“Hi Mikey, im Dr Peret, pleased to meet you.”
Mike looked up at the strange person before him, a dark skinned lady with tight curls that dropped just passed her ears and rolls of gentle fat lining her chin. She looked friendly enough but something whispered in his ear
“Shes gonna lie to you…”
He ignored it, staring into her face. She raised a hand out towards him and instinctively he reached out and shook it, his own hand tiny in her comfortable grip. His mind turned to warmer thoughts as he scanned her features. He pictured her laughing, surrounded by people with the same skin and hair as her, but in different styles. The air was heavy with the scent of spices and loud voices, yet it felt welcoming.
“She comes from a good home…”
“How could you possibly know that? Anyone that dresses like this must not be trusted. They want to put you on tablets and injections to ‘calm you down'”
His mind jumped from the warm environment to a cold, white tiled room where he was strapped to a table, his eyes pinned open and people with glasses standing around him, watching his eyes flick from person to person in the room, jotting things down on clipboards when a machine dropped down, revealing sharp syringes aimed right for his face, possibly his eyes. He screamed as they approached and despair filled him as he tugged on the restraints
“I hear there has been problems at school?”
He was back facing the doctor from the warm home. He breathed deeply and pushed down the sick knot that formed in his stomach.
He shook his head.
“No? No problems? No bullying or difficulties focussing on work?”
He shook his head again, Mikes mother nudged him, jolting a response.
“I… I prefer stories.”
Dr Peret leant closer to him, Mike lowered his face to avoid eye contact. It was stupid but he felt that if they made eye contact she would control the conversation, she would wring him for information and find out about her, find out about the dreams and how they sometimes followed him.
“Find out about me huh…”
“I prefer stories too… who do you read?”
“I don’t, the stories come from me.”
“So a creative type eh?”
He didnt answer, he had said too much.
What was i thinking!? ‘The stories come from me’!? I’m going to have to leave home… ill never see my mom again!
A tear slipped down his cheek, a cold sadness settled in his chest.
“Its ok Mike… Everythings going to be fine. Just, talk.”
About an hour later, Mike had vented everything about the world to Dr Peret, about how he visits it at night and rides enormous creatures across the plains, about the various tribes and people he had met on his travels. Everything from the Pirates at Bladewater Cove to the futuristic city of Nilla. All in incredible detail, he had even gone to the effort to describe each of the knights houses in Empire and also the mysterious Crystal City in the heart of the Lifeless Dunes.
“You… told her everything…”
“Yeah… Sorry… nobody had ever seemed interested before-“
“Well now thry will be! You sounded ansolutely crazy in there… they’ll split us up you know.”
“They can’t do that. You’ve always been there, they can’t take you away.”
“Mike, they have medicines and potiona that can send me away! Thats why i told you not to tell them!”
His heart beat rapidly, filling up with terror. Had he truly messed up that much? Would the kind looking Dr send him to the cold stone place, were lots of scary Drs would poke at him and try to work out what was going on. He felt sick, his stomach flipped and knotted uncomfortably as the murmuring from the office grew louder.
“- but continue with the course and well see how he progresses.”
Mikes mother nodded her head, she had shoulder length hair that was grey and blonde at the same time. She looked tired, he knew that it was hard for her, but didnt understand why. Sure he played a lot more in his head then other children and maybe, just maybe, he spoke to himself or others that where around often but he still didnt see what the problem was.
She smiled weakly, her baggy multicolored jumper was covered in loose threads and ends that completed the picture of a woman at the end of her tether.
“Come on Mikey… lets get home, weve got one stop to make before we get home. Say thank you to the Dr.”
Mike stood up and caught his reflection, people had described him as an “old 8” which confused him as how can you be an old version of your age? In the window opposite, the reflection showed another child, Keller, one of his best friends who was shaking his head with a saddened face.
“Thank you Dr.”
“Ill see you soon Mike, do as you mother asks now ok?”
He nodded gently, feeling resigned to his fate now.