• "...And so you say you were bullied?"
    The psychologist sat in front of him on an office chair, holding a file in front of her. She didn't seem to be taking notes at all, just listening to him. She was slender woman with green eyes and black hair, and was very pretty. Seemed to be in her mid-thirties or so. He found himself self-consciously smoothing down his hair and shirt, but stopped doing that once he realized he was preening. His fingers slowly retreated from his hair mid-comb and returned obediently to his lap.

    "Yeah, I was bullied," was his simple reply. He had decided to open up to the psychologist just then - he didn't want it on his shoulders. Psychologists were professionals, weren't they? They would be able to lift the weight off his shoulders. "How?" The woman looked him straight in the eye, giving him her full attention. "If you need help, you have to tell me the WHOLE story. From the very beginning. You also haven't told me your name." The man sighed. "It... is a hard story to tell. My name is Leif, and you should listen closely to what I have to say, for I will only say it once.

    "I have two brothers. Both are troublemakers, and both always seem to find some way to put the blame on me and make ME the problem child in place on them. The way they figure, if one kid has the worst reputation in the house, they won't get into too much trouble when they act up. They can just blame most of it on the "trouble child", the one who leads them on and tells them to do stupid stunts. Soon, I found they were right. In my childhood, I got the most punishments in the household, and everyone expected me to grow up to have no life. I started to believe them after a while, and I could tell from their looks at me that I was an unwanted child. I was always afraid of my brothers, too. Always hiding behind someone or something, never confronting them, for fear that they might take revenge on me by blaming me once more. I never told anyone the truth, and I probably won't be able to anymore. It's too late. You wouldn't understand." Leif sighed and paused, eyes shifting from the girl who was staring at him so intently now.

    "Actually, I do understand," she said, leaning back in her chair and swiveling around. She got up and strode to the window in the far corner of the room, with a faraway gaze in her eyes. However, she did not reveal any more about herself, and turned back around to look at Leif once again. "Please continue. Just spill it out - let it go. That lifts the weight from your shoulders, does it not?" The man looked up at her in surprise, and she just tilted her head and smiled. "What, won't you continue?"

    "U-uh, yeah... Anyways, from then on, my self-esteem was damaged. No one expected too much of me, and everyone never noticed whenever I did well. They just signed the papers and gave it back to me. They thought I was a child with no future, and no brains. I was the unwanted child, the troublemaker. The one kid that no teacher wants in their class."

    "But why didn't they realize you weren't what everyone accused you of being?" The woman asked, confused. "Surely, by then, one of your classmates or friends must have realized, 'Hey, this kid isn't really so bad! Why do they say he's a troublemaker?' Didn't people observe?" Leif paused, contemplating that. "Well, no one really paid attention to me, even my classmates. I didn't have any friends, and they already assumed I was a lost cause from what other people had said of me. There's no point in observing what people consider to be a lost cause with no hope, is there?"

    The psychologist frowned. "I see you've had a rough childhood. Can you come back tomorrow then, Leif? I promise you can tell me more of your story with our next appointment. I have a meeting in fifteen minutes, and I think I'm going to be late. I really enjoyed our talk." The man sighed in disappointment. Another psychologist had just bailed on him, after realizing his case was too hard for them to handle. "Hey, Leif, don't get me wrong. I really do have a meeting, and I'm not trying to ditch you or anything. Really. I'll see you tomorrow at the same time as today. Your story intrigues me." The woman winked, then threw on her black leather coat.

    "I'll be seeing you tomorrow, then... Miss." Leif didn't even know who she was, really. He hadn't had the nerve to ask the psychologist her name, and she hadn't offered her name to him either. Smiling and waving, the slender woman stepped out the door. He would be seeing her tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

    The appointments would go on for as long as they needed to.