Visit number Seventeen.

This is something I’ve been messing around with for a couple days now. It’s one of many little stories that will be helping me write a larger one.

“Where do you work?” My therapist is an older woman with a tape recorder. When she presses the buttons she only needs her nail, the pad of her finger never touches. That’s how long her nails are. That’s how hard I’m trying not to be disgusted. All of the shit cake under there, hidden by nail polish in a repulsive shade only older women in offices wear. Her fingers are riddled with chunky, colorful rings and her neck looks held on by the heavy beaded necklaces that wrap around it. She seems nosey most of the time, but I know it’s her job so I try not to hold it against her. Sometimes her questions seem pointless though. I’m not sure on her age still, older than my mom but younger than her mom. When she talks i can see her wrinkles grow deeper at the corners of her mouth.

“What’s it matter?”
I’ll admit i’m not always the best player at times but I think I’m deserving of an explanation since I give her so very many. It gets uncomfortable sometimes venturing into subjects i don’t normally bother to give a single shitty fucking thought to, but… That’s probably the point.
“I suppose it doesn’t.”
“Then why ask?”
“Because I’m interested.”
“Oh… Okay.”
“Shall we move on then?”

I sigh softly, squint my eyes in her general direction while still refusing the contact she craves, run my fingers over my newly shaven head, chew gently at that spot on the inside of my lip that’s more callus than my guitar playing fingertips, and cross my arms over my chest. Tightly. Sometimes I feel guilty about the way I treat her but she gets it. She always gets it. That’s what she’s paid to do. I stare her down a moment and arch an eyebrow. She sets her notebook down on her thick cotton skirt and arches a brow right back at me. I have to smile. Alright you old broad…

“Alright, alright, I have two jobs- which do you want to hear about?”
“Which do you prefer?”
Her notebook is in her hands again.
“Well I like and dislike them both depending on the day.”
“Which one do you spend the most time at?”
“I live right above one of them and I spend a lot of my free time there.”
“Goddamn it, Marcelo,” it’s her turn to sigh. “Just, pick one. Then tell me about the other afterward, okay?”

My fingers tap and curl around the arms of the faux leather chair once she appears irritated. There’s a moment that I can actually see where something clicks behind her eyes and ignites a flame that had been snuffed out since the last time I got under her normally thick skin. The corners of her mouth crinkle and she clenches her pencil for a moment, just a short, fleeting moment. I smile. I’m going to apologize simply because I know she thinks I should. I just don’t want more notes on a silly record she’s keeping about me that my mom is going to end up slipping her money for at a later date. Patient, doctor confidentiality bullshit. It all has a price.

If I wanted my mom to know what I was doing I would keep a stupid journal.

“Alright, alright Edith, chill out,” I lean back in my chair and take a deep breath. “I’m sorry, you know. I work at the Toaster, it’s a little diner below my apartment. Some mornings I like the customers, other mornings I don’t. I work at a record store called Spin It during some afternoons and other evenings. Some afternoons I like the customers, other afternoons I don’t.”

Edith rolls her eyes when I tell her to chill out but she smiles, just a little bit like she doesn’t want to admit it, and I know we’re all set. I know I’m lucky to have what I do in this hired stranger. For every time I feel odd for talking her ear off I remind myself that I do an excellent job of making her feel uncomfortable, so we’re in this strange predicament together. My mother and her money tethering us together. I wonder if my mom told her that she was paying me to come here as well. I bet I’m making more. I’ll keep that to myself for now.

“What do you like about the Toaster?” She asks. I know my answer before she finishes the question and tap on the chair arms some more. It’s the one thing I could talk for hours about if I felt like it. The Toaster has been a second home to me for as long as I can remember. I’ve received free milkshakes my entire life. I know how to cook because of that place and I’ve eaten better than I ever could have on my own dime because of the good hearts of the people that work there.. I love the Toaster.

“I like Ellawyn and her mother, Laurel a lot. They’re really kind people. When I haven’t made enough money at my other job they let me work there to make up for what I lack. They let me use their phone and sometimes they’ll make me breakfast if they have a spare moment in the morning. I’ve received free coffee since before I knew I liked coffee…”

“That’s sweet of them. How old is Ellawyn?”
“Does that matter?”
“No. I suppose it doesn’t.”
“We’ve grown up together.”
She jots a note, “mmm.”
“Mmm? What’s mmm? What did you write?”
“Calm down, Marcelo. It’s nothing.”
“That’s what I thought then you started writing your notes again.”

She sighs and places her notebook down and stares at me like I just messed up, like I just hurt her feelings or something. I stare back. As soon as something new clicks in her head, behind her eyes, she relaxes, exhales. Defeated, she let’s her straight posture slouch just a tad.

“I have a tape recorder, why does it matter if I take notes?”

I have to laugh a little to myself, if for no other reason then because she thought I was that forgetful, not that careful, unobservant. It almost hurt. X-amount of visits and she still underestimates me.

“My mother can read, Eed’s. What she can’t do is figure out a tape player to save her life.”


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