"What's coming Rosie?" We're at another child therapist. Of course he won't know what's wrong with Rose. Nobody's been able to find out so far. I've begun to doubt that anybody ever will find out what's wrong.
"It's coming," she repeats, her eyes vacant, her face expressionless as always. "It's coming."
"What's it?" I ask. "Rose, please tell me."
"It's coming." She stares off into the distance, as if completely unaware that I'm here. She has no idea how frightened I am for her. She has no idea where she is or why she's here. All she seems to care about is warning us that some unknown horror is following her. Following us.
"Sweetheart, you need to tell us what 'it' is. We can't help you if we don't know what you're talking about," says the doctor. I look into his deep, black eyes. He doesn't care whether or not Rose gets better. He doesn't care if she says what 'it' is or not. He just cares about the money in my wallet. If Rose remains broken and empty forever, it won't matter to him, just as long as I pay him. I would have stopped coming to these therapists long ago if Ron hadn't insisted. They can't help her.
"It's coming. It's coming."
"Rose, please!" I wail. "You just have to tell me what's wrong! We can help you if you tell us what's coming! Tell me! Please!" Nearly hysterical, I bury my head in my hands and start to sob. It takes me several minutes to pull myself together, but when I do, something miraculous happens.
Rose looks at me. Comprehension flows back into her georgous brown eyes, and she recognises me. "It's coming," she repeats. Then the moment is gone, and she's empty once more.
"She came back!" I cry. "She looked at me! She... she knows I'm here!"
The doctor nods and pushes his ear-length blonde hair out of his face. "Honey, what's 'it?'" he asks.
Rose, empty as ever, replies, "It's coming."
The doctor nods again, apparently deeply lost in thought. "I have a pretty good idea of what's going on now," he says. "Your daugter has suffered some kind of shock. Endlessly repeating the same two words are her way of dealing with it."
"T-that's what's wrong with Rose?" I ask.
"Yes," he replies, "but there isn't much we can do."
In the car on the way home, joy fills me. Rose might get better. She might say something different eventually. She might stop being Cassandra. She might say "Hi, mum," and "please," and "thank you." I may never hear the words again.
"It's coming," says Rose. "It's coming."
"I know, Rosie," I say.
"It's coming," she says. "Far away, but coming closer by the second. It's coming."
I nearly crash the car in surprise. Slamming on the breaks, I whip around and cry, "Rose, what did you say?"
"It's coming," she replies. "It's getting closer."