Erik Peters


“Kristen doesn’t know I’m crazy about her…”


                “No, I mean, of course not crazy, I’m not crazy. I just mean….I have such a mad crush on her.”

                “And what does having a mad crush on her feel like?”

                “Huh? I dunno…Y’know, just like, she’s super hot. But, she’s not really. I mean, I think she is, but then, like, she really isn’t. The guys all say she’s fine looking, maybe a 6, or a 7 if she’s all done up, but definitely not an 8 much less a 9. But there’s just, um, well, something about her. I’m crazy about her. If I lean back just right at my desk I can see her across the hallway. She’s always chatting with the other girls.”

                “Hmmmmm, you mean like-”

                “I dunno, she’s just like, well, super attractive.”

                “Hmm, how do you feel when you see her or think of her?”

                “I dunno, just like, super attracted. It’s almost like, chemical or something.”

                “Do you suppose it’s linked to the other things that have been troubling you?”

                “Nnnnnooooo, I don’t think so. But, well, sometimes I do get a bit obsessed. Not like, creepy or anything though. But yeah, like, I think about her all the time. And if I see she’s online I always stay on, hoping…”

                “Have you ever spoken to her?”

                “Heck no!”

                “Even online?”

                “No! What if…. What if… No, no that would be…”

                “What if? What would happen?”

                “I dunno, I’ve thought about it lots. But every time I imagine a conversation I just build it up so much in my head that… Whatever, a smart, good looking girl like that? She’d probably hate me and think I was stupid and not want to talk to me. Like, seriously, me?

                “Do you think that’s the worst that could happen?”

                “…well…um….I guess she could figure out I like her.”


                “And….then I guess she’d know.”


                “I mean, the girls might gossip… but that would probably be the end of it. I mean, we’re not little kids or anything.”

                “Hmmm, well, I think we may be getting a little bit off topic. Why don’t we return to your other concerns.”

                “Hm, yeah.”

                “But before we do that, can we try something?”

                “Well, maybe…”

                “Whenever you feel yourself thinking of her -Kristen, was it?”


                “I want you to force yourself to think something positive. It could be a past accomplishment, imagining yourself achieving a future goal, your favourite anime series, basketball, whatever. I want you to try to put a positive spin on your thinking. Can you do that?”

                “I can try.”

                “Great. Oh, and be sure to write it in your thoughts-journal, too. That will help to entrench the positivity.”

                “Yeah, yeah I’ll try.”

                “Great, thank you for sharing about Kristen. Okay, now, last week you mentioned that you had been feeling very anxious about………



                “I guess I understand that on principle… I just get stuck in these loops, y’know? Like… like it’s hard to change what I’m thinking.”

                “Did you try the redirection exercises we’ve been practising?”

                “Yeah, I did… But, well, yeah, yeah I tried them.”


                “It kinda worked, but I still get obsessed sometimes.”

                “Can you describe what happened when you tried the exercises?”

                “You mean, like, an example?”

                “Yes, if you feel up to it, that might be helpful.”

                “Yeah, yeah I can. I was online and, well, I dunno how to say this, ‘cause it sounds freakin’ creepy, but it’s not that bad. It just sounds bad. But, like, er, you remember I mentioned Kristen last week?”

                “Yes, she’s the girl you like.”

                “Yeah, well, I don’t really like-like her, I don’t really know her. But yeah, her. So I was online and then I went to look at her profile ‘cause I couldn’t stop thinking about her.”

                “Hmmm, is that something you do a lot when you are stuck? Look at her profile I mean?”

                “Um… yeah, sometimes, I mean, not all the time, but yeah, I do.”

                “Do you find there is a certain time or frame of mind when you tend to look at her profile?”

                “Um, well, when I’m thinking about her -duh. And yeah, I dunno, in the evenings when I’m alone, or first thing in the morning, before I get up. I dunno, like, sometimes at lunch, if no one’s around…”

                “Does she post a lot?”

                “No, almost never. But she’s online all the time.”

