“Ten…nine…eight…,” the deep voice lulled Dr. Anne Jamison out of the dark that surrounded her subconscious. “Seven…six…five…four…three…two…one. Come back to me, Anne.”
Her green eyes fluttered rapidly, attempting to regain focus of her stark white surroundings that were layered with a post-hypnotic haze.
“How do you feel Anne?” Dr. David Lindsey asked while perched across from her in his leather chair.
Her mouth was dry and she felt disoriented but oddly calm. Dr. Lindsey adjusted his wire-rim glasses as he began to jot something down on his steno pad.
“I don’t feel any anxiety.” Anne finally replied, looking toward the skyline backdrop.
She stood and began walking towards the wall of windows. She straightened out her black pencil skirt and placed her flushed forehead against the wintery glass. Anne gazed 22 stories down at the hustling morning traffic, watching the cars maneuver through the maze of downtown Minneapolis. Her hot breath fogged the glass, clouding the image; she began playing with the string of pearls draped across her slender neck.
“That’s great. I know that you want to remain off your medication. How are you feeling today?” Dr. Lindsey asked.
“Today.” Exhaling deeply Anne repeated in statement form.
Carter Leeds had vanished and was presumed dead three years earlier. She and Carter had shared a dysfunctional, volatile but passionate relationship for nearly a year and a half.
“Anne? I know that you are still having nightmares. Did you have one last night?”
Anne could feel Dr. Lindsey’s question burn in the back of her skull. She left the pearls alone and turned back to him. His salt and pepper hair reflected the harsh fluorescents that beamed above them. He reminded Anne of her psych professor in college, with a mid-life crisis allure. But Dr. Lindsey treated her more like broken child than a sexy pupil.
“No, I actually slept quite well last night.”
Her long blond strands became entangled with the necklace; wincing. She pulled the knotted piece free.
“You must be quite ecstatic about your recent engagement.” Dr. Lindsey said.
She stroked the 3ct. princess cut solitaire with her index finger. She watched the ballet of colors dance inside the diamond with illuminated grace. Her fiancé, Adam Whitney, was her savior. He pulled her from the depths of her self-torment, breathing new life into her; retrieving her from the brink of darkness.
“I’m quite happy indeed, Dr. Lindsey, though I do at times feel that uneasiness, that lack of closure.” Anne could feel the flushed emotion rising just below the surface of her skin.
“You must remove yourself from that liability. Carter led a reckless lifestyle; you can’t blame yourself for his actions.”
“I know, but how do you truly have closure when there is no body? How do say farewell to a poster-sized picture draped with sympathy bouquets?”
“Anne, Carter is gone. He’s not coming back and you need to start focusing on the future. Focus on you and Adam.”
Dr. Lindsey’s expression softened as he placed the steno pad down on the wooden coffee table between them.
Anne stopped fidgeting at the band of her pomegranate-hued cardigan and glanced at her watch. She stood up, reached for her black purse and matching trench coat, ending the session a few minutes early.
“Maybe you should take the day…” Before Dr. Lindsey could finish, Anne’s hand was up in protest.
“Absolutely not, I’m a big girl, and these children need help. I can handle it, they can’t.”
Without further argument Dr. Lindsey stepped towards the door and opened to the reception area, ushering Anne through.
“Take care Anne.” He squeezed her arm and turned toward the young man who was his next appointment.
Anne waved to the brunette receptionist who was also Dr. Lindsey’s daughter. She hurried out the glass door and into a narrow hallway. Her heels clicked against the tan tile echoing off the vintage walls. Her own self-produced breeze flowed through her loose curls as they bounced with her quickened step; she knew Casey would be waiting for her. Anne took her final turn and there stood Casey Adler, best friend extraordinaire and colleague, one hand on her hip and the other holding a latte. Her hourglass shape filled the grey and white leopard sheath dress perfectly, evoking the style of Marilyn Monroe. She raised an aggravated eyebrow to Anne.
“Where the hell have you been?”
“Well, good morning to you too.” Anne replied.
Casey yanked Anne’s cell phone from the open pocket in her purse and held it up.
“I called and texted you a dozen times. Where have you been and don’t lie to me, Anne. We’ve been friends since college and I know when you are lying!”
“I had an appointment with Dr. Lindsey and before you even start white couching me, I am perfectly fine, okay?”
Anne snatched her phone back, throwing it into her purse and eyeing Casey’s reaction.
“I promise I won’t but I’m just worried about you. I don’t buy into all this hypnosis crap and you stopping your anxiety medication makes me nervous.” Casey said brushing her flaxen bangs to the side.
“I know you hate that I stopped taking my medication but I feel so much better, freer of all those self-loathing emotions. Adam deserves a fiancé that doesn't need to take a pill to bury all that unnecessary baggage.”