Chapter 11: The Doctor
Written by: Whitney Emeigh
The crowd began to disperse. The child had returned to normal, so of course there was nothing interesting left to look at. The doctor continued to check the boy over for a few moments longer. Both of the boy’s eyes watched the doctor carefully. Adette dodged bodies as they peeled away from the crowd. Soon, she would be standing there all alone looking like an idiot. Breath hissed through her teeth.
The boy’s eyes snapped around and fastened themselves to her face. Behind the child’s features lay something sinister. It waited under the surface, watching. Adette could feel its interest in her attention growing.
“Seems alright now, ma’am,” the doctor proclaimed. With a great flourish of self importance, the man fastened his leather bag. Adette eyed him sideways. Her mouth grew thinner with each moment she considered him. His eyes took in the simple sight of everything around him until they landed on Adette. She had this misfortune to still be looking at him when he noticed her. A smile, meant to be charming, slithered across his face. Adette watched in growing horror as the boy was ushered away by his mother.
“Hello. I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” the doctor said stepping closer. Adette hadn’t been able to tell before, but he was tall. In fact, he loomed over her in a willowy sort of way that set Adette’s teeth on edge.
“That’s probably because I’m new in town,” Adette replied, putting on her best and most convincing smile. On her tip toes, Adette took one last look over the doctor’s shoulder. Both the boy and his mother had disappeared into the crowd.
“Don’t worry about him. I’m positive he’ll be quite alright. I’ve examined him thoroughly. The young lad was probably just looking for some attention.”
Adette sank back onto her heels.
“I wouldn’t be quite so sure about that,” she mumbled half forgetting the doctor was even there.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch that.”
Adette’s attention snapped back to the doctor’s face.
“Catch what?” she replied just a little too quickly.
The man’s eyes narrowed, but he let it go.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I know your name.” He edged closer, looming just a bit more over Adette.
She looked up. “It’s Adette. I’ve only been in Swynton about a week. You are, I presume, the doctor in town.”
The smile this statement produced was electric.
“That’s a lovely name. It’s very unique,” he reached forward and slowly took hold of her hand. “Maximillian, at your service.” Maximillian then proceeded to press his lips into the back of Adette’s hand. They were not cold or unpleasant, but all the same they left Adette with the urge to wipe her hand on her dress in a very unladylike way. With a great deal of will power, she managed to resist. The smile stayed, but anyone with half a brain could see that it went no farther than her lips.
“Very nice to meet you Max.” Adette watched in horror as he lingered over the back of her hand. His lips hovered centimeters away. She missed entirely the growing looking of horror spreading across his face. As quickly as she could, without seeming rude, Adette retrieved her hand. “I was wondering. What was the name of the boy? I don’t know many people yet.” Adette smiled kindly, managing to regain some of her composure.
“Oh. How very kind of you.” Adette just managed to swallow the urge to vomit. “The boy’s name is William. He and his mother, Mary, live just beyond the square.” An unusual silence stretched between them. Adette got the feeling that she had missed something crucial.
“Terrible really about the boy’s father,” Maximillian leaned in close, trying his best to conspiratorial. “I don’t say this to just everyone, but the rumor is that he left. Personally, I think he was never in the picture. No one knows for sure, but it would explain the boy’s outburst. With no proper father, who knows what sorts of mischief he must be getting himself into.”
“I see.” It was to Adette’s credit that she managed to continue smiling. “Thank you for the information. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind. Now, if you will excuse me, I really should be getting home. I’m sure that I’ll see you around the village.” Once more, Adette managed a passable smile before retreating back across the square.
Outside, Karl was sunning himself in a patch of sunlight that had spread across the road.
“It’s about time,” he muttered, though he didn’t seem the least bit put out. The bread, on the other hand, was entirely ruined.
“We have a problem.”