Image by Jordan Hopkins

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Solution Focused Brief Therapy

by

Robert Baker

Kylie hesitated outside the moonlit park entrance and shivered. The familiar wrought-iron gates gaped wide open. Every night for the past ten years she’d suffered nightmares about stepping through this portal into Hell. Yet here she stood on the anniversary of her ordeal. Why did it have to be this night?

          The doctor’s words echoed in her mind. Don’t dwell on the past, Kylie. Think about the future. Focus on where you want to be? Squash your fears and move on. How could she refuse that authoritative female voice?

 

          She stepped through, brushed a strand of black hair from her eyes, and scanned the path. It meandered past shadowy flowerbeds and beneath menacing tree branches toward the playground. Kylie had been a child—only fifteen. Oh, she believed herself fully grown and mature. She thought she knew it all. Then she met Him, and he taught her otherwise. His fun and games lasted less than half-an-hour. For her, it had felt like a thousand years.

 

          Attempting to banish the dark memories, she edged forward. Gravel crunched underfoot. Valentine’s Day. She chuckled. What better day to lose your virginity? Her giggles transformed into sobs, and she dropped to her knees. Her bare skin pressed into the sharp stones.

 

          Get hold of yourself, demanded that oh-so-professional voice in her head.

 

          Kylie wiped her nose and stood. The doctor didn’t brook any nonsense. She brushed off her minidress, ensuring it hugged her curves. The doctor told her not to be ashamed of her petite frame because she was beautiful, but Kylie doubted she really believed that. It was just her job to make Kylie feel better about herself.

 

          Composing herself, she continued. Ahead, she spied monkey bars, a slide, and swings. All the equipment was bordered by thick hawthorn bushes. An icy chill slithered down her spine.

 

          “Meet me by the swings,” her boyfriend said. “It’ll be romantic.”

 

          She had believed every word. Danny loved her. He wouldn’t lie or let her down. He was two years older than her and an archetypal bad boy with ripped jeans and a bad attitude. If he hadn’t spent every evening inhaling smoke that dimmed his brain cells and diminished his potential, Danny could have been their high school football team captain. He made Kylie laugh, and she loved him for it. She wanted him to be her first, and she wanted it to be oh so sweet. Her plans were perfect.

 

          On that Valentine’s Day night ten years ago, she waited. Then she waited some more. Even in Louisiana, the temperature drops after midnight. The bitter cold seeped into her bones. The pretty skirt she wore for the occasion exposed her legs, and they sprouted a zillion goosebumps. Her legs were even spottier than her teenage face. Finally, someone did come. But it wasn’t Danny. Later, she heard that Danny had gone to Amber’s house and made out with her on the couch. He completely forgot his plans with Kylie. Never again would she believe a word from any boy’s lips.

 

          Forcing her mind to focus on the present, Kylie scanned her surroundings. Not one piece of equipment had been replaced or moved since that night. Even Hurricane Katrina had failed to change this place. She froze and swallowed. Twenty more feet and she’d reach the swing, but she couldn’t force her feet another step. She pictured that demon hidden in the bushes or behind a tree. He could be watching, planning his move, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

 

          Close your eyes and go to your happy place. She complied with the voice. Despite the ice in her stomach, she smiled. Ironically, whenever the doctor ordered her to do this, Kylie was already in her happy place. She was lying on that soft, leather couch with the scent of Chanel No. 5 in the air and a harmonic voice in her ears. Where do you want to be? The doctor had ordered her to come here, to face her fears. She insisted it was safe. The doctor would never deceive her. She wasn’t a man.

Kylie opened her eyes, and the moonlit playground reappeared. From a distance, the equipment appeared perfect. It wasn’t. She knew every link in the chains tethering those plastic seats to the iron frame above. Up close, the frame was rusty, and the swing always creaked like a door in a teen horror movie. But she wasn’t a teen now. She understood that monsters were real, and one might be stalking her from the shadows.

 

          She’d seen the news reports. They released him. Although the judge in her case recommended that he spend the rest of his life locked away to protect the public, some twisted human rights lawyer had successfully pleaded his case. Now he was back in her town, her neighborhood. He could be here tonight. Media reports said he’d been arrested a dozen times before he attacked her, every time for an alleged assault on a woman in this park at night. This was his playground. His hunting ground. The night was for hunting.

 

          Again, she closed her eyes and focused on her happy place. Where do you want to be? The doctor patiently explained that if she wanted to move on she must conquer her fears. She suggested midnight tonight because of its significance in her case. You’ll be perfectly safe, I promise. Kylie opened her eyes and strode forward with renewed faith. Before her fear had time to reappear, she was sitting in the very same swing where she sat ten years and a million nightmares before.

 

          As she rocked to and fro, it creaked the same old creak. The chill air raised hairs along her calves. The doctor asked her to shave her legs. Even though Kylie normally went along with anything the doctor suggested without hesitation, she couldn’t do that. At the thought of a cold blade touching her bare skin, she quivered. The doctor also suggested she wear makeup to look pretty. Only she could be so preposterous as to suggest Kylie could look pretty. Even though it was pointless, she had applied a little lipstick and mascara. She wanted to please the doctor.

 

          A nearby bush quivered. Kylie gripped the edge of her swing. He was here. He was here. He was here! Her breath caught. Her stomach churned.

 

          A small, shadowy creature slid from under the bush and trotted closer, transforming into a cat. She released her pent-up breath and glowered at the feline fiend. The cat arched its back and hissed as if to say, “Whatcha doing in my seat?” Then it stuck its proud nose in the air, turned its back on her, and slunk into the darkness.