                “So if you aren’t looking at her posts, what do-”

                “I dunno, like, I just look through her pictures. She’s super hot. Here, I can show you-”

                “Oh, that’s alright, we don’t have public wifi here and I don’t want you to use up your data.”

                “No, it’s cool, I have some pictures on my…

                “We should really stay on task.”

“Oh, uhh, sorry, yeah, whatever, it’s fine.”

                “So, this week, when you were looking at Kristen’s photos, did you try some of our positive thinking and redirection routines?”

                “Oh, yeah, right. So I was looking and I tried, but it didn’t really work. Like I stopped for a while, but then she just kept coming back into my head.”

                “What did you do about that?”

                “Nothing… or, yeah, nothing really.”


                “Well, I did an image search, and found some old pictures of her and some of her other accounts and junk and… I only did that a little, then I tried the redirection thing again.”

                “Was it any more effective the second time?”

                “I guess so. Not super effective. But it helped I guess. It’s just, I wanna talk to her, but then, like… well, I… maybe I’ve just built it all up so much in my head that…”


                “I dunno, like it’s hard to imagine doing it…”

                “So, correct me if I’m wrong, the redirection didn’t work too well -you still felt trapped in a loop. What about the positive imaging? Did you try that?”

                “Yeah, yeah I did.”

                “And what happened?”

                “Well, I just imagined talking to her and like, I dunno, it did make me feel better. I thought about, like, having an interesting conversation. I pretended to talk to her about anime and then she was super interested and then we talked about basketball, and I showed her my app idea, and then, well, uh… I can’t tell you the rest ‘cause, haha, well, y’know… haha.”

                “Okay, so let me see if I’ve got this: the positivity thinking helped you feel better, but wasn’t any good at redirecting you. Is that right?”

                “Yeah. It was just kinda more of the same.”


                “But, yeah, it did make me wanna talk to her though. But I can’t imagine it actually… well… happening!”

                “I’m glad that you are feeling a bit better about yourself anyway. The positive imaging can sometimes help with that. Have you noticed any changes in your anxiety after you do it?”

                “Hmmm, lemme think…………


                “Now, when you say that you feel awkward in social situations, I am a little confused. You clearly have friends; Greg, Jason, Bob-”

                “Robby, he hates being called Bobby.”

                “Right, sorry about that. But you do have friends.”

                “Yeah, yeah I do, but I’ve known them forever. Plus they’re super busy now, so I don’t see them too much any more. And then at work and stuff it’s hard to meet new people. Like, we chat and whatever, but then, like, somehow they’re just never really what I think they’ll be… or like, I dunno how to say it, but like, what they should be, y’know?”

                “How does that make you feel?”

                “I dunno, disappointed? But work is cool and whatever.”

                “Have you tried growing any of your work relationships?”

                “A bit, but then, I dunno, my coworkers are cool, but it never really takes off. That’s fine it doesn’t need to, I guess…”

                “Do you think that there might be an opportunity outside of work -or at work- to use some of the skills we’ve been developing to help meet people?”

                “Hmmmmm, well, OH! Okay, so last Wednesday -I think it was Wednesday, no, wait, it was Thursday- I had to take my lunch late ‘cause my boss dropped these reports on my desk in the morning and said they needed to be done that day and I was hung over from watching the basketball game the night before, and then…. Hmmm? Oh, yeah, sorry. At any rate, I thought I would skip lunch and go home early, but then I saw Kristen sitting in the lunchroom, so I was like Hell yeah and went into the lunchroom and yeah… I guess that’s kinda like practicing them, ‘cause I said ‘hi’ and she said ‘hi’…”

                “How did that make you feel?”

                “It was good I guess, her voice is super nasal though, I always forget that. Oh! But then, when I was microwaving my lunch, I could see her phone and she was looking at the menu for a sushi place called Yumi Sushi. So I looked it up online: it’s a neat place. She has good taste. She must be really knowledgeable about Japan and anime and that stuff. And they have TVs there, so I bet she’s into basketball too.”

