Diana, I Love You.

She stands before her easel, a gossamer goddess. She flits from one end of her canvas to the other like a hummingbird from flower to flower. I have never loved her more than when I’m watching her paint. She once told me that she feels like she ceases to exist, and all that becomes real to her is the painting before her, but I never lose sight of her when she’s painting; she becomes all I know, and all I want to know in those moments. She’s beautiful to me then, because she’s surrendered to the thing inside of her that wants to come out in the form of paint on canvas, and all her nervous ticks fall away. She’s no longer concerned with what  anyone else thinks of her, or how she fits into the crowd; when she’s painting, she’s gone inside her own mind–she becomes the painting, and it’s always beautiful. Especially when she makes a mistake. I can always tell when one of her brushstrokes doesn’t land where she wanted it to, because she hurries back to her palette, and tries to blot out the smudge, but she never looks around. She doesn’t care if anyone sees her make a mistake, only if that mistake is still visible when she’s finished–it never is, except to the trained eye. Besides, it’s those little mistakes that make each of her paintings her own, and I love them for it.

I fell in love with Diana when I first saw her sitting on a park bench, sketching the birds eating the seeds she’d scattered at her feet to lure her subjects near. I kept my distance, leaning against a tree, and watched her work furiously. Until she finished her sketch she was completely absorbed in her work, never minding the other people in the park, and they didn’t mind Diana. As soon as she finished however, she appeared to come out of a trance, and she glanced around surreptitiously, and saw me. I smiled when her eyes locked on mine, and she smiled tentatively back. I took that as a sign, and walked over. I sat on the bench beside her, aware that she’d suddenly become very twitchy and rigid at the same time. She didn’t know what to make of me, or what I could possibly want from her. I asked to see her drawing, and she hesitantly handed it over. I didn’t know what I’d say or do if she denied me.

She didn’t. I think she knew I meant her no harm. I felt her eyes on me as I studied her work. I handed it back to her smiling after a moment, and told her I loved it. She wanted to ask me if I really meant it, but something in my face must have told her I wasn’t like the others–I didn’t dole out unnecessary compliments. We looked at one another for a moment, studying, deciding, and from that day forward I was hopelessly in love with Diana. I was as in love with Diana as she was with her art. I could take a back seat, because at least a back seat was better than being alone. I could become the calm, rational reality Diana could settle back into when she was done painting, and I was happy to do it.

I’m still happy to do it.

 


Author’s Note: Writing from a character’s perspective from something I’ve been mulling over in my head for years. Just thought I might clarify that if this feels like a piece of something larger, it probably is, if I ever get it all written down. 

Currently Listening: AFI: DECEMBERUNDERGROUND.

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Therapy, Again.

You can read previous sections here: Never HappyExpression is Therapy, & Therapy.

 

Back on the sofa, like always and forever. Somehow, time and again, she found herself on various different sofas, all in the same kind of cozy, barely-lit room; an office, really. A therapist’s office. A new one every six months or so. She couldn’t stop fucking them, and that’s why she kept therapist hopping. What choice did she have?

 

And once again, here she is, sitting on a plush, red sofa—the kind of sofa meant to put the client at ease, but no one has a sofa with pillow arms like this in their home. And no one’s home is this dimly lit, except maybe at night, when you leave the bedside lamp on after watching a scary movie, and are afraid to sleep in the dark. The room—correction, office— is a lie.

 

You aren’t safe here. This isn’t a safe space, where you can spill your darkest secrets and the contents of your heart like a child dumping toys from a cardboard box. This is a place of rational logic and science, even if it’s meant to look like someone’s home with the faux plant on the end table at the other end of the couch. No one’s home is this neat, and forcibly sterile. Home is a familiar, chaotic mess; never orderly.

 

“You’ve been here fifteen minutes and haven’t said a word,” the therapist spoke, breaking the patient from her reverie.

 

She looked up into her new therapists face, and for a moment pined for the previous one. He’d been an older gentlemen with a defined, but caring face. That face was an easy read, as was his feelings towards her. He consistently had to hide them by crossing his legs. A small smile curved the corners of her mouth at this thought.

