I don’t understand why I have to be here. I don’t understand why my mother has agreed to send me in to do this stupid interview. I am so nervous; my heart is in my throat. I hate talking to people, especially those that I don’t know.
Aiden senses my unease and knocks over a chair, either for my amusement or to satisfy his appetite for something to do. Either way, it irritates me.
“Stop it, Aiden! It’s your fault we’re in trouble, so cut it out!”
He groans and backs off. He’s bored. But it’s not my fault. He can go complain to someone else about his punishment. I don’t want to hear it. I was pulled into this.
My mother comes in, sitting down next to me. “He’s replaced Dr. Matthews, so he’ll be taking care of you. He seems really nice. Go on, he wants to meet you,” She nods toward the door, an encouraging smile forced onto her face. “Go on, hurry up. I’ll be right here, sweetheart.”
I have no other option. Grudgingly, I slide out of my chair and take small steps to the imposing office door. When I enter, I come to see a man sitting behind his desk, filing through paperwork. He introduces himself as Nathan Dawkins. He is all sharp angles, with wide rimmed glasses across his nose and tired, but bright eyes.
I sit awkwardly across from him, avoiding eye contact.
“Jodie, my job is to study… strange events, and then try to explain them.”
I look up at him and stare.
“Like… the things that happen around you. Right, Jodie?” I shrug, unsure of what there is to be said. Aiden tenses up behind me. No one is to know about him. Phillip has made that explicitly clear.
“Your mother tells me you have an invisible friend.”
Well… apparently, Phillip has retracted his statements. But I still don’t say a word. I will not be punished. Mr. Dawkins leans back in his chair, quiet now, dissatisfied.
“I can understand if you don’t want to talk about it, but if you did, I could help you figure it all out.”
I can’t bring myself to trust him, a stranger. Phillip will find some way to punish me if I open up. I won’t be caught in a trap like this.
Mr. Dawkins, pursing his lips, senses the tension, and begins to question me rather than make me tell him. “This friend… has he been with you a long time?”
“Since you were born?”
I nod again.
“Is he a ghost,” he pries, “or a spirit of someone who passed away?”
I don’t know that, and neither does Aiden. I only know his name. Nothing else.
Mr. Dawkins has hit a roadblock with my lack of a response. He tries another approach. “Can you… draw him for me?” He places a piece of paper and a pencil in front of me, expectant.
Swallowing a sigh, I reach forward and attempt to draw Aiden and I the best I could. Aiden was not a subject I liked to put down on paper. In a way, it makes him more real and I don’t want him to be real. He’s a nightmare I wish would go away. The drawing amounts to little more than a stick figure and a patch of dark scribbles. I turn it over to Mr. Dawkins and await his reaction.
He eagerly begins to study the picture, devouring and interpreting the only physical representation I have ever done of Aiden.
“So… this thing is your friend… and he’s connected to you with some kind of … cord?” He looks up, waiting for me to verify the work. I say nothing. He can make it out to be whatever he wants.
He looks around. “Is he here right now?”
I nodded. He is always here…
Tentative now, Mr. Dawkins asks, “Can you tell him to do something?”
I don’t even have to ask Aiden. He immediately knocks over the snow globe on the corner of the desk that he has been eyeing for the past few minutes now. Aiden watches the flecks of white whiz around as if in a blender in fascination, kicking it around on the floor.
Mr. Dawkins is clearly startled, try as he might to compose it. I keep my eyes averted strictly on my drawing, the nightmare that had come to life from a fairy tale…
“You…tell him what to do… and it happens?” The mixture of fear and captivation is tangible in his voice.
I can feel Aiden glaring at Mr. Dawkins. He was no simple pet to be ordered around. “I don’t tell Aiden what to do. No one does. He’s like a lion in a cage. We’re tied together. He can’t go away. It makes him really angry,” I pause, watching Mr. Dawkins take in my words with complete fixation, “It’s not my fault. I want him to leave, too. He can be really scary sometimes.”
“Di-Did he do that to you?” I don’t miss the tremor in his voice as he regards the numerous scratches down my arms. He knows he’s walking on thin ice. Aiden could kill him if he asked the wrong question, could smash his skull like he wanted to smash the snow globe.
“No,” I answer calmly, “That was the monsters.”
The color drains from his face as he takes in the sight before him. An innocent little girl tied to a poltergeist and haunted by demons. The innocent part could be a little far-fetched.
As I leave the office, Mommy takes my hand after a few words with Mr. Dawkins. Aiden takes off down the hallway and I watch through his eyes, tuning out the conversation. I don’t know where he is at in the building, but he has gone into one of the rooms, an apartment where a pair of children sits dazedly watching a TV. Well, one is. A little girl is asleep on the boy’s shoulder. Aiden perches above the TV like a gargoyle, near the ceiling.
They can’t see Aiden. They don’t know he’s there. It’s impossible. So that’s why I am startled when the boy’s head snaps up, staring straight at Aiden, as if he were possessed. But he’s not. Ice blue eyes drill into Aiden, traveling through our tie and into me.
That boy doesn’t know I exist. But he… does. He knows of the paranormal. His gaze doesn’t break as Aiden melts into the ceiling and retreats to me. The boy continues to stare at the spot long after Aiden is gone.
Even as we drive away, I can still feel him watching me intently. It’s a feeling I’ve never been able to shake. It haunts me still, like the demons that hide under my bed. Perhaps… he is one of them. His eyes are theirs, supernatural, a ghost. Something that shouldn’t belong here in this world.