I went to see my therapist a few years ago. Actually, I take that back. I was forced to see my therapist a few years ago. I’m always forced to see him. If it was up to me, I’d never go. I never saw the need to tell a complete stranger how fucked up my brain is. Hell, from what I’ve learned over the years, there’s probably a good chance his brain’s just as shitty as mine.
Just by looking at him I could tell it is. He was slender, almost like that skeleton character from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the one whose name I always forget. The suit he wore wasn’t new, nor was it even good. I knew because it was the same, I was wearing. But what really pissed me off about him was his eyes. They were bronzed, yet they had a tiny glow that called out to you, begging you to stare, almost as if I was looking in a mirror.
I laid flat on the couch, my head propped up by a few pillows. The ceiling was smooth, not a popcorn in sight. Now I had to listen. I couldn’t drown my thoughts out counting every little kernel. One, two… wait, I could have sworn there was popcorn on the ceiling last visit. Or maybe I’m just going crazy.
“You aren’t going crazy, the ceilings were popcorn last week,” my therapist said.
I shook my head, smiling at my observation. “I knew something was off. I was just thinking. Wait, why’d you just mention the ceiling?”
He smiled. I hated when he did that. It almost made him look charismatic. “I’m your therapist, it’s my job to know what you’re thinking.” His pen pointed to the ceiling. “Plus, you’ve been staring at the ceiling with that confused face for a few minutes now.”
“So last time we spoke I asked you a question.”
“Why am I here?” Why am I forced to this place? Why am I forced to listen to his drab voice utter word-after-word? I looked at my hands, they were clammy. “When my anger gets the best of me, I’m sent here,” I said. It was the right answer.
“Correct,” The Nightmare Before Christmas guy said. “And what are you going to do about that anger?”
I placed those same clammy hands over my face and exhaled. “I don’t know… I guess learn to control the anger. Manage it better.”
My therapist wrote on his notepad (I swear I didn’t see a notepad prior). His pen clicked a few times before he finally said, “Have you ever killed someone?”
The question caught me off guard, as it should. What kind of therapist ask that kind of question? Although, I’ve never been to another therapist so how was I supposed to know. “No,” I said. “Pretty sure there’s a house that they keep people in who do those kinds of things. Heard they serve three meals a day.”
The therapist wrote on his little pad.
Shit. I always felt judged when he wrote. It was like he was writing my soul down on a piece of paper, ready to sell it to the highest bidder. “Have you ever thought about killing someone?” He asked, as if nothing had happened. I guess my reaction to the first question wasn’t enough to tell him to back off.
Yet, I found myself saying, “Every day.” It was like the words were attached to some spell, being snatched from my body and placed on his pad.
“If you kill the person who caused the anger, would you feel better?”
Another absurd question. Of course, I wouldn’t, who does those kinds of things. “Absolutely,” I said. “I want them to feel pain, even just a little would make me smile.” That must have been a misspeak, my mouth didn’t say what my mind was thinking. I do that a lot. Later I’ll make sure to go see someone about that problem.
The alarm on the coffee table started ringing. I stood up and made my way to the door in a robotic fashion. As I opened the door, therapist-guy snapped his head around and said, “Don’t worry about that, our session is over when I say. If I go over, that’s on my dime.” He walked to the door and shut it. I could have sworn I saw a mirror behind the door instead of a hallway. It showed my face, void of life, skeleton-like. But then again, it’s been a long day.
I sat back down on the couch. Somehow, with every passing moment, my therapist’s skeleton-face felt more and more familiar. I touched my cheekbones as I tried to get comfortable.
My therapist passed me the notepad in his hand. On the page was a drawing of a handgun. Honestly, it was a good drawing, not what I would have expected from Mr. Skeleton-man. “Pick it up,” he said.
He shook his head. “The gun.”
My hand reached for the gun on its own free will and lifted the gun from the page. Its weight felt amazing in my sweaty hands. The cold metal stuck to my palm. I was in control. I had the power to make the decisions. Another gun appeared in my therapist hands moments later. “Shoot me,” he said. The smile on his face never left.
“No.” What other answer was there logically?
“Wrong again.” My arm burned with a sharp, excruciating pain. I didn’t see him shoot me, only felt it. I gripped my arm where blood gushed out, the warmth coating my hand. “Do you hate me?” he said. Are you angry?”
Anger didn’t begin to describe the feelings I had for skeleton-face. Yet, there was something else that crept to the surface, an emotion I hadn’t relished in recently. “No. I’m happy,” I said. I reached for the pistol on the table with my wounded arm. I aimed it at my therapist’s head, ignoring the pain.
My therapist slumped to the ground. His insides covered the back wall. It felt so… good. The hatred, the anger, unhappiness, it all dissipated—leaving my body void of malice. I kicked the body out the way and took a seat in my therapist’s chair. The therapist stared at me with a lifeless gaze. Somehow, he still smiled at me, as if telling me, “good job.”
Three swift knocks came from the other side of the door. I picked up the notepad that sat on the floor in front of me. What is a therapist without a notepad, right?
“Come in,” I said.
Kadeem Locke is currently an English major at the University of North Florida, minoring in creative writing. Kadeem contributes to UNF’s literary journal, The Talon Review, as Audio and Visual Editor and Fiction Reader, and also interns with Trio House Press, a poetry press based in Northeast Florida.