Authors: L. Duarte
For this reason alone, it was goddamn hard to come to therapy. Then, I get here and she expects me to continue to spill my guts out. No fucking way. I learned my lesson last week. I left here raw and vulnerable. I’m not exposing myself that way again. I don’t care how pissed she is. I don’t even care if she “drops my ass.”
I see Will’s car approaching. I toss the cigarette out and, before he comes to a complete stop, my hand reaches for the door. I want away from the depth of the golden flecks inside her startling green eyes.
“Wow, you okay?” Will asks when I bang the car door closed.
“I’m not asking how it went.”
“She gets on my nerves too. Thank God, she has never been my therapist.”
“What can I say? She knows what she is doing.” He laughs proudly, the idiot. It must to be real fun seeing people miserable.
“Yeah, it’ll get better.”
If he knew the source of my frustration, he would punch me instead of laugh.
Shit, I have to find a way to satisfy her probing questions without saying too much. Now that’s going to be a challenge.
I LOOK AT Tarry sprawled on the chair in front of me. He laces his fingers together. Every other minute he glances at his watch. He might think he has me fooled.
For the last two weeks, he has pretended to engage in the sessions. But, his answers were superficial without any insight or depth to his real feelings. I sigh. It’s been almost three weeks of counseling without any indication of catharsis. I hope Dad can do better with him.
“Today was our last session. Dad is coming home sooner than expected. He’ll be home on Saturday, so he’ll see you next week.”
“Are you available tomorrow evening?” I ask.
“Are you asking me on a date?” He almost smiles. “’Cause if you think I’m coming back for extra therapy, you are delusional and in serious need of psychological help.”
I turn crimson red.
“No, not therapy. Not a date. Tomorrow evening I’m going to a kickboxing class. I thought it would do you good to exercise.”
“Nah, I’m good. I’ll pass.” He exhales. “You didn’t tell Portia, did you?”
“Yeah, sort of,” I confess, biting my lip.
“Shit, she’ll hound me if I don’t at least try.” He looks at me as if I just offered him to a sacrificial fire.
“Pick you up at six?” I say before he thinks of an excuse.
SCRATCHING MY CHEST, I glare at the full-length mirror. I’m usually unconcerned about my appearance, but I look like shit. The pair of shorts I’m wearing is at least a size bigger than I currently wear. My face is boney and pale. Damn, I look like a ghost. Nervous as hell too.
The knock at the door startles me. Shit, I feel like a chick every time I startle.
“Coming.” I grab my wallet and a bottle of water.
Earlier today when I told Portia I was going to the gym, she beamed with joy and shoved the bottle of water in my hands. She has turned into a mother hen.
“Hi, are you ready?” Mel asks when I open the door. I swallow hard. Damn, she looks hot. Her tight outfit reveals every curve of her sculptured body.
“Are you still coming?” she asks, unsure, since dumbass here was rendered speechless.
“Sure, I mean, I don’t seem to have much of a choice these days,” I say, closing the door and following her. With her hair pulled in a ponytail, honey curls bounce up and down as she walks. I try my damn hardest not to check out her ass. My pulse speeds. Who needs a cardio kickboxing class? Seeing Mel’s ass is enough to make my heart race.
“You always have a choice, Tarry,” she says. I hear the implication in her voice. She looks over her shoulders. “Here.”
I glance at her just in time to catch the car keys flying my way.
“You want me to drive?” I scowl.
“You still have a valid license, right?”
“Yeah, I do.” I shrug and open the driver’s side door.
“Just don’t drive into a pool. This baby is not fully insured.”
“Sure, I’ll restrain myself. Though Will would really like the idea.” I smile as I adjust the seat and rearview mirror.
“Head toward downtown,” she instructs me. She adds with a smile, “Will is just a hater.”
I turn the key and the engine sputters to life. It’s nowhere close to driving a Ferrari, but I can almost enjoy this mundane task.
“Hmm, that’s funny, but I can’t remember the last time I drove.” I frown, pulling out of the driveway.
“In my case, I drive pretty much all day long. It gets exhausting after a while.”
“Where is Ella?” I ask.
“She has a sleep over at Pop’s house.”
“Tim’s dad,” she explains.
“She’s really sweet, you know.”
“Yeah, she’s an awesome kid. I’m very fortunate. Turn right at the stop sign, then at the third light turn right,” she says. Her hand fiddles with the radio, settling on a station.
“What should I expect?”
“Sweat and a drill sergeant. Lucas is awful. But the good news is I got you a free week’s pass.” She gleams, and I restrain from rolling my eyes.
“Yay, I also don’t remember the last time I worked out.”
“You’ll be fine. Slow down and pull over into the plaza on the left.”
I park the car across from a sign that reads Groove Martial Arts and Adult Fitness Center.
Mel throws her gym bag over a shoulder. We enter the building and Mel points to the office. She knocks at the door, and glances my way.
“Come in.” I recognize Lucas’s voice. Back when Portia got married, I stayed at his house. He is Will and Mel’s cousin.
“Hey, Lucas.” She beckons me to follow her.
“Hi, coz. Hey, Tarry. It’s been a while not seeing you.” Lucas flashes me a wide smile.
“Yeah, man. Good to see you again.” I shake his outstretched hand.
“I’m glad you made it.”
“Here is a flyer for a free week.” Mel hands him a coupon.
He grabs a clipboard and hands it to me. “You need to fill out your info, sign the waiver, and we’ll be good to go.”
I quickly scribble my info and hand it back to him.
He glances at the application. “I see you haven’t worked out in a while. Just do your best to keep up.” He shoots me a wicked smile, and I immediately know I’m in for trouble. “Go ahead and begin to stretch.”
“I want you moving your lazy ass today, Mel.” He smacks her behind. She squeaks and laughs. Oh, I wish to cup that ass.
“Hey, don’t start.” She pushes him away and turns to leave.
I follow Mel to the floor. Damn, her ass is so tight in those pants. I try to focus on something else, but my traitor’s eyes keep going back to her round, perfect derriere.
“Have you ever taken a cardio kick class?” She sits on the floor and pulls her leg up to her chest. Focus, Tarry.
“No, I used to have a personal trainer.”
“Oh, of course.” She switches legs, and I just copy whatever she doing.
We silently continue the stretch. The room begins to fill. Some people do a double take with me. I will myself to turn invisible. I can’t deal with people’s shit today. I want to maintain a conversation with Mel. Just so I can hear her soothing voice. But like an idiot, I don’t know what to say.
An upbeat song blasts out of the room’s huge speakers. Oh, boy, let the fun begin.
THE WARM-UP GETS Tarry breathless. I question my decision to bring him here. Worse, I regret trapping him into coming. When I mentioned the class to Portia, I anticipated she would force him to come. Exercise is the most effective treatment for depression and the least prescribed.
Honestly, I’ve never seen someone as broken as Tarry. He has lost the will to live. That’s a dangerous place. I realize the court orders for him to participate in therapy will not help him much if he doesn’t snap out of his major depression.
“Come on, guys. Push it. Push it. Make it count.” Lucas encourages his class from the front of the room as the workout intensifies.
My eyes flicker toward Tarry. I must give it to him, for someone so unfit, he’s kicking ass.
“Get some water, pair up, and drag a punching bag stand.” Lucas orders.