Posted in Mystery Month, Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday #63

SSS Mystery Man Four

            “Dr. Laurie Dawson, it’s very nice to meet you.” A tall woman with short, blonde hair shook George’s hand and then Lilah’s. She smiled sweetly to them and then turned look at Joshua’s body on the ground.

She sighed, “I was his therapist. I have known Joshua for a long time… ten years, to be exact.”

“Therapist? Was he sick?” Lilah questioned.

“One doesn’t have to be sick to visit a therapist.” Dr. Dawson lifted an eyebrow at her. Lilah took a step back suddenly feeling small.

“Then tell us why Joshua has been visiting you for the past ten years.” George said firmly defending Lilah.

“His brother and sister-in-law passed away in a horrible plane crash. They were on their way to a business trip across the ocean. The plane malfunctioned and crashed into the water… no bodies were recovered; only little bits of the plane.” Dr. Dawson clutched a file folder tightly to her chest. She stared down at Joshua and sighed.

“He was grieving,” she continued, “he was grieving and he was suddenly a father-figure. He wasn’t ready to take care of a child. He came to me for help; for advice. He even brought Abigail with him for a few times. Now she’s my patient as well.”

Lilah twisted her head to look at Abigail. She still stood in the doorway staring down at her dead uncle.

“I took Abigail as a patient because she was only three years of age when her parents passed away. Joshua told her they were on a business trip, so she never fully understood that they died. To be honest, I still don’t believe she fully understands.” Dr. Dawson explained and then lowered her voice to a whisper, but Abigail didn’t seem to be paying any attention.

Lilah nodded her head. No wonder Abigail acted so strange; she was living a life based on lies. She probably expected her parents to come home any day now and they were never going to come. She looked up at George, who kept his gaze fixated on Dr. Dawson.

“So, Joshua was riddled with grieve. For ten years?” he pressed.

“He began to believe James had come back.” Dr. Dawson paced around the body.

“James?” Lilah looked up at George. “The invisible person?”

“Excuse me?” Dr. Dawson stared at Lilah puzzled.

“There’s a photo upstairs in Joshua’s bedroom. It’s a picture taken by him of himself. His arm looks like it’s wrapped around someone’s shoulder, but no one else is in the picture with him.” Lilah turned to look at Abigail. “Abigail mentioned that James was in the picture with Joshua… but again, no one else was there.”

“Ah, yes.” Dr. Dawson nodded her head with a sad sigh. “Joshua began to believe James was alive again. He was seeing James everywhere. He was hearing voices.”

“So he was sick…” Lilah muttered.

“I think I know where this is going.” George grunted.

“Dissociative Identity Disorder,” Dr. Dawson nodded her head in agreement with George, knowing exactly what he was thinking.”

“Split personality?” Lilah gasped.

“Joshua was so stricken with grieve and stress that he looked to his brother for help from beyond the grave. He thought it was a good way to cope because the deceased are never truly gone.” Dr. Dawson placed a hand on her heart. “They’re always with us.”

Lilah and George glanced at each other.

“It got out of hand is all.” Dr. Dawson stared at the ground.

“I thought people with split personality didn’t know the other personality was there?” Lilah questioned suspiciously.

“You’re right,” Dr. Dawson agreed, “but people with this disorder don’t understand what happens when the other personality takes over. They just can’t remember certain parts of their day. However, things would be moved around and Joshua’s life was being carried on. He assumed it was the work of a ghost; of his brother James. He believed his brother was trying to get in contact with him.”

“Was he?” George wondered.

Dr. Dawson stared George in the eye as she tried to think of a response. “I believe Joshua was so desperate to see his brother again that he made himself believe the unbelievable.”

Lilah bit her lower lip and turned to look at Abigail once more. She wondered if Abigail was paying any attention to this conversation and just how much she understood of it. Abigail remained in the doorway to the living room but was no longer staring at his uncle. She eyed Dr. Dawson soaking in every word she said.

“Given his background, it is believed that Joshua had enough of his other personality… of James.” The forensic scientist spoke. “We believed Joshua, in the heat of the moment, attempted to get rid of James, which sadly resulted in him losing his own life.”

Dr. Dawson nodded her head. “This folder contains my last few sessions with Joshua and highlights some of his worst moments. He was beginning to believe someone was following him. Someone was in his house with him, other than Abigail.”

Lilah looked up at George. “That’s what he said in the e-mail.” She whispered.

“Joshua was becoming aware of James. He would argue with him right in front of me in the middle of our sessions.” She continued.

Lilah nodded remembering that Abigail mentioned she heard two male voices from her bedroom. Joshua must have had one last argument with his other personality.

“Reading the reports in order, you can really see Joshua spiral downhill.” Dr. Dawson concluded.

“We’ll look over the reports.” A police officer spoke. “It’s looking more and more likely that Joshua might have killed himself, even if it wasn’t intentional. Thank you Dr. Dawson and thank you George for coming down. However, it looks as though this case is an open and shut one.”

Lilah and George turned around to leave as the officers began to wrap things up. Lilah then realized Abigail was no longer standing in the doorway. She was out in the hallway talking to a police officer; or rather, the officer was talking to her as she stared at the ground.

“Lilah,” George broke Lilah out of her thoughts holding the front door open for her. “I think our work here is done.”

*

Lilah sat down on the couch on one of the George’s office as he sat down at his desk. She let out a deep sigh and threw her head back closing her eyes.

“I have to say that was the quickest case I’ve ever worked… and we’re not even getting paid for it.” George grunted. He turned his computer back on and stared at the screen as it lit up.

“George?” Lilah lifted her head once more. “What do you think is going to happen to Abigail?”

“Well,” George sighed leaning back in his chair, “my guess would be that she’ll be put into the foster system. Unless she has any other family who can take her.”

“What a sad story.” Lilah shook her head in disgust. “First she loses her parents without knowing it and then her uncle commits suicide while she’s in the house.”

“Not all cases have a happy ending. Remember that one, Lilah. It’s awful, but it’s true.” George said softly.

Lilah nodded her head. She turned on her laptop once more. This case was definitely the quickest one yet, but it was also the most sad. She couldn’t imagine grieving for ten years only to have the deceased lingering behind you, haunting you. She thought about Abigail finally understanding why she was so strange and emotionless. Lilah hoped Abgail would improve as she got older and that this wouldn’t haunt her for the rest of her life like Joshua.

Once Lilah’s laptop was fully booted up, she logged onto her blog. She had already written a post for the day, but another one couldn’t hurt. She took a deep breath and began to write.

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

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