I had been a psychologist for 10 years. Day after day the same stories: infidelity, depression, anger, obsession, they all have different faces of course; but the stories never change. My days had grown to be mundane, and I was beginning to feel numb; this day was no exception.
I kissed the kids and made lunch for the husband. There was a long wait for coffee, and traffic to accompany the ride – it was time to begin again.
“Your ten o’clock is here” Shelly buzzed.
“I’ll be right there”…
“Actually Shelly, send him in, I need to run to the restroom. Tell him to have a seat.”
“Yes, of course” replied Shelly.
I returned from the restroom as he removed a brown bag from his shoulder. I offered him a bottle of water and waited to see whether he chose the chair or the couch.
“No thank-you” he replied “I’m okay for now.”
He chose the chair. This did not surprise me, there’s a certain security in the chair; in not having to decide how to sit on, or what to do with the pillows of the couch. I tried to guess what he was here for; it had become a little game of mine with new patients. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but there was something that said he didn’t belong. Not that he didn’t belong here, he looked troubled, just that he didn’t belong.
He was well dressed, welcoming and polite; he was handsome. There was strength in him, and I could see it though it was hidden in his slouched shoulders and his soft voice.
“Hi, I’m Sandra, its Michael right?” I said
“Yes” he replied as he finally looked me in the eyes, they were blue, a distractingly beautiful blue.
“Well, what brought you here today Michael?”
He leaned over in his chair and picked the brown bag up off the floor. I watched his hands as he opened it and pulled out a leather binder. They were clean and well groomed; he seemed to move his body with a sense of intention, a directed meaning for his movements if you will.
“I want to read this to you” he said.
That threw me off quite a bit, it was the first time I had heard such a request, and I didn’t know what to say. I think he saw it in my face; he was kind enough not to point out the tension.
“What is that” I finally replied.
“I’m not sure yet, I haven’t read it.”
“Well Michael, what made you decide that you wanted to read it with me?”
“I wrote it” he said.
Still a little unsure of how to respond to his strange request, but quite intrigued at the offering he had brought me.
“How is it that you wrote this, and you don’t know what it is?” I asked him.
“I can’t explain that” he said. “There is a story that runs through my veins, and the older I get the louder I hear it. I halfway expect that you will recommend I be medicated, and the other half thinks that a psychologist may be the only person in the world that will give me an honest answer to what this is.”
He had won me over with his short direct emotionless sentences. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to know what lay upon the pages of that book. I conceded my prior hesitations.
“Turn to page one” I said. “I will let you know when we are nearing our time.”
“Thank-you” he said
He cleared his throat as he opened the faded cover of the old leather binder…