Here’s Part 3 of a piece of flash fiction about a Jungian analyst, a desperate young man, and digging too deep into the unconscious. This is the third and final part. It’s about 630 words and has an estimated reading time of 2.5 minutes. Let me know what you think!
I was at my wit’s end until our last session a few months ago. Peter seemed calmer, more at peace. He had a dream, he said, that was highly significant. I asked him to tell me what it was.
“I was wandering around the city,” he said. “The streets were deserted, and everything was eerie. Devoid of sound, almost. I came across a large, shadowy cathedral. No one inside there, either. I walked through the rooms; they were all completely dark. But I heard what sounded like Gregorian chanting somewhere. So, I followed the sound.”
He became more animated as he spoke of the dream. I noticed his hands were shaking, and he nervously scratched his head.
“The sound led me to a large, dark chamber. The ceilings were so high, and I could see beautiful stained-glass windows. But it was strange. There was a spotlight shining down in the very center of the chamber. I couldn’t quite make out what was there, so I walked closer. The closer I got, the worse I felt.”
“Slow down, Peter. We don’t have to discuss this if it’s making you upset,” I told him, but he continued to plow ahead.
“No, I have to say this. About what I saw. I went to the center, near the spotlight. And there, it was me, but I was thirteen years old. My current self, looking at my younger self when the murder happened. My younger self looked so scared and terrified, with a red, tear-filled face. But I couldn’t save him … there was nothing I could do … Nothing.”
We sat in silence for a few moments, and Peter continued nervously wringing his hands. “What does it mean?” he asked, finally.
I admitted that I didn’t know, but it did seem significant. Our time was up, but I told him to come back tomorrow morning. He was in crisis, but then again, he was always in crisis. If only I had stayed with him longer that day.
The following day, Peter didn’t show up as scheduled. I called his cell phone several times, and he didn’t answer. He didn’t have an emergency contact; he lived quite an isolated life. It turns out I was his emergency contact.
I got the call at about one o’clock in the afternoon.
Peter had stepped in front of a subway and had been killed instantly.
I know it was probably not within my power to save him or anybody, but the situation has haunted me. Every day, I question if I said the wrong thing or did the wrong things. Maybe the dream psychology pushed him over the edge? Would more conventional therapy have been better?
I closed my practice a month after Peter’s death, and I haven’t opened it since then. I’m thinking of teaching or becoming an academic; I have years of experience, and I’d be suited for the ivory tower. But I’ll never practice psychology ever again, this much I know.
It’s been several months since Peter’s suicide, and now I dream about him. I keep my own dream journal, writing down how Peter appears and the symbols in which my failure manifests itself.
The last time I dreamed of Peter, he knocked on my apartment building door with a bouquet of dead flowers. He apologized for being late, I know not what for, and then he left without a word. I followed him down into the street, but he disappeared. Like Peter’s dream, the streets were desolate, and I stood before a large, shadowy cathedral. The cathedral beckoned me to come inside, but I knew better. I knew not to enter and dig that deep into the unconscious.