“You’re late,” she greeted me.
I frowned and checked my watch. I was never late.
“It’s half past three, the appointment is for four,” I said slowly.
A pillow off the couch turned into a projectile, launched towards my general direction.
“You haven’t been to see me in a year, ass! You’re late for every single appointment since last February.”
I grimaced. I had been afraid she’d have a problem with that.
“I’m sorry, I was just-”
“Just what? Happy?”
“Well, kind of, yeah.”
“So you straight up abandon me as soon you got a handle on things?”
“Again, yeah. You’re my therapist, I come to you when I need you.”
She covered the distance between us almost faster than I could finish my sentence.
She emphasized each syllable with painful jabs between my ribs. “You don’t pay me. It’s a non-financial social relationship that we have, so you can’t just waltz in here when you’re messed up and then go AWOL when you’re not, you understand that, you piece of shit?”
I stepped back towards the door.
“Don’t be a retard, sit the fuck down,” she snapped.
I walked over to the window instead. Down in the street, a girl stopped to pet a Golden Retriever. The dog showed more interest in a fallen slice of pizza.
“I sleepwalked again,” I told her.
“I opened a window, plugged my phone into the charger, groped around in the dark for something, I can’t remember want.”
“Have you thought about it being a sign of your frustration of looking in from the- Shut the fuck up, Ed!”
“I’m sorry,” I said, as I stopped laughing. “Who’s Ed?”
“The hyena from Lion King.”
“But that was ridiculous, you know. How do you come up with this stuff?”
“I don’t come up with anything. I’m a licensed therapist. I ther…apize.”
“Right, licensed.” I turned to the degree hanging on the wall behind her wall. “Tell me how you got this again?”
“Come on it’s been so long, let me hear it again.”
“I was cycling along the bridge-”
“Driving. You were in a car the last time you said it,” I reminded her.
“What’s a wheel or two between friends?”
“Since when are we friends?”
“I’ll tell you since when we’re not.”
“Since I asked that question?” I guessed.
“Right in one.”
“Tell me the story.”
“I’m cycling along the bridge and there’s this bloke on the edge. I wasn’t born yesterday, I know what’s going on, I hop off, climb over. Took me quite a while, I was afraid if I moved too fast I’ll startle him right off the bridge, you know. Like with a bird, except he couldn’t fly. He sees me and actually looks relieved. I know then he doesn’t want to go over.”
“Not even after you got there?”
“Fuck you, I’m practically sunshine. I brought him back to our side. I tell him it’s pretty cold down there, and he says he doesn’t care, it’s not really much warmer up here either-”
“and well, skipping to the good bit, he had a few old degrees lying around. From when that delivery truck supposed to be carrying toilet paper got loaded with the psych degrees by accident, then the driver thought he saw his crush on the road and turned around and forgot about driving and crashed into his garage.”
“But they’re not signed.”
“Nah, nobody cares, nobody looks. They look at me, and they want me to save them and they believe I can too.”
I settled onto the black couch. It was one of those really soft ones that sank in a few inches under your weight. I could smell her expensive perfume as she sat down next to me. I breathed in, inhaling half a thousand bucks per cubic centimetre of air.
“Where do you go when I’m not around?” I asked her.
“I sleep,” she replied with a smile.
“Must have been quite a long nap this time.”
“I knew you’d be back. You will always be back, you know that right? You can’t pretend I don’t exist for too long.”
“I just need to get through a few weeks, Sarah.”
“Tyler,” she corrected me, pulling out her prescription pad and scribbling.
“These are a bit heavy, are you sure these its safe?” I asked, looking through the list.
“They’re for me, not for you. I don’t like the guy in the shop.”
I shook my head and pocketed it. It didn’t matter who it was for, it’d be me cleaning up the fuck-ups either way. And, I didn’t like the guy in the shop either.
“You’re late,” she greeted me.