It is not about my issues. It is not even about my good deeds. It’s always been about me – my very self. I am my worst enemy. I know this. She knows this. Everyone knows this. But still, they let me be. Whether to see if I can find a way to save myself or if I will self-destruct, I can’t say.
It is past noon and she is seated adjacent to me, her voice calm. “You still have to try. For me” She says.
I normally would stare back silently till she gave up but today I sit up straight, my eyes out of focus. I want to answer her. I’m dying to tell her the truth. I want her to see that I’m trying for her but I just can’t focus.
“Are you high right now?” She asks.
She comes into focus briefly, but then whirls out. I shrug. “Numb.”
I clear my throat. “Numb.”
She gives me a glassy stare, takes a deep breath and removes her glasses. She comes into focus again. I stare at her. I love her. God, I love her so much. I know this but I can’t feel it right now.
“What is it this time?” She asks.
I shrug again.
“You need to try harder.” She says, her voice laced with pity rather than disappointment. I hate when she feels pity for me. Her eyes flutter for a moment then she puts her glasses back on. “Did you read the book?”
“What do you think?”
“It still needs work. I mean, the plot is solid but the main character is posey, making the book altogether kitschy.”
“Don’t you think it could all be how the story should be?”
“How can you tell?”
“The details say otherwise.” I look at her, from her face down to her feet and back to her face again. “God is in the detail.” I add.
She scribbles loudly on her note, then looks up. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Work on it, obviously.”
She scribbles again. “You think you can do that?”
“I already did.”
She raises her brows. “Oh?”
I feel my eyes closing slowly. “Yeah.” I manage to say.
She scribbles again.
“Why do you come here?” She asks suddenly, dropping the pen.
My eyes fly open. “What?”
“Why do you come here?” She asks again.
“You know why.” I say.
“But I need to hear you say it.”
“No, not this time.” She says emphatically.
She has never spoken to me like that before. “To work my issues out.”
“Your issues are not the problem, you know that. So what is it?”
My heart starts to pound. She removes her glasses once again and rubs her eyes then looks at me expectantly.
I swallow. “To talk.”
“You have a wife. Isn’t that what partners do? Talk to each other?”
“Not when it’s about her.”
“But you never talk about her. You never talk about anyone, in fact.”
I feel my face burning. I want to leave now but I can’t seem to move. I look at the clock on the wall. It’s been roughly twenty minutes.
I need to leave now.
I look at the drapes. I look at the carpet. I look around at anything but her.
Then she stands from across the room and walks towards me. She sits directly across from me. “Look at me.” She orders gently.
“Why do you come?”
I swallow again. “You.” I whisper.
“Me.” She says.
“You. I’m always numb. I feel only when I’m here. You make me feel.”
“But you’re numb now, according to you.”
I shrug. “I don’t know, it just is.”
She stares at me some more, her face expressionless. Then she puts her glasses back on and goes back to sitting adjacent to me. She picks up her note and scribbles again.
“How is your sex life?”
She raised her brow.
“That’s not the problem.”
“I know it’s not. When was the last time you had sex?”
“With myself or someone else?”
“Sarcasm won’t help you.”
“I know.” I stand and walk towards the window. I pat the drapes aside and the ray of sunlight filters into the room. The street outside is quiet and I can see my car. It is glistening in the sunlight. “Do you know what is wrong with me?” I ask, not turning.
“You think something is wrong with you?”
I smirk. “You don’t?”
“Do you know what it is?” She replies.
“You’re the therapist, you should know by now with all your scribbling.” I turn around. There is a faint smile on her face.
“How do you feel after telling me?” She asks.
“Free. Are you going to stop our meetings?”
“Do you want them to stop?”
“What does your wife think?” She asks
“I don’t want to talk about her.” I say.
“You know why.”
“I still want to hear you say it.”
“She’s worried sick. She wishes I’ll stop coming but she doesn’t want to force me.” I smile. “She thinks pulling me out will further upset me than I already am.”
“Are you? Upset?”
I shrug and go back to my seat.
“Fine. They want me to write something new.”
“They told you that?”
“No. I just know.”
“So are you going to?”
“I already have.”
She raises her brows. “Where is it?”
I tap my left temple gently.
She scribbles again and crosses something out.
There is a light rap on the door now. I turn around and see the handle slowly turn. My wife peeps in, then when she sees me seated, comes in. She shuts the door behind her but stays there.
“Is something wrong?” I ask.
“We need to go now.” My wife says.
I check the wall clock. It’s been forty-five minutes. “I have fifteen more minutes.”
She looks around the room, unmoving.
“Well?” I say.
“I’ll wait right here.” My wife says.
“Excuse me?” I reply.
“This has gone on for too long. You need to face reality.”
“Give me fifteen minutes and we’ll talk about this.”
“She’s right, you know. You really need to go.” She says
I look adjacent at her. “But we aren’t done yet.” I say.
“We?” My wife asks.
I look at her. “Fifteen minutes,” I reply calmly.
“What do you actually do here?” My wife asks.
My wife covers her face with her palms and sighs deeply, then puts her palms together, pleadingly. “I’ve lost a daughter; I can’t lose you too. Please let’s go.”
“She’s right, you know.” She says again.
“I damn well know she is!” I sputter.
“She’s what? Honey, you’ve gone too far.” My wife pleads. “This needs to stop now. We need to talk like normal people.”
“Fifteen minutes.” I say.
“You want therapy? How’s this: Our daughter died. It’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But now I’m about to lose my husband as well because he can’t deal with it.”
“Stop it!” I say.
But she continues. “So what does he do? He comes to her apartment and talks to her – our dead daughter – and calls it therapy.”
“I say stop it!” I scream now.
“He doesn’t realise how selfish he is. He doesn’t realise that I lost her too and I need him now the most.”
My wife sobs now. “Please, let’s go.”
I look adjacent again but she is gone. I close my eyes and tears swell in them and I begin to sob too.
My wife comes to sit by me and takes my hand. My sobs grow louder and my body begins to tremble. She tugs at me and I fall into her arms. Our sobs begin to sync. “We’ll get through it, I promise.” She says. “We’ll get through it.”