Clockwork (Short Story)

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Clockwork (Short Story)

Postby Blu » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:25 am

Bryan sat in the waiting chair to the right of the main office door and across from the attractive, blond receptionist. He would have spent more time looking at her if his eyes weren't constantly staring at the ground as a muddled converstation carried on behind a closed inner office door. He couldn't hear what was being said, but he knew it was about him. A clock was hanging above him on the wall. It was like the one they had at his old school; it had a metal rim and red second hand with black minute and hour hands. It ticked and tocked away, oblivious to his discomfort.

"...Jumping on his bed in middle of the night! What twelve-year old does that! Now he's fighting in school! I don't recognize him anymore!" He looked up as is mother's voice raised through the closed door. The blond receptionist bit into her sandwich as she looked at him. She chewed slowly as her gaze darted to the wall behind him, to the clock, and eventually on the ceiling. His eyes fells back to the floor; he tucked his chin a bit more into his chest as his shoulder slumped in the waiting room chair. His mom'll start crying soon. She always cries after she raises her voice. She's been raising her voice a lot lately.

The door slowly creaked open and he heard a man say, "Yes. The restroom's right down the hall." His mom walked out first, quick strides past him without even a look. Like clockwork, her eyes were puffy and tears streamed down her cheeks. She pulled open the main office door and stormed out. Her hair, tied up in a pony-tail, swished between her shoulders.

Bryan's dad mumbled an apology to the doctor again as he closed the inner office door behind him. He looked to the open door where his wife just walked out. And then he walked to his son. Bryan peeked at him fugitively. He was unshaven and his glasses were tilted down, low on the bridge of his nose. He must've been rubbing temples again, Bryan thought.

Bryan's dad put his right hand on his son's head, ready to tussle the boy's hair, but didn't when his son looked up at him. He opened his mouth to say something but closed it. Instead, he moved his hand to Brad's right shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He followed Brad's mother out of the main office door, shutting it behind him. It went click as it closed.

The receptionist kept on chewing, a slow, mushy munch on bread, mayo and ham mixed with a ever-so-often crunch of crisp lettuce. That carried on for a bit until her desk phone beeped. She quickly swallowed the piece in her mouth with a forced gulp and answered it by pressing a button as she slid on her headphones. She pressed the button again shortly after.

"You can go right in, Sweetie. The doctor's been waiting for you," the blond receptionist said with a sudden smile as she pushed the remains of her lunch off the desk into the trash can. She pulled her lipstick out of her desk. She reminded him of someone in Mean Girls but he couldn't think of the actress' name. As she reapplied her lipstick, she gestured at the door with her other hand. Not that she needed it. Her lips were already a vibrant red.

He got up and knocked on the door anyways. A "Come on in" answered his knock. Bryan turned the knob but then paused before pushing it in. He looked back behind him and sighed with relief as he only saw the still-smiling receptionist and the closed main office door. He pushed open the door and poked his head in. He immediately saw a desk, no computer, with a large window behind it, blinds open and light pouring through. Sitting on its uncluttered surface was an unlit golden lamp with green shades, a desk calendar, and small bookend clocks with three books between them. The books were titled Dreams and Meanings: A Pseudo-science Falsehood, The Psychosis behind Spirits and Hauntings Explained, and Dealing with the Problem Child through Psychological Norms; all were by William Hunt. To the right of it, sat a man wearing a tan v-neck sweater and holding a pen and yellow legal notepad in a brown, leather armchair. And against the right wall was the couch.

He looked behind the door. And when he didn't see anything to the left of the desk but bookshelves and books, Bryan walked in and closed the door with a click behind him. The doctor stood up and extended out his right hand, "I'm Dr. Hunt. You must be Bryan." The clock bookends ticked and tocked in the background.The boy stared at them. "Don't mind the clocks. My patients usually find the noise soothing, gives them a sense of pattern and normalcy. I can shut them off if you like."

Bryan shook his head and turned his attention to the couch. One bookend clock ticked. "So ummm Doctor..." The other tocked. "...Do I lie down?"

"Lie down. Sit. Stand. Anything you want," Dr. Hunt said in rhythm to the ticks and tocks and with a grin. "What ever makes you comfortable." Dr. Hunt pulled his hand back and sat back down in the armchair and crossed his legs.

