Thursday, March 7, 2024

“They Tire of Waiting” • by Roni Stinger

My therapist sits across the room, finger on chin, head tilted, the way she does. Brown, shoulder-length bob molded into submission by hairspray. Her office reminds me of my grandmother’s sitting-room, all pastels and flowers. A damn cuckoo clock on the wall.

“Andrea, we’ve talked about this many times. Yes, your career struggles are stressful, but you’re avoiding the bigger issues.” Dr. Brenner picks at an imperceptible zit on her chin.

God, she can be a bitch. She doesn’t understand that what she calls my career, my game designing, is everything.

“It’s like I’m one of those Russian nesting dolls,” I say. “Underneath each one is another, slightly different, still the same. When you get all the way to the core, that very last doll, that’s my designing, and each doll going outwards, reflects that. My career, as you call it, is my life.” I stare at my feet, at her puce rug, anything to avoid looking at her. There’s mud on the toe of my left boot, a smear of dark reddish-brown on the rug. Was that…? No, just stop.

“I know it’s important to you,” she says, ”but it’s not relevant to your mental health issues. I’d like to focus on those, rather than your work schedules, storylines, and writer’s block.” She leans back in her daisy-print easy-chair. Her arms rest at her sides.

“Sure, we could talk about the gargoyles that sit at my front door and watch me at night, but what’s the use? The gargoyles are still going to be there. Still watching me. No matter how much we analyze them or talk about what they mean to me. It’s all so ridiculous, really.”

She nods. “Go on.”

What’s the point of seeing her? At my last appointment, she wanted to talk about the ninjas. The fucking ninjas, for Christ’s sake. Didn’t she realize that discussing them was the worst idea ever? Talking about them would only draw their attention. I’d tried to put them back in the game. The gargoyles, too. But once they were loose, there was no putting them back.

“If you’d just help me figure out the new game. Horde of Demons, the storyline… the ending…” I release a deep sigh as she shakes her head disapprovingly. “You don’t understand. They tire of waiting.” That’s the part I can’t explain, the part she refuses to hear. Their creation doesn’t bring them into the world; not completing the storyline does.  

That mud on my boot, the smear on the rug… the last scene I’d written… weeks ago now… the demon shit.

“You mean you tire of waiting? We’ve talked about projection—”

They emerge from the walls of her office. Grizzled, two-foot-tall, puke-green demons with large, sharp teeth.

So fast, they are so fast.

My therapist’s eyes widen. Her mouth hangs open. Their teeth sink into her neck and face before she makes a sound.

If only she’d helped me brainstorm ideas, figure out how to keep writing. Maybe then they wouldn’t have gotten out.

Instead, I’m running for my car and in need of another new therapist.




Roni Stinger lives in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies, including Dark Matter Magazine, Unnerving Magazine and Underland Arcana. Her debut novella, Fuzzy (Rewind or Die 34), is available now from Unnerving Books. She’s a member of the SFPA, Codex, and a Board Member of Willamette Writers. You can find her online at







Mr. Naron said...

Why do I picture Aubrey Plaza as the main character?

~brb said...

She would be perfect in the role, wouldn't she?

Mr. Naron said...