“He's here, your 10 o'clock,” Ivy said to me. She hovered at the door for a moment and I caught the look on her face. She was anxious- for me. “Do you need anything?” I braced myself, gripping the handles of my chair. In that moment my mind had gone blank, I didn't know what I needed. Instead I swallowed and did my best to act normal. “No thank you. I'm ready to accept the patient.” I wasn't and we both knew that. I knew she was concerned for me, but she said nothing. Instead she nodded as she excused herself, leaving me alone in my dim lit office. My thoughts ran rampant then. Why did I allow anyone or anything access to my counseling services? My slogan was “Whoever you are, it doesn't matter, my door is always open. Therapy is for everyone. Rich or poor, good or bad, lawyers, doctors, homeless, criminals.”, all these attributes didn't matter, I only wanted to see individuals seeking help and guidance. In retrospect, it had been a wild gambit that drew in the most outlandish of clientele. Some came to me, speaking of their woes, how their problems torment them every day. Some shared their petty squabbles. Some told me the heartache that came with their loved ones leaving them. Some told me the emptiness that accompanies them in their lives. I let anyone in through my doors, listening to their issues. My notoriety grew because of it. Everyone was welcomed. I was regretting that decision now. A moment later, Ivy returned, a old aged man following close behind her. I saw him then, really saw him, and I could feel my skin grow cold. There was nothing ostentatious about him, no rimmed horns at his temple, no flames spouting from his eyes, just a simple man who had been long in the tooth and had a notable limp to his gait. He filled me with a terror unlike any of my patients before. And let's just say I had given counsel to demons from hades. “Please,” I said, motioning with my hand towards the empty seat. “Is there anything we can get you before we begin, Mr. Price?” He spoke with a nervous energy about him, “No, no need to trouble yourselves. Your lovey assistant here already offered me some water. That's enough for me.” He sounded nervous. Scared even. It made me all the more tense. “And uh- if it's alright you can just call me Henry.” I gave a cursory nod but said nothing. When he made for the seat, I subconsciously gripped my pen so hard that my knuckles began to burn. Breathe, I reminded myself. Just breathe. “So, Henry. What is it you'd like to talk about today?” He leaned back, the dim lights of the room obscuring his face. I could make out the deepening lines that age had left him, he looked haggard, ancient even. “You know, I'm not quite sure how to begin. I've never done this before.” He admitted with a shy chuckle. “That's alright. It's common really, no one ever knows how to address the issue right away.” “Even the criminals?” He asked. “I figured those heartless souls wouldn't-“ He was talking about other clients. Privileged clients. I stopped him there. “That is not for discussion, Mr. Price. This session is about you and nothing else.” “Oh! Of course, of course how stupid of me. I'm so sorry.” I stifled the heat that began to rise in my cheeks. “No matter. Why don't you tell me what you're feeling right now?” He took a moment to dwell on his thoughts. When he was ready, he said. “I'm just- I'm just feeling lost is all.” “Lost?” “Yeah. Lost. Don't really know what I'm doing with my life anymore.” I began scribbling notes on my pad. “I see. Is it too painful for you to discuss?” “I- a little bit. But I suppose this is why I'm here.” “Then if you don't mind, let's explore that feeling. Why are you feeling lost, Henry?” I leaned in closer as he sucked in a deep breath. I could see the splotches of liver spots on his mottled skin. “Well, ever since my wife passed, everything in my life got turned upside down-“ I felt my muscles clenching but said nothing. “Nothing feels right anymore. I'm always so alone. I've been drinking more, damn near drink myself silly every night.” He said. The flood gates were beginning to open and his woes were flowing. “I um, I try to reach out- to my only daughter. She wants nothing to do with me. Not since my wife passed.” I could feel the heat coursing through my veins. When I tried to speak, I felt the phlegm in my throat. I sputtered, forcing myself to take a swig of water.
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