“Dr. Turnbull?” Randy looked up from his case file. “Your new patient is here.” He glanced at his watch and the secretary grinned. “Forget to eat your lunch again, sir?”
“Yes,” Randy shook his head. “Don’t tell my wife.”
“Don’t worry. My paycheck depends on her not killing you.”
Randy laughed and shook his head, picking up the picture of his wife and his two young daughters as he did so. “She couldn’t kill me, Mrs. Green. I’m the only one who can get Lisa to bed at a decent hour.”
Mrs. Green chuckled, tucking back a strand of silver hair as she said, “Yes, I heard three year olds really go for your story telling – with all the voices and things.”
“Who told you?” demanded Randy.
“She talks too much.”
It wasn’t a sincere grumble, and Mrs. Green smiled. “Five year olds usually do, sir.” Randy just shook his head. “Your new patient?”
“Right, show them in.” Mrs. Green nodded and turned to leave. “Wait – what was the name again?”
“Kelly Young. She’s a referral from Warren Parson.”
Randy took a deep breath and nodded. Mrs. Green ducked out, and the psychologist steeled himself. Warren Parson had been on the board that had reviewed Randy’s doctorate dissertation and, in an effort to help Randy establish himself, he sometimes sent him his more trying delusional patients.
“Dr. Turnbull?” Randy shot to his feet as a young woman peered around the door, looking skeptical.
He quickly arranged his face into a welcoming smile and held out a hand, which she shook briefly with a hand made moist by nervous sweat. “Please, take a seat, Ms. Young.”
She sat, commenting, “Please, call me Kelly. This is weird enough as it is without turning me into my mother.”
Randy studied her for a moment over folded hands. A pretty young woman, not much more than twenty, dressed in jeans and a light sweater. She studied her nicely manicured fingernails with amber eyes, her ponytail of curly blond hair falling over her shoulder. “Why did you come to see me today, Kelly?”
“My parents insisted.” She answered without looking up, now picking invisible lint off of her jeans. “They pay my rent, so I didn’t have much choice.” She flashed him a quick smile. “Don’t think I’m sullen, Doctor, but I’m not much into shrinks.”
Randy blinked in surprise. “Well, at least you’re honest.” She nodded, looking at the floor again. “You’re in college still?”
“Yeah, just a semester and a half from graduation.”
“What’re you studying?”
“I like it.” Kelly looked up for half a moment, smiling. “I’m really very good.”
“I believe it,” said Randy, assessing her capable-looking build as he leaned back in a chair. “But Dr. Parson mentioned your grades were slipping.”
Kelly’s gaze slid to the side. “Yes, well… I’ve been… distracted.” Her eyes fell on the empty corner of his desk, and her face changed suddenly to an expression of dismay, quickly hidden. Randy followed her gaze, but couldn’t see anything to attract her attention. He met her eyes and raised an eyebrow. Kelly snorted. “You may as well know now, Doctor, that there’s nothing you can do to help me.”
“Certainly not, with that kind of attitude -,”
“No, I mean what I said,” Kelly cut across his protest. She was looking at the corner of the desk again, but now she met his eyes. “You can’t help me because there’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Kelly…” Randy considered for a moment. “Why don’t you tell me why your parents sent you, then.”
“Because they think I see things,” she said bluntly. “They wanted to know why my grades were slipping – I hadn’t told anyone else, but I thought it might be safe to tell them.” She scoffed, folding her arms. “I guess not.”
“What was it you told them?”
“I know a faerie, and his hobby is making me crazy.”
Randy didn’t allow himself to react. “Tell me about this faerie.”
Kelly eyed him warily, then offered an ironic smile. “Sure. He’s about six inches tall, blue eyes, dark blond hair, and he claims that back in faerie world, each inch translates into a foot.”
“If he’s only six inches tall, how does he make you crazy?” Randy asked curiously.
Kelly nodded to the picture on his desk. “Is that your family?” Randy shot a look at the picture – he usually put it away before patients came in. Too late now, so he nodded. “I bet that the smaller ones make you crazier than your wife.”
Randy had to laugh at that. “You’ve got a point.”
Kelly suddenly focused on her knee and laughed. “Shut it, Leonin. You do make me crazy.”
Randy did a double-take, then caught himself. “How long have you known this faerie?”
Kelly looked up. “Leonin? Oh, since I was a kid. I was… how old was I?” She paused for a moment, apparently listening. “That’s right. I was four ‘cause you were about seven.” She looked back up at Randy. “He disappeared about the time I was eleven – you never did tell me why,” she interrupted herself, then picked it up again when the invisible man didn’t answer, “Then reappeared at the beginning of the semester.”
“I see… Well, Kelly -,”
She glanced at her watch and let out a little yelp, interrupting him. “I’m sorry, Doctor, but I forgot – I’ve got a test in half an hour. I’ve gotta go.” She stood up and walked to the door.
Randy hesitated for a moment. If he let her walk out, he wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore – she was going to be a difficult case. But… “Kelly.” The girl paused. “Will you be coming back again? I’d like to talk to you about this some more.”
Kelly considered, tossing her ponytail over her shoulder. “Sure. I’ll make an appointment on the way out.”
“Great. Good luck on your test.” Kelly nodded and left.
Randy stared at the closed door for a long minute. “I hope I didn’t just get in over my head.”
“Oh, you did,” said a small but deep voice. “Kelly’s impossible.”
Randy blinked, then looked down. There was a small man with wings, wearing a tunic and loose pants, sitting cross-legged on the edge of his desk, chin resting on his minute fists. The psychologist took a deep breath. “I’m seeing things,” he told himself, rubbing his eyes. “It’s been a long day, and…”
“You can see me?” the man demanded, fluttering into the air in surprise.
“I wish I couldn’t,” replied Randy, his face pale.
The man folded his arms, shaking his head. “Tsk. You know what this means, don’t you doctor?”
“That I’m crazy.”
“No,” the man shook his head. “It means you just became vital to the future of my home.” He smirked, not unkindly. “You should’ve let her walk out when you had the chance.” Randy rubbed his eyes, wishing the apparition would go away. “It’s no use.” Randy looked for the faerie again; he was standing on top of the computer. “My name’s Leonin, and you’d better get used to seeing the little folk until this is over.”