Chapter Four

Chapter Four

A Chapter by Ocularfracture
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Miranda recalls a particularly unpleasant visit with a patient named Jacques, who inadvertently gave her a new way to pass the time on boring days.

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The wilting flowers of mystery reside on my desk at my office, where I don’t have to look at them as much. Something about them just gives me an overall odd feeling which I have trouble describing.

The phone rings somewhere on the other side of my old, cherry oak door, and I hear my perky receptionist answer with “Good afternoon; Dr. Vasquez’s office!”

This is what I have to listen to all day, every day, in the cracks of time when I have no patients to listen to, or when I’m hunched over my cluttered desk, shoving last night’s dinner into my mouth, bitterly.

Today seems to be completely made up of those cracks of time, with few appointments. Jacques has not been back to see me in weeks, and I have come to the conclusion that he has probably transferred to a different therapist- someone new, on whom he can lay down a fresh guilt trip.

I don’t mind. Really. The worst part of any week was always Jacques’s angry little face, tied up into a grimace, pouring out nonsense about his sudden onset of schizophrenia, or whatever the soup of the day happens to be.

It is so hard to remain professional when you have so much anger and hostility built up inside of you, longing to burst out and attack a specific person.

Jacques has no mental illnesses. He doesn’t even need to be here.

Most of my patients talk to me about problems in their lives, mommy leaving them home alone at night to drink, or daddy playing the touch-and-feel game. None of my patients try to diagnose themselves with anything�"all they want is someone to unload their burdens onto.

Jacques’s life is perfect. He is a guy who has everything he needs and more, and on top of that, he has so much potential.

 

“And here’s a portrait of me,” his mother says to me one day during group counseling, as she stretches out her long, graceful arm to show me a rather realistic drawing in chalk pastel.

I take the drawing and look closely, so closely that I can see the tiny bumps in the paper.

Every detail of the drawing is so precise and so perfect that if I had seen the picture from across the room, I would have been sure it was a photograph.

“Wow,” I say. “You’ve got some serious talent, Jacques!”

Jacques’s face remains stony and cold. He looks away towards the door.

“That’s what we keep telling him,” says the mom. “He’s been such a little prodigy all his life, and now that he’s old enough for college, we keep trying to get him into a good art school, but he just doesn’t seem motivated. He’s hardly ever home… He goes out at 9PM and doesn’t stumble back into the house until noon the next day. He won’t tell us where he’s been, and half the time, he won’t even talk to us. The rest of the time, he sits up there in his room, doing these incredible drawings, yet he refuses to let us get him into a good school! I just can’t win!”

Every sentence out of her mouth is higher pitched than the one before. Her face is turning red as her voice stretches higher and higher, threatening to break. Her eyes are glassy with tears.

Turning to Jacques, I clear my throat, trying to focus on him, and not his poor, crying mother.

“What do you want out of life?” I ask him. “What are your goals? Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?”

Jacques grunts.

“Probably either in the mirror, or in photos,” he says. “It would be way too creepy if I saw myself walking around, or something.”

My eyes roll before I can stop them.

“You know very well that’s not what I mean,” I say, flatly.

 Jacques’s eye peeks out from behind his mess of hair, studying me.

“When you were little,” I press, “What did you want to be when you grew up?”

Jacques shrugs and his eye disappears back into his hair.

“I dunno,” he says. “Probably dead.”

At this, his mom reaches out and slaps him hard in the face. He cringes.

Don’t you ever say anything like that again!” she hisses.

Jacques, after unfolding from his cringe, shakes his head, slowly.

“Everyone dies someday, mother. I’m just looking forward to it, is all.”

Suddenly, and loudly, the poor woman begins to sob. She reaches out to try and hug her son, who pushes her away.

“Where did I go wrong with you!?” she cries. “What didn’t we give you that you needed!?”

Jacques, blank-faced, shrugs his shoulders.

“It’s nothing to do with you or dad,” he tells her in an almost bored tone. “I’m just a waste of a person. There’s nothing really good about me, and I don’t contribute anything decent into the world.”

“But…!” Jacques’s mother reaches out with the small stack of drawings, as if presenting evidence.

“This is bullshit,” says Jacques, grabbing the papers and tearing them in half. Then in quarters. Then eighths. Tinier and tinier, he tears the papers, transforming them into confetti, which falls to the floor of my office.

At this, the mother stands, her blouse soaked in tears, and leaves the room.

It was at that moment that I, for the first time in my history as a therapist, wanted to punch a patient square in the jaw.

It took every ounce of my stamina to restrain myself, and shaking life a leaf, I asked the one question I could manage to choke out.

“Do you even care what you’re doing to that poor woman?”

“I ain’t doing s**t to her,” says Jacques. “It’s her fault I was born.”

