Authors: Jennah Scott
Tags: #Young Adult
“Yes, it is hard to leave. I think you understand that, even if you don’t want to admit it.”
“I don’t understand it. And it pisses me off. How can I leave if I know she’s not okay?”
“Do you want to leave?” Again with the questions she knew the answers to.
“Fuck…” Dr. G scowled at my use of profanity and I sank deeper into the couch. “I’m sorry. Yes, I want to leave. You know that.” How did she always manage to turn everything back to me? Fine, I’d keep things on track. I didn’t want to talk about mom, this morning or me. “Anyway, I was pissed and left. When I hadn’t calmed down by lunch I joined a bunch of guys for a basketball game.
Brandt, the guy I beat up, was on my team. We were winning and throwing shots at each other, just messing around.
The next thing I know I’m standing over him with bloodied knuckles and a busted lip. Sgt. McGruff…”
Dr. Greenberg narrowed her eyes at me. “You
be respectful in my office.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine, Officer Belmont,” sarcasm dripped from my voice. “Took me to the station and let me call you. The only thing he said was that I better hope Brandt’s parents didn’t press charges.” I raked my fingers through my hair. “That’s all I remember. Swear.”
Dr. Greenberg paused, her pencil tapping. Silence encased the room, smothering me.
“Um…” I started, but Dr. Greenberg held up a finger stopping me before I could go further.
“Give me just a minute please.”
I settled my hands in my lap and my foot jumped up and down.
Dr. Greenberg placed her hand atop my knee. “Stop. Now listen to me, very carefully. This is the third fight you’ve gotten into this month. So far you’ve been lucky, and no one has pressed charges. Officer Belmont is right; you should hope that Brandt’s parents don’t pursue this.
You’re at risk of being locked up every time if we don’t figure this out. Neither I nor Stacey will be able to help you get out.” She scribbled on her notepad and muttered under her breath, “Going to have to talk to Stacey about that, too.”
“Look, Dr. Greenberg, I know all of this. You tell me the same thing every week. I don’t mean for it to happen, and no one seems to know how to help me. Do you have something new you can tell me, or are we done for the day?”
“Luke, I won’t tell you again to be respectful of me and others in my office. I am trying to help you, but considering you can’t remember anything, there isn’t much help I can offer. That lunch I attended today,” she paused for me to acknowledge her statement, I gave a quick nod before she continued, “That was with some of my colleagues. I called them to see if they could help me help you. That being said, you won’t get an attitude with me, or accuse me of not trying to help you. Do we understand each other Mr. Sullivan?” Dr. Greenberg put just enough power behind her words, I had no doubt she meant business.
It wasn’t the first time I’d broken Dr. Greenberg’s rule of respect. I tried very hard to keep the frustration and anger out of my voice, but sometimes my control slipped. In the beginning she gave me calming techniques that worked only every other time, if I was lucky. Now, she skipped the calming techniques and went straight for the lecture and hidden threat, the threat of dismissing me as a patient.
My stomach clenched at the thought. I wrung my hands and wiped them against my thighs.
“There might be something that would help.” I whispered, embarrassed and ashamed for what I’d done. Dr. Greenberg’s wheels squeaked as she moved closer to the couch. Warm fingers rested on my hands.
I shook my head and counted backwards from ten then twenty. Dr. Greenberg never said a word; I concentrated on her steady breathing. That seemed to help, and I wanted to be as calm as possible. The incident with Stacey in the lobby was the first time I’d been able to bring myself back from the brink-much less remember anything.
“I almost hit Stacey today.” Dr. Greenberg’s hand tightened around mine, but I continued as if I felt nothing. “She went cold on me, wouldn’t talk to me, when I approached her she started to ignore me. Then rather than act like she always does, she went all professional like I was just another client.”
just another client.”
“I wish I wasn’t,” I murmured and shrugged my shoulders.
Dr. G cleared her throat, but didn’t acknowledge my admission. “And that upset you?
“Well yeah, I mean it hurt, but I wasn’t mad.”
