren’t in his pockets they were grabbing onto to his own person. He would yank on his greasy hair or tug at his ear. Odd behavior when not for a purpose, so what was the purpose? And why did he acknowledge his other personality was gone?
I flick on the television, leaving the volume down, and start rereading my notes from our session. A cup of decaf coffee is my paper weight holding the rest of my files in place on the coffee table.
Some of the words he was saying I couldn’t quite understand. I had recorded a few on a small tape recorder and wrote down the closest thing it sounded like. The language seemed strange coming from the young man’s mouth.
Out of the corner of my eye I see him. I jump thinking he got into my home but it’s from the bright glare of my television screen. His face is on the news. He’s smiling as the words “Teenage boy murders mother today” flashes underneath. I fall back into the sofa and hit the volume up.
“-sometime this afternoon a friend stopped by to check on Kimberley when she didn’t show up for her church’s yard sale. Her son, Colton Ireland had recently starting seeing specialists, reports a family friend, but no progress had been made. When the police questioned Colton he began to scream saying it wasn’t him. When asked who it was he said a demon who spoke to him in Latin.”
I cup my hands over my mouth and picture Mrs. Ireland dead on the floor. She seemed like such a sweet lady, timid and nervous, but sweet. Colton’s eyes seem so much brighter in the photo that keeps flashing on screen. Not like the eyes I saw. I look back down at my notes. Serus ed medicus. I grab an old English to Latin dictionary off of my book shelf and start to translate. As I do I write down “you’re too late doctor”.
Brittney D. Herz lives and works on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She is a mom, librarian, camping enthusiast, and hot beverage addict. She likes short walks in the woods and now has several short stories published. Brittney is also in the process of launching a literary magazine that caters to writers in the area. Find her on Facebook.com/bdherz and on her website!
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Tags: Brittney D. Herz, family, horror, parents, possession