"There certainly is something wrong with it." Shaina hit the clock again.
"That won't help."
It was the kind that couldn't be set; it just knew somehow, Shaina thought, and imagined it had to do with satellites whirling around in space. Cliff watched her.
"Just get a new clock. Use your phone for tonight."
"Fine, fine..." She breathed out and came into bed.
"I'm too tired," she said.
So they closed their eyes.
Calvin stumbled over roots he couldn't see in the dark. From somewhere up ahead he heard something like faint music. But it wasn't music exactly. It sounded more like the way it is to almost remember the name of something. Calvin stepped into a clearing. There were clouds that moved between purple and red parts of the sky, holding water that reflected the distant city lights. Calvin turned his head both ways to try and localize the sound. For a moment he felt like something other than a man whose guard was down after leaving his car by the side of the road. His legs ached a little. He started to run.
Across the clearing, the trees on the other side got closer and he thought there was something in him that was finally getting some air. It moved through him and woke up everything it touched. He stopped, took of his shoes, and kept on running.
He was about halfway through the clearing when a light shot out from between the trees and hit him in the face. He stopped short, suddenly aware that everything was quiet; no faint music, no crickets, no wind by his ears.
"Tell me about your dream."
"I can't remember most of it. Just parts here and there."
"That's okay. Tell me what you remember."
"I remember feeling fat. Very fat. And unattractive."
"You dreamt you were fat?"
"I don't know, I just remember the feeling. It was harder to walk down the street -- it was a street from the town I grew up in -- and people around me, they were looking at me as I passed and I thought it was because of how I looked, my body."
"Let me ask you, Shaina -- can you think of a time you felt that way before? Other than in your dream?"
"When I felt fat?"
"Sure, or when you thought people were looking at you."
"Dr. Klein, people look at me all the time. Living in the city makes men act a little more like animals."
"So tell me what it feels like. When men look at you."
"It feels... uncomfortable. Anxious, I guess. It makes me feel anxious."
"Yes, anxious and sometimes I feel afraid."
"Afraid of what?"
"Afraid if one of them decided to do something to me, I couldn't stop them."
"What else about it makes you feel afraid?"
Shaina was quiet. The confidentiality machine made a sound like the ocean.
"I think... I guess I feel afraid that they can see something in me. A weakness. And if I don't hide it, they will do something to me."
"It sounds like you feel responsible for their behavior -- that this acting like animals is your fault."
"I'd rather feel this way than like I have no control at all. At least I feel like I can just put out a certain vibe, I'm safe."
"Shaina. Do ever feel that way here? That you have to put out a vibe, to be safe?"
"I don't know. I never thought about it."
"I want you to take a moment and think about it now."
"This feels like some weird therapist trick."
" I am not trying to trick you. I want you to think about the answer, and let me remind you that there is nothing you can say that will upset me, or get me mad. This is for your benefit."
They looked at each other.
"Sometimes I feel like I have to act a certain way in here, to give you the answer you want."
"What would happen if you didn't give me the answer you think I wanted?"
"I don't know. Maybe you would say that I can't be helped."
"I'm glad you told me this. I do have another question for you, though: does feeling this way, like you put out a certain vibe or else be somehow abandoned -- can you think of any other times you've felt this way?"
"Yes. With Cliff."