“So why did you almost hit my assistant, Luke?”
“I don’t know why. I just know that she called me Mr. Pierce and my vision filled with black and red spots. My fists tightened and I pulled my arm back. When I focused on her, she looked like a ghost and her eyes looked like they’d pop out of her head any minute.”
“What happened next? How did you calm down?”
“I tried that stupid trick you told me about. You know, focusing on something else and counting. Anyway, I forced myself to look at the practice name on the wall behind her, and between each letter I counted back from five.
At last my vision cleared and I found I could look at Stacey without wanting to hurt her.” I took a deep breath and let out a strangled sound. “Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I need to apologize to Stacey. I’m such a bastard. Just like my fucking stepfather. I hate Dave. Hate him.” My hands twitched and my head throbbed.
“Luke. Luke, look at me.” Dr. Greenberg’s voice whispered through my mind. It took effort, but I finally pulled my gaze to her. “Good. That’s good. Focus on my voice.” My breathing slowed, but I kept my eyes locked on Dr. Greenberg. “Okay, this helps. This is good. You don’t need to apologize to Stacey just yet. That can wait until we’re done here. Besides, I’m sure you’ve already done that.
Listen to me. You’re not like your stepfather. Luke, you have a problem. I’m not exactly sure what it is yet, but I have an idea. I just want to explore it a little more. Okay.” I tilted my head at Dr. Greenberg, not quite a nod, but acceptance nonetheless.
“I believe Dave may be the trigger to your outbursts. It seems reminders of him affect you more than you realize. What I’m not sure about is what’s been happening at school. You never mention Dave then. ” I didn’t move, my jaw tightened and I turned away from her.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it right now. But Luke, we’re going to have to talk about Dave. Do you understand?” No response, I sat frozen to the couch. “Okay, I’m going to go out front and talk to Stacey. We’re done for the day. You take as long as you need to regain your composure in here. I don’t have any more appointments this afternoon.”
Dr. Greenberg gave me a soft pat on the back before walking out of her office. I continued to sit there, too scared to talk about Dave. Fear, not anger, took over this time.
I shuffled down the hallway to the lobby at the front of the building. My head hung low, ashamed and angry. Right before stepping out I caught the faint sound of whispers, one a quick, frantic, high-pitched voice and the other a lower, more methodical voice.
Both voices distinct, I recognized them immediately as Dr. G and Stacey. My shuffle slowed to a creep before I stopped at the corner and settled against the wall. I paced my breathing and strained my ears to hear what they were saying.
“Stacey, you don’t have to defend him. I know he can’t control his reactions sometimes. It’s something we have to work on. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held responsible.”
“Dr. Greenberg, I’m not defending him. It’s just that I know better than that. You’ve told me over and over not to trigger a patient’s emotional hot buttons. Mr. Sullivan doesn’t like his stepfather, and I should have known mentioning it was a hot button. Please don’t discharge him. It was my fault. Really.” Her voice shook and she sniffled.
Dr. Greenberg grumbled and my shoulders stiffened. She was going to discharge me. Damn it all to hell. Once again I was going to be shunned by the people I thought cared about me.
Without a doubt, I knew it was time to go. Rather than wait around for someone to pick me up, and risk hearing more of the conversation I had no interest in, I rushed to the front door not taking a moment to blink before hitting the wet pavement.
The slosh of rain as cars drove by shocked me back into awareness. It wasn’t raining when I’d come in. Without an umbrella or jacket it didn’t take long for me to become soaked by the downpour. I ducked under the awning just outside Dr. Greenberg’s office and fumbled around paper and coins in my jeans pockets until my fingers clutched my phone. I needed a ride back to school. Not that I had anyone to call. When Stacey joined me under the awning I refused to acknowledge her. I’d walk home before I asked her for a ride.
Once again a haze clouded my eyes. I took a deep breath and held it. Stacey placed her hand on my shoulder and I stepped to my left, letting her hand fall to her side. I couldn’t handle pity. It would have sent me over the top, and I wasn’t about to hurt her.
