By Kate, age 19, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Hope's eyes wander around the room. The two chairs center the room along with a small, elegant coffee table, which holds nothing but a box of tissues. At the back of the room sits a desk and rolling office chair. Bookcases frame the corners. An assorted collection of paintings hang on the wall. Floor lamps light the room where needed. Hope begins to pick at her fingernails.
"I'm alright," she replies simply. She doesn't look up.
"Good, good," the man says. "Well, since this is our first official session together, I'd like us to get to know each other. As you know, I am Dr. Fish, but you don't need to be formal with me. Josh will be just fine."
"Well, Hope, tell me about yourself."
She stops picking at her fingers and meets his gaze. She seems to consider the option to spill her life story to this strange man for a moment, but then only sighed.
"What do you wanna know?" she asked, slouching in her seat.
"Anything you feel like telling me. What makes Hope?"
"I like good books and long walks on the beach." She smiled as if her witty answer had won her the sarcastic award. Dr. Fish ignored this.
"Why are you here, Hope?"
"Because someone thought I was f***ed in the head and needed help."
"Who thinks that?"
"My mother." Hope's eyebrows knit together and she folded her arms across her chest.
"Why does she think that?"
Hope rolled her eyes. "I don't know."
"Well, something must have happened. I'm sure she is concerned for you and just trying to help you."
"I think she thinks I'm suicidal or something."
"Why do you think she thinks that?"
"Because she overreacts. She thinks I'm this lonely, depressed girl and will be for the rest of my life."
"Do you feel that way?"
"Not at all. She has no reason to think I'm lonely and depressed."
"Why do you think she thinks that?"
"She probably thinks the war left me screwed up."
"Well, let's talk about the war. How do you feel about it?"
"I don't feel anything. I mean, I don't think it left me screwed up; I feel fine. It's not like something tragic happened to me."
"How long where you there for?"
"About a year."
"Yeah, I was pulled out for some reason. I don't remember. My father had something to do with it. He was some high class general years ago. He's the reason I was even in the army - he forced me into doing it because he never had a son to take his place."
"So, why would he pull you out?"
"Who knows? He's a p***k."
Dr. Fish jots some things down on his clipboard. Hope sighs.
"So, you're relationship with your father isn't very strong then."
"I guess not. We never really got along. He doesn't even get along with my mother. They fight all the time. They are separated, but I think my mom is going to file for divorce."
"And how do you feel about that?"
"I'm fine with it. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not upset, either. I think they need a divorce and I'm on Mom's side."
Dr. Fish checks his watch and writes a final note.
"Well, Hope, how about the same time next week?" He and Hope stand up. They shake hands.
"Sure," Hope says, and leaves. Dr. Fish looks over his notes before shutting the camera off.
* * * * *
"So, Hope, how are you today?" The two are back in their usual seats. Hope looks like she's been through hell. Her hair is in a messy pony tail and there are dark shadows under her eyes. She crosses her legs, picks at her fingers, and uncrosses her legs, before she answers.
"Alright," she says.
"Late night last night?" he asks.
"Nah. I don't know why I'm so tired." She bites a nail.
"What has been going on, lately?"
"The usual. Parents got in another fight last night."
"Did it keep you up?"
"No. I guess I just didn't sleep well or something."
"What do they fight about?"
"Silly things, sometimes. But, eventually, it leads to my mother blaming my father that he goes too 'General' on us. She yells at him for treating us like soldiers and he blames it on his time in the army."
"How long was he in the army?"
"I don't remember. A long time. The only reason he came back was because he got his damn legs blown off. If he hadn't, he probably would have stayed there the rest of his life."
"Well, that is a life changing experience. Maybe he regrets it. Maybe he worries about you. I'm sure he wouldn't want the same fate for you. Could that be why he pulled you out?"
"That's not my father. He would have been happier if I died at age twenty-five for my country than die from old age sitting on my ass living a normal life."
"That's a bit harsh, don't you think?"
"My father is a bit hard, don't you think?"
* * * * *
"You look good today, Hope." Hope is dressed nicely. Her make-up is subtle, but neat, and she seems to be in a good mood.
"My father has been away most of the week. It's nice to live in a quiet house without all the drama. Mom and I went to lunch on our lunch break."
"What do you two do for work?"
"My mother is a dentist. Just cleanings and such - she's done it her whole life. I work as an assistant at the Caldwell Gallery selling art."
"It's money. I'd like to get into something more serious, though. I've always wanted to be a meteorologist or something along those lines, but I need college for that."
"Are you going to take some classes?"
"I'd like to. I thought being in the army would give me benefits for college and such. I don't know if I get those, though, because I was pulled out so early."
"Well, it's something to look into."
"Yeah." Hope smiles. "It is.
* * * * *
Hope is very distraught. She is crying on the chair. Dr. Fish hands her some tissues.
"I don't know. It was just a very bad morning. Everything seems to be going wrong."
"I don't know. Just is. I don't know." She blows her nose and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. Her nails are noticeably shorter than last week, as if she bit them all to the core.
"I see that you have been biting your nails," Dr. Fish points out. She stops crying for a moment and examines her nails before slouching in her seat.
"Yeah, I don't know why."
"I think it might be a habit. It seems whenever you have a bad day, you bite your nails."
"Well, I don't even know why this day was so bad. It just has been. I don't know. I just feel like crap."
"Nothing happened between your parents?"
"No. I don't know. Maybe it's just PMS."
"Could be." Dr. Fish writes on his clipboard.
"Speaking of your parents, how are things going?"
"Fine, I guess. As fine as things can be, anyways. My mom filed for divorce. My dad moved out. He calls me now and then to tell me how much of a disappointment I am and that he would have been better off with a son."
