Referral

Lavender Heights 
#1

Therapy was not new to Samuel, this one would be another in a long line of sterile offices with uncomfortable chairs and generic wall hangings. Maybe this one would switch things up and have a nice wooded landscape, or a candy dish at the edge of the desk. He didn't really care, it would be another referral to another therapist and then after a few sessions, the cycle would begin again.

That wasn't to say, Samuel didn't want help. He did. He desperately did. Years of nightmares and the ghosts of memories circling around he head, it hadn't gotten better and he was so tired. Tired all the time.

There were good days too. Ones where he woke up without any dreams. Ones where he could enjoy a morning run, sit down at his desk, and end the day feeling productive. He believes those days happen more often now, the years burying old memories with new ones. But that did't make him better, it was only a bandaid over the real problem.

That's why he followed his GPS to the beautiful home of Dr. Edvin Beck. As his car turned onto the driveway, Samuel scowled at the manicured lawn. Great, looks like this guy would be another ones of those psychiatrists. He might even make Samuel do an ink blot test. He had arrived early, the crippling fear of being late just one of a long list of issues stemming from his mother.

Mommy issues had been a favorite expression by his least favorite therapist. That one hadn't lasted long.

Sighing, Samuel hit his head against the steering wheel and closed his eyes. Last night had been a bad one and it was affecting his emotions right now. A mix of anxiety and irritation, he didn't want to do this. He should turn around or make an excuse not to go in. Why waste the time over the same song and dance over and over again.

He took a deep breath and one more for good measure. It calmed him down enough to remove the keys and push open the door. He'd do this one last time. If it proved as useless as the others, then he never had to come back. Before Samuel knew it, he had navigated the darkness of the walkway and arrived on the porch. A motion light switched on, halting his steps. His eyes took a second to adjust before finding the door bell. Deep breath in and out.

The faint sound of the bell echoed inside.

@Edvin Beck
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#2

Edvin, naturally, could hear the approach of the man's car well before the doorbell rung. He waited patiently, understand that this was not something most first time clients rushed into. He lingered in his office, Catherine purring on his lap as he stroked beneath her chin. When the bell did ring, the grey tabby pulled herself from his lap and slunk out toward the living room as he rose from his chair. He paused to dust away the hair left behind, then strode toward the door. A soft smile made a home in the corners of his lips as he opened the door for the man.

"Good evening, Mr. Valdez." He greeted the man formally, and extended a hand for the man to take. The handshake would be brief, then he would pull away to motion in a sweep of that same hand as he stepped back to let the man through. "Come in, I will lead you to my office. I trust the drive was not too troublesome?" There was snow on the ground now, here and there. Not enough to freeze the roads, but to make them slick when the mid-day sun melted what might have fallen in the night. Edvin would lead the man in through the front hallway, noting that the doors to both the guest and Lazarus' bedroom were shut. Down the hallway, into the dining area, where he would pause to motion toward a tray of cheeses and crackers and fruit. "If you would like, please help yourself." Beside the food would be a bottle of wine and a glass.
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#3
Samuel accepted the handshake, a quiet "Dr. Beck," accompanying the smallest tilt of the head. He shuffled into the house, taking care to wipe his feet . The man's politeness fit well within his initial judgement, but the more casual choice of clothing contrasted the stiff upper lip he had expected.

The house's interior was just as opulent as the outside, incredibly tidy and decorated as if it jumped off a magazine page. He'd seen the same style from a few other therapists, a dedication to keep both their space and occupation clear of clutter.

He kept his pace slow, as to let Dr. Beck lead the way to the office. Samuel only half paid attention to the passing rooms. It was likely he wouldn't be coming back here anyway. The weight of the impending conversation threatened to push down his rigid shoulders. How many times had he repeated his story? At least a few dozen.

The doctor gestured to a set of refreshments on the table, making a polite offer. Samuel shook his head. "Thank you. I ate before I arrived."

