“This is called transference,” she says.
“What is called transference?” I ask.
“This.” She points to her chest and then to mine and I start to laugh.
* * *
She hides behind prescription pads and the latest DSM. I sit on a plush cushion thing, opposite of her, and stare at her tits because they are bad at hide and seek. She shouldn’t wear sheer J. Crew tops to work. It isn’t appropriate. It doesn’t help that I have something called hormones either. They chant a phrase on loop. Look at those melons look at those melons look at those—and I can’t help but look.
“Grant, do understand that this can’t happen.”
I nod and they bob as my head goes up and then down and up again. She sighs.
“I’m going to have to refer you to a colleague of mine. He’s very well known in the medical community and has had several articles published.”
“Where have these articles been published? Which journals?” I ask.
I know her and she knows me. Her lips become stiff and she starts to shake her head. She knows I don’t care about the articles. She definitely knows.
“How long have you two been fucking?” I ask.
“I want to know where this doctor publishes his works.”
“Don’t bother. I’ll make our last session easy on you and refrain from using any more obscenities.”
“This doesn’t have to be our last session.”
I feel her waiting for me to say something. This makes me not want to say anything.
“And anyway, you aren’t hard on me,” she says.
“Yeah, but you always get me hard.”
She frowns and her eyes do this moving thing and I think of the rollercoaster at that park by home. Is it still there? I don’t know. She’s about to give up on me. That much I can see. It must be rusty if it is. Probably a safety hazard. All the kids in the neighborhood used to sneak in at night and climb it. I wonder if any of them are dead now. I wonder if they are still here. I put on a devilish smile, one that shows the teeth I had whitened last Thursday. I can’t stand having yellow teeth.
“Well if I do go, I’ll stop. I promise,” I say.
Things go silent and this is my favorite part of the shrinky dinky. I call it that because that’s what my grandma calls it. She wishes me luck before each session and reminds me that therapy only works if you are completely honest. I ignore her and fuck with Doc.
I do the same things each week. I stare at her tits and tell her I’m down when all I am is up. The blood rushes and I am hyperaware of my veins and stuff. She asks me about my parents, school, where I see myself, and my girlfriend. I deny having one even though I do or did. Somehow she knows this.
Quiet moments like this are the best because I feel her on edge. It’s like this sort game that we always end up playing. She waits for me to talk. I wait for her to talk. I know I won’t talk. She knows that she’ll have to talk.
“So, are you going to tell me?” she asks suddenly. I won, but don’t even feel that good about it.
“You already know.”
She looks at me confused and my foot slides a little bit and maybe I lost, actually. Today doesn’t feel like before. Maybe it’s because I know it’s over—that I’ll have to go. I can’t help but think that the end has this way of also beginning. It’s like worms and their two heads. Do they shit out of both ends? Or should I say beginnings?
“Janie. That’s what you want to talk about. It was seven months. We were together that long. I guess we still are, sometimes. Sometimes she tells me I look heavy and points to my gut. I don’t have a gut though. Look.”
“She also talks to her friends about my performance. I don’t know, you know? It’s just not right to talk about those types of things. It’s all we got. But anyway I blush each time and swear to her it’s the meds you give me. But I know it’s not. It just doesn’t point to her that way.”
I see her ballpoint this down in a steno that I know will later go into my file. I think about my file and all the files behind that. What will happen to this file? I wonder if the girl who comes in after me, the one with the missing upper tooth, has a larger file. I bet that she does. I just know that she does.
“What, as you say, does it point to?” she asks.
I make sure that my eyebrows do this little dance because I want her to know that I am confused by the question. I look down at my cuticles and then at my feet and then at the stain on my Levis. Bong water. I don’t know what to say. I let the silence take over again. And I think about her and how I find it amusing that she is married and doesn’t wear a wedding ring. I know she is married because once her phone went off during one of our session and the caller ID read “Babe.” That must be why she has a hyphen in her name. Her ringtone was some Tchaikovsky shit. It still is. Sometimes when I’m home alone with my head and hand I think of her calling me that. Hey Babe. Hey Babe. I bet that she knows that I think this.
“Tell me more about Janie,” she says, interrupting my fantasy.
I feel stuck again. The world moves in this circular way and things go up and down. The economy. Sharper Image went bankrupt. Who is Janie? Why do we continue to live when it hurts? One thing doesn’t have to do with the other.
“She’s a year younger than me and blonde. About five-foot-three. She has C-cups. Last week I told her I loved her and she told me to stop being such a shit. I asked her what she meant. She made this face and I apologized for telling her that I loved her, but not for loving her. It’s weird.”
“I thought you weren’t attracted to her anymore.”
“I’m not. She doesn’t love me.”
She gives me this sympathetic smile. I don’t want it though.
When I was eight years old, a skateboard hit my chocolate lab. He lived to see tomorrow and is still alive today. He is diabetic because we gave him so many treats after the accident. I don’t know. That probably isn’t why he is diabetic. When he first got hit, my father found him and rushed him to the vet. No one knew if he would live and it felt like a movie. My mom told me that animals die and it just happens sometimes, to people too. I told her that I knew that. I told her I knew that we would all die and some deaths would be painful, others instant, and I told her I knew how I was going to die. How? I told her that I would get hit by a skateboard.
“So that’s it. You just stop loving people who don’t love you back?” she asks.
“Yeah. What’s the point? I mean I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me too. I had a chemistry lab partner like that. I’ll keep trying though, I guess. At least until I’m loved or until, I don’t know.”
She waits for me to speak, but I don’t. The words get stuck in my throat somewhere.
“Or until what?” she asks.
I think of my grandma telling me to be brutally honest because it’s the only way things will ever get better. I think of Janie and how I loved her and how she didn’t love me. Our sex may have been bad. Sometimes that is enough of a reason, I guess. There is this thing, I don’t know if I should bring it up, that I often read about. Sometimes we send out these odors and that’s all that really exists. That’s probably why I brought up chemistry in the first place. I guess my partner didn’t have that smell.
I look at Doc now and she is looking at me. When we do this I forget that dad pays 300 dollars for each session. Actually, I’m not sure if I ever really forget, but it just becomes unimportant. After all, she loves Babe and that is kind of sweet and enough. It’s nice to think that she has more than me, and her books, and the landscape paintings that hang on the office walls, and the shelf full of board games for her younger patients. It’s nice to know that she has more than any of us.
Things are silent again and I’m looking for things to say. I know she won’t this time. All I can think of is my chocolate lab though and how chunky he is. I smile.