I’ll Always Be Around
Kelly Dixon: Session 1
Dr. Jeneane Clement sat behind a large oak desk when Kelly, a lengthy haired brunette in her late twenties walked into the office and shut the door behind her. “Have a seat,” Dr. Clement said as she extended a hand toward one of the two brown leather chairs in front of her. Kelly sat down and set her purse on the floor.
Dr. Clement was an attractive African American woman in her late thirties wearing thin framed glasses and her hair pulled back into a bun. She was a relationship counselor and psychiatrist with experience under her belt and degrees on her office wall. Usually she worked with married couples but on occasion helped non-married ones who valued their relationship enough to seek counseling. Kelly Dixon and Alex Stone was one such couple.
They’ve been seeing Dr. Clement together for the past two weeks but Alex’s new work schedule conflicted with upcoming sessions. Dr. Clement suggested they continue to see her separately in order to keep things moving as they were just beginning to make ground. It would be a tragedy to stop so soon.
“So, tell me Kelly,” Dr. Clement asked. “How are things going lately with you and Alex?”
“It’s becoming more and more difficult. Alex seems to be getting worse doctor. He’s becoming more distant with me, acting differently. He’s been so guarded and cold.”
“How has he been distant? Describe his behavior please.”
“We don’t communicate at all like we used to. We used to talk about everything but now he’s quiet, very reserved. He doesn’t talk about how his day went like he did before. After work he used to sit down on the couch, relax, and go into detail about his workday. He’d ask me about mine too. Now he silently sits watching TV. When I try to talk to him, he just gives me yes or no answers and no eye contact.”
“What about dates? Do you two ever go out? To dinner, movies, things like that?”
“No, not anymore. Whenever I suggest going out he changes the subject, says he’s busy or just doesn’t feel like it. When he’s not working he spends his time somewhere else. He claims he’s at the bowling alley or the pool hall with Nick, one of his friends. I drive by, you know, to see if his car is there.”
“And is his car there?”
“Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.”
“So, you spy on him, Kelly?”
“No, Dr. Clement, it’s not spying really. I just…I just want to know what’s going on. You understand.”
“Do you ever follow Alex without him knowing it?”
Kelly paused briefly. “Um…yes I do. I don’t do it all the time though. It’s just his behavior; it’s so suspicious. I don’t trust him anymore. It seems he’s been keeping secrets.”
“Secrets? Are you positive of this?”
“I think so. I just need more information to be sure.”
Alex Stone: Session 1. Four days later.
“So, Alex, tell me about your relationship with Kelly,” Dr. Clement asked. “How are things going with you two lately?”
“Things have been strange, Dr. Clement.”
“Yeah. Kelly’s been acting so controlling. She’s been really infatuated with me, obsessed maybe. She demands to know everything I’m doing, at all times. When I’m not home she calls and texts me every hour demanding to know where I am, who I’m with. Sometimes I even think she follows me around. I don’t know; maybe it’s just a feeling.”
“I see. She wasn’t like this from the beginning was she?”
“Not at all; she was normal at first.”
“Tell me again about how the two of you met.”
Alex got comfortable in the leather chair facing Dr. Clement who sat behind her desk.
“It was seven months ago. I was downtown at at the Coffee Nook, having an iced coffee outdoors on the patio. The weather was warm. I looked up from my table and saw her sitting at the table directly in front of me drinking tea. There she was smiling. I started a conversation and we hit it off from there.”
“When did Kelly start to change? Become obsessed as you say?”
“She was great in the beginning, so fun and lively. We did everything together. But about a month or so ago things started to get…weird.”
“Is this why you’ve not been communicative with Kelly?”
“Yes, I suppose it is.”
“You say things are weird. How?”
“Dr. Clement… can I tell you something? Something that may seem bizarre?”
“Feel free to tell me anything, Alex.”
“Alright. Things are weird like… the sun doesn’t feel the same anymore. And I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean it literally. Also, a part of me is lost, something’s missing.”
“What do you mean missing?”
“It’s difficult to explain.”
“Tell me about the sun. How does it feel different?”
“It seems hotter. Light in general is hotter.” Alex paused in an effort to speak. “Doctor, I want to show you something. I want to see if you can explain this.”
Alex got up from the chair and stepped in front of Dr. Clement’s desk. A small lamp sat on it attached to a crème colored shade, the light on. Alex put his hand underneath the lamp. “Look, what do you see? Dr. Clement inspected Alex’s hand.