He would much rather they began as soon as possible. The faster they completed this consultation, the better.
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#4
There was no answer to Edvin's question, something he noted but did not address. Perhaps the nerves. This was never an easy thing. It was always one answer or the other when it came to the refreshments he offered. Edvin took no offense in Samuel's decline, and nodded graciously as he motioned forward. "Alright, then. Come, make yourself comfortable." He said softly, and lead the way into the office. "Would you like me to close the door so that the cat does not come looking for company?" He offered as he stepped to the side and allowed Samuel to enter at his own pace and find himself comfortable in the chair that sat across from Edvin's own.
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#5
The office was nice, a little more lived in than most. Samuel took his seat, only after registering Dr. Beck's comment. He shrugged. "I don't mind the cat." He liked animals. It was people who he had trouble dealing with, they always seemed to expect something more from him. Besides, having an animal move in and out of the room would help make things feel less clinical.

He sank a little lower in the seat, eyes looking forward to the wall. Ready to begin.
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#6
A smile twisted the corners of his mouth at the affirmation, and nodded as he folded his hands back as he moved toward his seat. Catherine would find her way back eventually, until then Edvin would dedicate his focus onto the man before him. "So," He began conversationally as he settled into the chair and folded his hands atop the table. "We will begin with basics. Please do not feel pressured to discuss anything you do not find comfortable. My aim here is for you to feel as at ease as possible." It was important to create a safe space for each client he saw. It helped both parties to ensure there was little tension. After all, he only had so much restraint.

"What is it you would like most to address if we continue on with these sessions?"
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#7
He expected the question, but not the onslaught of emotions that crawled up his throat. Last night must have been particularly bad for him to be experiencing the beginning of a panic attack.

Eyes shutting tight, Samuel worked himself back to a calmer place. It took only a few moments as he had long since perfected the art of bringing himself back up. Dr. Beck's question hung in silence a little longer. Unhurried, Samuel slowly blinked back into reality, this time looking at the Doctor.

"My chronic nightmares." He added the chronic part a few years ago when one professional suggested soothing music and a cup of tea before bed.
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#8
Edvin sat comfortably in the silence, his eyes moving from Samuel and toward the door. A tabby face was peeking around the corner, curious now that she had discovered the door was left open. Edvin did not coax her, for there were times she only wished to inspect the stranger but not near them. His eyes flickered back toward Samuel as he answered. Chronic nightmares. A common thing for patients of his. Often involving fantastical scenes of horror and murder at the hands of the monsters that haunted them.

Edvin sat back in his seat, and pulled his note pad toward him as he grabbed a pen. “How often are your nightmares occurring?” There was trepidation here, as chronic was a word some misused when speaking of frequent nightmares. Every few weeks was, alas, not what he would define as chronic.
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#9
He shift silently in the seat, gaze dropping to the decorative paperweight on the desk. "Four in a good week." He spoke plainly as if discussing the shape of door knobs or his soap preferences. Such information wasn't a revelation, he could barely muster much emotion on the topic as he lived the reality daily. Four would be a good week, three an exceptional one. Bad weeks tended to leave him drained. Stuck in bed and staring off into space.

Samuel hadn't faced a bad week in some time. Until last week that is. His mental state had deteriorated so rapidly, he felt trapped in the storm of his own mind, warring against it and loosing spectacularly. In a haze of desperation he searched for help and it came in the form of a rather ambiguous review of a Dr. Edvin Beck. A doctor who "understood those with unique circumstances," and with nothing to loose, Samuel had reached out.

To be fair, he may have judged this doctor prematurely. He'd seen so many subpar therapists that he'd become cynical. Reminding himself to try, Samuel sat up straighter and focused on the doctor's right shoulder. A compromise.
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#10
His hand scratched neat letters against the paper, but he gave it only a brief glance. Four in a good week, more in a bad. Edvin hummed to himself with a small nod, but carried on with a perfected conversational flow. "Are you able to find yourself back to sleep after such nightmares?" He posed as his writing paused. "Or do you suffer from insomnia?"
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#11
He had most of this in his file. Dr. Beck either hadn't checked it before the appointment or the doctor preferred the tedious route of question after question. A decent business strategy, Samuel assumed. After all, sessions were usually charged by the hour.

