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"I have to admit, I never expected to see you here." She sat down on the couch as he spoke. She pressed her hands into the cushions on either side, as if she might fall over at any second. He sat on the edge of his desk. His feet swung slowly beneath him as he admired the stunning creature in front of him. It was true, he never expected this girl to be in his office, or to ever see her again at all.
"It's not too weird, is it? You always helped me out in school, so when I saw your name in the phonebook it felt like a sign." She leaned towards him, every inch of her begging for help. He was in no hurry to start talking about her problems, and shatter the perfect image he had of this woman, so instead he drank her in. Blonde hair curled around her shoulders and framed her face, a face that always looked child-like and exuberant. Her body was small and firm. Back in school he never had the chance to ask her, but he was certain she must have been a gymnast.
"Not at all. I'm not at liberty to say, but I've helped more of our friends from school that you would imagine. We all have issues, and that's nothing to worry about. It's good that you've come here so I can help you work through them." She started to feel more relaxed. She casually brushed the hair out of her face, exposing the bruises. He saw them, and his eyes flashed wide for just a moment. She saw his expression before he could hide, understood it, and slammed her hand against her face to cover it.
"It's not what you think. I fell."
"Down some stairs, right?" he said. It wasn't very professional, but he had known her so well, long ago. A little bit of humor might bring them right back to those days, when life was simpler. She smiled, halfheartedly, with only one side of her face. Of course he's heard that line before, he's a women's therapist, she thought.
"It's okay, you don't have to lie here. Everything we talk about will remain between us. Now, why don't you lie down, get comfortable, and we can talk?" He waved along the couch like a showgirl announcing a brand new car. She put her head back then stretched her body up in the air like an upside-down cat. Her back arched, and he knew that whatever she did in school, gymnastics or otherwise, she had kept up with. He was painfully interested to hear what she had done with her life since last they spoke. In a rare night of confidence, she told him her dreams of becoming a dancer. It didn't matter what kind, ballet or hip-hop, or a back-up dancer in a music video, as long as there was a song.
"Did you ever become a dancer?" he asked. He found it was always easier to start with simple questions, away from the problem itself, to get the client to start talking and open up. This time, however, he had accidentally struck pretty close to the heart of the issue.
"Yeah. I work nights at Baker's Bar."
"The strip club?" he asked. He imagined her dancing, naked. It wasn't polite, to imagine it or to actually go to a club like that in person, but he couldn't help it. It was something he had dreamed of since he was young. Seeing her, touching her, kissing her. During his university years, all the books told him it was classic fascination, to be in love with someone you hardly know, to go out of your way to help them in any way you can, but that was supposed to be short-term. He had wanted to be her everything for all six years that he knew her, until after highschool when she left town.
"That's the place. At least there's still a song, right?" she laughed pitifully at herself. She still remembered sharing her dream with him, he thought. That must mean she still remembers that time.
"Indeed. Is that where you, ah, fell down the stairs?" She interlocked her fingers over her chest and pulled at the backs of her hands. She stared upwards, seemingly counting the dimples in the ceiling. He waited for her. This was a move he had seen time and again from his clients. He also remebered seeing it from her as she lay on her bed one night. He sat beside her, then. He had just asked her to kiss him.
"No." she said, in both cases. When they were young, her answer for not kissing him was that he was too good. He was a straight-A student with a resume full of extracurriculars and she was a so-called popular girl with a pocket full of cigarettes. Today her reasoning for saying no was more complicated.
"I didn't get bruised there, but I met the guy who did it to me. You remember Alex?" Of course he did. Alex was rich, athletic, and had his pick of any girl in school. And he ran through them like he ran through a defensive line. It made sense that it was a sleazebag like Alex that did this to his love, it was so typical that it was almost funny.
"So you're back with Alex?"
"Back? We hadn't seen each other since highschool, and that only lasted two weeks. I guess I am back with him, though. Or I was, I don't know anymore. He stays out late at night, and sometimes I don't see him for days." Even if Alex hadn't hit her, that statement alone made him want to beat Alex up. He couldn't do it back in school, and he probably couldn't know either, but he sure wanted to try.
"Was he drinking when he hit you?" he asked. Alcohol was usually the culprit in late night binges, disappearing for days, and abuse. He had to save her from the cliché as well as Alex; she deserved so much better than that.
"What? I don't know. He came home one night and I asked him where he'd been. He said he was tired of all my questions. He grabbed me by the throat... and..."
"It's okay. You don't have to explain any more. You should leave him." It wasn't professional. It could get him banned from practicing. But that didn't matter.
"Huh? I know this is my first time, but I thought you were supposed to help me work through my problems, not tell me to run away."
"That's for the regular people. The ones who live their boring lives the same way every day. You deserve better than that. You're special. So I'm giving you the truth. Alex will always drink. The abuse is only going to get worse. I know you can find someone out there better, who will love you without hitting you. Don't settle for this guy." He was being too casual and he didn't care. He had lost her once, he couldn't lost her again.
"What makes you think that? I could only half-believe you when you said that in school, back when I had potential. Now I'm a stripper. That's me. Who could love that?" He could. He would save her, shelter her from all the bad things in the world. He could pay for dance school, call up some of his contacts to get her auditions. He didn't drink or smoke and he would never hurt her. He wanted to tell her, but he couldn't. He was as stuck as he was in school.
"You'll find someone... I guarantee it." It's me. Right here. I'm that someone.
"I'm not so sure. That's been a lot of interesting advice, but I should probably get going." She sat up, brushed her hair back, and let her thin, beautiful fingers rest on the back of her neck. They looked at each other, and she got up to leave. He thought of a thousand things to say but not a single one of them would be appropriate. She opened the door, and was about to be out of his life again, and probably forever.
"So. Same time next week?" she asked. She waited for him to say yes before she closed the door, but she never looked back at him. Which was good, or else she would have caught him reaching out to her with his hand. An awkward grasp in an empty room was the best he could manage for the girl of his dreams.
The therapist is actually a dragon. Not really, it just seems weird to write a piece that doesn't have anything fantasy or science fiction in it. I think there's still a good twist and hook, which is really what I'm looking for anyways, so it all works out.

This is my entry into round 1 of the :iconwriters--club: tournament. I like that they call it a tournament, it makes me feel like I'm on Jeopardy.
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:iconskydancer792007:
skydancer792007 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Professional Writer
Great piece!
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:iconommin202:
Ommin202 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :3
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:iconsayuri14:
Sayuri14 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2011  Student Writer
Woah, this is...so good :O I like the protagonist :D
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:iconommin202:
Ommin202 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you :) It's a fictional story, set a bit in the future, but the characters more or less exist, which I think helps them seem more real :)
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:iconsayuri14:
Sayuri14 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Student Writer
What I liked the most is that there's no physical description of the protagonist. I mean, the reader can imagine the protagonist as she/he pleases.
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:iconsayuri14:
Sayuri14 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Student Writer
:D I'm trying to work my entry for the tournament like that, but I always end up adding a name :P
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:iconommin202:
Ommin202 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I'm glad you liked that. I find sometimes it's nice to leave a few characters somewhat undescribed, especially in short stories, where people can imagine that character however they want to. :)
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