“Something wrong with your skin?” Dr. Clement asked.
“No, what do you not see rather?”
“What do I not see?”
“Look at the desk underneath my hand.”
Dr. Clement examined the desk just under Alex’s hand.
“I don’t understand.”
“Look at this.” Alex removed his hand from underneath the lamp shade and grabbed the Liberty Bell shaped paperweight from the desk. It was about five inches high and weighed a good pound. He held it underneath the lamp. “Now look again,” Alex said, “on the desk”.
Dr. Clement saw the plainly visible shadow of the paperweight underneath the lamp on the desk’s surface. It cast an oblong dark shape on the brown oak. But that was the only shadow present. The shadow of Alex’s hand and forearm was absent.
Dr. Clement stood up and examined the lamp. She put her hand underneath the lamp shade and her shadow appeared. Maybe there was something wrong with the lighting in her office. She then walked to the center of her office and inspected the light fixture on the ceiling and looked to the desk and floor for shadows. Dr. Clement’s shadow appeared on the floor but Alex’s body cast no shadow at all.
Kelly Dixon: Session 2. Four days later.
“Kelly, please tell me again about how you and Alex met,” Dr. Clement asked from behind the desk, pen in hand.
“Okay. I remember I was having tea at Coffee Nook in the outdoor patio. Alex was sitting at the table in front of me. We started talking and got along great. We ended up meeting a few days later for a dinner.”
“How was the relationship at the beginning?”
“Wonderful, we did everything together: movies, the park, everything. We even got an apartment together three months afterward. About a month ago Alex started to change; he started hanging around Nick more often. Nick’s real shady, he even looks it. He’s got those shifty eyes. Alex says he’s with Nick all the time but he’s not.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Sometimes Alex comes home smelling like perfume. I know Nick doesn’t wear perfume and that really bothers me.”
“Did you ever confront Alex about the perfume smells?”
“Yes, he said it just comes from the bar, women wear perfume in bars, it just gets in his clothes.”
“Do you believe him?”
“No. I don’t.”
“Because I know exactly where the scent comes from.”
“I’ve seen him with this woman. In fact, he’s been in her company quite often, she’s a little older than him but she’s pretty.”
“Who is she?”
“She’s the owner of some dusty old antique shop on Main Street. You know; relics and old books, things like that. It’s called Marcia’s Vintages.”
“Are you sure the perfume comes from her?”
“I’m positive. It smells like lilac. I’ve followed Alex the other day to Marcia’s store.”
“And what did you see?”
“Alex went inside the shop. He stayed for maybe an hour and left. After that he came home smelling like perfume.”
“How do you know that Marcia is older than Alex? Did you see her?”
“Yes. I went inside the store the next day, pretended I was a customer. She asked if she could help me. I told her I was just looking around and asked if she was the owner of the place. She said she was. When I got close to her I smelled the same lilac perfume that Alex comes home with on his clothes.”
Alex Stone: Session 2. Three days later.
“Alex, I’ve been researching your ‘condition’ as it were. It’s simply uncanny that you cast no shadow. I’ve never seen or heard of such a thing and have no explanation for it. However, just because I can’t explain it doesn’t mean there isn’t some type of scientific reason that light affects your body in a different way. I think it would more proper for a physicist to attempt to explain it than me.”
“Have you told anyone about it?”
“No. I hold all of the information you tell me in the strictest of confidence. It is an anomaly that is all I can say.” Dr. Clement said.
“Dr. Clement, I have to tell you something.”
“That’s what I’m here for Alex. Feel free.”
“It’s going to sound crazy.”
“That’s okay. I’d like to hear it anyway.”
“Alright, I’ll do my best to explain.”
“I think there’s something wrong with Kelly.”
“Wrong? Because you believe she’s obsessed with you?”
“That’s part of it. It just sometimes…she’s not there.”
“Is she acting distant?”
“I don’t mean mentally. I mean sometimes she’s not there.”
“It’s that… sometimes I look at her when she’s sleeping next to me…she suddenly becomes transparent, literally, like a ghost. It’s like I can see the pillow and sheets underneath her, through her. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks in the dark but no. She fades away like she’s disappearing, turning invisible. I know. It sounds crazy.”
“Alex, I’m sure it’s your eyes playing tricks.”