"Have you ever asked him why he pulled you out of the army?"
"Yeah, he doesn't tell me, though. He starts yelling at me about how I'm supposedly a "drama queen" and overreact over everything. He says I get it from my mother. He usually tells me to cut the crap and that I should have been an actress because I'm so good at it. He makes no sense. I don't get why he won't answer my question. He just goes off yelling and screaming and leaves."
"What happened in the army?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, I think. I don't remember anything ever going wrong, really. All of the sudden, I was back in the states and my father treated me like a traitor."
Dr. Fish takes some more notes. "Would you take hypnotism into consideration?"
Hope raises an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Well, it seems like we are missing some key facts as to why some of these things happen and why you feel the way you do sometimes. I think it might be something more psychological than we can understand, and hypnotizing you could help fill in these blanks."
Hope looks hesitant, but considers. "I guess," she says simply.
"Great. I know a great lady that can help us. I will be here, too. Shall we say next week? I'll call her and make an appointment to come in with us."
* * * * *
Dr. Fish sits at his desk. A blonde woman, perhaps in her fifties, sits in Dr. Fish's usual seat, across from Hope. Her hair is in a loose pony tail which is draped around her shoulder. Wrinkles have begun to form around her eyes and mouth, but otherwise, her face is smooth and kind.
"It's great to meet you, Hope. I'm Claire. How are you today? Nervous?"
"A little." Hope fiddles with her fingers. They are scarred and raw from her biting.
"Well, nothing to be nervous about. You will simply be asleep and awake at the same time and we will ask you to remember certain things. No harm to you at all. We will make sure you are comfortable, okay?"
Hope nods. Dr. Fish rolls his chair over to them, next to Hope, clipboard in his lap.
"Alright, Hope, I want you to just relax. Close your eyes and just listen to my voice. Slow, deep breaths. Good. Now, Hope, I will be asking you some questions. I want you to answer these questions as best as you can. Can you do that for me?"
Hope's eyes are closed and she appears to be asleep, but she answers Claire with a simple "yes."
"Good. Stay relaxed. Good. Now, Hope, let's talk about what happened in the war. Dr. Fish told me your father forced you into the army. Is this correct?"
"Good. Okay. And, you were pulled out suddenly, correct?"
"Okay. Do you know why? What happened?"
Hope twitches slightly in her seat. Her eyes roll rapidly behind her eyelids.
"What happened, Hope?" Claire repeats.
"I was walking. I had to pee. I was going to go in some woods. I was walking and walking and I heard voices. Enemy voices. They found me in the trees and chased me, but I tripped and they caught me." Tears began to melt through her eyelids.
"What happened after that?"
"They held me captive. Tied to a chair. They tortured me. They beat me."
"They wanted answers. They kept asking questions about the government. I didn't know. I told them I didn't know. I didn't know what they were talking about. I didn't know. They thought I was lying. They beat me. They took videos of them beating me. They shot me in the shoulder. They threatened to kill me."
"How did you get out?"
"Soldiers. They found me. Found the tapes." Hope begins to twitch some more. She is breathing hard, gasping for air. She screams.
"Stop! Please! Stop! I don't know anything!"
"Hope, shh. Hope, it's okay. Listen to me, Hope, you're alright."
Hope grabs her shoulder. "Stop! Please! Ah!" She is kicking the air in front of her.
"Hope, when I count to three, you will wake up, okay?"
"Stop! I don't know! Please! Why? Please stop!"
"Stop! I don't know!"
Hope shrieks and pleads.
Hope's eyes fly open. She is crying. She buries her face in her hands and rocks herself.
"Do you remember, Hope?" Dr. Fish asks. Hope nods.
"I saw it all happen. It happened again. It happened. I didn't know." She sobs. Claire rubs her back and hands her the box of tissues.
"Nightmares," Hope says. "I've had these nightmares before."
"Let's meet again tomorrow, okay?" Hope is still crying, but nods.
* * * * *
"Where were you last week?" Dr. Fish asks. Hope is back in her usual chair. Two men stand near the door of the office, watching.
"I had a nightmare the night after the hypnotism," Hope says. "It was like what I saw when I was hypnotized. I was captured and tortured. I saw it all happen again."
"Why didn't you show up like we said?"
"I killed my mother. It was an accident. I was having the nightmare and she tried to wake me up, like she did countless other times before. But this time, I was so scared, and it was so real, that I reached over to my lap and smashed it over her head. I thought she was trying to kill me. She was trying to wake me up. The lamp shattered and I stabbed her with the pieces. Then, I suffocated her with my pillow. I didn't mean to. I thought she was them. I thought she was trying to kill me." Hope is crying.
"It's not your fault," Dr. Fish says. This makes Hope angry.
"I killed my mother!"
"Hope - "
"After, I ran out of the house. I ran and ran and ran until a cop stopped me. I cried and yelled at him. He brought me somewhere. Asked for ID. He knew my father. He called him and he picked me up. Brought me home, and saw my mother's body. He yelled at me, called me psycho. I tried to explain to him what happened, but he called me a liar. He brought me to a mental hospital and told them what happened, but I tried to tell them the real story. Of course, they just thought I was crazy and wouldn't believe me."
The two men by the door shift, but make no other sound.
"I have to go back there," Hope continues. "But I wanted to tell you what happened. You believe me, don't you?"
Dr. Fish stands up. "Of course, Hope." He helps her up and walks her toward the door where she is escorted out by the two men. Dr. Fish closes the door behind them. He goes to his desk and pulls a manila folder from one of the drawers. He flips through its contents briefly, then sends it through the paper shredder. It jams, and Dr. Fish pulls it out, clearing the shredder. He tears up the rest by hand and throws it into the trash can. He walks towards the camera and shuts it off.