(A novel excerpt-Honey is 14)
You be the analyst, okay? Pretend concern, adopt a soft kitten voice, coo nouns and verbs and say, “how ARE you” and “Nice to see YOU,” and “HAVE a seat,” waving your neutral manicure to a motley compendium of furniture in the too large space. No cocoon room, we’re ready for a crowd.
When I choose—not the wooden rocking chair, not the weird padded folding chair with startling likeness to my dead grandmother’s flowered dinette set, not the rolling desk chair in the corner piled high with stacks of laundry, wait, no, hand-knit afghans—when I choose the two-seater couch with three matching corduroy pillows you nod. Nod like Freud is whispering penis jokes in your ear. Jungian stages load into the cannon.
Sit yourself down in your therapist chair with the good back support. Cross your ankles and your wrists, play-pretend at bondage. You are my captive, you silently indicate, head poking forward like Yurtle (the turtle.)
You’ll wait. For me. I am in command.
My body will puddle down across the couch, I’ll adjust the left pillow under my left ear, hair protecting my temple from the smell of the last guy and the next guy. My legs will lengthen and I’ll jam my hiking boots over the couch arm and you’ll have to decide whether to leap at me or. Sit there.
My mother’s check flutters to the floor. I throw my mother’s blood money to the floor. I tear up my mother’s check and stomp her hopes and dreams to remake me in her image and later you will tape the torn edges and deposit the bribe into your account and raise your already outrageous rates and tell me and my mother and my father in family session we should see each other two times a week INDIVIDUALLY until we get past the CRISIS, this small SETBACK.
You sit, I said. Act like I’m normal. Act like you’re helping. Pretend you like me. Tell me I’m angry tell me I’m hurting tell me I’m in PAIN unending unrelenting hopeless sorrow.
Hand me the tissue box, ass half-raised, arm stretched out of your shoulder socket.
Make me cry. Make me cry. Make me cry.
Halfway into the sob-fest scrape the pieces of bone and tissue splattered onto the faded Monet exhibit posters above the couch and reassemble the Me, your own personal 3-D puzzle, highest level of difficulty. Oops, too late, get on your knees, search the thick pile carpet for the missing corner piece, the left center piece shaped like a rapacious zebra tail, my essential weirdness, my essence, oops too late TIME’S UP, see you NEXT time, and oh, by the way?
By the way?
GOOD JOB, Honey. We made REAL progress today, Honey.
Lift your right foot, lift your right foot in your sensible navy pump to my coccyx, and without grunting or losing your balance, kick my butt to the curb, kick my now-more-normal ass to the outer door of the dim waiting room, past another mopey teenager no worse no better than me, and thereby finally, finally expressing your first honest assessment. (Ass-essment, ha ha.)
I choose the floor. I refuse your invitation to sit on your normative seats. You won’t join me, your silk skirt, your thick nylons, instead I will untie my hiking boots and unbutton my black jacket with the Anarchy heart over the left breast, and I’ll cross my legs and cross my arms and smile in yesterday’s t-shirt and grass stained jeans.
Great, I’ll say, great week. And I won’t tell you what I did with Evan and Scott in the woods how I couldn’t stop myself couldn’t stop them didn’t want to anyway. I won’t tell you that the rumors the looks the side-long stares make me want to kill myself. I want to die, I won’t tell you. I found my people, my place in the world, finally and now all I do is fuck up fuck up fuck up.
I got all my assignments in on time, I’ll say. Well, except one.
I apologized to my mother, I’ll say, before my father asked before my mother pulled the disappointed look off the shelf and plastered the death mask on her face.
I exercised I did yoga I meditated I thought all good thoughts, I’ll say. Thank you. You helped.
And I don’t need to tear up the blood money, because I never entered the room, not Me, it’s she, the good girl, smiling, wasting my mother’s money better than withholding. Destroy capitalists. Hoorah freedom.
You play analyst. I play client. Take a bow. Doobie doobie dooh.