"Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play? Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day..."
He hums a soft tune on the tip of his tongue, the smooth melody melts into waves down his throat. He's always been able to carry a tune, no, he's always been able to practically create symphonies with his own mouth, something he's actually proud of. It was hard to find a sliver of self-respect after the accident. He hated himself for months, still does from time to time. That's the problem with grief; it's different for everyone. You think you're okay, then all of a sudden, it hurts just like it did the first day.
He looks out the barred windows, into a stretch of dusty fields. Apparently freedom lies just beyond that, something he hasn't tasted in 17 years, something waiting just around the corner. Four more days, and he'll be out. Maybe he'd visit some old friends, some relatives. His mother, if she wanted to see him. Maybe he'd get a new job, something he'd really enjoy, like singing during the late hours at a bar, or maybe even start a band and make it big one day. He'll be free as a... hell, who was he trying to kid? He'll be a part of the world again, but forever tainted with the scar of prison. Forever looked down upon, and forever the face of a criminal.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
“I’m not crazy,” I say; my arms crossed over, feet flat on the ground.
“I never said you were,” she replies, her grey hair slicked back, her shiny glasses reflecting her eyes like two giant moons. She always has to be right, always has to be that voice of reason, which always makes sense. I hate it.
“Yeah, but you make me feel like I am. Look at you, you’re sitting there with your notebook on your lap, and I bet that everything I’m telling you is going through some kinda process in your head, and all those terms you learn in your weird psychiatrist dictionaries are speeding through your brain and you’re just looking for the one that matches me the best.”
My eyes tear up and my leg hairs stand on their ends, I’m suddenly cold and afraid. I clutch the thick black fleece of my hoodie.
“You always wear that jacket to our meetings.”
I bite my lip, should I even bring it up? Oh, what the hell.
“It was my boyfriends,”
Her eyes shine a little, and her ears perk up, like a vicious dog who has heard the distant cry of a cat.
“Was?” she asks, always listening so intently.
“Yeah, we’re not...” I fight the lump in my throat, forcing myself to believe that it’s not so bad, “We’re not.”
“I see,” she inhales, readjusting her robotic posture, “so then why do you still have that jacket?”
I think of a smart comeback but my mind is blank, it’s a question I’ve been asking myself for the past four months.
“I- I don’t know.”
“You clutched at it, just now, when you were defending yourself. Do you feel safe in that jacket?” She asks. I remain silent.
“It’s very basic human nature to hold onto something that makes us feel safe, just as infants do with their mothers, as you do with that jacket. I have a question, who left who?”
“He left me.” Three syllables tap against my teeth, I’ve grown so used to saying it to myself through the days but every time I do, the pain is re-awakened.
“Ah, I’m sorry. So he left you, he broke your heart. You still hold onto that jacket, wear it every meeting, and hold onto it when you’re scared.”
I bite my lip and look at my lap; the tears are surging up to the rim of my eyes. Please. Don’t. Fall. Please, don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Do you still feel a sense of longing, or need for him?”
I nod. My parents are burning holes into their pocket for this lady to “fix” me. I may as well cooperate.
The clock behind her reads 3 minutes to two, our session is coming to a close.
“I’d like you to think about it. Write all your thoughts down into a notebook and bring it next session, we’ll discuss it then.
“You have to allow yourself to let go. You may experience symptoms of withdrawal, but that is entirely normal. Here, take this to the pharmacy, they’re sleeping and eating aids. I noticed you looked a little thin.” She hands me a yellow piece of paper with the names of different medicines. I hold it loosely between two fingers.
“Why are you so cold?” I ask, bluntly.
She doesn’t flinch; she’s probably used to it.
“I am a psychiatrist, not a shrink. If you have a problem with that, maybe you would like to discuss it with your parents. We’ve reached the end of our session; I’ll be looking forward to seeing you.”
“Like you even care,” I snap, my temper rising. I can feel one of my infamous tantrums coming on.
She gets up from her leather armchair and walks me to the door, a hand on my shoulder. That’s the most affection I’ve ever received in the past 8 sessions I’ve had with her.
“I do care. You are a very interesting girl. And believe it or not, you’re making a lot of progress. Goodbye.”
She closes the door as soon as I step out into the hallway. I give a polite smile to the boy in the waiting room; kids like us are always nice to each other because we know we’re just the same. I think about her words, ‘very interesting girl’ and ‘progress’. She always finds a way to leave me hanging at the end of every meeting. I guess that’s how she always has me coming back.
Saturday, 4 September 2010
I awake to a misty grey morning, tangled in bedsheets. My eyes slightly bruised as I slowly open them to greet the unfamiliar household. A tattered leather couch in the corner, a stack of magazines that have obviously been thumbed through several times, and a few pairs of dirty socks lying on the floor. Definitely not my house. But if not mine, then who's? I shut my eyes to recall last night's events. Clips of introductions, of one glass too many brimming with alcohol, of ice sloshing like little boats in an ocean storm, all definitions of last night, flashing like neon warnings in the back of my mind. Ah, yes. One of those nights. I'd better execute my traditional morning-after escape route.
I collect my clothes off the floor as I tiptoe to the bathroom, I push the door open silently and slip in. It's small, but thankfully, it's clean. The familiar ache along the back of my head is last nights remains catching up with me. I lean over the sink and examine my face. I look like shit. My eyebags practically reach my chin, and there's still makeup on my skin. I rinse my face quietly and feel around for some kind of cleanser, there's a pink bottle of women's facial wash on the shelf, and I raise my eyebrow at the thought of a man using this.
Wait a second.
A pink bottle of women's facial wash in my hand. A lilac bathrobe hanging on the back of the door. Two toothbrushes in the mug. Oh my god. I shoot through all the products on the shelves: perfume, hairspray, moisturizer, among the hair wax and aftershave. There's a green leather pouch, and I grab it and rip it open in the length of a breath. It contains everything I wish it did not, lipsticks, mascara, eyeshadow, every single item of make-up. I sit on the toilet feeling sick, wanting to throw up. How could I have done this?
I realize that I should get out as fast as possible. I pick my dress off the pile on the floor, yank it on, and creep out the room barefoot. I didn't even get to wash my face. I pick my shoes up off the floor and throw a horrible glare at the man passed out in his bed, I don't even want to see what he looks like. I rush out his room, turn the locks on the front door, and escape into the refuge of the hallway. The down-arrow by the elevator lights up as it reaches the floor, and a woman with luggage is revealed as the metal doors slide open. She's about to smile but she looks as if she's been caught halfway; like a movie on pause. She eyes me from head to toe, taking in my messy hair, my crumpled dress and my bare feet. I raise my eyebrows,
"Oh, I'm so sorry I'm staring. It's just, I have a dress just like that," she laughs, "Anyway, have a good morning!"
She steps out of the elevator as I step into it, and she disappears behind the corner of the hallway.
I look down at my dress. I've never seen it before in my life.