“That’s what I though at first, but it’s happened more than once and not in the dark. One time she stood staring out the window when she slowly began to vanish. I could see buildings and cars out the window right through her. Then she disappeared entirely. I freaked out and left the apartment for about an hour. I had to get out, compose myself. When I came back Kelly was there in the apartment, just like before. I asked if she noticed anything weird. She said she didn’t remember that I left, that she experienced missing time.”
Dr. Clement took notes on all Alex said. None of it made sense but she surmised that Alex was either fabricating the tale or he was delirious. Perhaps Alex created the story. The fact that Alex had no shadow was just as absurd but real. Despite the irrationality of it all Dr. Clement had to get back to the relationship issues.
“Yes, that is extremely odd Alex. I’m sure there is a reason for what you think you see. But I’d like to get to your relationship with Kelly. Can I ask you something and will you answer honestly?”
“Do you always go out with Nick to the bowling alley, the pool hall, when you say you do?”
Alex took a moment to answer. “No. Not all the time.”
“I see. Do you lie to Kelly when you say you’re doing these things?”
“Yeah, I do, but only sometimes.
“When I go to see Marcia.”
“Someone I met a few weeks ago.”
“Are you dating Marcia, Alex?”
“No, she’s a friend. I just talk to her.”
“What do you two talk about?”
“Kelly? What about her?”
“Okay… it’s about what I just told you, about Kelly becoming like a ghost and disappearing. I wanted to know if I was seeing things so I went to libraries, searched the internet, read up on eye diseases, and psychological problems that could cause what I thought I saw. Nothing helped. And no doctor, I’m not on any hallucinogens. I spotted Marcia’s Vintages, an antique shop. Sign said it had old books. I went inside to just look, out of curiosity.”
“Did the store have what you were looking for?”
“I perused a small section of old dusty books but found nothing. I ended up in a conversation with Marcia, the owner. She seemed like a deep person so I ended up explaining to her the situation about Kelly, little by little of course. My story fascinated her. She later did some research so I kept coming back to see her to learn what she found.”
“And what did she find?”
“A book called Shadows, Ether and Consciousness.”
“I see. Did you buy it?”
“No, it’s super old and too expensive.”
“What did you learn from the book?”
“A lot. Everything of importance was in chapter seven.”
After the session with Alex, Dr. Clement couldn’t put the unsettling couple out of her mind. She’s never experienced such an out of the ordinary case. After a small dinner at home she informed her husband she would take a stroll out in town, get some night air in Ravensgate park and think.
Alex Stone cast no shadow; this was a fact. She’d seen it herself. But his story was so utterly impossible she had to investigate further. Alex claimed the book was extremely rare and if it was real, she’d like to have a look. Dr. Clement stepped out of the park out on to Main Street to find Marcia’s Vintages.
The hanging bell of the door jingled as Dr. Clement stepped into the poorly lit book shop. Dust layered the shelves with old books, antiques and other odds and ends. The rickety floor creaked under feet and the place reeked strongly of perfume: the very same lilac Kelly said Alex smelled like when he came home. If anyone spent more then ten minutes in the store their clothes become saturated with it.
“Hello there,” said a woman. Dr. Clement turned to the front counter. Marcia, she assumed, sat behind the counter reading a magazine drinking a glass of wine. Her skin was pasty white and long, sandy blonde hair stopped at the small of her back. She had the greenest of green eyes and was pretty, just like Kelly said.
“Hello,” Dr. Clement replied.
“Anything in particular you’re looking for?”
“As a matter of fact, I am. I’m looking for a book called Shadows, Ether and Consciousness.”
An expression of curiosity appeared on Marcia’s face. “Any particular reason why the book interests you?” Marcia asked.
“I’ve just heard a lot about it, that’s all.”
“I see. Wait just a moment.” Marcia stepped into a back room and only seconds later returned with a thick, hard covered, black book. The binding was worn with age.
“You’re in luck, I just happen to have a copy of this antique book on hand.”
“May I see it?” Dr. Clement asked.
Marcia set the volume on the counter and opened it. Dr. Clement spied the ink drawings on some of the old yellowed pages.
“When was it written?” Dr. Clement asked.
“Almost two hundred years ago. By Vladimir Kolov, a Russian alchemist.”
“Yes, alchemy is the precursor to chemistry. It’s an ancient discipline that involved a blend of the supernatural and scientific elements of nature. Kolov’s was also an expert in the occult realm of consciousness and sentiency.”
Dr. Clement went straight to the chapter seven and Marcia noticed. “You’re Dr. Clement,” Marcia said. The doctor looked up at her. “Alex told you about me.”