He listened for the clock, hung somewhere behind him. Waited two ticks before answering. "Usually don't sleep again." There were exceptions, a few nights his mind would shut down completely. He preferred those. Especially the ones that didn't require any sleeping aids.
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#12
His file had had insomnia listed as one of the diagnosis among others. Paranoia, sleep deprivation, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia. A hand basket of diagnosis. And yet, despite the words being printed, it did well to ask the patient themselves their perception of it all. Some were greatly more self-aware than others, some disputed it. It was all telling, in the end, how to proceed.

"Are you comfortable sharing some of the details of the dream you experience, Mr. Valdez?" He asked after a moment. From behind the man, a grey tabby slunk into the room. She approached the chair in which Samuel sat, her nose lifted curiously as she peered up at him. "I am curious to know why you sought out a therapist that specializes in the supernatural. Do you believe that that is what may be causing your dreams?" It was not uncommon to have a patient claim to be haunted by a demon in their dreams. Or perhaps being visited at night by a succubus or even a vampire. He had exhausted himself in telling his clients that vampires cannot come into their homes without invitation.
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#13
To the doctor's first question, he simply nodded. The most frustrating thing about his nightmares wasn't their frequency. It was that no matter how many times they returned, he still woke up in a panic, heart pounding and terrified. They did vary, some only vaguely coherent with shapes and sounds, but still enough to startle him awake. He'd gotten better. He had. After years of this routine, Samuel could keep himself in bed and wait until his heart slowed and breath returned.

A soft sound shook his attention from the doctor. Peering to the side, Samuel caught the flick of a tail near the edge of his chair, it appeared the doctor's cat had decided to venture into the session. A small part of him wanted to reach down and take comfort in the soft fur, but Samuel keep his hands firmly in his lap, focusing back on the steady ticking of the clock.

The doctor's next question required a response and Samuel realized how ill prepared he arrived to answer. The events of the past year and the information circling around had caused certain revelations to occur about his past. They were only possibilities, but they fit. The personality change, the aggression, the strange behavior, he had to know if maybe...

Softly, he finally spoke. "I've wondered for years what happened to my mother to make her change. Why she did." Samuel stopped and clenched his fists. The words struggled to come out, but he made himself continue. "I want to finally put this all behind me, but coping doesn't help. I need answers."
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#14
There was the bracing for the same old "haunted by a loved one" or "followed by a demon", all things he had become quite good at circumventing. Samuel's eventual explanation, however, had him raising his brows some. Edvin fixed him with a curious look, his lips pressing into something of a purse as he lifted a finger to tap at his chin. "Tell me of these changes. Are you in contact with your mother now?" Sudden changes were troubling, but not inexplicable. Alas, there were many explanations to be drawn, given what circumstances presented themselves. It seemed Samuel had drawn some of his own conclusions, if he was here.
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#15
"She's dead." His voice cracked at the end. Years hadn't washed away the grief those words still caused. He had loved his mother, still did in the privacy of his own mind. An intense, almost violent sickness deep in his gut always followed the relief he felt knowing she was gone. Talking about this never got easier, no matter what the professional said. It was like the words came alive out of his mouth and instead of disappearing, they piled up and followed him.

Samuel still doubted this doctor could offer much help, but he really was at his rope's end. Unfortunately, that also meant he would have to talk again. Explain. Even if the details were broken and scattered.

He wrapped his arms around himself, creating a poor imitation of a barrier. "She was so different in the last few years. Alway aggressive. She disappeared a lot, got so paranoid, and suddenly could do impossible things." Samuel shuddered, his fingernails dug deeper into his arms. "Broke down our garage door once. She was so angry." Other memories swirled behind his eyes. His youthful, petite mother suddenly became a powerhouse practically overnight. He used to think it was drugs of some kind, stimulant abuse maybe. It never really convinced him.

Feeling exhausted all of a sudden, Samuel's shoulders drooped. He hadn't spoken this much all at once in a long time.
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#16
Ah, such heavy words. Edvin blinked above a gradually sloping frown, sympathy etched into the lines of his face that had been frozen in time. Death was never an easy thing to come to terms with. The death of a parent, especially was disheartening. Samuel’s case was complicated in the fact that his mother’s sudden change in disposition had acted as harbinger to whatever tragic fate had befallen her. Edvin remembered his own mother. A strong woman with dark hair and green eyes. He could not recall many details, but he did know she died quite young. His association with death then had been distant, abrasive. He hadn’t mourned her as he might have today. Certainly not as much as Samuel mourned his own mother, despite her transgressions.

