I’ll Always Be Around

Kelly Doyle: 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 40’s wearing thin framed glasses and her hair pulled back into a bun. She was a relationship counselor and psychiatrist with much 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 Doyle and Alex Stone were such a 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 of late 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.”

“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 work day. Now he silently sits watching T.V. 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 any more. Whenever I suggest going out he changes the subject, says he’s busy. When he’s not working he spends his time somewhere else. He claims he’s at the bowling alley or the pool hall with Dan, 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?”

“Things have been strange Dr. Clement.”

“Strange?”

“Kelly’s been acting so controlling. She’s been so infatuated with me, obsessed maybe. She demands to know everything I’m doing at all times. When I’m not home she calls 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; it’s just a feeling.”

“I see. She wasn’t like this at 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. “It was seven months ago. I was downtown at a café, having lunch 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 having tea. I could have sworn she wasn’t there a second before but there she was. She smiled. We just started talking and 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 more ago things became…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. “I want to show you something. I want to see if you can explain this.”

Alex got up from the chair and stepped to the desk in front of Dr. Clement. A small lamp sat on the desk 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.

“Is 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. It cast a dark, oblong 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. She then walked to the center of her office and inspected the light fixture on the ceiling and looked to the floor. Maybe there was something wrong with the lighting in her office. Dr. Clement’s shadow appeared on the floor but Alex’s body cast no shadow at all.

Kelly Doyle: Session 2. Four days later.

“Kelly, tell me again about how you and Alex met,” Dr. Clement asked from behind the oak desk, pen in hand.

“Okay. I remember I was having tea at Alderman’s café in the outdoor patio. Alex was having lunch at the table in front of me. When he finished 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 five months ago Alex started to change; he started hanging around Dan more often. Dan’s real shady, he even looks it. He’s got those shifty eyes. Alex says he’s with Dan all the time but he’s not.”

“Why do you believe that?”

“Sometimes Alex comes home smelling like smoke and perfume. I know smells like that come from bowling alleys and pool halls, but the perfume 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 like the smoke.”

“Do you believe him?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because, I know exactly where the scent comes from.”

“Where?”

“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 32nd 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 owned the place. She said yes. When I got close to her I could smell the same lilac perfume that Alex comes home with on his clothes.”

 Alex Stone: Session 2. Five 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 certain 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.”

“Please do.”

“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?”

“No, I mean sometimes she’s not there.”

“How so?”

“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, she fades away, like she’s disappearing, turning invisible. I know. It sounds bizarre.”

“Alex, I’m sure you’re just seeing things in the dark.”

“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 and she slowly began to vanish. I could see 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, and that she experienced missing time.”

Dr. Clement took notes. None of it made sense but she surmised that Alex was either fabricating the tale or he was delirious. Perhaps Alex created the story in order to make it look like Kelly was the problem. Despite the absurdity 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?”

“Yes.”

“Do you always go out with Dan; 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?”

“Yes, I do, but only sometimes.

“Sometimes?”

“When I go to see Marcia.”

“Who’s Marcia?”

“Someone I met a few weeks ago.”

“Are you dating Marcia, Alex?”

“No, she’s a friend. I just talk to her.”

“About what?”

“About Kelly.”

“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. 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 LSD or other hallucinogens. I spotted Marcia’s Vintages, an antique shop. Sign said it had old books. I went inside to look, just 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 kind of person so I ended up explaining the situation with Kelly, little by little of course. My story fascinated her. She later did some research so I kept coming back to 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 extremely old and way too expensive.”

“What did you learn from the book?”

“Everything of importance was in chapter seven.”

That night:

 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 the city, get some night air.

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. Alex claimed the book was a rare, one of a kind work, and if it was real, she’d like to have a look.

The hanging bell of the door jingled as Dr. Clement stepped into the poorly lit book shop. Dust layered the shelves and old books. Strange trinkets were placed about the store in particular order. The rickety floor creaked under her high heels and the place reeked strongly of smoke and perfume: the very same odors Kelly said Alex smelled like when he came home. If anyone spent more then ten minutes in the place, their clothes would become saturated with the smells.

