the psychic

I’ve been having so many good days I forgot what bad days are like until yesterday morning when I woke up and the thought of being at school without her was a physical crushing weight pinning me to my mattress.

I woke up yesterday believing she’s dead. I didn’t think I’m trying to find her alive somewhere I thought I’m trying to find out how she died.

Like I don’t necessarily always think she’s dead. Some days I’m 100% certain she’s alive and waiting to be found. Not yesterday.

I didn’t go to school again, I just stayed in bed and cried and my mom came in to get me up but then she saw I was crying and she let me be. She had to work, but she came back to check on me at lunch. I feel so pathetic. Like rationally I can see myself acting like a mess and I can hear Madelyn telling me to get it together in my head, but I just can’t. I feel like I’m lying at the bottom of the ocean and everything is very heavy and far away and I’m not even trying to swim. I just want to lay in bed and listen to sad songs all day.

But then today I got my ass out of bed and I went to school. It was horrible, but I did it.

Tilly caught up to me outside first period. “Hey,” she said, falling into step beside me. Omg was she waiting for me???

ANYWAYS, she said, “what are you doing today?”

So I had to tell her I was going to see Madelyn’s psychic.

“Did you google him?” Tilly asked — which I did, btw. The only thing that came up was his bio page on the website for the building he works out of. It just had a picture of a smiling, utterly unremarkable middle-aged white dude. There was nothing apparently mystical about him at all.

I showed Tilly the page as we walked. It felt weirdly vulnerable walking through the hall while she looked at this guy. Like it’s not like I think this guy is actually a psychic or anything. But I don’t know what Tilly thinks. She’s the sheriff’s daughter for goodness sake, I’m sure she thinks her dad has this under control.

Oh god I bet she’s just indulging me. I bet she thinks this is a coping mechanism. F u c k that sucks.

ANYWAYS.

Tilly drove me to the psychic’s after school. It was not at all what I had imagined for a psychic’s place of business. It was tucked away behind a divorce attorney’s office, and it used the same gray and white decoration scheme. His office door was closed, with a sign which indicated that he was in a session, so Tilly and I sat in one of the little gray chairs to wait. I scrolled nervously through Instagram, too distracted to actually see anything I scrolled past.

When the door opened a middle aged woman in a long skirt came out and gave me a small smile, and I felt a momentary flash of panic at being seen here, waiting outside a psychic’s office.

“You must be Shiloh,” said the psychic. He held out a hand. “Edgar Fradin. Nice to finally meet you.”

Nice to finally meet you. I shook his hand.

He was maybe in his fifties and utterly ordinary. His hair was slightly thinning and silvery at the temples. He had very pale eyes with significant bags under them. He did not look like a man who had been particularly dedicated to his own health.

“Come on in,” he said.

I glanced at Tilly, but she just gestured for me to go. “I’ll be out here,” she said.

His office was gray and undecorated. He seemed very gray inside it.

I sat across from him. I had no idea what to say obviously.

“So you’re Shiloh,” he said, looking me over.

Which was a weird way to start an appointment but I’ve never been to a psychic. I thought maybe immediate familiarity is like part of the gig idk.

The psychic said, “can you tell me what brought you here?”

I hadn’t thought that far yet.

“Many people come hoping for insights into their love life, or their career,” the psychic said. “But that’s not why you’re here, is it?”

“No,” I admitted.

He waited while my brain clunked towards some excuse to be there. And then, when I didn’t think of anything, the psychic said, “I’m assuming this is to do with Madelyn.”

Which now I’m sorta like — it’s really not that big of a leap. Teenage girl comes in right after your teenage client goes missing? It really doesn’t take a psychic.

At the time though I was like !!!!!!?????!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!?!!!?

“Can I ask you how much Madelyn told you about our meetings?” He seemed so tired when he asked.

I said, “not much.”

“Not much as in…”

“Nothing.”

He became distinctly uncomfortable, wringing his hands and unable to look at me. “Do you believe in psychic abilities, Shiloh?”

I don’t think I’d ever seriously asked myself that until right then. Like I thought I had. I’ve thought about what it would be like to have supernatural powers my whole damn life, my only ambition as a kid was to be a damn witch. But do I believe it? Like really believe it?

“Madelyn was skeptical too, at first,” the psychic said. “And she was actually having visions. I don’t blame you your doubts.”

Very generous of him.

“I don’t blame the police their doubts either,” he continued. “I agree that our law enforcement should not be easily taken in by psychics.”

Realizing he’d been to the police made everything feel super real.

