The park bench dream doctor – short story

I’ve been having a case of writer’s block lately. The is my attempt to recovery. Tell me what you think.

Her fingers cracked nervously as she played with her copper ring. It had left blue and green markings on her skin where she’d been wearing it. Her breath was steady, slow, as she concentrated her eyes so she could look at her guest properly.
“Are you sure about this, sweetie?” she asked without a hint of a smile. Her lips were trembling, as if she were afraid or cold. She swallowed and took another breath. “At first it will be satisfying.” She nodded slowly and pressed her ring between two fingers so they went completely white. “But” she continued “it gets worse. After only a short while you will notice changes, changes, changes that you cannot reverse.” She let the ring drop on the wooden table and instead grabbed her guest’s hand. She was cold, not like ice, not like that. She was as cold as a wall in the cellar, damp and a bit mouldy. Her fingers were bones of skin, her grasp was firm.
“You won’t want to live anymore – in your own skin. You will want to tear it off, peel it off, clean yourself. You will think that only then can you breathe again.”
She took a deep breath and smiled, tears dampening her eyes. “I tried.” She whispered. She removed her scarf from her shoulders. There were patches of skin missing, some areas pale, some pink and a few covered in dried blood. She smiled. “But you can’t pull off your own skin. Not all of it, anyway. I don’t have a knife.”
She took her guests hand again. “Now, tell me. Are you sure about this?”
~
A cup of hot chocolate in her left hand, a coffee in her right, she headed eagerly for the empty park bench. For a few moments she watched the ducks take their naps in the pond. Her hot chocolate was too hot to drink at the moment and her tongue was so easily burnt.
He was wearing only a t-shirt, but a winter scarf to keep him warm. With an indication of a smile he occupied the place next to her. She handed him the cup of coffee.
“It’s hot.” She reminded him as he took a large sip. If it had burnt him, he did not show it.
“Good morning, Anna.” He said. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay.” She replied. “What about you, Leo?”
He nodded. “Can’t complain.”
Anna smiled at him and blew on her hot chocolate. “I had another dream.” She explained slowly. He looked at her to imply he was listening. She cuffed both hands around her cup and began to tell him. “It was the same tunnel again. I had to crawl through it all the way until I reached the bunkers, then I carried on to the attic. This time, there was a woman again. The boy from last time was gone. She asked me the same question as they all do. And she seemed to be ill.”
“How did you feel, when you were with the woman?” Leo asked her thoughtfully. He finished his coffee in one sip.
“I wasn’t scared, if that’s what you mean. To be honest – like always – I did not know what the fuss was about.”
“Did you write it down?”
Anna nodded. “As usual.” She passed him the worn booklet. He skipped to the last page. His fingers investigated the paper. “Is that blood?”
“My nose was bleeding this morning.” She took her first sip of hot chocolate. She could feel her tongue burning just a little. This would last for the rest of the day, at least.
He read her dream in detail and sighed. “Well, to find out what it is that everybody keeps asking you about, you have to try to think of something that’s unfinished in your life, something that may have been on your mind a while now, maybe something you’re afraid of?”
Anna tried to think, but as she failed to come up with an answer, Leo made it her homework for next week’s session to really go through all of her unfinished business. Then they spent the rest of the morning talking.
Leo was a student of psychology. His payment was coffee. Every week they’d meet and he’d try to help Anna with her dreams, so far no success.
~
The tunnel was dusty as ever. She had trouble breathing, as her feet scrambled over the rough surface, but she was also overwhelmed by determination. When she finally reached the bunkers, she concentrated on the right way to go. She had done this countless times, but every time she was still a little bit unsure. Her hands felt the walls as she put one foot in front of the other, leading her to the second entrance to the tunnel. She lifted the lid and scrambled on.
~
“I woke up before I could get out of the tunnel. I got stuck and it swallowed me. I woke up.”
Leo frowned. “I don’t recall this happening before, right?”
She shook her head. “No. I once refused to go through the tunnel in the first place, but I’ve never got stuck.”
“Where you scared?”
“I was frustrated. I woke up all sweaty, I’d been scratching me knees.”
“Really? Was it bad?”
“No, not more than usual.”
~
The baby in the attic was crying thick, grey tears and calling out for Esteban. Anna tried to make it calm down, tried to feed it milk, but there was only wine here. “Hush.” She whispered and smiled, but it wouldn’t shut up. The baby phone crackled and a hollow voice coughed through the speakers. “Are you sure, Anna?” the voice asked and then started to make goofy noises for the baby. “Ah-goochie-goo!” the voice went, but the baby kept on crying.
~
Leo offered her his coffee. “You look very tired, Anna.” She nodded. “I look how I feel.” She said. “But I don’t ever drink coffee.”
He sighed. “I know, I thought I’d try.”
“I haven’t had a night without one of those dreams this week.”
He nodded. “Maybe you should see a therapist.”
Anna laughed and frowned. “But I thought you’re my therapist.”
“But I am not fully qualified.”
“I think you’re qualified.” Anna replied. “Or at least you’re someone I can talk to about it.”
“That’s good.” He said. “Because I’m not sure I’m helping, otherwise.”
Anna stood up from the bench. “Leo, I know you’re my therapist and all, but since I am not really paying you, do you want to come by my house this evening – and – I don’t know – talk, watch a film, eat?”
He set his empty cup of coffee down beside him and stood up, taking her hands slowly into his. “I’d love to.”
“Great.” Anna said, smiled and kissed him on the cheek. “I will see you tonight around seven, okay?”
“It’s a Date.”
She took off and left him standing there, smiling. He had finally got what he wanted.
He was not a student of psychology; instead he was a very convincing liar.
And she was most probably crazy.

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