to sort through Sister Dana's account, with all its inferences and accusations, had been
difficult. The facts were that Melanie had relapsed and that it was highly likely Julian
was involved. How, was the question. Sister Zoe did not believe Sister Dana's
attack-and-run scenario, although she did suspect that a clash of sorts had occurred.
Why had he not come to her? If Julian had been present when Melanie
slipped back into stupor, why had he not come forth with the information? Unless he was
responsible. Or unless he was afraid that he would be blamed. Which, of course, he had
been. And he must have known he would be, having made no attempt to cover up his guilt.
Round and round went the explanations. Only Melanie and Julian knew the
Speak of the devil.
Sister Zoe curtailed her ruminations to watch Julian cross the common.
It was early. Perhaps her gamble to wait, give him a chance to come on his own, was about
to pay off. She moved from the window to the door in anticipation of his knock. She was
rewarded. She let him in, noting immediately how altered he appeared.
His face showed stress. His cheeks looked gaunter. She sensed that his
glasses hid a troubled gaze. He seated himself in front of her without uttering a word.
"Would you care for some tea?"
He shook his head.
"Or some coffee? I could have a pot sent over."
"I didn't come for stimulants, Ms. Zoe."
"No, I thought not."
"How is she?"
"As you left her. Would you like to tell me how it happened?"
"I touched a nerve, she threw a fit, I tried to calm her down, she
or got spaced-out or whatever you call itcatatonic."
"What do you think triggered it?"
So she was asking for his opinion, finally. Quickly he shifted
from the defense to the attack.
"You're the shrink. You figure it out."
"Are we playing our little chess game again?"
"Very good, Ms. Zoe. You've figured it out. But it is
hold the key to Melanie's cure."
"And thus you challenge my authority. Would you prefer that I step
aside? All right. In the spirit of the game, then, state your case."
Her move was a surprise. Julian had expected condemnation for his
meddling. He had almost hoped for it as a relief from his self-reproach. This open
invitation to espouse his private theory was a welcome, yet intimidating, offerto be
accepted with caution.
"I've had another nightmare
That's not accurate. I've had my
recurrent nightmare. Same one. Only this time I remember it completely. I know
exactly what you're thinking'not this again; how could Julian's dream life have
anything to do with anyone but himself.' And I'd be the first to admit it couldn't.
Except, Ms. Zoe, this nightmare is not mine. It's Melanie's.
"Now, before you have me fitted for a straightjacket, let me
explain. I've tested it out. Melanie is in the state she's in because a detail I
supplied to her jogged her memory. But she couldn't face it. She tried; I could feel her
trying. It's just too strong for her to handle. If you'd seen what I have, in the dream,
you'd understand. Real animals, these guys werethe ones who put her in that hospital
before she was sent here. Yes; I've read her file. I sneaked a peek at it one morning when
you weren't here. All's fair in love and chess. I confess to the deed now so you can
appreciate the fact that nowhere in that medical report is there any mention of a
van with a fisheye windowthe detail that sent our patient back to The Land of Nod.
"Of course at the time I was more concerned about proving my
theory than about Melanie's welfare, so I blew it. I fed her too much too soon. But next
"Excuse me, Julian. Do you really think it's fair that Melanie
should have to suffer through your teaching yourself to be a therapist? As you say, you've
already made a mistake. Who is at risk if you should make another? Now I'm quite prepared
to listen if you'd care to describe your nightmare, but I cannot condone, nor will I
permit, your tampering with my patient."
"How possessive of you, Ms. Zoe."
"No; how professionally responsible."
They had reached an impasse.
"May I see her?"
Sister Zoe was pensive; she still had doubts about Julian's motives.
The relevance of these nightmaresirrespective of their accuracywas that they
represented a curious sort of link, one patient to the other, both of whom were
impressionable and imaginative. Thus their affecting one another indeed was plausible.
What remained a mystery to the nun was how. And where, in the end, would it lead? Did she
dare risk another setback? In the girl's present state, could Julian's going to see her do
"Yes, you may."
He got up to go. She stopped him.
"Provided you are willing to give me assurances that there will be
no more playing doctor on your part. Agreed?"
"No more games, Julian. They do a great disservice to you
For once he did not care about The Game.
She let him leave.
Julian had run...
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