“Session #1: Julia” by Cherie Ann Turpin, Story #18 (30 Stories in 30 Days)

Session #1: Julia


Dr. Edwin Mueller, licensed psychologist with over 30 years in clinical practice used his home office in Glastonbury, Connecticut to see his patients for weekly and bi-weekly therapy appointments. His living room was tastefully decorated with tan chairs with pale blue upholstery that gave way in soft squishy dents when sat upon, several light brown and cream love-seats that seemed to invite a brief snooze, and a large fish aquarium filled with tiny, exotic fish. The wide plank oak floors gave off a mirror-like shine and helped to bring an impression of calmness to visitors. The windows were long and wide, revealing a well-manicured, bright green lawn flanked by rows of red, yellow, and purple pansies. Two benches sat perched against a huge, crooked maple tree.

His 7 pm patient sat in his somewhat cramped office, a space that seemed out-of-place with the waiting area and the rest of the property. His bookshelves were crammed with books, trinkets, magazines, even catalogs. His desk was piled with papers, pens, coffee cups, and just about anything else one could think would and could end up on a desk. His chair was an old brown leather standard covered with an old crochet throw and the seat had a worn out red extra cushion. In contrast, the patient’s chair was a shiny new leather model that reclined and still had a smell of newness that permeated the office room.

Dr. Mueller scratched his bald head and propped his short, stubby legs on the ottoman as he considered his new patient, Julia. She was a referral from the city clinic, a graduate student at Hartford University who seemed to be in the midst of an emotional crisis of sorts. Her body language seemed to say “stay away,” from her tightly crossed legs to her tightly crossed arms, tightly drawn lips, and oddly blank face. It was mid-July, and the evening air outside was balmy and warm. She seemed to be oblivious to the heat, however, and had dressed in dark, dreary colors and long sleeves. club-chair

“I can’t control it, I can’t seem to stop it,” rasped Julia, her voice trembling. She managed to smile as Dr. Mueller offered her a styrofoam cup of hot tea. She raised an eyebrow at him and whispered, “you won’t believe me. My fiance doesn’t believe me.”

“Julia, just….breathe. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to listen. That’s it. Don’t worry about me believing you. If you believe it, then let’s talk about it. Help me understand what is happening to you,” assured Dr. Mueller. His dark brown eyes softened behind the thin spectacles as he smiled. His moustached, thin lips parted, revealing yellowish teeth, clearly evidence of his daily coffee habit.

I can’t stop….I keep shorting out things and breaking things,” she whispered.

“Like what?”

“I mean I can’t….I have this-this ability. It’s a gift. Or a curse. I don’t what it is but I short out electrical things. And I break glass without touching it,” Julia let out a big sigh, relieved to have put it out there.

“Okay,” smiled Dr. Mueller. “Okay. Well, now could you tell me how this happens? Do you know why it happens?”

“When I get upset, or angry, or passionate about something, like, uhm, sex” — Julia coughed, “things happen around me.”


“Yes. Like the time I got into an argument with Ellis my fiance and I went to the grocery store, and–”

“Why did you go to the grocery store if you were arguing?”

“I needed to get some milk and some light bulbs because all the light bulbs went out.”

“ALL of them?”

“Yep, all of them. So, uhm, right, I walked into the grocery store and the lights started shorting out as soon as I walked in with a cart. I ran out and the lights went back up.”

“I see.”

“My computer’s hard drive crashed twice in six months. My cell phone, well-I can’t keep a cell phone more than a month before it goes bad. I’ve given up on keeping one if it’s not a disposable one.”

“Tell me about the breaking glass.”

“It started out with a small wine glass,” recalled Julia. “My mother called me to tell me one of my great-aunts was in intensive care and was in a coma. I heard a glass break in the kitchen, so I ran in and found the goblet on the floor. It was nowhere near the edge of the counter, no reason for it to be on the floor. The next day my aunt passed on.”

“And you think you made that happen?”

“I don’t know. It seemed so strange at the time I thought it was a ghost. But then I got into a really bad scene with Ellis last month. He cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend and I found out because of a text on his cell phone.” Dr. Mueller raised one eyebrow, prompting Julia to justify her actions by saying, “and before you ask, no I wasn’t snooping–I needed to make a call because my cell phone was out of minutes.” She laughed nervously, and relaxed in the leather chair as Dr. Mueller joined in the laughter.

“So I needed to get away for a bit, you know, just take in a different scene, not look at him for awhile to get my head together. I drove up to Providence and crashed at my old roommate’s house. Things were cool when I got there but after I dropped off my duffel bag and went out for a beer run, I came back to see my roommate in shock: every single light bulb in the house and even the overhead glass covering to the overhead fan lamp had shattered. Not just shorted out, but shattered. One of the windows in the kitchen had a deep crack in it.

“I try not to drink from glass tumblers anymore during my time of the month. I keep candles around just in case. I need to know if I’m going crazy, or is this happening for real?”

“Okay, wow, Julia, that is a compelling, uhm, story, and frankly a compelling question to consider–”

“Am I just delusional, Doctor??”

A scream of shattering glass carried through the closed office door as Julia sighed. Dr. Mueller and Julia both stood up, startled. He carefully opened the door and snaked his head around to see if anyone was in the waiting room. The silence in the darkened room was thick and heavy. He reached for the light-switch and flicked it up, grimacing as only one of the lights clicked on. The fish aquarium’s thick glass had a fine but prominent crack on its face, but had not released any water. The windows facing the garden in the back were not so lucky: both windows were hollowed out, with piles of glass in pools of clear daggers both on the inside and the outside. Dr. Mueller swallowed nervously and looked at Julia, whose eyes were already welling up. An electrical hum hovered in the room.  He drew her near, hugging her, grounding her for the moment.

“You aren’t crazy, Julia, not at all. Let’s see if we can work on controlling that gift of yours.”

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