My bottom lip quivers in disgust.

“This appointment is over,” I growl. “Go home, cool off, and apologize to your mother. She doesn’t deserve that type of treatment.”

He shrugs, stands up apathetically, and exits my office without a word, leaving me all alone with the confetti that was once a stack of beautiful drawings.

Like I said- so much potential, bound and gagged by apathy.

 

I saved those little pieces of torn up paper in a jar, and on days when it’s slow or boring, like today, I try to piece them back together.

“Good afternoon; Dr. Vasquez’s office!” The secretary chants into the phone. She pauses. “Alright, thank you!”

The intercom on my desk phone beeps, and the secretary, Holly, is telling me that my 4 o’clock just canceled.

“Thank you, Holly.”

I bring my head even closer to my desk, inspecting all the pieces of paper, like a puzzle with multiple layers. The eyes, the lips… Those things are the easiest to figure out.

Everything else is just feeling your way along the walls of a dark room. Playing by ear.

You stare at the pieces for too long, and they stop being pieces. They become raw data. Binary.

You stare at them even longer, and you start to feel your soul slipping into a deep sleep.

But you’ll never ask yourself what the point is.

You’ll never question your motives. You’ll just keep going, staring at all the pieces, searching for a match.

Something yellow moves, distracting me, and then, they’re just torn up sheds of paper once again.

The yellow thing�"a flower petal, floats down onto the pile. Yellow, like the color of every beautiful woman’s hair, but not the color of my own.

I pick up the petal, turning it over between my fingertips. Yellow reminding me of blonde reminds me of Alice, who I haven’t spoken to in a few days since her episode… and somewhere in there is where I realize that Alice has a spare key to my apartment. I gave it to her in case of emergency, and just the same, I always had her spare, too… Right up until she and Floyd moved in together. Now they each have a key, and no one needs me.

Picking up the phone on my desk and holding it lazily between my ear and shoulder, I dial Alice’s number.

The line rings a few times before Alice picks up, sounding slightly congested.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Alice. It’s Miranda.”

Alice coughs.

“Oh…” she says. “How… um. How are you?”

“I’ve had more interesting days,” I tell her. “How are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m…” she pauses. “I’m alive, anyway. You see, I went to sleep that night like you told me and didn’t listen to that song anymore. But when I woke up the next day, I didn’t feel differently, so I had to listen to it some more. I know you think I’m stupid, or crazy, but I know this is real!”

For a moment, I don’t speak, unsure of how to respond. And then, I change the subject.

“Hey,” I say. “I don’t suppose you used my spare key recently?”

“What? No, I don’t think so… why…?”

I sigh. I was so sure I’d finally solved this crappy mystery.

“Oh… Just because some creeper got into my house the other day and left flowers, is all.”

Alice laughs hoarsely.

“I don’t know if that’s creepy or cute,” she says. “But anyway… Um…” Alice hesitates for a moment. “In case you… care, or whatever, the vision thing is getting a little bit clearer every time. It’s starting to have this really familiar feeling that I can’t describe.”

I frown, letting my head hang down over my chest.

“Al, you really shouldn’t let that deal get to you so much… I know that it seems real. I know, trust me. That’s why paranoid schizophrenics have so much trouble telling what’s real and what’s in their mind.”

“I’m not schizophrenic,” says Alice, with a slight sniffle.

“I know you’re not, honey. I know. I just don’t want to see you tear yourself apart over this. You have so much to be happy for. You’ve got a beautiful new apartment with a great view, and you have an awesome boyfriend who loves you a lot. Not to mention, you’re gorgeous and perfect. Maybe you should just enjoy all that stuff and not fall apart over something in a song.”

“I have to go,” Alice tells me, suddenly. “You’ve always been a good friend to me, but right now I need your support more than ever. Please just try to believe me, Miranda. I’ll talk to you later.”

Without saying goodbye, she hangs up the phone in my ear.

Hanging up my own phone, I frown down at the many, many pieces of broken people, and realize how ironic this is.

Me, fixing broken people, as always.

Because that’s what I do. I fix people. I fix everyone. I get paid to fix people who don’t have someone like me in their lives already.

I’ve spent my whole life piecing people back together…

But no one ever even picks up my pieces, much less put them back in place.

 

I’m such a wreck.

 

 

 



© 2012 Ocularfracture


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Added on April 10, 2012
Last Updated on April 10, 2012
Tags: psychological, trigger song, music, vision, premonition, friends, mental, crazy psychosis, therapist, drawings, torn apart


Author

Ocularfracture
Ocularfracture

Bennington, NE



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I've been writing since I learned how. I'm not saying that 5-year-old work was any good. All's I'm sayin' is that the passion has been there as far back as I can remember. My mother always read me sto.. more..

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