“Hello there,” said a woman with a raspy smoker’s voice. Dr. Clement turned to the front counter. Marcia, Dr. Clement assumed, sat behind the counter reading a magazine with a cigarette between her lips, an ash tray on the counter. Smoke lingered above Marcia’s head. Her skin was pasty white and long, sandy blonde hair stopped at the small of her back. She had the bluest of blue 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 reason why this 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, leather bound, 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 yellow pages.

“When was it written?” Dr. Clement asked.

“Almost two hundred years ago. By Vladimir Kolov, a Russian alchemist.”

“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 expertise was in the 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. Chapter seven that will interest you most,” Marcia said. “It’s about how sometimes we think things do not have consciousness when actually they do.”

 Kelly Doyle: Session 3. Two days later.

“Kelly, can I ask you something?”  Dr. Clement asked.

“Sure.”

“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 resolved.”

Uneasily, Kelly fidgeted in the leather chair. “Umm, yes, I have. It’s kind of scary.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, sometimes I’ll be doing something, washing dishes or watching T.V. and the next thing I know I feel weird, like really sleepy. Then I wake up from a deep sleep but in a different location. 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 have passed.”

“What do you think is happening?”

“Maybe I’ve been drugged. I wonder if Alex slipped me something. You don’t think he’d do something like that, do you?”

“It is a possibility. We need to know what’s been happening during the missing time and why you can’t remember. If we know what’s going on maybe we can figure out 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.”

“Do you really think it will help?”

“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 video 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. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Kelly Doyle, Alex Stone: Session 4. The Next Day.

Together, Alex and Kelly walked into Dr. Clement’s office. Facing Dr. Clement, both sat down in the twin leather chairs in front of her desk.

“How do you feel tonight, Kelly?” Dr. Clement asked.

“Nervous, I’ve never done this before.”

“Hypnotherapy is common practice these days. You’ll be fine. I’m here, Alex is here, and we have the video recorder recording everything so you can see the session afterward.”

“That makes me feel a little better.”

“You’ll be fine, I promise. 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 loose and relaxed by the second. Her body eventually became like jelly. Dr. Clement counted backward from ten to one, until Kelly 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 realized you were missing time. What’s happening?”

“I feel really weird. The clock says 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?”

“Night.”

“Now, I want you to go back just a little farther. Go back and see what was happening during the time you believe is actually missing. Because it’s not missing, you were there and you remember. You just have to find it.”

Kelly was silent 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 minute 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.”

“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, that I’m not a real 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 really who I am. Why are they saying that?” Kelly sobbed.

“Listen to them. Why do they say you’re not who you say you are?”

“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. Tears began to form under her closed eye lids.

“I don’t remember.”

“Try Kelly, go back and remember your mother and father. You told Alex that their names were Bill and Jan Doyle. Why did you tell him that?”

“Because I wanted Alex to think I was normal, that I knew my 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 as she 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 been 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?”

“I was with him through his birth and childhood, even when he graduated high school. It was then…when he went to prom with Tammy Turner 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 there through the anguish when his mother died. And the all good times too. For years I felt this way. It wasn’t until seven months ago that I became a person, a real girl.”

“Who are you Kelly?”

“I’m Alex’s shadow.”

Dr. Clement was stunned but her theory confirmed, as ludicrous as it sounded. After reading Shadows, Ether, and Consciousness, 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 some things are not alive, don’t have intelligence, or can feel. But in reality they do. Our shadows are not just the silhouettes they appear. They are actually living 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. 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.

“I’m sorry, Alex,” she said. “I never meant for any of this to happen. I don’t know how I became human. I just did.”

“It’s because you love me. There’s no need to be sorry. No one’s blaming you for anything.”

“I’m not real, Alex.”

“That’s not true. You are real. I’m talking to 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  loosened from Alex’s grip. Her delicate fingers began to slowly fade away into nothingness.

“Wait,” Alex said in desperation. “You don’t have to leave. We can work around this. You’re still the girl I met at Alderman’s Café. You’re still my Kelly.”

Kelly’s face and body gradually became transparent. “Don’t go Kelly. Please stay here with me.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Kelly said through a forced smile, tears running down her cheek. She leaned forward and lightly kissed Alex on the lips. “Don’t be sad, honey,” 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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