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Exhale

"Taylor..you can't be serious?" Lindsey asked

"Get in the car. You know you have to...Doctors orders."

"But I don't wanna.." she whined.

Taylor rolled his eyes, "It might not be that bad. Doctor Saylor, she seemed nice when I talk to her on the phone the other day."

"That's what they want you to think. It's an evil conspiracy.. Everyone is out to get me."

Lindsey's tone projected a seriousness that made blood run a little cooler. She sat down in the cushioned seat, shutting the door sharply as implying it as in a punctuation mark. Taylor started his blazer up and quickly back out of their gravel driveway. Lindsey casually pulled on her sunglasses, so he could not see the fear that had engulfed her green eyes. She looked out the window, watching the landscape pass by her at about 50 miles a hour. She felt as though the interior had begun to suck the oxygen in car. She began to breath in heavily, in an attempt to grasps the few molecules that were left. Heat rose through out her body, she began to perspire.

"Lindsey, I'm not buying the anxiety attack just because you don't want to go to a shrink." Taylor said not taking his eyes off the roadway in front of him, as he turned off at his desired exit.

Lindsey began to shake her head ‘no' and rocking back and forth violently.

"Please don't make me go. Please Taylor. Don't" She whispered as he pulled into the parking lot. Taylor put the car in park, taking off his seat belt, turned his thin frame towards Lindsey. He gently took the sunglasses off of her face, looking in to her wild, wet eyes.

"Lindsey...If I thought this wasn't going to help I wouldn't have dragged you out here. But Lindsey...Do this. Not because I want you to or Dr. Porter wants you to. But because you do and you feel you need this. Do it because you want to feel better."

Taylor got out and opened her door. Lindsey stepped out, "I'm only doing this because Mitch has to pay the bill."

*****

Lindsey found herself in front of a heavy cherry stained oak door. The only thing keeping her from herself. She knew she would have to face the past someday, but this quickly and to some stranger who has a Ph.D.?

She touched the brass door knob, encircling her cold slender fingers around the metal. Gently she turned the knob and pushed the door open. The lady at the desk looked up from her paperwork. She gently pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose.

"You must be Lindsey." The lady asked as she stood up, revealing a short middle aged women.

"Yes ma'am" Lindsey spoked as she studied the appalling carpet pattern. The intertwining of Celtic disposition of elements, coyly testing her intelligence as they drifted about the room in a distasteful manner.

"Oh please. You make me sound old. Just call me Laura." Mrs. Saylor said as she smiled in Lindsey's direction.

Lindsey looked up and plastered a weak smile across her lips. Silence draped itself in between the two, for a moment. Testing each other for trust and patience.

"Lindsey, Please have a seat." Laura gestured towards the arm chair in front of her desk.

Lindsey felt her body slide into the plush chair. Her eyes lingered on her hands and then escalating up to Laura.

"So, You know Ron?" Laura asked casually as she looked up from a folder, presumably Lindsey's.

"Excuse me?"

"Dr. Porter. He's a good man."

"Mmm" she nodded.

"So Lindsey, what brings you to my office?"

"Well.." Lindsey brought her eyes up to Laura's, "A lot of things."

"Would you care to talk about them?"

"Not really. I kinda of just don't really want to think about them. If I didn't dwell on them I wouldn't be here now," Lindsey said frustrated.

"Okay." Laura paused for a moment. "Lindsey...What makes you happy?"

Lindsey thought from a moment. She scanned the back of her brain for a concrete answer. Resulting in a negative query. Nothing.

Lindsey's lips parted, anticipation building up, she finally spoke, "Happiness is dead. It died with the sound of gunshots, when the smell of stale alcohol is the only thing that comes to mind, and the cheap perfume that dances on the terry cloth robes, stark white because white is pure. But nothing is pure. It died as well." She stated cooly, noting the fluttered look that appeared in expression that Laura gave her, as she stood up from the chair and walked out the door. She walked down the hall and towards the elevator.

"Whoa." Taylor stood up as he shut the People magazine that he was leafing through, "Over already?"

Lindsey stared at him for a minute. A swell of emotion crashed up against her eroded shore. Everything she had ever known seem to disappear with each rupture of her wake. Until the only emotions that had resided inside her deflated soul were bitterness and enmity. She bit her bottom lip, as her chin began to quiver slightly. She closed her eyes. She could feel the air that had generated from his move from the chair over to her. It lingered over her tear stained cheeks, then slowly settled. His arms felt comforting as he gently held her. He could feel her sharp, raspy breath burning through the skin on his neck. He gently stroked her hair.

