“Now, tell me what you see.” The counselor drummed his fingers on the table impatiently. He sighed. He was getting nowhere with this one. The boy himself wasn’t even paying attention. He was staring at a spot to the left of the counselor’s balding head. He turned his head from side to side, muttering to himself. His brown hair swayed gently in the breeze from the air conditioner in the corner near the ceiling. It clattered softly.

“Isaac,” the counselor tried again. “Isaac what do you see?” For a moment, the counselor’s eyes met the electric blue ones of Isaac. The boy shivered. The fluorescent lights above the two people flickered.  Sighing again, the counselor glanced at the huge mirror bolted to the wall behind him. He opened his mouth to speak again.

“A man.”

The counselor’s eyes widened. “A man? What kind of man? Do you know who he is? What is he wearing?”

Isaac looked up slowly from the table. He once again met the older man’s eyes. He held a finger to his lips. “Sshhhh,” Isaac said. He looked to the left of the counselor’s head again to stare at  the man only he could see. Suddenly he leaped to his feet. “No! Don’t do that!”

The counselor tipped over in his chair, which clattered as it struck the floor.

“It’s fine. Just leave him alone. He’s not bothering me, I promise.”

The boy sat slowly again.

The counselor picked up his chair and sat in it, scooting into the table. He kept his finger poised over the button underneath it, just in case the boy went haywire. “Who are you talking to, Isaac? Is it the man? What does he want? What is he saying?”

Isaac looked up once again, this time with tears running down his cheeks. “He wants you to stop asking me questions. He doesn’t like people knowing about him, so don’t say anything.” Isaac stared down at the table once more, muttering softly. The counselor sighed yet again. It was no use. He was getting no further with the boy.

“Well Isaac, I’m going to leave the room for a minute. Can I leave you here?”

No response. The boy continued to stare down at the marble white table top.

The counselor stood up, scraping back his chair. He turned to a box on the wall near the door and pressed the button on it. He waited patiently until there was a loud click, and then the door slid open. He left the room. The dark skinned man on the other side of the glass turned to face him. “Nothing’s changed. The boy’s past is destroying him. I personally don’t blame him, but we still need answers. Why does he create these imaginary people? Who are they? First, the poor boy watched his sister die, and then his home burnt down. Now his parents are divorced, and his father was sent to jail for killing a teacher. He died there. Stabbed by another inmate. It’s no wonder. That’s a lot for anyone to take, especially a sixteen year old kid.”

“He doesn’t know about his father’s death. No one’s told him.”

“Let’s keep it that way. This is the seventeenth foster home he’s been kicked out of. Other children are scared of him, the way he sees these people. And the muttering. I think that’s what scares them the most. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t socialize. He has no friends, and doesn’t try to make any! That’s why he talks to himself, I think. He creates these people to fill a gap.    They are his replacement family.”

“If you know all this, then why am I questioning him?”

“Because, it’s your job. Now, taking this information into account, go back in there and get some answers.” Sighing, the man did as he was told. Entering the room, he noticed that the boy was looking off to his right, talking. The councilor closed the door quietly and watched.

“I am. No, dad, I haven’t said anything. Yes. I understand. I will. What? Oh!”

Isaac looked at the counselor who was jotting things down on his notepad excitedly. “Um I – “

“Keep going son. It’s ok; no one’s judging you here. Who were you talking to?”

“My dad. Ouch!”

“Your dad is in jail.”

“No he’s not, he’s right here.”

“Yes he is, I saw him this morning,” the councilor lied.

“You’re lying. He’s right here, and he’s dead. I hate people who lie to me. All of you councilors are the same. Telling me lies to get answers from me. You think I have a mental condition, but you’re wrong. You want answers? Fine. Here they are. I see ghosts. I’ve seen them all my life. I was talking to my dad when you so rudely interrupted. That’s how I know he’s not in jail. I can even tell you how he died if you want.”

“No, no, that’s all I need to know. Sit tight, I’ll be right back.” The boy stared after him defiantly as the older man backed out of the room.

The man at the window sighed. To the councilor he said; “It’s obvious the boy is ill. He needs treatment. He causes his mother grief with these stories of his. It’s obvious that someone has already told him of his father’s death. The seeing ghosts thing is a lie, a defense to throw people off so they’ll leave him alone. He-“

The man never finished his sentence. His eyes widened in shock as he slowly looked down at the dark stain spreading across the front of his shirt. The counselor was laying nearby, eyes wide and unseeing. As the man sank to the floor, the last thing he saw was Isaac, standing over him, something glinted in the air above the boy, and as darkness closed around him, he saw the faint image of Kyle Sorenson, towering above his son. The man’s eyes closed for the last time.