Through the FogBy: Michael C. Grumley
He lurched upright in the darkness, his chest heaving uncontrollably. Traces of light crept in from around the window, and a much brighter glow from under the door illuminated part of his bedroom floor. The door opened a moment later, blinding him in the glare.
“Evan, are you okay?”
From his bed, he looked up at the silhouette in the doorway. His breathing was still labored. “I’m okay.” He didn’t want her to worry any more than she already was.
His mother crossed the tiny room and sat on the edge of his bed. She was still in her work uniform. “Are you sure? I heard you yell.” She ran a gentle hand over his brow. His forehead was dripping with sweat.
“I think it’s getting worse,” Evan replied hoarsely.
She sighed uneasily. “Do you want me to get you some water?”
He nodded, clearing his throat.
His mother rose and began to leave, then stopped at the door and turned back around. “Do you want me to go with you tomorrow? I can try to get someone to cover for me.”
He shook his head. “I’ll be okay.”
Evan wrung his hands and took a deep breath. “It happened again.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Again? How many times?”
Dr. Shannon Mayer stared at the teenager for a long time. He was sitting in a thick padded leather chair with a nervous look on his face. “When?”
He pushed himself back in the chair. “One last week and two this week. And then another last night.”
“Do you want to tell me about them?” she asked calmly.
“I guess so.”
Mayer frowned. “Evan, you don’t have to tell me anything. But I’m here to help you, and I can’t do that unless you let me.”
Evan shrugged. “I know. There’s just not much to say. They’re just like the other ones.”
“Was it when you went to bed again?”
He nodded. “When I was falling asleep, but they’re happening more often now.”
Mayer inhaled and stared at him, thinking. “Evan, I think we may need to consider something a bit more . . . aggressive.”
“What does that mean, like drugs?”
“A prescription, yes.”
Evan didn’t answer. He didn’t want pills. He’d already told her that. It seemed like everyone at school was on some kind of pill these days. Something to keep you focused. Something to calm you down. Something to make you less moody. He was starting to feel like he was one of the only kids not popping something, legal or not. He lowered his voice. “I really don’t want to.”
“I understand, but if we can’t at least get some kind of handle on this, it could become a bigger problem before we diagnose it, which means it will be harder to treat. If these episodes are becoming more frequent, I think we’re going to need to act quickly.”
He sat quietly in the chair, picking absently at the seam in the dark leather. “Maybe it’s like a medical thing,” he offered. “You know, instead of psychological. Maybe I just need a little physical therapy, or maybe more broccoli or something.”
Mayer’s lips curled at his joke. “But not broccoli pills.”
Evan chuckled. “Right.”
“It’s possible it could be something medical. But you said you hadn’t had any injuries lately. And medical problems like this don’t normally happen at the same time of day.” She peered at him through her rectangular-framed glasses. “Unless . . . you remember something.”
He was pretty sure that was her way of asking if he was lying. He wasn’t really, at least not technically. He wasn’t lying as much as just keeping something to himself. But if it meant not taking pills, then he’d have to tell her. It was just embarrassing, especially since he’d just turned eighteen.
He snapped out of his blank stare. “Yes?”
“Did you remember something new?”
The last of Evan’s grin disappeared and was followed by a solemn expression. “Uh yeah, I guess I did . . . sort of. There is something I haven’t told you . . . exactly.”
“And what is that?”
It was only his third session, but something had struck him from the first time he met Dr. Mayer: nothing seemed to surprise her. She always looked at him with the same calm expression. He hoped that meant her other patients were even weirder than he was.
“Well,” he began, “it’s about when they started.”
“When the episodes started?”
“Yeah.” He took a breath as she watched him. “This kinda started happening after . . . an accident.”
Mayer’s brow furrowed. “What kind of accident?”