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Copyright © 2013 by James Hampton

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.


Tessa Owens took a deep breath, trying her best to stay calm. So far, anyway, she felt all right: her heart rate was elevated but not racing, her respiration quicker than normal but still steady, and she had at least some feeling of centeredness, of inner peace, sitting here now in the small, gray lobby of the therapist’s office. Of course, thirteen-year-old Tessa reminded herself, it was easy to hold it together when she was alone but for the young receptionist at the other end of the room, a dour brunette who didn’t seem interested in making small talk; that it was a simple thing indeed to maintain that inner peace when no one was asking the sorts of questions that would surely cut her to the bone. What about when the therapist called her inside, though? How would Tessa fare then?

Keep calm. You can handle it.

One thing was for sure: her turn was coming quick. Just a moment ago, an unsmiling girl of maybe sixteen or seventeen with acne-scarred cheeks and mouse-brown hair had exited he heavy oak door leading into the office—a patient, no doubt, whose session was now over—and shut it behind her. Tessa imagined that the lady she was supposed to see today—a Ms. Hostem, or was it Mrs.?—would take a short break in between seeing people. How long, though? Five, ten, fifteen minutes…?

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