"Taylor. Please." she murmured.

"It's going to be okay."

"No. I just wanna leave, Please. May we go home." She looked up at him.

How could he say no? Her eyes penetrated his soul as she continued to look through his, making him melt.

Taylor turned, his hand lingering at the small of her back, he led her to the elevator and down to the car. Nothing was said. But everything needed to be.

*****

Taylor leaned over and turned the computer off. As the screen went black, he scanned the desk, his eyes lingering on pictures. His lips parted in a half smile as he noticed a picture of Lindsey, two years ago. She was smiling. A bizarre concept. He drank in the warmth that her smile gave off. He hadn't remembered how beautiful her eyes were when she smiled. But over time, I guess things seem to fade off in the distance. The incident with Dr. Saylor kept running through his mind. He felt partially guilty for the whole upset. He looked out through the window pane. He could see Lindsey's silhouette , he felt a deep ache, knowing not exactly where the origin, but knowing the cause. It was the same ache that he felt every time. But seemed to deepen, and linger there, where ever there may be, with a fleeting pace. He closed his eyes momentarily to drown in his distress.

He wanted so much to help her, to do just the right things that would make everything wonderful. If he could transfer all the pain, all the fear that was invested in her, over, becoming his own, he would gladly accept it.

He gently grabbed his keys from their rested position on the corner of the desk, and made his journey to where he knew no definite answer.

*****

The door opened, "Mr. Hanson, I can talk to you now." Mrs. Saylor, said pleasantly.

Taylor walked into the room where Lindsey had so desperately wanted out.

Laura sat behind her desk with a few strayed papers, she looked up at him, "Was there something you would like to talk about, Mr. Hanson?"

"Taylor would be fine, please."

Laura nodded.

"It's about Lindsey Thatcher, she was in earlier today."

"Oh yes..."

"She was rather upset when she left your office, and I just....see she has these dreadful mood swings, and I wanted to apologize, and see if I could help, at all. She really doesn't want to come back, but she needs to."

"Exactly,...which antidepressant is she taking."

"Prozac."

"Ooh. She could come dependent easily."

"Yes, and the side effects,...oh they're a pill."

"Oh. I'm sure."

"She's a pill."

Laura nodded, "If any one should be disturbed, I should be the one."

"I, sometimes have to ignore some of the harsh things that she says. They use to bother me, as well, but I have learned to deal."

"I don't think she feels comfortable with me....

"You're a women...around the same age of her mother...She doesn't feel comfortable when she speaks of her, or the lack there of."

Laura looked up at Taylor, her eyes began to question his words as if saying "continue".

"See," Taylor began, as he took a seat in the arm chair in front of her desk, "Back in April, her mother was murdered and Lindsey just happed to witness it, I wasn't there at the time, so I didn't know until we came back a month or two later.....She's been in a state of depression since, And then there's her dad, that's what pushed her over the edge, I think. There's a lot she doesn't know in detail. And that's how we would like to keep it."

Dr. Saylor nodded in thought, deeply. "Taylor...I don't know if I should thank you or if I should scream at you."

"Excuse me." Taylor choked out.

"I'm sure Lindsey appreciate's your help. I can see that since you spilled everything to her uninformed psychiatrist, you're real eager to help, and that's a good thing, It would show her some one does care. But I'm sure that she would go eccentric if she knew you just exposed every detail that caused this. She told you in confidence, even thought she didn't say in such words, but I know how teenage girls are, they hate to be exposed, especially their inner most thoughts -- emotions, I think that's why she is scared of opening up to me. She obviously trusts you and care's about you to let you in. Take it in stride, Taylor. Be careful."

"Thank you....Please don't say anything about this. I know it was not my place to say all this drama."

"Taylor it was your place, you're a friend that cares, and that's reason enough." Laura smiled.

Taylor stood up and left the room, feeling like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

*****

The phone rang out in the deep silence that had devoured the sonance of earlier. Lindsey turned over, looking at the large luminescent numbers on her alarm clock. 11:30 p.m. She looked at her phone, as if it wasn't really ring at all. The cordless vibrated with each ring. The humor in it all snapped her out of it, when the answering machine began to announce that no one was home. Then, remembering her recording, brought a small smile to her lips. She turned off the answering machine, and picked up the phone, she figured it would be Taylor, anyway, her dad didn't have enough guts to call, and that's exactly what it was, he hadn't called.

"Taylor, what do you want this late?" she said with out hesitancy.

"Excuse me, Lindsey...is that you?"

