Jan. 12th, 2013

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"What keeps you awake?"

Jane hesitated, appearing to weigh her desperation to sleep against whatever dark event robbed it from her in the first place.

"I'm part of a set of twins," she said, meeting Wagner's eyes for a moment before letting them fall. "My sister and I...we did everything together. Had our own secret language, coordinated our outfits, shared the same tastes. It was like having a mirror of yourself without it being yourself. You know what I mean?"

Wagner pursed his lips empathetically, knowing not to nod because doctors are trained not to do that. Jane shifted on the couch, forcing herself to continue.

"One time, she got sent from the table and up to her room as punishment. I hadn't dared her, but sometimes children are children. We were having brunch; I remember it clearly. Crepes and granola, with fresh fruit. I didn't like strawberries--maybe an allergy, I never really checked--so I didn't add any. My mom loved them and ate half the bowl." Jane stopped, trying to breathe as if her chest had suddenly tightened. "She died a few hours later, some kind of reaction. The doctor couldn't be sure. My sister caught the blame. She was packed off to an institution and I haven't seen her since."

Wagner processed all this, seeming struck.

"...You know, that's almost the exact same thing that happened in a Shirley Jackson novel."

Jane affected surprise.

"Really? Wow." She leaned back, letting out a breath. "That's spooky."

* * *

Wagner finished writing the scrip and tore it from his notepad, starting to hand it over.

"Everything you told me was total fiction, wasn't it?" he asked, holding the paper just out of reach when Jane tried to take it. The corner of his mouth tugged upwards slightly, as if he sensed the joke.

Jane allowed herself a small smile.

"Yes it was."

"Why? I can tell you're in real pain. Why not tell the truth?"

"Because I'm not a self-pitying victim," she replied. "The truth is mine."

Wagner conceded. He'd lost this one, but for a cause. He handed the scrip over.

"Alright. I hear you."

Jane folded the paper and slid it into her pocket.

"Thanks, Doc."

* * *

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Patricia Jane

January 2013

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