My first impression of the therapist’s office is how clingingly clean it is. A woman takes me from the front desk and places me in a big room with a lot of windows. The furniture is neat and a smell of cleaning products cling to my chair’s leather. I’m sure that the room was designed to calm a patient’s nerves. But my palms are still as damp and sweaty as ever.
I hear the door behind me click open, then shut. A man steps past me and settles in the chair across from mine. He reaches his hand out towards me and tells me his name is Doctor Roberts.
I guess this is it. I am officially in need of psychological treatment.
“How are you feeling today Penelope?” he starts off.
“To be completely, utterly honest – I’m not that great,” I say.
My therapist cracks a teeny smile and I take in the looks of him: grey hair and wrinkled face. He looks like the therapists in the TV shows and like he’s been doing this thing for a long time. I guess that’s good. I’m going to talk to this man more than a dozen of times in the near future.
“I appreciate your honesty,” Doctor Roberts says. “Can you tell me why you’re not feeling that great?”
“Well, first off there’s the fact that my boyfriend is in a coma, but then there’s also my best friend and another guy who are basically brain-dead. And the thing about how it’s all my fault.”
“How come you think it is your fault?”
“I was driving the car.”
“How does that convict you guilty?”
“I was driving the car.”
The therapist is keeping his clear eyes on me. “I’m sure you know that I’m only supposed to ask you the questions and let you talk, Penelope, but my methods tend to differ from other psychologists’. I understand that you think this is your entire fault, but please take this into consideration: there’s more than one factor that causes someone to fail. Accidents don’t happen because someone is acting in stupidity. You loose your grip of the expensive china plate because its material is slippery smooth – not because it is your natural instinct to drop it. You burn the food because something more important was craving your attention – not because you forgot about the chicken in the oven. What do you think of this?”
My mind is wrapped in a sudden perplexity and I feel my fingers going numb. I blink for a moment before I answer.
“I’m not really sure what exactly you’re trying to tell me,” I say, “but if you’re claiming this is not my fault, then you are terribly, terribly wrong. You see, these people had very bright futures and I was looking forward to sharing that with them. We were closer than most. But I screwed up. I don’t care about being alone, but I care about being the only one left. I was the one who drove us into the tree. That’s why it’s not fair I’m the only one still standing.”
When I again lift my face to focus on Doctor Roberts, I see a hint of something in his face. Satisfaction.
I realize that I’ve said too much. The therapist in front of me will have stuff to work on with me now. But it’s also stuff I don’t really want to evolve any further. Like most other things these thoughts are meant to keep inside my head.
For the next 26 minutes I keep a very straight face throughout his questions.