Lindsey was taken back, "Shayne?....Uncle Shayne?"

"Yes Lindsey....How are you." he asked, playing dumb....he knew about that whole ordeal...everything. In fact, the call was about the situation she was in, and how incredibly awful it is.

"Fine...A bit sleepy."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about the time change thing....But since it is what...11 something there, then I'll be direct....Lindsey we're going to be coming down, and we would like to discuss some things with you, so I don't want you to plan anything tomorrow evening."

"Oh, Okay. I didn't have anything scheduled. Anyway, I don't get out much. It's just so blazing hot out side that it's not worth leaving the a/c."

"Okay well, we'll see you tomorrow then, Bye Lindsey."

"Bye Uncle Shayne."

*****

The was a loud knock on the door, as Lindsey sat down her bowl of cereal on the counter top. She walked to the door, apathetic about having visitors, other then the usual.

"Hey you guys." she said as she began to hug her uncle and aunt.

"I hope we aren't imposing." Claire, Shayne's wife, said as Lexy and Ethan, walked in with their suite cases.

"Oh, no. I wouldn't mind the company." She lied. She would have rather been alone. She knew that questions would be the inevitable, and her hatred for them grew deeper with every interrogation.

"So how was the flight?" Lindsey asked, her voice dripped with indifference.

"It was good." Shayne replied, as he sat down his suite case, "Where do u want us?"

"Well, Let's see, You and Claire can take the master bed room, and then Lexy and Ethan can take the visitors...Come, I'll show ya." She said as she began the climb up the wooden stairs.

Since it was rather late, as the chiming on the grandfather clock emphatically told them. Plus the time change, wearied the passengers even more, especially ones under 10.

Lindsey figured that anything that needed to be discussed would be presented before her in the morning, or the way her waking times were, mid noon. She had began to get more sleep, since the detrition of some side effects, but others seemed, still, strongly present. Which Taylor noted every time they were in each others presence, noting the circumstances, a lot. The latest issue was her weight. She was thin, and her loss of appetite was certainly not going to gain a few extra pounds, so, she was extremely thin, but not yet "sickly thin", she had stressed to Taylor once. But then again, he would give her one of his brilliant half smiles and every thing would be forgotten. And fighting would cease. And she would have fallen once more.

******

"You're up early this morning." Diana said casually as Taylor walked in to the kitchen where his parents take refuge in the early morning hours.

Taylor looked down as his watch, "eh. Just 10 past 7...I wanted to get an early start...Is that so wrong?" he smiled.

Diana rolled her eyes, "Whatever...There's always something."

"So, what do you guys have planned this afternoon?" Walker asked as he looked up, over the morning paper.

"Some practicing...I think." he shrugged, "That also being the reason for the early start." he looked over at his mother. She smiled at him. He picked up the amber medicine bottle on the window sill above the sink, and left the house.

*****

His hand swept across the ledge of the door frame. His fingers searching for the brass key. When found, he swiftly opened Lindsey's front door. He heard some noise being produced in the den, but then this was Lindsey and it was 7:15 a.m., therefore thinking it was only an illusion. He stepped into the kitchen and grabbed a glass from the cabinet and began to run water into from the kitchen faucet. Taylor heard distant foots steps that were becoming not so distant. He turned around to see a lady in her late thirties in a navy terry cloth robe.

She looked at him for a second, words seemed to be scarce, "W...Who are you?" she finally managed to choke out.

"Who am I?" he asked puzzled.

A man, also in his late thirties appeared next to her, in the same attire,"Answer the lady,...Who are you?"

Taylor was shocked, not so much they didn't know him, but who were they to ask, they were the strangers. All words had seemed to evaporate with the morning dew. He stood their speechless. The uncomfortable silence was then broken by the heavy foot steps, Taylor let a deep sigh escape from his lips, one he knew not he had. Lindsey

Lindsey walked over to Taylor, "Surprised I'm up this early," she said as she took the cup and a capsule from the amber bottle, downing them both. She then smiled, following Taylor's unsteady stare over to her relatives, and then down to the little girl that had just recently joined them.

"Oh..Oh. My bad. Taylor this is my Aunt and Uncle, Shayne and Claire Lackie and their daughter Lexy."

"Oh so this is Taylor, " Shayne said breaking the pause, that was incorporated with introductions. He walked over to Taylor and shook his hand.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know anybody was going to be home, besides Lindsey, Or I would have knocked first." He said, then thinking how horrible that sounded. Think and then speak

"Lindsey, About why we're here." Shayne began, his eyes looked up at Taylor.

