The Faces

Posted on April 8, 2010


Everywhere Mary looked, there were faces. As she sat in the doctor’s waiting room, they were peering at her from the wood grain of her chair’s armrests. In the tree outside the window, she saw faces fluttering in the leaves as they brushed against each other in the wind. The face that hid in the pattern of the wallpaper in the corner of the office playfully stuck its tongue out at her. She smiled at that one and made an effort to keep from sticking out her own tongue in reply.

“She’s a special girl,” Dr. Willow said to Mary’s mother.

“But it’s not normal,” Mom insisted. They were in the doctor’s office next door. They thought she couldn’t hear them.

“She’s only eight. Little kids see a lot of things. And I’m not giving her any prescriptions. She doesn’t have a so-called disorder. She’ll probably grow out of it.”

Will I? Mary thought. Maybe that’s not true. He’s old anyway, so how could he know anything about it?

“Does she talk to the faces?” Dr. Willow asked.

Mom sighed. “No, not that I know… she hasn’t said so.”

Mary considered this. She hadn’t thought to talk to them, but it was a good idea. Her opinion of Dr. Willow improved slightly. Maybe he was smarter than she thought.

“Mary is fine,” Dr. Willow was saying. “There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s simply creative. Look, you could enroll her in an art class—”

“She doesn’t draw very well, and she spends too much time doodling as it is.”

“Then a storytelling class. Anything, you know, to give her an outlet for her imagination, as long as it’s something she enjoys.”

“Well, thanks, Doc, but all that’s so time-consuming. It’s hard enough getting her to do her homework. She doesn’t need another distraction. And we’re all busy as it is.”

Mary heard Mom stand up and get her things. Dr. Willow stood up, too.

“Well, you should think about it, anyway,” he said. “I know everyone’s busy, but it would do Mary a lot of good.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Mom repeated. They came into the waiting room where Mary was. “Time to go, honey.”

Mary stood up, and her eyes fell on the collar of Mom’s pink coat. The big decorative button there was giving her a pearly smile, and she couldn’t help smiling back.

Dr. Willow sat down in one of the waiting room chairs. She gave him a closer look now than she had when he examined her. He had big brown eyes and a short gray beard. There were wrinkles in his face, and he had a big, crinkly nose. He was smiling at her, and all the tiny faces that peeked out of his beard and his wrinkles were smiling, too. Mary giggled. Dr. Willow was just smiling all over.

“Hello again, Mary,” he said. Just then, Mom’s cell phone rang.

“Sorry, Doc, I have to take this. It’s work.”

“Of course. You can use my office, and I’ll visit with Mary for a little while.”

“Thanks, Doc. Yeah, I’m here…” Her voice trailed away as she walked into the other room.

Dr. Willow motioned for Mary to come near. When she did, he whispered, “She doesn’t understand, but I do. All the faces are really there. They’re part of everything. Only a few of us can see them anymore, so I’m glad you can.”

“You can see them, too?” Mary whispered, surprised. He nodded, and the tiny faces peeking from various points on his head winked at her.

“But this has to be a secret so you won’t get in trouble. Understand?”

She thought about this. If she didn’t say anything else about the faces, maybe Mom and Dad would forget about them. And maybe she could draw them or tell stories about them, like Dr. Willow had said. Then she could look at them whenever she pleased, whenever they popped up. She could even talk to them when no one was looking.

And if Dr. Willow could see them, old as he was, they would always be around her, too.

“A secret. I like it,” she said. Dr. Willow chuckled and made his little faces dance.

“And whenever you come to see me, we’ll compare notes. They might get up to different things with you than they do with me.”

Mary was so happy that she gave Dr. Willow a hug, and made him laugh again.

“Thank you, Dr. Willow,” she said.

“Those of us who see have to stick together,” he said, and stood up. He patted Mary on the head as Mom came back from the other room.

“Come on, honey,” Mom said. “I’ve got to drop you off at home and get back to work right away. Thanks again, Doc.”

“My pleasure,” he said.

As they went out the door, Mary turned and waved good-bye. Dr. Willow and all his little faces merrily waved back.

Posted in: #FridayFlash, Fantasy