"Uesugi-san. Come back to me."
The sound of a single handclap resounded in Eiri's mind and his eyes flew open. It took several moments for him to remember where he was. When he managed it, the first thought that flitted through his muddled brain was, God, I hate Tuesdays.
Though he hated to admit it, the sterile white of the office was a relief after regression. It was entirely unlike anything in his repressed memories, and it helped to reassure him that he was, in fact, living in the present. He'd heard that some shrinks preferred mood lighting and comfortable couch-beds for their patients. In his mind, an examination was an examination, whether of the mind or body. It was just as cold and clinical. Those who tried to disguise it were only fooling themselves.
The doctor waited patiently, as always, as he blinked to steady himself. The white of her coat blended with the white of the walls. He brushed a finger against the textured canvas of the hospital cot, grounding his thoughts in the present. It was a peculiar and tacky shade of turquoise. He tried to hide the fact that he found it comforting.
"Are you awake now?"
Her voice was soft and even, as always. He nodded slowly. "What happened?"
She turned to the table as she spoke, still making notes on her clipboard. "You were experiencing normal regression, but when we got to a certain point, you stopped responding."
"A certain point?"
Her smile was small, polite, and professional. "Don't worry too much about it. Focusing on things your mind doesn't want to face will make things worse."
Eiri's small sigh was the only sign of his frustration as he settled back onto the bed. "So what happens now?"
She spoke carefully, as if testing him. "I will write you your usual perscription and we will continue next week."
His heart skipped a beat. There was no way he could live with another week of this. "The perscription isn't working."
"These things take time, Uesugi-san. You switched perscriptions less than a month ago. Your body needs to become acclimated to the new dosage. If you would care more for your physical health, as we've discussed..."
Eiri cut in, sitting up to look at her. "No. It's not that. The sedatives work; they put me to sleep. Instantly. Nothing is the matter with that. But it isn't helping."
The doctor set her pen down on the clipboard, carefully and precisely, before raising her eyes to those of her patient. "Oh...?"
I see him everywhere. Even in his mind, it sounded crazy. How could he tell her? Saying it out loud would make it real. With great difficulty, he spoke. "I've been... experiencing things."
"Go on." Her voice was soft, neutral. He wondered how many of her years of training had been focused on perfecting that voice.
"Seeing things." He looked away when he said it. "Things that aren't there, that I know aren't there. Things that..." He was far enough now. Might as well seal his fate. "...are dead."
The room was silent for a moment as she allowed the realization fo what he'd said to sink into his own mind. It was a courtesy, he could tell, from the minute he spoke. She'd been expecting this for months.
He swallowed. "Once a week. Sometimes twice."
She picked up the pen and made one careful, precise note on her clipboard. She took her time, then put the pen down again and looked at him. "I will give you a new perscription."
He nodded, almost weak with relief. It didn't sound so bad, now, out in the open. Modern medicine was a wonder. With the right drugs, they could deal with anything. He gave his doctor a curt nod, the closest he'd managed to thanks, picking up his jacket as he headed for the door.
He stopped just before the threshhold.
"It would be wise if you did not miss any more appointments."
In her words, all of his assurances melted away. His nod this time was not of thanks, but of defeat.