 

“What are you thinking about? Her new therapist asked.

 

The new therapist was a stern woman who looked to be in her mid-fifties. Her hair was pulled back into a tight bun, and she wore thick rimmed glasses that gave her eyes an insectile look.

 

“I was just musing about my previous therapist,” she said, leaning back against the comfy sofa. It was incredibly soft; a good napping couch. Not designed for sharing one’s inner most thoughts, she thought.

 

“Yes, I see you’ve had several of those,” the therapist said, consulting the page from the notepad before her. “Why is that?” She asked.

 

The patient shrugged.

 

“You don’t know?” The therapist asked.

 

“Oh, I do, I just don’t think it bears weight to this conversation,” she said, smiling.

 

“And why do you think that?” The therapist asked, peering at her from above the rims of her glasses.

 

“We’ve only just begun to get to know one another. We’ll get there, in time.” she said.

 

“I believe that’s supposed to be my line,” the therapist said.

 

“Like you said, I’ve been to many therapists. I’ve learned the lines.”

 

“Is that your goal here?” The therapist asked.

 

She shrugged.

 

“You don’t like talking, do you?” The therapist asked, leaning back in her own chair, and putting her pen down; realizing this had become a battle of wills. “You know, therapy isn’t any use to you if you won’t talk,” she said after her question failed to illicit a response.

 

“I’ve been told that before,” she said.

 

“And still you keep visiting therapists. Why?”

 

She shrugged. “I think I like the company.”

 

“You can find someone to keep you company at any bar in town,” the therapist replied.

 

“Not the kind of company you get with a therapist,” she said, smiling. It was a devious little grin; the grin of an adolescent who knows she’s done wrong, but doesn’t mind the consequences.

 

“I’m not here to be your friend,” the therapist said. “My job is to help you gain insight to what brought you here, and help give you the tools to conquer that.”

 

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” she said, a haughty look of contempt upon her face.

 

“If that were true, you wouldn’t be here.” The therapist said, sitting rigidly in her chair.

 

To that, the patient did not reply. The therapist had had stubborn, difficult patients before. None like this, however. There was something different about this woman; something unsettling—perhaps it was the sheer number of different therapists she’d been to in just the last year alone—seven. Something about the patient had her on edge.

 

“Why are you here?” The therapist finally asked, after listening to the clock ticking away the seconds on the wall.

 

The patient appeared to be thinking over her answer as she stared at her hands. It was a difficult thing to learn, to be patient while waiting for an answer—sometimes you got one, and sometimes you didn’t. With most patients, she could usually gage whether they’d communicate or not, but this one didn’t fit the mold of most patients—or people, she thought.

 

Finally, the patient lifted her gaze, and folded her hands in her lap. “I’m here to prove that some people don’t have worth.”

 

That was not even in the ball park of what the therapist had expected. The patient could tell she’d been floored. It made her smile.

 

“Didn’t expect that, did you?” she asked.

 

“No, I did not.” The therapist admitted.

 

“What do you think?” she asked.

 

“I’m the one who’s supposed to ask the questions,” the therapist said, sternly. “I see what you’re trying to do.”

 

“What am I trying to do?” the patient said, feigning innocence.

 

“You think that you’re the first patient to try flipping the script on me; that if you ask the questions I’ll be dismantled, and you’ll have won. What you don’t understand is that this isn’t a battle—we’re not fighting, because we’re not foes. You may make me your enemy, because it’s my job to help you, but that’s you’re doing, not mine.” The therapist said.

 

“And why do you want to help me?” the patient asked.

 

The therapist sighed, “because I took an oath, and because I made it my life’s work to help people, whether you believe me or not—I do care.”

 

“That’s generous of you,” she said.

 

The therapist did not reply.

 

“So, I assume you believe people are inherently worthwhile?” The patient asked.

 

“I’m not going down this conversational path with you,” the therapist said.

 

“Why?” she challenged.

