Appointment with a Smile

Sitting in the large chair I noticed the fabric on the arms had started to fray. Uncomfortable, I began puling at the threads. As they slipped through my fingers I became aware of how sweaty my hands had become. The open window allowed a small breeze to enter and dance along my skin, cooling the sweat and making me shiver. This is not how I wanted to spend my Saturday morning.

We weren’t in our normal room, and it was making me uncomfortable. A large painting of a rural landscape hung behind her. The wheat yellows of the image clashed with the light purple walls.  The furniture was old. Fading fabric, dusty tables and fake plants that were starting to look sad regardless of their immortality.

She sat across from me, her hair up and glasses on. I would guess that she was around my age, maybe a little older – we never had a chance to discuss those things. Pen and paper in hand, her eyes fixated on me, unwavering. I looked back down at my hands, tugging at the threads. Blue thread, red thread, blue thread, red thread.

“So tell me about Dylan” I jumped at the sound of her voice. I was more on edge than I thought. “Uh there isn’t much to say?” I knew she wouldn’t buy it. She raised one eyebrow and smirked, “nothing at all? Last week you came in here bouncing off the walls, telling me you had finally worked out what was going on. You blamed Dylan and then suddenly you were out again. I have been working with you for six months now and not once have I ever heard of Dylan. So, I will ask again, tell me about Dylan”.

I let go of the fabric. I felt the colour drain from my face and my stomach started impersonating a washing machine. “Dylan…Dylan isn’t real” I paused, I could feel her eyes on me and I shifted in my chair again. “He is just someone I created. He simultaneously exists and does not. I don’t even remember when he started to be here” I tapped my head, “he just is.”

The scratching sound of her pen along the paper stopped – the silence painful. “Does he help you or does he hinder you?” She always had a way with words. The way she asked questions made me think. I hated it.

“Both. When he wants to help, he is there and he is great. Other times…other times he is bad.”

“What do you mean bad?”

“Well he… he does bad things. The other day I was at the shop and this little boy was lost. He was only small, maybe three or four? He was standing in the middle of the complex, crying. I knelt down and I asked him if he needed help finding his mum. The poor boy was a mess, he nodded but I knew he didn’t really trust me. All I wanted to do was help him, I really did. He just looked at me with these big sad eyes and I wanted to help. I took his hand and we started to walk towards the information desk. As I walked I felt… Dylan. He was there, pushing his way into the situation.  I didn’t want to let him. I knew if I did, then this boy would never find his mum.”

I stopped. My chest was seizing up, each breath was laborious. The sweat had started to bead from my forehead and the breeze from the window was no longer cool enough. She stared at me, I took a deep breath and continued.

“I couldn’t fight him off. It started in my feet. Suddenly I was walking away from the information desk. Then in my hands, I could feel my grip tighten on the boy’s little hand. It kept creeping, this burning sensation right through my chest and into my throat. As it spread across me the anxiety disappeared for a second and instead I felt… I felt rage. There was nothing but rage. I smiled, but it wasn’t me, I was no longer in control. The little boy looked up at me and then I black out. I don’t know what happens when he takes over. All I know is the rage. A deep, black feeling that takes over every fibre in my body. I can’t comprehend how much hatred exists in him. In that second before I lose myself, I feel his pain and I can’t describe it.”

She looks up from her notes. The sunlight flares off her glasses and she smiles. But it’s not a kind smile. Her eyes don’t match the grimace that is stretching across her face. Slowly she begins to laugh, a quiet giggle that feels empty. She puts down her pen, takes off her glasses and stares at me, her teeth exposed and her laughter still echoing in my ears.

“Did you really think you could talk about me? Did you truly think that I would allow you to tell our little secret to little miss shrink here?” she points at herself, grinning. “You should know by now, we don’t talk about Dylan. Do we?”

Pin pricks of fear burst across my body. I can’t breathe, I can’t move. She stands up from her chair and walks over to me. I am paralysed. A scream trapped somewhere between my throat and my mouth. She leans in, inches from my face. I can smell rotting flesh, blood and something sickeningly sweet coming off her breath. I know now that she is Dylan – Dylan is me. There is no where to run, no where to hide. I can’t escape. She grips my jaw, wrenching my mouth open. Burning, screaming the transfusion begins. My body shakes as each cell changes and becomes dark. The burning is more than physical. I scream. Then silence.

The room is empty, I am alone. I turn to the window and catch my reflection. I smile an empty smile. My eyes don’t match the grin. I laugh and the laughter turns to a hysterical hyena like sound. The windows break. Dylan is me, I am Dylan.




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