                “Hmm, well, maybe those could be conversation points. Do other people at work like sushi, or anime, or basketball?”

                “I dunno, maybe. I went to Yumi Sushi on Saturday but didn’t see her. I stayed for like two hours too, haha. But it wasn’t creepy or anything. Like, I ordered food and stuff, I wasn’t just sitting there like a creeper, hahaha!”

                “Did you meet a friend there?”

                “Nah, everyone’s busy with school, or family, or other stuff. But that’s cool, ‘cause like, I see people alone at restaurants all the time. Lots of people do it.”

                “Well, I’m glad that you got out on the weekend. I think that’s healthy.”

                “Yeah, ugh, my mum says the same thing.”

                “How did you feel after the outing?”

                “Alright, I guess. It’s probably good to get out and be with other people. Even if we don’t talk much.”

                “And if you did talk to them a little more?”

                “I dunno, it’d probably be even healthier?”

                “That’s a good thought. I agree with you. Do you think that we could  make it a goal that you see someone socially once a week?”

                “Yeah, yeah I could try that. But, yeah, I get kinda anxious when I have to do it.”

                “Well, I don’t want to pressure you, or make you feel more anxious than you already do. Would there be a way that you could prepare for social engagements that might help with this?”

                “I dunno, the exercises?”

                “Another good thought! You are learning quickly, great job. Shall we practice some?”

                “Yeah, alright………”



                “Wow, that’s great! So even when the driver was really rude to you, you didn’t start to feel anxious? That’s great news!”

                “Yeah, yeah, I was super happy about that, ‘cause I was thinking about it on the way here and anything like that usually makes me super tense.”

                “Great… So what do you think was different this time?”

                “Well, actually, I was just in a good mood all week.”

                “That is lovely to hear.”

                “Yeah, cause like, okay, so on Wednesday at work I was thinking about what you had said- that I should try to make more connections with people- and like, talk to them more and stuff.”


                “So, like I said last week, I’ve been doing all that positivity thinking and reflecting and junk, right? I mean- not junk, but stuff…the exerises. At any rate,  I was feeling kinda better, or, well, just not as crummy as usual, and Kristen had posted some pictures of her hiking on the weekend and not one single guy had liked them, only girls, so I was feeling good about that too.”

                “Wow, you certainly know her profile very well.”

                “Yeah, well, it’s not like I know it creepily well, I mean, I just looked, I don’t, like, know all the names of the people who liked her pictures off the top of my head or anything. Besides, I don’t think any of them have pictures of her on their profiles. But it was cool, cause one of the girls had a Lakers logo as her profile picture, and another posted an anime meme in the comments, so I was like, Yeah, Kristen must like anime and basketball!

                “Interesting, but I think we should return to what happened at work.”

                “Oh, yeah, sorry, it’s just that then I’d been imaging talking to Kristen and, ‘cause I’d seen all that stuff, I imagined telling her all about anime and basketball and that she was super interested in my app idea and asked all these questions and I was so casual about it and stuff… at any rate, it made me feel more confident for sure. So then, I saw her in the lunchroom and I just went right in!”

                “So, Kristen had posted recently, and this had helped you with your positive thinking. You were feeling in a better mood and so you went into the staff room with her. And that was on Tuesday.”

                “Yeah, that’s right.”

                “So what happened next?”

                “So I came in and sat at a table near her and she said hi and then we just started talking.”

                “What did you talk about?”

                “I dunno, she kinda babbled a lot. It was kinda boring.”

                “Oh? What made it boring?”

                “I dunno, she was just like, talking about work or whatever, and like complaining ‘cause the bread in her sandwich was soggy. But like, no duh, you can’t keep Subway in the fridge, it always gets gross. Plus she had like a vinaigrette dressing and green peppers on it, which was just like, eww, why would you pay for that?”

                “So she wasn’t what you thought she would be. But somehow you were still in a good mood after work when the fellow yelled at you.”