Bryan sat down and crossed his arms across his chest. He stared at the floor while the doctor continued to smile back at him. "Rachel McAdams!" Bryan blurted out.

"Excuse me?" The doctor flipped to a new page. One bookend clock ticked as his pen clicked. Random exclamations, he wrote as the other bookend clock tocked.

The boy dropped his chin to his chest and mumbled, "The lady. She looks like Rachel McAdams." Tick cried out one of the bookend clocks.

Dr. Hunt chuckled and scratched out his first note. Tock responded the other. "Oh. Lisa. I guess she does. Do you like Rachel McAdams?" The boy's head was still down but sheepish grin shined through. "She is a cutie..."

"My brother says she's hot," Bryan interrupted, finally meeting the eyes of the doctor. "We saw her on TV, in a movie."

"Well now you can tell him, you met someone just as hot," the doctor said with a wink and a tick from the bookend clock.

The boy uncrossed his arms and leaned forward with the palm of his hands on the couch "Yeah! Yeah I can!" Tock.

The doctor scribbled has brother, excited about astonishing brother. He should have asked about sibling relationships when he talked to the parents earlier. Sometimes kids act out because of sibling rivalry.

"And you watched this at home? How do you like your new house, Bryan?" the doctor asked. The parents did mention recently moving. Sometimes kids have a hard time adjusting after a move to a new town.

"It's okay," Bryan answered with less enthusiasm. "I'm supposed to have my own room. My parent's have their own. My brother has his own. I should have my own. But she's there. She's always been there."

"And is that why you been having problems at school?"

"It's not my fault, Doctor. It's hers. She won't let me sleep. She always wants to play." The boy crossed his arms again. "At first, she just stared and stared at me. I pulled my blanket over my head. But I know she was still staring. And one night I felt something on me. On my legs first. I kicked it off." The next night it was on my waist. I rolled it off, turning." Bryan stared at Dr. Hunt angrily. "And the next night it was on my chest. I pulled off my blanket. She was sitting on me!"

"And this isn't your older..."

Bryan stood up. "No she's younger than me!" He paced back and forth, in front of the couch, faster than the bookend clocks could tick and tock. "And she always wants to play! When I don't want to, she pulls off my blanket. Throws it in the air. And now she follows me. Follows me everywhere!" exclaimed Bryan.

"Did you tell your parents about your younger sister's behavior?" calmly asked Dr. Hunt, trying to bring the conversation back in step with the clocks tick-and-tock rhythm.

Bryan stopped pacing, stood in front of Dr. Hunt and stared at him. A silent moment passed between the tick and the next tock and between them. "I don't have a sister."

"Then who..." Dr. Hunt asked him. He flipped through his notes to the meeting with the parents, scanning for any mention of an adoption. But he should have remembered if someone said anything about an adoption. Sometimes kids react very poorly to adoptions.

"I told you... she's always been there, Doctor. Even before we moved in. Always been in the house. Always been in my room." Bryan's shoulders slumped. "And Doctor, she always wants to play. She won't let me sleep. Always playing. She's always..." Bryan took a step back towards the couch. "She..."

The doctor looked up at why the boy paused. Bryan was staring to the right of him, wide-eyed. As one bookend clock ticked, the doctor felt something cold stroke his right arm. He felt goosebumps run down as the hairs on his arm stood on their ends. The other bookend clock tocked. He turned his head quickly and thought he saw a wisp of long black hair when the other bookend clock ticked again. He jumped to the left a little in his chair when the eventual tock came. In the sunlight, he thought he also caught a glimpse of a child's red dress. As he eased himself back into his chair, he looked back at Bryan.

The boy's breathing was short and shallow and coming quicker than the ticks and tocks. His calves hit the couch seating with a small thud. Bryan almost stumbled backwards onto the couch but caught himself with his right hand. He sat down, back arched and shoulders slumped, and cupped his hands over his eyes. "She's...she's here, Doctor. And...and she wants to pl..." The breathing became more regular and began to match the tick and tock in the background. The boy's hands slowly lowered from his eyes.

TICK. "...Hello Mister." TOCK.
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Blu
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