The sound

“It all started,” she said, her voice delicately trembling with anxious hesitation, “in elementary school. I was about seven, I suppose. I’d had to go to the bathroom, which was just down the hall, but to get there and back, I had to pass by the teacher’s lounge area.”

The girl’s voice slowed, the memory of her experience replaying in her mind. Her therapist cleared his throat, a low-pitched rumble to bring her back to his office and the supple leather lounger she reclined upon.

“Sorry. Nothing weird happened on my way to the toilet. But on my way back, I was loitering, not really wanting to go back to real school, you know? I was just in front of the door to the teacher’s break area when I heard it…bwww-AH-p. At first, I thought it was my imagination. Because, you know, kids are always imagining things, especially things that sound or look or feel familiar. And the noise, that bwww-AH-p, sounded like one of my brother’s suction cup arrows falling off the wall. But louder.”

The petite girl turned to see the therapist’s reaction to her story. But his finely-lined face betrayed no emotion. Neither did his pale blue eyes. He nodded his white head at her, encouraging her to finish her story without interruption.

Sensing no condemnation or disbelief in him, the girl turned back to staring at the ceiling, continuing her tale.

“That was the first time I heard it. I never saw anything, though. I heard the same bwww-AH-p sound several times over the next few years. I never told anyone, though, not then. I just kept thinking it was my overactive imagination. I, maybe, figured it would just stop when I got older, when things in life got more real to me than the kid stuff, the playing. You know?”

She paused, her breathing growing more shallow, her hands beginning to shake. When she continued, her voice was ragged, tinged with barely controlled terror, “Then, in high school, after not hearing the sound for nearly a year, I heard it again. But that time, I saw what made the noises.”

She gulped in a breath and choked out the rest of her story, “I was staying late at school, I don’t even remember why. But, I was in the weight room, for whatever stupid reason, and I heard the same bwww-AH-p come from inside the football coach’s office. I snuck up to the front door, he had one to the weight room and one to the field. I was hoping to finally find out what it was. At first, I didn’t see anything strange, but then his assistant coach came in from the field, through the other door… I wish I hadn’t found out.”

Her therapist’s throat thrummed again, stopping her for the moment.

“Calm down, child. Take a few breaths and then finish your story. But first, tell me, is this, at long last, why you’re here? You can answer with a nod or shake of your head.”

The girl nodded. This is why she’d been forced to live in the mental institution for the past year. No one had believed her story, but she wouldn’t, couldn’t, change it because it was the truth. She was hoping that she’d finally found someone who would tell the rest of the world she wasn’t crazy.

She went on, “The assistant coach, the one who had just come in, he reached up with both hands and grabbed his head. Right beside his ears. And then he pulled his head off! bwww-AH-p!!!”

Her voice faltered. She curled in on herself, horror bubbling up inside of her at the memory of what she’d seen just a short two years ago.

The therapist let her cower a few minutes, then gently reached over toward the frightened girl. He touched her shoulder, but she didn’t respond. She said nothing at all, lost in her memories, until he spoke.

“I believe you,” he said, kindly.

The girl looked up at his gentle, smiling face and relaxed, knowing her time had come. People would know, now, that she wasn’t crazy or making things up.

Her smile changed to a scream when her grandfatherly old therapist put his hands to the sides of his head, right beside his ears, and pulled.

bwww-AH-p!

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