                “Oh, yeah, right, ‘cause like, I don’t really remember the conversation that well, my heart was going a mile-a-minute and I was like, whoa. But then, she said something like she likes this park or something, so I was like Oh, yeah, I live close to there, why don’t we go, there’s a neat coffee place closeby. Or something like that. And then she said we should go there and I could show her around, so I was like Yeah, that’d be fun, you free Sunday? And she was like, Yeah. So we’re going there on Sunday.”

                “Wow! Good for you! That must have taken a lot of courage.”

                “Oh, yeah, but it was a lie. Parks are boring and I don’t think I live close to the place she said.”

                “Ah, what will you do then?”

                “Haha, I went and drove around it a few times this week and looked around. There are a few coffee shops, thank God, so I’ll just make something up.”

                “It’s good that you have a plan. How are you feeling about your new plans?”

                “I dunno, it’s weird, like, at first I was like Holy crap! She’s talking to me AND we are gonna hang out! But at the same time, it was like Ugh, shut up, you’re so much more boring than you should be!

                “Than you should be?”

                “What? Oh, than I expected, or whatever. Like, of course you can be whatever you want, but like, yeah, I guess I just thought she’d be more like…I dunno, just not that.”

                “So you have mixed feelings because of the conversation in the staffroom and your plans for this weekend?”

                “Yeah, like, I’m super stoked and nervous, y’know, in a normal way, like people are before they go on dates, er, hang outs, and stuff. But then, at the same time, when we talked in the lunchroom it was just a little… disappointing, I guess. But whatever, I did more of the positive thinking stuff and, like, imagined her, so I feel better now.”

                “And is that all?”

                “Yeah, we haven’t talked since and she hasn’t posted anything. But she’s still online all the time.”

                “So, then, when the fellow yelled at you, you had something else to think about and you didn’t become anxious over it.”

                “Yeah, yeah I guess that’s right.”

                “Hmm, now, do you think that we can learn anything from the fact that you weren’t made anxious by it?”

                “Yeah, I think that I realised that…………”




                “When did these feelings start?”

                “Uh, I guess on Sunday.”

                “Hmm, can you think of anything that might have caused them to suddenly pick up then?”

                “I met with Kristen, like we talked about… I was super amped before we met too…


                “But then… yeah, it just kinda sucked… Like, she just babbled on about her own stupid whatever. Like, I barely even said anything. I think I mentioned anime at some point, but then she was just like Is that like Family Guy? And I was like Holy Shit you are so… so…. I dunno… dumb! And she just kept running her mouth about whatever!

                “So you’re feeling hurt because she didn’t ask you about yourself?”

                “Yeah, yeah, well, not really though, ‘cause, like, that sounds like I’m being the jerk. But the whole thing just kinda sucked. Like, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It’s almost like she misrepresented herself online, y’know? Like she goes to sushi restaurants and posts pictures of hiking and has friends who have baseball profile pictures, and uses her phone all the time, but then she doesn’t know jack about anime or the NBA and when I mentioned my app idea she was like I didn’t know you were a programmer as if only a programmer or a designer could do that and then she just went back to whatever she was talking about before! And, yeah, like it just sucked!”

                “If you were to put a name to the emotion that this made you feel, what would it be?”

                “I dunno…. Maybe betrayed? Or seriously disappointed -like, really, really, seriously let down- or hmmm…. Like, angry? ‘Cause it’s not fair and yeah like, it was just like every time she opened her mouth it was a disappointment and a turn-off!”

                “How did you cope with these feelings after the hang out?”

                “Ugh, well, I did the positive imaging thing. It helped, I guess. Like, when I got home I had a beer or two and then thought about a better version of the conversation with her. But yeah, I was still pretty mad. And then, yeah, like, all day Monday and today we didn’t talk at work and she hasn’t texted me… but like, I kinda don’t want her to cause she’s so….yeah.”

                “So you’re feeling disappointed and upset because things didn’t go the way you had hoped they would. Is that correct?”