It was curious change. He did not know of her disposition beforehand, but it was not entirely difficult to gather that her paranoia and aggression was out of character. She was absent, and capable of “the impossible”. Curious. Edvin’s lips pursed as he ran a thumb along the edge of his chin. Breaking through a garage door. ”Was she present in the light of day?” Was his next question. It was not an entirely difficult deduction. It was rather obvious the woman had been turned into some form of supernatural creature. The answer to the question would shed light on which.
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#17
Samuel was grateful for the quiet contemplation on Dr. Beck's part. A handful of therapist he'd seen had never learned that silence speaks volumes and instead tried to fill the space with inane chatter.

The simple question momentarily confused him, but he answered dutifully. "She went out, yes." He recalled the routine of her waking the family, eating a great deal, and then loudly leaving through the door with a demand they stay inside until she returned. She always knew when they had disobeyed that particular order. Samuel had learned quickly not to anger her. He always flinched in reflex, imagining her returning home snarling mad, but the memory of what happened after would never come.
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#18
"Mm." He mused thoughtfully. Perhaps, then, a shifter. There was no human explanation for such strength, even with the aid of steroids or other drugs similar. Edvin's brow raised some as Catherine decided she quite liked the look of Samuel's lap, and leaped onto it. She turned once, then settled down. "You can shoo her, if you do not want her." He said softly.

"What do your dreams often consist of? Any particular event?"
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#19
The sudden weight in his lap broke Samuel out of a emotional dive. Jolted to reality, he hesitantly ran his fingers through fur, allowing the soft comfort to soothe him. The cat seemed unbothered and sat back on its legs.

Having his hands busy and something else to divide his attention, Samuel let himself fall into a blank headspace, one that kept his emotions numb and distant.

"Running, lots of running." He kept his voice calm, pausing every few words. "From my mother. I wake up and remember she's dead." There was more he didn't include, the screaming, his harsh breathing, and sometimes the touch of his brother's hand.
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#20
Fleeing. Perhaps, at one time, his dreams had been reality. Perhaps she had chased him, and he had fled. Alas, dreams were such fickle things. He thought to tell him now of his own speculation. To peel back the curtain that shrouded the supernatural world that he had insight into. Alas, this was such a sensitive topic. To accuse someone's mother of being such a monster... he could not imagine he would take it lightly. It would have to wait. Another meeting. More in depth, with more trust involved.

"This is a perplexing situation, Samuel. I do wish I could give you some cemented answer tonight, but this will need to be explored in depth. If you so wish to, I invite you to return and pursue this further." He did wish he could do more, but after all, this was but an orientation.

Before there was a chance for the man to take his leave, Edvin saw it fit to take advantage of the opprotunity here.

"I would ask you to stay, until I usher you to the door." He spoke firmly, his eyes seeking contact with Samuels. A successful suggestion always was a satisfying thing.

Success


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#21
He had expected that answer even before Dr. Beck looked up, there was far too much to unpack even in a long appointment. Had he been more generous, Samuel would have given credit to the Doctor for acknowledging the truth. There would need to be multiple sessions before they made any progress.

Samuel did not feel lighter for having spoken his demons out loud, they circled around his head and would do so for the rest of the night. The cat gracefully leaped off his lap and padded over behind the desk. Apparently, it also knew their time was winding to a close. He saw no reason not the return and at the very least he decided Dr. Beck deserved a few more sessions before Samuel could pass judgement.

Feet planted more firmly, he readied himself to leave, waiting only for the Doctor's closing remarks, but a single glance into the man's eyes anchored him to the chair. He felt both heavy and weightless all at once, like molten metal cooling rapidly. Mind dizzy, Samuel tried to focus on something, finally latching back on to the dull ticking of the wall clock. He felt calmer letting himself sink further into the rhythmic sound, but he had no intention to move. Mouth working, but slowly, Samuel was able to form a single word. "Okay."
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