Chapter Two (Unedited)

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June 2017

The woman sitting across from me studied me closely for several heartbeats before she heaved a breath and looked away. Her black hair was pulled back in a sleek twist without a hair out of a place, making her look as stern as she was. Her light brown skin, dark eyes and the dark suit completed the effect, making me fight the urge to fidget uncomfortably in the seat. She shook her head slightly, drumming her fingers on the desk she sat behind. Finally, she directed her attention back to me and cocked her head to the side, before speaking.

"I can't help but feel you're only telling me what I was to hear, Miss Morris," she said with a sigh as she flipped through the file in front of her. "After all, it was only up until a week and a half ago you were insistent the dreams were real. Now, suddenly, you're telling us you're aware they're not." Her eyes went from the papers on the desk to mine, locking gazes and not letting go. "You can, therefore, see how it seems less than believable."

I shifted in my seat, biting the inside of my cheek. To say I hated Ms. Barazani and her accent would be an understatement of the highest degree. The woman had the ability to make me want to reach out, flip her desk over in a rage fit, throat punch her and then kick her puppy. Not that she'd have a puppy; having a puppy would indicate she had feelings and those were something I was sure she'd been born without. She had, it seemed, been born to be my personal tormentor and pain in the ass, however.

She'd been assigned as my psychiatrist when my parents had me admitted to the hospital. It felt like she'd taken it upon herself to make my life hell since I'd been here. Quite frankly, I was at the point I'd tell her the sky was green if it meant I could leave. I probably should have put a little more time in between my change of opinions, however.

One thing was certain; Ms. Barazani was far from stupid and saw much more than given credit for.

"I don't think you're ready to go home quite yet," she announced, her tone final. I sat forward, shoulders tense, ready to argue when she leveled her gaze on me. "It would be in your best interests not to rush the process, Julianna."

My eyes narrowed at the warning in her voice. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd just threatened me. I reached out and placed my hands on the desk, gripping the edge of it tightly enough for my knuckles to turn white. "I'd like to speak to my parents." I was proud of my voice not wobbling.

She gave me one of those smiles meant to make the recipient feel as small as possible. "That won't be possible. They've agreed to no contact until both me and the attending doctor feel you've progressed enough." She closed my folder with a snap and pushed it to the side before sliding a tablet in front of her. "Now," she said as she swiped her finger over the surface of it, "let's discuss your medications. How are you sleeping? Still having nightmares?"

I sat back with an annoyed sigh and turned my head to look out the window of her office. Through it, I could see the courtyard and landscapers working on the lawn. I missed being outside. Not once in the last three weeks had there been any outdoor time and it was beginning to wear on me.

"Julianna?" she said again, her voice brusque and busy. I glanced back to her and she raised her eyebrows. "Nightmares? Problems sleeping?"

I shook my head as I began to play with the hem of my shirt. "No. No problems."

"Good," she said, sounding pleased. "Now, during the day, are you having any problems? Any anxiety or panic attacks?"

Again, I shook my head. "No. But the stuff you've been giving me makes me feel really...I dunno...flat." I stopped at the look I saw her give me and bit my lip before continuing. "Someone said it was for mania, you know, like bipolar and stuff. But, I'm not any of that..." I trailed off and offered a small smile. "Or, I didn't think I was? Anyway, no. No anxiety, no nightmares."

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