underneath her shining plastic smile, there are only screams.
Seeing the intruder in the yard really upset Hailey—she had a horrible night of disturbed sleep and terrifying dreams.
“I’m going to try to see Trish this morning.”
Nan put down her mug and stared at Hailey. “Hmm. Is it personal or professional?”
“The latter I’m afraid. I’m not doing well, Nan. Hopefully, Trish can help.”
“But I thought she said it was time for you to graduate and handle things on your own.”
“That was then, this is now. A lot’s happened in the past week.”
“I guess your mom’s death and this stalker business has been stressful—not to mention Sean resurfacing at the worst of all possible times.”
“It’s all that and more.” She took a deep breath and then blurted out, “I’ve been having the night terrors again.”
Nan’s face went ashen. “Oh Hailey—I’m so sorry—Anything I can do to help?”
“Do you know a good exorcist?”
“Can you be serious for once? I’m worried about you.”
“I know you are, but I’ll survive—I always do…with a little help from my friends.”
The phone rang. Hailey reached across the table and grabbed her cell. “It’s probably Trish—I left a message for her to call.”
Nan picked up her dishes and took them to the sink. “I’ll leave you two to talk while I finish getting ready upstairs.”
Hailey picked up, “Hey Trish. I see you got my distress signal. Can you fit me in this morning?”
She could hear Trish clicking through her appointment schedule. “I have some free time at ten—that’s a half hour from now. Can you make it?”
“That’ll be fine. I have to drop Nan off on the way, but I should be there on time.”
“I’ll have the coffee waiting.”
“You’re the best.”
“I know, and it’s all included in the fee.”
She flipped her cell closed and called upstairs, “Can you be ready in five minutes?”
The closed bathroom door muffled Nan’s response, but ten minutes later, after being hurried and prodded by Hailey, she was finally in the car and on her way home. She wasn’t a happy camper though.
“Some of us need to wear makeup, you know.”
Hailey laughed. “You always look great and besides, I doubt you’ll encounter any eligible men on the drive home.”
“Your car could break down or maybe a handsome policeman could pull us over for speeding.”
“What is it with you and men in uniform?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t think Brad looked smashing last night.”
“You’re incorrigible,” she smiled, as she pulled into her driveway. “I’ll give you a call later.”
“Wait until after you see Brad to update me.”
Her hasty escape from Nan’s well-intentioned mothering didn’t bring relief until she was finally sitting in Trish’s office sipping at a coffee.
“So, was it The Painted Lady again?” Trish’s usually smooth brow was creased with worry lines.
“Yeah. She’s back in all her gory,” she quipped. “She’s a real Mrs. Cruel.”
“I’m concerned—you were doing so well. What do you think caused this?”
Hailey idly twisted a strand of her long hair and stared off into space.
“I don’t know. I was exhausted by the funeral; especially Aunt Alicia’s badgering me about Mother’s private papers. I remembered thinking about all the secrets concerning the family and how I’d never be able to solve that mystery. The last thing I remembered before falling asleep was the rain on the window and feeling cozy by the fire. Then I must have drifted off.”
“You dream about The Painted Lady whenever you’re stressed about your family.”
She nodded. “That seems to be the trigger.”
Trish took a sip of coffee and then tried a new tack. “What was it like when you went out to British Columbia to attend university?”
“If you’re asking if I had any night terrors, the answer is no. Life at UBC was very calm—very peaceful. I could see myself settling down and living out there for the rest of my life.”
“So, you liked Vancouver?”
“I liked campus life—hated the city—way too big and congested for me. A friend lived in Squamish and every chance I’d get, I’d drive up and stay with her. I loved the town—all the water and mountains.”
“You like being near water.”
“Yeah—I suppose that has some kind of Freudian significance.”
All of a sudden, she caught the drift of what Trish was implying.
“You think that’s why I tried to kill myself—by walking out into the lake until I drowned?”
Trish raised her eyebrows as if to say, do ya think?
“Hmm. I never thought of that. That’s interesting.”
Trish smiled. “That’s why I make the big bucks.”
She looked at her watch.
“Tell you what—I want you to keep journaling and write down whatever comes to mind about the significance of The Painted Lady. Also, try to record as many occasions as you can when you had the dream and the types of events or situations that preceded it. I’ll see you next Wednesday at five—if that’s okay for you?”
“That’ll be fine. By the way, you need to write me a scrip for more Clonazepam.”
She looked dubious. “How many of these are you taking?”
“It varies—usually a couple a day, except when I’m stressed—like today.”
She wrote the prescription. “I know I’ve got you on a low dose, but maybe you could try breaking them in half and seeing if you can get by on that. This stuff is like booze.”
“I get the message—I’ll try.”
“ Hang in there and I’ll see you next Wednesday.”
On the way back home, she made a stop at Fortino’s Food Market and got the butcher to cut her a soup bone.
She decided to boil it and let it cool on a plate on the kitchen counter.
As she was cleaning up, she tried to picture Brad’s face, but all she could recall was his firm, deep voice and the way he made her feel secure.
Nan would be delighted.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.