Fiction Inspirational

“Speak now,” she hears a voice whisper.

She uncrosses her legs and tugs at her hemline. She questions why she chose to wear this sundress. It is suddenly making her feel more exposed.

The woman sitting across from her repeats a question, “Lucy, what made you decide to come see me today?”

The woman speaks softly while somehow still exuding confidence. Her sleek, jet-black hair is pulled neatly into a bun, not giving away the length. She is stunning and looks elegant in a silk top that perfectly matches the summers clear blue sky. It is loosely tucked into a pair of pale gray trousers.

Lucy readjusts herself on the small sofa while the back of her legs slightly sticks to the leather cushion. She is suddenly self-conscious that she will leave sweat stains when she stands. She takes another sip from the water bottle she is tightly clutching with both hands. She hopes it will help clear her throat, although she knows that any obstruction is not a physical one.

“I want to work on my self-confidence,” Lucy finally says. She hopes the woman does not notice the tremble in her voice.

The woman removes her glasses. She gently sets them on top of a notepad in her lap while she asks, “What does self-confidence look like to you?”

Lucy feels her face flush. She hates this shit. Why did she decide to come here? She glances at the closed door behind the woman. Maybe she should just leave. Maybe she should just run right out the door. That is usually what she does when things get uncomfortable, she runs.

“Speak up,” the voice whispers a little louder.

“Um, I’m not really sure,” Lucy hears herself say.

“That’s ok,” replies the woman as she delicately rolls a pen that remains in her right hand. “Why don’t you just start by telling me a little bit about yourself.”

“FUCK!” Lucy screams the word several times but only within the confines of her own mind. Her eyes drop down and she begins to focus on one of the many white polka dots haphazardly scattered all over the red dress she has on. Her own thoughts quickly creep in and interrupt her concentration as usual. “You look fat. Your cellulite is probably showing. You should really have worn something with sleeves to cover your arms.” She tries to ignore the ongoing internal criticism.

Lucy feels the woman staring at her. She forces herself to meet her gaze as she takes a deep breath. She must remind herself to exhale. “I am 38 years old,” Lucy begins to stutter, “and I am married with two kids. They are nine and five. A boy and a girl. I am a nurse but I’m not currently working. I quit so I could take care of my mom. We moved her in with us almost a year ago. She has dementia.”

The woman continues to stare but Lucy is not sure she is being heard. After what feels like several minutes of silence, the woman speaks. “That must be extremely difficult,” the woman offers the words with a sympathetic tone.

Lucy immediately feels her eyes welling up. Instinctively she starts blinking, determined not to let a single drop escape. The welling builds inside, twisting and turning, turning to anger… to rage! “Difficult?” What does this bitch know about difficult. When you are drop-dead gorgeous and are earning $175 an hour to listen to other people’s problems, how hard can your life be!?

Lucy takes another deep breath and attempts to exhale some of the anger. It slowly seeps out. She feels herself slip back into the sadness. It is so easy to slip into, like a favorite worn sweatshirt. It is what she wears most days. Now, despite her best efforts, she feels a few tears run down her face.

The woman picks up a nearby box of tissues and offers them to her. Lucy shakes her head and reciprocates with an almost inaudible, “No thank you.” The woman replaces the box of tissues, puts her glasses back on and begins to write on the notepad that is still sitting in her lap.

“Oh god,” thinks Lucy. She wonders what she is writing about her.

“Say something,” the voice whispers now with more urgency.

Lucy has always struggled with speaking. This woman would probably tell her it has something to do with her childhood. Maybe because her dad left when she was eleven or because her mom wasn’t emotionally available. It might have something to do with not feeling seen or heard, yadda yadda yadda.

Lucy nervously pushes her hair back and it falls just past her shoulders. It is a dull brown color, the same as her eyes. She had attempted to style it this morning, but she doesn’t know why. It’s the type of hair that never holds a curl long.

The woman is still writing.

Lucy attempts to clear her throat which throws her into a coughing fit. She unscrews the cap and takes several more sips of water.

The woman sets down the pen and is watching her. There is a hint of concern on her face.

Lucy takes a final swallow. A small amount of water escapes from the corner of her mouth and dribbles down the side of her chin. She doesn’t bother to wipe it away.

“Yes,” Lucy admits as she begins to vigorously nod her head. “Yes, it is extremely difficult.” She enunciates each word slowly. Lucy pauses, letting her head and shoulders drop. She appears defeated.

The woman starts to say something but stops herself. Her usual composure is starting to crumble. She is struggling to find the words. She blurts out the only two that come to mind, “I understand.”

Lucy feels her entire body tense up. “Nobody can understand!” Her words come out somewhere between a raised voice and a full out scream. They are hurled with such a force that they knock the woman back a little.

Now… Lucy is ready to speak.

“I wake up every morning and I have to convince myself just to get out of bed. I’m worrying if I can handle the day before my feet even hit the ground. It is difficult raising kids. Each day I am aware that I am a major contributor to a page in their story. What if one day they look back at all these “pages” and blame me because they are not living their happily ever after? What if I’m fucking it all up??”

Lucy pauses again to catch her breath.

“Then, as if parenthood isn’t challenging enough,” Lucy rambles on, “I am also responsible for my 65-year-old demented mom. To say caring for someone with dementia is difficult is the understatement of the year. While my children’s pages are being written, my moms are slowly being ripped out one by one. It is a heinous disease. It steals your loved one not once, but twice. I am SO angry, SO resentful. My kids feel it and I am afraid they are forming their own resentments.”

Lucy doesn’t even attempt to stop the tears now. Again, the woman picks up the box of tissues and offers her one. This time she accepts. She dabs each eye several times.

Lucy continues. “All my energy is being poured into my children and my mom. I have nothing left for my poor husband and, needless to say, there is nothing left for myself. I am angry, I am resentful, I am scared, I am exhausted and on top of all that I feel so guilty. The guilt is almost unbearable. I never feel like I am doing enough, or I am enough.”

Lucy releases the water bottle she is still hanging onto and brings both her hands to her face. Her body makes small jerking motions as she sobs.

The woman observes in silence, holding the space for her to let go.

Lucy continues to let go for the next forty minutes. As her time with the woman is coming to an end, she takes a minute to reflect before saying, “I decided to come see you because something was telling me I needed to speak about everything that I have been feeling and holding in.”

The woman’s face softens a bit as she gently nods her head. “I’m glad you did.”

After Lucy leaves, the woman stands and walks over to a desk. She picks up a phone and dials a number she has dialed many times before. After several rings, she hears a man’s voice, “SilverCare Memory Care, how may I direct your call?”

“This is Lauren Linstrom,” the woman responds. “I was calling to see if my mom is having a good day and if I am able to speak to her?”

March 23, 2023 16:53

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