-Chapter 7-

"Mom," 'Trace' asked, once they were seated on the sofa in the corner of the Visitors Lounge. "Did they say when I could come home?"

"Not for a while, dear," Theora apologized. Seeing the sad look on his face, she added, "But I can come and visit often. And I will. I promise."

"I guess that's okay," 'Trace' told Theora. "But I'll miss you when you're not here."

"What are you having for supper tonight?"

'Trace' thought about it, as if trying to remember. "Lasagna, I think. I only glimpsed the menu at breakfast."

"That sounds delicious," Theora told him.

"I bet it's not as good as yours, though." 'Trace' said, unhappily. Unexpectedly, he curled up on Theora's lap, his arms around her, and began to cry.

Not knowing what else to do, she rubbed his back and held him until his tears were spent.

"What was that all about, hon'?"

"I don't know," 'Trace' replied, looking at her. "I just felt sad all of a sudden. Really sad."

"Well, that's okay, then," Theora told him, smiling softly.

"It is?"

"Of course, silly," Theora laughed, tapping the tip of his nose. "Everybody get sad sometimes. And it's okay to cry when you do."

"Oh. That's okay, then, I guess," Trace said as another patient and their guest walked in.

"It's our room now," the young man, who looked to be in his early twenties said. "So get out."

'That's rude,' Theora thought.

'Trace' didn't budge so the other patient grabbed him and pulled him off Theora's lap. "I said-"

He was unexpectedly grabbed by the collar

"Terry," the voice that came from Bryce was no longer childish, but Theora knew by the nickname that this was also not Bryce. "Move. I want to teach this bastard some manners."

"Let's just go to another room," Theora suggested, wanting to avoid a fight that would get her friend in trouble. "Please? He's not worth it."

Looking the rude man in the eye, the new personality curled his lip into a snarl. "Yeah. You're right, Terry. We'll leave the rude gentleman and the bitch alone for now."

Grabbing Theora by the hand, he led her into the hallway.

"I think I'd better go," Theora said, apologetically.

"Look, Terry, I'm sorry about acting so tough in front of you. I know you hate that sort of thing. But I just can't stand rude people like that. They bring out the worst in me. But you know that. Look at what happened in that restaurant the first time I tried to propose to you. Remember? That bastard waiter ruined the moment. He was rude wasn't he? Didn't even offer me a clean fork after his blood got all over the first one when I jabbed it into his hand."

Theora shuddered.

"I'm sorry," she told him. "I have to get back to work."

"I'll see you tomorrow then," he replied, and before she could move away, he kissed her.

On her way out, Theora stopped in at Dr. Cairn's office.

"If you're not busy, we need to talk."

"What's wrong?"

"I was just kissed by Bryce's newest incarnation."

"A new one?" Dr. Cairns asked. "Did he give his name?"

"No. But apparently he thinks we're engaged. And he's a bit violent. He even talked about stabbing a rude waiter in the hand with a fork."

"What happened before the emergence?" Dr. Cairns asked.

"We were in the visitors lounge when another of your clients came in with their guest. When he asked us to leave, 'Trace' ignored him. But then the guy grabbed 'Trace' and he …um…"


"Yes, thank you. He dissociated into a new personality. I don't know his name, though."

"I'll find out." Dr. Cairns told her. "Thanks for the heads up. Will we see you again soon?"

"I'm not sure," Theora admitted. "I can handle playing mother to one of Bryce's personalities. But I don't know if I'm willing to pretend to be his fiancee."

"I understand," Dr. Cairns said. "Shall I inform you if and when 'Trace' reemerges?

"Yes," Theora decided. "That would be preferable."

Shaking hands with Dr. Cairns, Theora turned and left the hospital.

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