It had been too long since Tracy had gone outside to truly take in the beauty of the sunset. So, after coaxing herself outside she looked at it as it was setting in the west. In fact, it had been years. During those years spent inside day in and day out, she kept to herself, locked away from all that she was afraid of. Her agoraphobia had set in right after her teenage son was killed while they were walking to the coast. The investigation into his death had gone nowhere and neither did she. The attempts her friends made to help her cope and get her outside into the world were futile. This ended up pushing them away and Tracy was thrown into perpetual loneliness. So, after making herself go outside she looked at it as it was setting in the west.
This came as a surprise to her therapist Hanson when she actually showed up in-person to a session instead of the usual virtual visit. Tracy had made the appointment the week before then, prompting the therapist to be excited to see her. She walked into the rather dreary-looking two-story building on Aims avenue. After she had accidentally tried to push the door open instead of correctly pulling it at first. As she walked up to the front desk she felt embarrassed about not opening the door correctly the first time. Completely disregarding that it was just an accident and that the door opening had probably tripped up others before. The tall and well-dressed man at the desk asked as she approached,
“Can I help you, ma’am?”
“Yes, I am looking for Hanson Harp’s office.”
“It is on the second floor in room number 214.”
“Okay, thank you.”
Tracy thought to herself as she headed for one of the two elevators that the front desk secretary was the first person she had spoken to that wasn’t through video chat in a long time. She ran the brief conversation in her head a few times to sort through her emotions about it. The ride up in the elevator was smooth which calmed her nerves a bit. When she stepped out of the elevator and looked down the hallway, she used the sign to help her navigate towards her therapist’s office. Along the way, she thought about how drab the decor was on the walls. The office door was slightly ajar and she knocked softly.
Tracy hesitated a little and then opened the door wide enough to slink into the room.
“Hello, Tracy, thank you for coming.”
Tracy looked at him and noticed that he had a small scar on his cheek that was faded so much that she had not been able to see it during their virtual conversations. His voice was as deep and as smooth as it had been on the computer.
She sat down on the short but comfortable couch. It looked a bit worn but still, she found it to be nice to sit on.
“I am glad that you have decided to come in person for our session. I am proud of you, this shows me that you have become brave.”
Tracy was about to respond but cleared her throat first.
“I’m glad, it was not easy.”
“I bet but still you are here and that is a big strive for you.”
“Thank you. I even went out yesterday to look at the sunset.”
Hanson looked at her with shock and awe.
“How was that experience for you?”
“Where did you look at the sunset from?”
“Well, I gazed at it from my porch.”
“Sounds nice. Do you plan to do this again?”
Tracy thought about it for a moment and then responded,
“I think so.”
“Looking at a beautiful sunset can be quite peaceful and healing.”
Tracy giggled a little thinking about the peace she had in fact felt when she saw the sun dip over the horizon.
“My suggestion to you about this is to do it every evening and maybe even make it down to the beach to watch it. You said that you can see the ocean from your house correct?”
“I bet it is a lovely view.”
“It is. Like I have told you before looking out at the beach from my house is the only thing that has kept me going.”
“I remember that you mentioned that. However, I hope you do find other reasons to keep on going.”
Tracy looked down at her sneakers.
“I just don’t know how.”
“Why don’t you just start with the little things. Now that you have been able to leave your home, you can start exploring new things and even enjoy the things you used to do.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Yes, you do, and I am going to keep helping you to open up to the world around you.”
Tracy looked up at him and replied,
“Okay, I say start by taking walks on the beach. I think that would be something that would make you happy.”
“I have been wanting to do that, I just need to get the nerve to do so.”
“You will and if you can make it here despite your uncertainties, you can do that simple task.”
Tracy sighed and said,
“You’re right. I will try it later today.”
With an encouraging tone of voice, Hanson said,
“That’s the spirit and when you do this you can tell me how it went.”
The rest of the session went well and then Tracy was on her way. Her home was less than a mile away, so she hurried home for a ham and cheese sandwich. As she was putting mayonnaise on the wheat bread she looked outside her window at the gently rolling waves. When she finished making her sandwich she made a wager with herself. If she was brave enough to do what her therapist suggested, she would buy that computer tablet she had been wanting. Better yet Tracy considered that the computer tablet would be nice to take outside and read with. Further giving her the strength to do what she needed to do. Coming this far was great but she couldn’t stop with just a few outings.
Eating her sandwich slowly and enjoying every bite, especially that spicy mustard, her mind wondered about all of the things she could do now with her newfound inner strength. As she cleaned up her small mess she went into her upstairs closet to grab a bright blue sweater. Walking out of her house she felt the soft breeze on her face and breathed in the smell of sea salt and flowers. The short walk to the beach was easy to navigate and she found a nice place to set out her leaf-patterned blanket. After laying it out and sitting down she noticed that the sun would be setting soon, which was exactly what she came to witness.
As the bright rays started to sink down over the ocean and the blue sky started changing colors Tracy really did feel at peace. This further cemented to her that things were going to change and that she was going to change. She had been denying herself the fruits of life out of fear but no more. Fear was no longer going to hold her captive but this newfound relief would be short-lived.
Tracy heard the shifting of sand as someone was walking up behind where she was perched. Instinctively she looked over her shoulder to get a look. What she saw turned her smile of joy to a grimace of shock and anger. It was him, the person who had taken her son’s life. The one that they never caught and that had never been brought to justice. Tracy looked up into his cold blue eyes and then traced her eyes down his body until she came to a stop at the knife in his hand.
“Yes, it’s me.”
Tracy got up quickly and started to feel warm and moist tears streaming down her face.
“Who are you and why did you kill my son?”
“Who am I? Have you seriously forgotten Trace?”
“No one calls me Trace anymore.”
“Fair but I used to call you that, don’t you remember?”
Tracy’s voice started to quiver when she responded,
“I am sorry but I don’t remember you.”
“No, you wouldn’t would you because I was worthless to you once you got involved with Warren.”
Tracy thought about it for a moment and then realized who this deranged man was. He looked different than when she had met him years and years ago.
“Yes, but I was nothing to you was I? He was my son Tracy.”
Tracy pointed at him,
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes I do, the timing is right. You have to admit he didn’t even look like Warren.”
Tracy had disregarded Tommy once she met Warren. In fact, he was truly only a friend that she slept with once. She never got more involved with Tommy because he seemed to have anger issues. He was right though, she had a paternity test done when her son was born and the kid was definitely not Warren’s. It didn’t matter to her though and she never told Warren, not even when he got sick.
“I’m done talking, you treated me like trash and since I couldn’t be in his life I took him out of yours.”
“That was sick and twisted. How could you do that to him?”
“Easily, I just thought about how much I hate you.”
“That doesn’t justify what you have done Tommy and you won’t get away with it this time, you will be found guilty.”
Tommy laughed maniacally and replied,
“I’m the one with the knife here and you are not going anywhere. This will be the last sunset you ever see.”
Tommy then lunged at Tracy with the sharp eight-inch blade. Tracy was not fast enough and only made it a few steps when she started to run. As the sun started to disappear over the horizon Tracy was stabbed to death. Sadly her courage had put her in danger, something she feared and thought she had overcome.