The smell of the Chinese food we had a little bit ago clung to our clothes. Molly had done most of the talking since she picked me up. She was furious at her mom, who instead of taking her to lunch tried to take her to an audition. The little bit of time she was allowed to have with her mom was now revoked. Listening to the details of the dysfunctional relationship she had with her mother was somehow comforting.
Molly’s arm moved with the wind as she raced around slower cars. It turns out every time I would drive with Molly I was risking my life. This was something I considered a benefit. Any proof that I was alive still was precious to me.
Trent Rocks bellowed his plea to be forgiven in the speakers by my feet. I could still taste Lincoln on my lips. My head was still spinning from the encounter in the storeroom. Nothing quite like that has ever happened to me before. I was well aware of moments like those were possible from what shows and others more daring (mainly Pete) had told me.
“You’re quiet, what’s up?” Molly hollered over the manic guitar.
“I’m always quiet.”
“Sad quiet yes, but this,” Molly waved her right hand at me, leaving the steering wheel handsfree for a second too long, “is a different kind of quiet.”
“Your theory behind this?”
“You smell like a boy.” A wide, mischievous grin took hold of Sunshine’s entire face.
Between the infectious nature of a smile like that and the truth she spoke, a smile of my own formed. “I do not,” I mumbled into my shoulder enjoying that particular moment quite a bit.
“Kissing Lincoln on the first day. I can’t wait to tell Malachi.” She flipped on her left blinker, but instead of slowing down she sped up causing oncoming traffic to break.
“Don’t tell him!” Embarrassment flushed my cheeks.
“How else am I gonna get my ten bucks?”
“You bet Malachi that I would kiss Lincoln on the first day?”
“Yep, he thought it would take three days.” Molly kept looking at me and not the road causing my heart to flail around the floor like an angry toddler.
“Why was it so obvious that Lincoln and I were gonna kiss?”
“Oh, come on! The spark between you two in the kitchen the other night made me hot.”
My cheeks were on fire. “I wonder if Pete saw that,” I said without thinking.
“I knew you two have something going on. That’s whole a mess.”
“We don’t, and it isn’t.” I didn’t really believe my words, but it made me feel better to say them.
“Either way, I don’t see how he could have missed it.”
“Is that why Lincoln and I are on the schedule together every day this week?”
Molly just laughed. Her foot slammed on the break, and without flipping a single turned into a generic office building off the highway. The realization that I was going to have to sit in a stuffy doctors office and talk to a pompous and removed therapist who didn’t honestly care about me surviving this temporally overshadowed the lasting effects of making out with Lincoln and how I’m probably doomed.
Molly sped up to the double-doored entrance, then slammed onto the breaks causing my head to bounce against the back of the seat.
“You are the worst driver,” I said with growing adoration.
“Well, I do the catwalk like a champ.” Molly flipped her hair back, turning on her practiced stare.
“Thanks for the ride.” I climbed out of the car, clutching my purse near my stomach.
“Anytime. How are you getting home?” Her eyes revealed just for a minute how badly she was also looking for a distraction.
At the end of the day, none of us are all that different.
“Unfortunately my step dad.” I stood on the cracked sidewalk only wanting to get back in the car. My head was spinning with anxious uncertainty which wasn’t in the least the enjoyable kind or in the camp as to what I felt before starting work that morning. I didn’t want to think about how nervous I might be before seeing Lincoln the next day.
I nodded. “Definitely.”
I slammed the door closed. The cold out air wrapped in its clutches whispering to me, telling me to run.
Molly cocked her head to the side. “Tomorrow before you work?”
A warm and flattering feeling filled my gut. “For sure.”
“Good stuff. Cya!” Molly peeled away, leaving me to face yet another adult that didn’t quite know what to do with me.
As I stepped into the lemon scented building my phone vibrated in my back pocket.
It was Pete. Hey, how was your first day? We still on to hang tonight?
I sighed as an aggressive wave of guilt washed over me.
Why was I guilty? I had no reason to be.
Or, I had every reason to be.
I quickly typed back, Good and yep. Prob around 8, then switched the phone to silent before dropping it into my purse.
I had been to three therapists in the past two months. The idea of being labeled with a disorder was honestly more than I could bare so after a visit or two I’d refuse to show up. Glen only tried so much. That being said I reserved my resistance for things I really cared about.
The second I stepped into the office expecting another generic and sterile environment with white walls and a couple of inspirational sentences purposefully hung around. Instead, the walls were painted a dark blue; all the furniture was expensive and modern looking. Brightly colored art covered the walls.
