Thursdays, pt. 1 (edited)
*WARNING* Some mature thematic content. There is mention of drugs and other forms of abuse, which is obviously not put in a positive light. It's a pretty dark storyline, but the story itself is not particularly dark, if that makes sense.
“I just feel so restrained, you know,” Kayla said imploringly to her new acquaintance. When she didn’t get a response, she twisted her thin shoulders to face him. “You know?” she repeated.
Jake nodded, because he did know, but he also knew that she didn’t, really. Satisfied with his recognition, Kayla sank back into the maroon couch.
“My parents just don’t get me. My mom expects me to be home for dinner every night.” She threw her hands up in the air with exasperation. “Guess what, Mom? I have a life, too.”
“That must be suffocating,” Jake said robotically. He silently willed the door to open and call on one of them. He needed to get away from this girl.
Kayla twisted back around to face him. These were the most words he had said to her since he asked what her name was thirty minutes ago. “It is. I just feel like nothing I do will ever be enough for her. I come home five minutes after curfew and it’s like the apocalypse.
I’m a good kid, you know. I only smoked pot once and I don’t drink that much. You would think that would be enough for them. Now they’re sending me to a shrink for my ‘wild behavior’,” she made quotation marks in the air with her fingers. “Ha! Whatever. When I get out of here, I’m moving to Cali. Probably L.A. It’s my soul city. What’s your soul city?”
Jake sighed before answering. “I’ve never thought about a soul city.”
Kayla clapped her manicured hands over her mouth as if this were a shock. “We’re totally going to find out right now,” she squealed as she pulled out her iPhone. Jake thought about how he could just say “no thanks”, but he was too nice of a guy for that.
“…Okay, okay, okay, got it. The first question is: if you could pick your last meal, which would it be—pizza, salad, steak, or enchiladas?”
Jake had just opened his mouth to ask how in the world this related to which city he belonged in, when the door finally opened and Henry poked his head out. Jake had never been more relieved to see those dark framed glasses. Henry looked at both of them before animatedly reading the clipboard in his hand.
Jake sprung out of his spot on the couch. Kayla was making a whining noise. “Well, maybe next time. See you, Jake!”
“Yeah, bye,” Jake said hurriedly, following Henry.
“Did you get her number?” Henry asked after the door had closed. “I made a point of making you not look like a regular.”
“She was crazy. I don’t need her number,” Jake scoffed.
“I beg to differ…shoot, light went out again,” he said as they approached a dark spot in an otherwise fluorescent hallway. “I think it’s the wiring…anyway, what was I saying?”
“Nothing worth listening to,” Jake said.
Henry smiled as they approached the usual room. “That seems highly unlikely.” He opened the door. “Doc will be in to see you in a minute.”
Jake walked into the familiar room—deep brown walls and an office chair directly across from a hideous maroon recliner. “See you, Henry,” he said as the door closed.
Jake meandered over to the recliner and sat down. As he leaned back into the recliner, he realized that this hour every Thursday was the best part of his week, and that made him feel sadder than he already knew he was. He shut his eyes.
He heard Doctor Rob Fisher open the door and stroll in, and the wrinkle of fabric when he sat across from him. “You seem relaxed today,” he said.
“Not relaxed, just tired,” Jake replied. “You would be, too, if you had to listen to that girl in the lobby for the past half hour.”
“I can’t just be tired by that, that’s my job,” he remarked lightly.
“I hate to tell you this, because I know that you’ve really been prepping me all these years, but I’m never going to be a shrink,” Jake said, eyes still closed.
“What a bitter disappointment,” the doctor said, and Jake heard the smile in his voice. He opened his eyes and sat up, leaning over onto his knees.
“Alrighty, Fisher, what major childhood issues are we going to confront today? I’m really trying to face my own insecurities head on so as to avoid disappointment later.”
Fisher smiled and rubbed his beard. Jake liked it when he did that.
“That sounds like a plan. Should we talk about your mother or your sister today?”
“Let’s go for both. A double whammy. Why not throw Dad in there, too? Let’s get this over with so I can move on with my life.” Jake was lying. He wouldn’t have minded staying in this room for the rest of his years.
“All right. Let’s start as we always do. On a scale of 1-10, what is your pain level?” He positioned his clipboard and pen.
“Right now? A 7. This week? Somewhere between an 8 and a 9,” Jake said routinely.
Fisher wrote down the numbers and then set his clipboard aside. “How’s it going, Jake?”
Jake stared at him. “Didn’t I just tell you? A 7?”
Fisher shrugged. “Numbers are generally irrelevant. I just ask that question because I have to. How’s college treating you?”
He shrugged. “Solid Cs in everything but English. I’m making As in English. That class is ridiculous. Nobody knows anything. The professor teaches like we’re all in the sixth grade.”
“Are you meeting any friends?”
“I have friends.”
“Are you meeting any other friends?”
“No. I mean, we work together on some group projects but we don’t hang out outside of that.”
Fisher paused. “What is it, Rob? We know each other on a pretty personal level now,” Jake said teasingly.
Jake snorted loudly. “You and Henry both! Henry has been trying to hook me up with a different girl in the lobby every week. I’m pretty sure that if she’s in a shrink’s office, she’s not my type.”
Fisher smiled. “What’s wrong with going to a shrink?”
Jake shrugged. “All I’m saying is that I could end up with a dead squirrel shoved in my mailbox. It’s a scary world we live in.”
Fisher chuckled but sobered quickly. “Are you still seeing Amélie?”
Jake froze. She was right in front of him; her short black hair, the tired circles under her eyes, the oversized Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and worn converse. She smiled at him sadly.
“No. I don’t see her.” Jake could tell from the way Fisher was looking at him that he knew he was lying. He was grateful when the doctor looked down at his chart again.
“Any other dreams? Anything specific you want to discuss?”
Jake thought for a minute. He wanted to tell him about how his dad had been showing up again, wielding a cracked baseball bat in one hand and his sister’s bruised body in the other. He wanted to tell him about how his mom had been getting worse since she got out of rehab, how she had started using again. He wanted to tell him about how Amélie was really back, that she was there with every mention of her name, every riff of a guitar, every wafting scent of cigarette smoke.
“No, I think I’m okay. Thanks, Fisher.”