          She slumped into the swing seat, her pulse still racing. What on earth possessed her to think she could do this? The doctor shouldn’t have asked her to do something so impossible. She stood. If she sprinted, she could reach the gates in a minute. She could be home in ten.

          “Hello, Kylie,” said a gravelly voice from behind.

          She shrieked. Warmth spread across her crotch and trickled down her inner thighs. Bile rose in her throat. It was him. It was him. It was him!

          He circled her, stepping as gracefully as the cat and just as predatory. Producing a butterfly knife, his weapon of choice, he twirled it theatrically. She hadn’t set eyes on him since the trial. He loomed over her, six feet tall with shoulders like a marine’s. Since she last saw him across the courtroom, his short hair had receded, and he’d grown a beard. He grinned, displaying his crooked teeth. They hadn’t changed at all.

          She screamed and spun to flee.

          He grabbed her, spun her around, and slapped her face. Her head snapped back. The iron tang of blood invaded her mouth. He clamped his calloused hand across her mouth. “Shut up!” His breath stank of whiskey, his body of piss. He pushed her down onto the sharp gravel and straddled her stomach. His weight squashed her tiny frame, and the air whooshed from her lungs.

 

          “One more sound and I’ll gouge your eyes out. But don’t worry.” He snickered and placed his hand on her crotch. “You’ll still get what’s coming to you even if you can’t watch.”

          The strength seeped from her arms and legs. She remembered struggling last time. It was a wasted effort. It only added to the agony. She would die here tonight. Why did the doctor lead her to this?

          “That’s better.” He smirked and squeezed her breasts. “You came back—you must have enjoyed your first time.” He bent close and ran his tongue across her lips. She whimpered and instinctively clamped her thighs together. What remained of rational thought argued it was pointless. This beast would enjoy it even more if he had to work for it. He licked his lips and reached down between her legs, then forced his rough fingers between her thighs, prying them apart. She gagged. It wouldn’t be quick. He would toy with her: bite her nipples and burn her with cigarettes before moving on to the activities more normal men enjoyed. When he was sated, he’d strangle her and leave her for dead. That’s what happened last time. Maybe this time he’d use the knife to be sure. She hoped she did die. She couldn’t face another ten years of torment.

          A bang shattered the silence. His bloodshot eyes widened. Blood spewed from his mouth and dribbled into her cleavage, wet and warm. A second shot echoed across the park, and a quarter of his head disappeared in a spray of red mist. He collapsed, his limp body trapping her legs. She trembled like a mouse in an eagle’s claw. A shadowy figure sprang from the bushes and ran over. Kylie sobbed in relief. The doctor was here, as promised, dressed in black with a revolver in her hand. Those kind eyes locked onto Kylie, and the doctor’s careworn but handsome middle-aged face wrinkled in concern. The doctor holstered her weapon, dragged the man off Kylie’s legs, then helped her stand. She pulled Kylie into a welcome embrace, and the scent of Chanel No. 5 whisked her away to a happier place.

          “You did good, Kylie. I’m proud of you.” She stepped back and held Kylie at arm’s length. “How do you feel?”

She blinked. “I-I don't know…” She glanced at the immobile man. “He’s really dead?”

          The doctor nudged the corpse with her foot then nodded. “There’s only one cure for a rabid dog.”

Kylie shook her head in disbelief. “It worked just like you said it would.”

          “He was an addict. He needed a fix. This is his usual haunt.” She looked Kylie up and down. “And who could resist you?”

 

           Her cheeks burned, and she glanced away. She wished the doctor wouldn’t joke like that. It hurt.

 

           The doctor lifted Kylie’s chin with one finger. “If you want respect from others, you must respect yourself.”

 

           “How, Doctor? I’m nothing special.”

 

           The doctor sighed. “To begin with, call me Anne as I told you to.”

 

           How could she ever address the doctor by her name? She was her goddess, her savior, her everything.

 

          “You are worth loving,” said the doctor. “I’ve searched my whole life for a soul as pure as yours. Don’t you want to be loved?” She gripped Kylie's shoulders. “Say, ‘Yes, Anne.’”

 

          She took a calming breath. She did want that. “Yes…Anne.”

 

          Anne beamed. Her expression of joy sent confused butterflies fluttering around Kylie’s stomach. “Kylie, where do you want to be?”

 

          She bit her lip. She knew exactly where she wanted to be, but she was undeserving. Anne stroked her cheek. “Kylie, speak to me.”

 

          Her skin tingled at the touch of that divine hand. Oh, she wanted her so much. She reached up and tentatively pulled the older woman’s face closer, then pressed her lips against Anne’s. She tasted of cherry ChapStick and mint with a hint of cigarettes. She tasted better than Kylie had imagined possible. She tasted like home.

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Robert Edward Baker is passionate about reading and creative writing. He has published short stories and poetry in magazines, such as Open Door Magazine and Meet Cute Press. He is frequently found hanging out on Writing.Com with other wannabe authors.

By day, Robert is a freelance content writer and website manager. He has written informational articles, reviews, and blogs for a wide range of online businesses in the fields of travel, health, technology, and outdoor adventure. He also owns and runs the book blog website The Romance Bloke.

In his earlier life, Robert has followed many different paths. He has worked as an archaeologist in the Hebrides, an ESL teacher in China, and an accountant in England.

Today, when he is not reading or writing, he loves travelling with his family and horseback riding.