“Yes. That chapter that will interest you most,” Marcia said. “It’s about how sometimes we think things do not have consciousness when actually they do.”
Kelly Dixon: Session 3. Two days later.
“Kelly, can I ask you something?” Dr. Clement asked.
“Have you been experiencing missing time?’
“Alex told you about that?”
“Yes, he did. I think it’s an important issue and it should be looked into.”
Uneasily, Kelly fidgeted in the leather chair. “Umm, yes, I have been missing time. It’s kind of scary.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well, sometimes I’ll be doing something, washing dishes or watching TV and the next thing I know I feel weird like really sleepy. Next thing I know I’m waking up from a deep sleep but in a different location than I was before. I feel like I’ve just had a dream but can’t remember it. I look at the clock and find maybe a half hour to forty- five minutes has passed.”
“What do you think is going on when that happens?”
“Maybe I have narcolepsy? Or I think maybe I’ve been drugged. I wonder if perhaps Alex slipped me something. You don’t think he’d do something like that do you?”
“It is a possibility but I don’t think he’d do that. We need to know what’s been happening during the missing time and why you can’t remember. If we can figure that out then maybe we can learn what’s happening with you and Alex. Have you heard of hypnotherapy, Kelly?”
“Yes, I have. Why? You’re not thinking about…”
“It might be a good idea to put you under hypnosis. We may be able to get to the root of your missing time this way.”
“Do you really think it will help?”
“It has helped with others in the past and it’s a very good possibility. Your subconscious records everything, even if your conscious mind doesn’t remember it. I’d be willing to extend our time together free of charge tomorrow night. I have no other appointments. If you’d agree, I’d like to put you under hypnosis. Find out what’s deep in your psyche, what’s been going on with this missing time. I’d like to audio record it and have Alex present. Would you be up for that?”
Kelly felt scared to be put in such a vulnerable situation, but desperately wanted to know what was happening to her during her missing time episodes.
“Okay, I’ll do it.”
Kelly Dixon, Alex Stone: Session 4. The Next Day.
Together, Alex and Kelly walked into Dr. Clement’s office. Facing Dr. Clement, both sat down in twin leather chairs in front of her desk.
“How do you feel tonight, Kelly?” Dr. Clement asked.
“A little nervous, I’ve never done this before.”
“I assure you hypnotherapy is common practice these days. You’ll be fine. I’m here, Alex is here, and we have the digital recorder recording everything so you can listen to the session afterward.”
“That makes me feel a little better.”
“I promise you’ll be fine. So, are we ready?”
Kelly and Alex both agreed. “Alright Kelly, I’m going to have you lay down on the couch over here,” Dr. Clement directed toward the far wall. Kelly got up and went to the leather couch at the back of the room. Both Alex and Dr. Clement each took a chair and sat facing Kelly as she tried get comfortable.
Dr. Clement spoke softly and steadily for three minutes, soothing Kelly’s mental state. Kelly’s muscles became less tense by the second. Her body eventually became like jelly, relaxed and limber. Dr. Clement counted backward from ten to one, until Kelly finally closed her eyes and was, as Dr. Clement understood, “under”.
“Kelly, can you hear me?” Dr. Clement asked.
“Yes,” Kelly softly replied.
“Good. Now stay relaxed as you to follow my instructions. I want you to think back to an occasion when you were in your apartment and just realized you were missing time. Tell me what’s happening?”
“I feel really weird. The clock says it 11:37 It was 10:40 the last time I looked but it felt like only a few seconds ago.”
“Is it day or night?”
“Now, I want you to go back just a little farther. Go back and see what was happening during the time you believe was actually missing. Because it’s not missing, you were there and you remember it. You just have to find it.”
Kelly said nothing for a few moments, her consciousness searching for the hidden data.
“What’s happening, Kelly?”
“I’m not sure. I’m not in my apartment anymore. I was there a second ago.”
“Where are you if not in the apartment?”
Kelly paused, an expression of deep thought on her face.
“I’m with Alex. I’m following him.”
“Alex? Where is Alex going?”
“He’s at the old, dusty antique shop, Marcia’s Vintages.”
“What is Alex doing there?”
“He’s talking to her, Marcia, and they’re looking at a book, a really old book. She’s behind the counter and he’s standing in front. They’re talking about the book and… me.”
“What are they saying about you?”
“They’re saying that I’m not what I appear…they say I’m not a person.”
“But you are a person,” Dr. Clement said.
“I know…I am a person,” Kelly slowly began to whimper.