“Have you had some kind of …vision about where she might be?” I asked and the psychic gave me a sad smile.

“No,” he said. “I have no idea where she is I’m afraid. I have seen very little of Madelyn since her disappearance and what I have seen is… confusing at best.”

“Why did you go to the police?” I asked.

The psychic sighed. “I’ve come to know Madelyn quite well,” he said. “She’s been coming to see me for several months. I thought the cops should know.”

“But you don’t know why she disappeared?” I asked.

He gave me a sad smile. “The only thing I know for certain about Madelyn is that she is neither alive nor dead.”

Neither alive nor dead. That’s what he said. No idea what that’s supposed to fucking mean.

I must have looked totally freaked because he said, “I know, it makes no sense. I don’t know what to make of it either. You can imagine what the police thought.”

I wanted to hit him. I wanted to smack the sorrow off his dumb flabby grey face.

“Why was she even seeing you at all?” I said. I was hostile at that point and I was trying to hide it.

The psychic looked at me warily. “In my business there is an understanding that what a psychic discusses with their clients is completely confidential.”

I got ready to throw a fit, but the psychic held up a hand.

“However,” he said. “I believe Madelyn wanted you to know this. And given her current situation…” he trailed of and swatted lightly at the air as if batting off a fly.

There was no fly. I couldn’t imagine anything alive surviving in this gray room.

“Madelyn was a burgeoning psychic,” the psych said. I’m pretty sure he said was. He might have said is. I think he went back and forth between past and present tense.

“It was terribly disturbing for her — for many of us, really. If left untrained, a psychics abilities often emerge before some impending traumatic event. For Madelyn it was —”

My death. It was my death.

I stood up. Cold was prickling up my spine, and then my face. I rubbed at my chest, trying to will it to let me breathe.

The psychic watched me evenly. “You know what she was dreaming about,” he said.

“Father Keeler told me,” I said. “Can we open a window?”

The psychic got to his feet and hoisted the window behind his desk open, but just watched me pace and struggle to breathe.

“Fuck,” I gasped, checking my pulse.

“You’re having a panic attack,” the psychic observed.

“It’s an anxiety attack,” I snapped. “I’ll let you know when it’s panic.”

But to be honest I was pretty close to being at that knees-buckling, vision-spotting, not-breathing point.

“This is good,” said the psychic. “It means you believe me.”

“Fuck you,” I managed and sat against the door, trying to focus on my breathing.

There is nothing more frustrating than a panic attack. I always know that I’m not literally dying, but boy is hard to convince myself of that when my heart is palpitating and I can’t see or breathe.

“If it helps,” the psychic said, “she was doing everything she could to prevent your death. She was most determined.”

I didn’t need to hear any more. I burst out of the office and ran directly into Julian Hawthorne.

“Shiloh,” he said, surprised. “You again.”

I covered my face with my hands and struggled — in vain — not to cry.

“Shiloh?” Tilly said, already getting up to meet me.

“I’m okay,” I said but like lol obviously I wasn’t that okay because I was gasping for air and struggling not to cry so like I looked just about as good as I was feeling.

“He said I was going to —” brief break for more gasping “— die.” And then before I could pitch fully into total panic Julian stepped in.

“Shiloh do you come here often?” He had the calmest voice in the world, like he was talking to a wild animal.

I shook my head.

“Can I ask why you’re here now?”

I managed to tell him Madelyn came here.

He did not seem surprised by this. “Madelyn believed she was a psychic, didn’t she?”

I nodded. “She was dreaming that I was going to die.” I don’t know why I told him that. I’m blaming the panic.

Julian didn’t blink. “That isn’t going to happen,” he said. “You’re going to be just fine.” He was like a doctor with really good bedside manners, which suddenly scared the shit out of me.

“Of course it isn’t,” I snapped. “Because psychics aren’t real. She was losing her mind and this asshole —” I gestured towards where the psychic had appeared in his office doorway “— was taking advantage of her.”

And then I cursed a bunch and stormed out.

It was awkward with Tilly on the way home. I was too wound up to even notice at the time but now obviously I’m in total agony thinking about it. I probably totally freaked this poor girl out. Like we are NOT at the point in our friendship where I’m cool having total mental breakdowns in front of her. So that’s just great.

I don’t know, I could sorta tell when she dropped me off that she wanted to talk to me more, but I just ran for it. Oh god that’s so awkward. Oh my god everything is agony this is a complete nightmare

She’s texted me a few times since then but I haven’t even looked. Everything is embarrassing. I need to get it together.

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