"What's bothering you?"
"I told you, nothing."
"Falling apart in class today seems to tell me otherwise, Erica."
"I didn't mean to start crying," Erica explained to the school psychologist. "It just happened and I can't explain it. I'm happy."
"Why don't you tell me about yourself? Start with the basics. Name, age, favorite things, hobbies, etcetera," her voice was calm which caused Erica to relax against the back of her chair.
"My name is Erica De Santa. I'm ten and a fifth grader. I really like to dance, sing, and act. I'm in theater and sometimes I go horse-back riding with Amanda."
"And who's Amanda?"
"My mom. Well, my aunt really. She adopted me."
"Do you get along well with her?"
"Yeah!" Erica said happily. "I help with dinner when she cooks."
"That's very good," the psychologist smiled. "Who else do you live with?"
"My uncle, well, dad now, Michael. And my cousins but now they're my older brother and sister. But they're a lot older than me. Tracey's thirteen years older and Jimmy's eleven years older than me."
"That's quite an age gap! Do you get along with them?"
"Yeah," Erica nodded.
"What do you like to do together?"
"Me and Jimmy like to play Mario and he takes me out to the arcade and fun places."
"How about Tracey?"
"We go shopping and we get our nails done together. But we haven't done that in a while."
"And why's that?"
"Tracey's moving out," Erica frowned. "She and her boyfriend are going to get an apartment together."
"You don't seem to be very happy about this," the psychologist pointed out.
"I'm not," Erica sighed. "I begged her to stay, but she says she has to move out sooner or later. I told her later, but she said no."
"Well, she is in her early twenties. It's normal for people her age to be out on their own."
"It means I won't see her every day. And she's already ignoring me and doing other adult things. We haven't done anything together in a really long time," Erica said and despite herself, she began to cry again.
"There there," the psychologist said and handed the girl a tissue. "It's hard when someone you live with moves out. But you'll still see her, I'm sure of it."
"First it's Tracey, then it's Jimmy, and then I'm…I'm just really scared," Erica shook.
"Because once one person leaves, they'll all leave and then I'll be all alone. The thing I'm most afraid of is being alone."
"You'll never be alone, Erica. I promise you. Nobody is ever truly alone. There's always someone there for you."
"That's what I tell myself. But I still get nightmares where nobody's there. Literally no one. It's scary. Sometimes I wake up screaming and Amanda comes in and tells me everything's okay. It helps, but the dreams always come back."
"Have you ever talked to Amanda or anyone about them?" the psychologist questioned.
"No," Erica said and shook her head. "I don't want Amanda to find out about what they're really about."
"And why's that?"
"Because I don't want to tell her. It's too weird."
"Do you want to tell me?"
"Well, you won't tell Amanda or anyone in my family, right?"
"Everything you say here is confidential. The only thing I will have to report is if someone or yourself is harmed in any way, such as if you or someone else is being abused."
"There's none of that," Erica said quickly. "It's just dreams, I promise."
"If it's just dreams and how you're feeling, then I cannot tell anyone, not even Amanda."
"Can I talk about my dreams?" Erica asked and swung her feet back and forth. When the psychologist urged her to go on, she played with one of her red braids. "It starts off with me at home. And then out of nowhere, my mommy shows up. She comes to take me away from Amanda and Michael," Erica said with tears in her eyes, but she dried them quickly with a tissue from the psychologist's desk. The psychologist remained silent to let Erica continue. "And she wins. She takes me. I'm dragged out of my home and I'm back in a trailer in North Yankton. And then my mommy leaves me and I'm all alone in the trailer again. Then I find a way to call Amanda and Michael and they can't get me because they just can't for some reason so I start screaming and crying. And then I wake up screaming and crying."
"This nightmare sounds horrible," the psychologist replied. "I know it seems scary, but did you ever think about the part in the dream where you say that Amanda and Michael cannot get you back? You said they can't get you back. It sounds like in your dream they want you to come back, am I right?" Erica sat there really thinking about it. She closed her eyes and remembered the vivid scene from her nightmare where she's on the phone with both Michael and Amanda. If she blocked out her own screaming, she could hear Amanda and Michael apologizing and telling her that they had tried everything to get her back; they told her they want their little girl back.
"You're right," Erica said and opened her eyes. "They do want me in my dream! I guess being alone isn't why I'm scared."
"If I may, I think you are afraid of your mother coming back and taking you away from your family. But I still think you are somewhat afraid of being alone based on what you just said."
"It's weird," Erica started. "I'm afraid of my mommy coming back and taking me, but sometimes I want her to come back and be part of my life. Why is everything so confusing?"
Here is the long awaited beginning to the sequel of Awkward Child. I've been getting a lot of requests to post this, so here it is! Hopefully uploads will be regular and quick. Thanks for reading and reviewing!