A girl with a short black bob sat at old wooden roll top desk. “Can I help you?”
“Hopefully, that’s the idea, right?” I instantly regretted the joke once it was completely free from my lips.
The woman just stared blankly at me.
“Elliot for Dr. Rainn, I think.”
Suddenly she was cheery again, “He’s wonderful.”
“Should you say that about a therapist to a patient?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
We passed confused expressions back and forth to each other for a couple of breaths too long.
I gave in and said, “Nevermind.”
“He’ll be with you in a minute.”
“He?” I was expecting that Dr. Rainn was a woman like all the other therapists. Even my group leader was a woman.
“Yes, Dr. Rainn is awesome and a man.” She smiled in a way that gave me the expression she thought she was better than me before motioning her elf-like chin in the direction of the pleaded sofa. “Take a seat, please. He’s just finishing up with a patient.
I nodded and said nothing else; I just slinked my way to the sectional like I was told. Lincoln and his good kissing wiggled its way back into my thoughts. What was I thinking? Were we going to kiss again? I hoped we’d kiss again.
Just as quickly as Lincoln and normal teenage girl thoughts danced around in my head, a small and slender man with no hair and large circular glasses called my name, reminding me I was broken and trying to figure out how to live without my mother and not tear all my hair out.
“Yep,” I mumbled and stood up.
He said nothing else as I followed him down a twisty hallway. It wasn’t until we got in his office that resembled something more likely to be found in bachelor’s garage than in a doctor’s office did he speak. “In your words why are you here?”
“Just like that? We are gonna jump right into it? I’m not even sitting down.”
“Would you like to sit down?” He extended his hand in the direction of the purple armchair.
“I don’t know.” I crossed my arms attempting to close myself into a protective box.
“Well, that chair is pretty comfortable if you decide you do.” He walked over to his desk and pushed a green button on the clock facing the room.
“Where is your pad?” I crossed my arms, thrown off by this unfamiliar display. “What is that smell?”
“What is that?”
Dr. Rainn picked up a small dark-blue glass spray bottle off the desk that has bicycle wheels instead of legs and handed it to me.
“Take it with you.”
“What kind of doctor are you?”
“I don’t know.” He smiled showing me he was genuinely kind as he settled into a large brown chair. Not one thing in his office matched giving me the visualization of several people bumping around the room with blindfolds.
“Thanks, I guess.”
“It helps nerves. That’s some of what you are dealing with, am I right? Anxiety?”
“Is that what it says on my chart?”
“That it must be true.” Continuing to stand gave me the false sense of control.
“Anxiety even though in can be a condition is often a symptom of something else.”
“What’s it a symptom of.”
“Losing your mother, taking care of her as she died. It’s a traumatic experience. Grief is very complicated.”
I sat down in the chair offered to me a few minutes earlier. The overstuffed cushions folded me its clutches.
A glimmer of satisfaction passed over his face, but it didn’t really bother me.
A silence eased the transition without spooking me. For once, at least at that moment, it appeared to me that Dr. Rainn wasn’t an incentive moran.
“You don’t think I’m crazy?” I crossed my legs, unable to commit to stillness.
“We are all little crazy.” He laughed as he rubbed his hairless head.
“I don’t want to go on pills.”
“I don’t do that. I just listen and offer my opinions.”
My thumb grazed my camera nervously. “I don’t like to talk about this stuff, so I don’t how much listening you’ll do.”
“Keeping things in is how people implode.”
“Well, I don’t know what to say about it.”
“What do you feel?”
“Like running away. Like doing a thousand reckless things because I’m able.”
“Well then maybe you should listen to that.”
“Are you telling me to run away?”
“No, I’m saying it’s important to acknowledge your own thoughts. Think of this, not allowing yourself to commutable feel what you do, is like always wearing a gown in your home.”
“I don’t really feel like I have a home.” Vulnerability closed around me.
“What are you living right now?” His face tightened with purpose.
“Man, you’re sneaky.”
“What do you mean I’m sneaky?”
“You are getting me to talk.”
Dr. Rainn grinned. “Well, that is what I do.”
“I guess you’re good at it.”
“We are all good at something.”
“I don’t know if I am.” I looked down at my canvas sneakers.
“What are some things you like to do?”
“You’re trying to weasel in again.” On the inside, I was actually considering the possibility of opening up to him.
“Sorry.” He cleared his thought. “Would you like to ask me something?”
For a minute I said nothing. I never expected to be comfortable here enough to contemplate getting some help. Then I asked, “Will it ever get better?”