"I think maybe I should go, talk to you later, Lindsey." Taylor spoke up.

"No, I think you should stay." Lindsey said cooly, as she looked over at Shayne. What nerve. These people invited themselves and kick out the only person who was there for me.

Taylor sat at the island in the middle of the kitchen. The words that passed between them began to run through his mind. He sat and listen in complete silence. Every word, every syllable.

"So why are you here." Lindsey asked pointedly.

"Well we were hoping that" Claire began

"That we could move in here with you and gain custody of you, Lindsey."

Lindsey looked at him, complete confusion spread across her face, "You think you can just barge in my life, after all this time, after all that has happen, and how you were there for none of it."

"Lindsey...we want to become part of your life." Claire stated.

"We already have a court appointment." Shayne cut in.

"When?" Lindsey whispered.

"This afternoon"

Lindsey sat down on the stool next to Taylor, she propped her head up with her elbows. All of the noise, she seemed to drown in to. Her thought process became rather difficult. All of these difficult situations kept her on her toes. All the decisions. All of it was too much for one person to bear. Shayne and Claire walked out of the room, residing the den on the sofa. They figured it best if she had time to cool down and think rationally.

"Taylor....I...I..I don't know what to do...All my life, I've always have belonged to someone, and now...now. I really don't belong to anyone. After all of what happened, This is the first time...I've ever had to think about it....I don't know what to do. I just don't know."

"That's not entirely true. I mean...Mitch, he still is your father, and he will always be. And you will always be apart of our family. You're like a older sister to me and Zac...Even though, technically. I'm older then you." he said smiling.

"You know what they say....Girls mature faster then guys. So therefore. I'm ahead of my years...I've had to be everything in a matter of few months. And...And..I can't do it anymore."

"So let them be there." Taylor whispered to her, "Let them be the ones to help. They want to."

"Oh but don't you see how we get along." Lindsey murmured.

"Lindsey...you were shocked, it probably hit you like a ton of bricks...You aren't ready to let go of what's gone and move on."

"Taylor...Sh She can't leave me. She can't" Lindsey sobbed. She leaned over, his arms encircling. They had shared more hugs, and more tears in the past few months, then had ever been touched, and that had ever ran down flesh.

"She never did, Linds, She never did."

*****

"Taylor!...Dinner!!" Diana yelled.

Taylor ran down the stairs, "Sorry Mom. Lindsey just got home." he made a straight path from the landing of the stair case to the front door.

He opened the door and walked into the foyer, "Lindsey?"

"Yeah. In here." she spoke.

Taylor walked into the den to find Lindsey sitting on her knees near the landing of the wooden stair case. "So how did the court thingy go?"

"Fine I guess. They got custody. Dad...he didn't even put up a fight. More or less even bother to show up." she signed.

"Where are they now?"

"They had to leave right after to back to Seattle . They'll be back in a couple of weeks, though."

"Are you okay with this...I mean. It's been awhile since there has been anyone else besides you..."

"Mixed Emotions about the whole thing. I mean. I've never had anybody leaving in the same house with me under my age. Lexy's 8 and Ethan is almost 12. Oh and then there's Claire and Shayne...I've never spent more then a few days with them." she looked up at Taylor.

Taylor nodded.

"May I ask. Why are you sitting in the middle of the floor in the dark?" Taylor smiled, as he sat Indian style on the floor next to Lindsey.

She was quite for a moment. Taylor worried if he had hit some emotion filled with turmoil. "See this." she said very slowly and hushed. Taylor looked at what she had ran her fingers over.

He nodded.

"This is blood...obviously.." she paused again. Fighting the liquid emotion as best as she was able. "Her blood....This is where she breathed her last." A solitary tear rolled down her cheek, landing on her hand, her fingers, gliding over the stained wood, began to quiver slightly.

"She was back from buying groceries, which I had insisted on....I..I was upstairs, I was listening to...to I don' remember, but whatever it was flew out the window later. They must have just came in. I didn't see them, and they didn't me....She had gotten all the way to the store, then realized she forgot her list, that I had made....And she walked in."

The next was the hardest she would ever have to repeat.

"She must...must had surprised them when she came through the door....because they didn't hesitate when they pulled the trigger....Twice.." She toke in a deep breath and then exhaled. "She yelled for me. Taylor. She yelled my name." she said as she began to sob uncontrollably. "She yelled.....for me." she repeated. She had started her release process.
And they say it's harder to let go then to be gone. And it's harder to live then to let live.

I've had it all forever
I've had enough
Remember you promised me
I'm dying, I'm dying please.

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