                “Yeah, but when you put it that way it sounds so lame. Like, I was led to believe something that wasn’t true… whatever, at the end of Sunday I was pretty upset, but then I was like Do you wanna meet again next Sunday for coffee and a walk? ‘Cause she’s still super hot or like, super attractive, or whatever. And she was like Sure, today was fun, I liked chatting. And I was like No shit, that’s probably ‘cause no one else can put up with your babbling about nothing. ‘Course I didn’t say that last part…”

                “So, yeah, I guess we’re meeting up again next weekend, but… I dunno, I might not go, I’ll see how hungover I am on Sunday.”

                “What effect do you think that will have on your feelings about last Sunday?”

                “Huh? I dunno, like, I did the positive imaging a bunch, and I’m starting to feel better.”

                “I thought you said that it hadn’t work too well.”

                “No, no, like that was on Sunday, but then, Monday and today it helped a bit. And like, if I lean back at my desk, I can see her across the hall, so yeah, like, that was good too, I guess. ‘Cause I couldn’t hear her, so I could just imagine what she was saying and she was wearing these really nice pants, they’re my favourite, but, oh, uh… nevermind. But yeah, she hasn’t posted anything new online.”

                “Well, I am very sorry that you’re feeling so hurt.”

“Yeah, yeah, but talking about it helps… oh, and I was talking to mum the other day and she said that I should ask you about………….”



                “You seem in higher spirits today. How did your week go?
“Yeah, it was good. Got my tax return, so that was nice. I went to watch the game at Sammy’s, y’know, the place on 8th? They do mad poutine there. So yeah, yeah I guess it was a good week. Mum’s been on my case a bit less too, so that’s good.

                “So some financial relief and feeling like you are being given some more independence have helped to elevate your mood.”

                “Yeah, yeah I guess so. It’s just nice to be able to go out and not worry about things, y’know? Like I wasn’t all stressy about work and people and I could just forget about it all and have poutine and beer and…yeah. It was just… good…”

                “Haha, but maybe it was a little too good, ‘cause I was hungover on Sunday so I didn’t go to see Kristen. She texted me at like 11:30 and was like Where are you? And I was like, LOL, oops, I forgot! Hahaha and she seemed kinda ticked at work the next day, cause I could see her working at her desk and she was all like, Blah! Gotta get work done! Not chatting with the other girls as much as she usually does on Monday mornings!

                “You seem very pleased about not having gone to meet her, I thought you wanted to see her more.”

                “Yeah, but it was such a downer last time. But yeah, yeah, maybe I’ll try talking to her again. She posted a new picture online. It’s just a selfie like the others but you can see a little further down… the…. er, nevermind. Oh, and I was walking past her desk and looked over her shoulder and I could see the wallpaper on her phone. It’s this picture of her on this beach and then I remembered that she took her vacation a few weeks before I started working there. So I asked Dave if anyone could recommend a good beach vacation spot or if he knew of anyone who had been to a place like that recently and he said Kristen went to Dominica in February. So I was looking it up and I think I narrowed it down to like two or three resorts and then I used the positive imaging and it really worked! Like, for the first time I really felt my mood actually get seriously better. ‘Cause I was looking through Kristen’s pictures and then I just like, I dunno, imagined being on a  vacation with her, and watching anime and I showed her my new app and… yeah. But it’s not creepy or anything ‘cause we hung out, so yeah, I guess that’s good too.”

                “Do you think you’ll see her again? Outside of work, I mean.”

                “I dunno, I kinda hope not. It was a real downer last time.”




Erik Peters is a teacher and mediaevalist from Canada. He is fascinated by humanity and nature. He’s spent his career working with marginalised groups which has profoundly influenced his writing. You can read Erik’s writing in recent or upcoming issues of The Silent World In Her Vase, Abstract Elephant, Showbear Family Circus, Poet’s Choice, Kind Writers, and The Dead Mule School. Or you can check out his website at