Spoiler alert! This post contains information about my short story titled, The Compact. If you have not already read this story then click the link below before reading on.
As I sit down, Angela looks past me with an expression blank of emotion and pulls her knees to her chin. When she registers my presence, her eyes smile. “Thank you for coming. I want people to know how I’m doing. I want them to understand I’m not dangerous.” Her gaze roves the room for a moment.
“Do you know where you are?”
“I’m in a mental hospital.”
“Do you know why you’re here?”
She bites her lip and nods. “Daddy sent me here, three months ago, because of Ronni. He—I had planned to hurt a lot of people.”
“What do you mean?”
Her eyes widen. “I didn’t go through with it. I took the supplies from Daddy’s quarry site—I placed them too, but I couldn’t go through with it.”
“Didn’t Ronni do all of that?”
“Ronni—” she swallows, “My doctors say he isn’t real. But I still see his face sometimes, still feel his presence.”
“What does he look like?”
“He has black hair and brown eyes. He’s got a gap in his teeth, and he’s about my age.” She begins to cry. “I don’t want him to go away. We’ve been together for nine years.”
“When did Ronni first appear?”
“He came to me the week after my mom died. Our car was blindsided and she passed away on the side of the road. I was eight. My mom and I were really close, and my dad and I didn’t really get along. He had wanted me to be a boy, and so after she died Ronni came to me. He was the son my dad always wanted. He became the person I could talk to when I missed my mom.”
“When did he become something more?”
Her gaze is distant. “I’ve always loved him. But he was the one who turned it into something more than a friendship.
“Do you still love him, even though you’re starting to realize he isn’t real?”
She smiles and folds her legs beneath herself. “I love that he tries to protect and defend us. I love that he can do all the boyish things with my daddy that he loves to do.”
“Final question, do you think you’ll ever be able to live without Ronni?”
She covers her mouth with her hand her eyes fixed on the ceiling. After a moment, she shrugs. “If I ever want to get out of here, I’ll have to. I think I’m getting better.”
“I’m sure your dad will be happy to know that.”
As I get up to leave, her face changes. For a moment her eyes glaze over, her posture becoming rigid. When she again looks at me, her gaze is a wild mix of terror, rage, and emptiness. She leaps from the chair and lunges at me, but is restrained by two nurses. As the door closes behind me, I hear what sounds like a child screaming.
“Daddy! It’s Sophie!” She begins to sob. “Please let me come home.”