Saturday, 6 June 2020

'Partitions' by Katherine M. Schmidt

I have a dog named Frank, and it’s taken quite some time for me to grow fond of him. His countenance is less than ordinary and his personality nonexistent. I used to joke that he didn’t know how to act like a dog, and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with him.

Sometimes when I look at my therapist, I can see in her eyes that she wants to say something. She looks at me like I imagine I look at Frank. Sometimes I can’t bear it any longer: “Just say it,” I say in a fortified manner. She smiles, and I think about how my mother has never smiled at me in that way.

I talk about my therapist at parties and during coffee dates, and my friends begin to ask for her office number. Soon, Janice is telling me about my own therapist: how her husband recently left her and owns the apple orchard that I pass on the way to work. And knowing this makes me feel more normal, but it also makes me wonder why she shares personal things with Janice.

Only yesterday, I sat in the waiting room rehearsing our session’s start: I’m sorry for boring you, for feeling insecure when you’re silent for too long, for not knowing what to say most of the time, and for never crying. I needed to let her know that I’m self-aware and the kind of person she can trust. But my monologue abruptly ended when Beverly, who is a source of many of my problems at work, stepped from my therapist’s office door. We looked at one another and said nothing. She exited and I stood to take the seat she had warmed.

Instead of sticking to the apology plan, I talked about my dead father. And as I rambled, I began to think about all of the things that I told my therapist about Beverly, and I imagined what Beverly has said about me. And I then thought about my friends who have been sharing this seat and wondered who she likes best and suspect they are doing things without me. And I pictured Frank, who I left in the car, and wondered if he was worried or content without me, and I thought about how far we had come, probably because he can’t say a word.

I abruptly ended talking about my father. My therapist sat in her chair and looked like she had a secret to tell. “Please, just say it,” I begged. She smiled and then asked me about my mother.

At the end of my session, I felt relief to see strangers in the reception area. Outside, I found my car empty and Frank leisurely prancing down the sidewalk. When I called out to him, his pace became comically infuriating. I yelled again but resigned myself to following him into the mid-day congestion because chasing him would release me from chasing the world in my mind.

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