 

“Because it’s a waste of time. You want to argue semantics, and I’m here to help you, but you clearly don’t want help; I’m not sure what it is you really want, perhaps a chance to feel superior—look at me, I outsmarted the therapist! But that kind of behavior will only provide you with a temporary high. This is why you’ve been moving from therapist to therapist.”

 

“I’m not difficult to figure out,” the patient said smugly.

 

“No, you’re not, but you’re dangerous—to yourself and others—because you think you’re beyond your illness. You’re not.” The therapist said.

 

“That’s a bit presumptuous, don’t you think?” The patient asked, insincerity hiding the hurt.

 

“No, I don’t. I’ve seen several patients like you—patients who think they’re too smart for their illness. You can’t logic your way out of emotional distress; I’m sorry, but you just can’t.”

 

“Never hurts to try,” the patient said, laughing with her eyes.

 

“We’re done here,” the therapist said, getting to her feet.

 

“But the sessions only half begun,” the patient said, looking bewildered at this turn of events.

 

“I’m not going to waste my time on someone who doesn’t really want help; there are plenty of other therapists who will gladly take you on—I’m not one of them.” The therapist said, opening the door.

The patient looked out into the empty lobby, and loneliness overwhelmed her. She looked up at the therapist with tears in her eyes.

 

“You can’t just turn me away,” she said.

 

“I can, and I am.” The therapist replied with finality.

 

The patient scrambled for something to say, something smart, something witty—anything, any reason to keep the session going. She came up with nothing.

 

“Please leave my office,” the therapist said, feigning kindness.

 

“Would it change your mind if I said I wanted to die?” she asked.

 

“Only if you were serious,” the therapist replied after a moment’s hesitation.

 

Silence spiraled out between them while the therapist stood at the door, waiting to see if the patient would stay or go.

 

“I’m not,” the patient finally said, and with that she rose from the plush sofa, and left without a glance back. On to the next therapist, she supposed.

She Writes

Back at the apartment she throws her ruined shoes in the corner by the door and pads over the wooden floor to the couch where she flops down. She stares ceiling-ward with her left arm resting above her head and her right arm dangling off the couch where her fingers can skim across the floor boards. She twists her hips and fidgets until she finds herself in a comfortable position and sighs. The ceiling is just boring and uneventful enough in the dark to allow her thoughts to wander, which is a dangerous pastime she can’t help but indulge in.

She thinks back to the bartender a few hours ago. He wanted to strike up a conversation, probably because she looked so horribly sad and lonely, and that was exactly the reason she wasn’t going to get into a conversation with him. She didn’t want his pity. She didn’t want anyone’s pity. She could function just fine without it.

Function? Are you sure? Is what you did tonight what you call functioning? Because if you ask me–but I didn’t ask you! She yells angrily at the voice inside her head…with her own interior voice. The apartment is silent, but if she carries on this conversation in her head long enough she knows she’ll end up pacing the apartment in a tirade yelling back and forth with herself. She’s done this before, and she knows she’ll do it again.

She sighs, heavier this time and turns her head and stares through the dark at the door. She has to squint to make out it’s shape. The door is as boring and uneventful as the ceiling and thus serves as another blank staring board for thought. What you should do is get up, go out that door, and run down the hallway, banging on all your neighbor’s doors as you do. So what if they hate you? You hate yourself enough for all of them. But she turns that thought away and returns to staring at the ceiling.

There’s a void growing in her chest, it’s seething, it’s mutating, it’s eating her soul whole, and she has no desire to stop it. She sits up and pushes hair back from her forehead. She gets up off the couch and goes over to the far wall and flips on the light. She pads down the hallway on the balls of her bare feet and disappears into her room. She returns to the living room with a worn spiral notebook and a pen. She plops down on the couch and drops the notebook on the coffee table. She flips open to a clean page, past pages of scribbles in red, blue, and black. She uncaps the black pen in her right hand and marvels at the sheen of the blank page; it calls her name. She leans over the notebook, pen poised, and considers her thoughts for a moment.

Then she writes.