“What else are they saying?”
“They’re saying I’m not a real person. Why are they saying that?” Kelly sobbed.
“Listen to them. Why are they saying this?”
“Because of that book they’re reading, that stupid book full of lies.”
“Kelly, were going to change topics for a moment. I want you to tell me about your parents.”
Kelly paused. Small tears began to form under her closed eye lids.
“I don’t remember.”
“Try Kelly, go back and remember your mother and father.”
“I don’t… I don’t know them.”
“You told Alex that their names were Robert and Janet Dixon. Why did you tell him that?”
“Because I wanted Alex to think I was normal, that I knew my parents.”
“If you didn’t know your parents, then who raised you?”
“No one raised me.”
“What elementary school did you attend as a child?”
“I didn’t attend elementary school.”
“Then tell me your earliest memories, whatever they may be.”
Kelly sniffled and searched the recesses of her psyche. Silently, a tear slid down her cheek.
“I’m spending time with Alex.”
“You knew Alex as far as you can remember?”
“Yes, I was with him then.”
“How is that possible? I thought you met him seven months ago?”
“No. I’ve always with him.”
“You remember Alex but can’t remember your parents?”
“Because…I don’t have parents.”
“Why don’t you have parents? If you don’t have parents how did you get here?”
“I’m here because of Alex. I’ve been with Alex since he was born.”
“Since he was born?”
“I grew up with him.”
“How is that possible, Kelly?”
“I was with him all through his birth and childhood, I knew all of his friends. I was even there when he graduated high school. It was then…when he went to prom with Tammy Harris that I realized I loved him. It hurt to see them together. I could see in his eyes what he felt for her. It made me jealous.
“Why her when I was with him first? I was the one who was with him through the anguish when his mother died. I was there with him for all his birthdays. I was with him in all the bad and good times. For years I felt this way. It wasn’t until seven months ago that I became a person, a real girl.”
“A real girl? Who are you Kelly?”
“I’m Alex’s shadow. That’s why he doesn’t have one.”
Dr. Clement was stunned but her theory confirmed, as ludicrous as it sounded. After reading Shadows, Ether, and Consciousness and talking to Marcia, Dr. Clement took a chance on the possibility that such things were real. She surmised, along with Alex and Marcia that Kelly’s fading away and missing time were directly correlated to Alex’s missing shadow.
Vladimir Kolov was right, we believe that some things aren’t alive, don’t have intelligence, or can feel. But in reality they do. Our shadows are not just the silhouettes they appear but sentient entities that exist in an almost sleep-like state, half-wake, half-asleep. These beings are with us since birth, like companions. And sometimes, just sometimes, a shadow may literally spring into existence as a physical creature. But only something powerful enough must cause it to manifest. In this case, love.
This is why Alex cast no shadow. His shadow became Kelly. Whenever she experienced stress or sadness due to the problems in her relationship with Alex, she momentarily disappeared or reverted to her original state to be close to him. When she physically reappeared she didn’t remember it.
Kelly lay on the couch, crying. That was enough. It was time for Dr. Clement to wake her. “When you awaken, Kelly, you will remember everything. Understand?”
Kelly nodded and Dr. Clement counted backward from ten to one then snapped her fingers. Kelly’s watery eyes opened and she sat up at the edge of the sofa. She looked solemnly at her boyfriend as he reached out and grasped her hand.
“Hi, honey,” Alex said.
“I’m sorry Alex,” she said. “I never meant for any of this to happen. I don’t know how I became alive. I just did.”
“It’s because you love me. There’s no need to be sorry. No one’s blaming you for anything. And I love you too.”
“But I’m not real, Alex.”
“That’s not true. You are real. I’m touching you right now.”
“I didn’t know what I was, what I am. But now I know what I have to do. I don’t belong here.”
Kelly’s hand began to loosen from Alex’s grip. Her delicate fingers began to slowly disappear.
“Wait,” Alex said in desperation. “You don’t have to leave. We can work around this. You’re still the girl I met at the Coffee Nook. You’re still my Kelly.”
Kelly’s face and body gradually began to fade away. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m your shadow.” Kelly said through a forced smile, a tear running down her cheek. She leaned forward and lightly kissed Alex on the lips.
“Don’t be sad, sweetheart,” Kelly said. “I’ll always be around.”
Within seconds Kelly disappeared entirely from the sofa and Alex’s shadow appeared on the floor underneath him.
Copyright © Abel Ramirez