“What do you want?” I pushed out between gritted teeth.
“Will you let me take you home?”
I pivoted on my foot to look at Stacey. At a few inches over five feet she hit me right under the collarbone, so I had to look down at her. “I heard you talking to Dr. Greenberg. She’s right you know.”
Stacey squinted at me and bunched up her shoulders. “Right about what?”
“You. Me. You aren’t responsible for my actions.”
“No, I’m not.
But I’ve worked with Dr. Greenberg long enough to know what to do. I messed up. I know the consequences for making mistakes.”
I repositioned myself so my side rested against the building then crossed one foot over the other.
“I don’t need your help.”
“Who’s picking you up?” Stacey reached out, but pulled back at the last second.
“No one. I’m walking.”
Stacey straightened her shoulders and tucked a few stray hairs behind her ear. She softened her voice, “Luke. I don’t know why you’re being so stubborn. Please let me take you home.”
I considered her offer. The rain fell in sheets around us. If I walked home my wet clothes would piss off Dave. I laughed at the entertainment value of that, but figured the benefits didn’t outweigh the consequences. Dave was a mean son of a bitch, but there’d been enough drama for the day already. The desire for more was nonexistent.
If Stacey took me home, my mother’s interrogation would begin the moment I stepped foot through the door. Who brought me home? Is she nice? Was I dating her? Another bit of drama I could do without. Either way the odds weren’t in my favor. If the principal followed course, my parents already knew about the fight and trip to the station. Yep, it was going to be a very long night.
“Fine, might as well be dry when I get home. It’ll make the beating easier.” I said with a sigh. “I need to get my car from school.”
Stacey turned away from me, back to the lobby. “You know, you’re awfully dramatic considering the badassery vibe you give off. I just want to help, Luke. I’ll go where you tell me to go.”
Only three people knew what happened behind closed doors at the Pierce house, and two of them didn’t care. Stacey didn’t know, and wouldn’t if I had a say in it. If she ever found out, life as I knew it would change. That idea didn’t make me happy. Sure, I wanted things to change. I wanted Dave to quit beating the shit out of my mom and leave me the hell alone. But I didn’t want to bare all to everyone. The idea of telling over and over what happened at home only pissed me off. It was personal, no one else needed to know. Not until I knew how to get mom out of there unharmed.
I followed Stacey through the front door to her desk. Rather than grab her things and take me home right away, she sat back in her seat and pulled her headset on.
“Umm, aren’t you going to take me home?”
“Yes, but I’m not done for another two hours. Have a seat. When I’m done I’ll take you home.”
“I should’ve known. Ok, then I’m going to get some food. Do you want anything?” Stacey shook her head and answered the incoming call.
Two hours later Stacey and I were on the way to my house.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Doing what? Taking you to your car?” Her eyes didn’t veer from the road.
I stared out the windshield. I didn’t want to see the look on Stacey’s face, afraid of what it would tell me. Her voice was even, empty of emotion. She was a nice person and dropping me off was a nice thing to do. That was all.
“I shouldn’t be.” In my peripheral vision I saw Stacey glance away from the road to look at me before she continued. “But you needed a ride, and I thought it’d be nice.”
“Stace,” I paused.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
Stacey inhaled a sharp breath. Whether it was in surprise or disgust I wasn’t sure. I knew the question was stupid, but I’d asked anyway. There weren’t many people that seemed to care about me, and I liked Stacey. I liked her no nonsense attitude when it came to work, and wanted to know what she was like once she stepped away from behind her desk. Sure she was in college and I was in high school, but she was only a couple of years older. Guys dated older girls all the time, or so I hoped. Mike, a friend at school, said he’d been dating a college chick. Said the parties were kick ass too.
“Ummm, no. I’m not seeing anyone.”
I sighed. Maybe luck was on my side after all. “So would you be, uh, interested, I mean.” What the hell was wrong with me? Just ask her on a damn date.