My Therapist Won’t Return my Calls§
by Russell Dyer
published: april 06, 2007; revised: september 03, 2017; readers in past month: 110
He carefully pressed the buttons on the phone. It was an old phone: one that works on wires; not a portable. He had a portable for when he wanted to roam his apartment while prattling on with a friend, or at least the equivalent of a friend. For this call, he wanted to be sure he had a good connection — he didn’t want to risk static or buzzing. The faint compression sound of the buttons being pressed sounded sad in the quiet of his apartment. It was the afternoon and most of his neighbors were at work or somewhere else. He had the building to himself. So all he heard at first were the buttons. The line then rang a few times on the other end, somewhere across town, in a high-end office. He didn’t expect anyone to answer. Doctor Sandberg always lets the calls go through to his voice mail system. He was an excellent psychologist and was usually with a patient during working hours and only had a few minutes a day allocated for returning calls. Maurice was speculating that this might be that time, but he knew his hope would not be rewarded. He was right. The voice mail greeting was of the voice of Dr. Sandberg and encouraged him to leave a message and assuring him that Dr. Sandberg would return his call.
“Doctor Sandberg. This is Maurice again. I haven’t heard from you and thought I’d call and leave another message.” He paused for a second. He knew that it was a voice mail system and not an answering machine, so there was no way that Dr. Sandberg could hear him speaking and therefore wouldn’t suddenly pick up the phone. Still, he paused for effect; he paused to think; he paused from loneliness. The silence in his apartment rang in his ears like a high pitched whine. It didn’t pulsate. Instead, it pushed into his ear drums without mercy or rhythm, like someone stabbing him in the ears with the eraser end of large, fat kindergarten pencils.
“You may remember that we had agreed to meet a few months ago.” Actually, it was six months ago. “It was at the end of the day and when I arrived on time, you had already left for the day.” His remark wasn’t meant to be accusatory. He just wanted to point out that he had acted as agreed and shouldn’t be punished. “You called me back a few days later and we rescheduled for two weeks later, but the same thing happened again.” Again, not accusatory. “I know you probably were called away or something. I understand. I just would like to reschedule.” He paused again, but very briefly this time. He began to sense that his message was becoming too long. This was only the third message he had left for Dr. Sandberg since the doctor had missed the appointment again. The first one was the day after and very brief. He had waited until late in the morning that day, giving the doctor time to call him and apologize. After all, it wasn’t his fault his therapist had missed two of their appointments. But by 11 a.m. that morning, he thought maybe he had better call. There was no return call and no rescheduling of his appointment. He then waited a month or so and called again, but still no return call.
He wasn’t sure what to do at first. If a man calls another man with which he has a business relationship, the other man should return his call, especially if the caller is a client and it’s regarding the other person’s failure to keep two appointments. He had waited so long because he knew that that was what his step-father would have done. That is to say, his step-father wouldn’t have called. He also wouldn’t have waited — he would have forever disregarded the doctor. When Maurice is in these kind of situations, he recalls how his step-father would say, “To hell with you!” to an offender and storm off. He never liked how his step-father handled himself, but thought maybe there might be something to that method. It would at least allow one not to feel quite so much like a door matt. So, he waited another few months before attempting to call Dr. Sandberg so as to show his disapproval in silence.
However, in the end, he couldn’t maintain it. He thought that maybe Dr. Sandberg had honestly missed the appointment and now was too embarrassed to return his call. He thought he should try one more time to perhaps relieve him of this concern. Of course, one would think that a therapist should not take such an approach. Dr. Sandberg has always been upfront with him about everything, so he knew it was absurd to think that the doctor was afraid to face him for some reason.
“Anyway, if you have decided for some reason that you don’t want to meet with me any more, I wish you’d at least call me back and let me know. I know you have more patients than you have time for, but I’d like to know before I look for another doctor.” There. He’d done it. He’d threatened to take his business elsewhere. Not the kind of confrontation that his step-father would have handed out, but it was good for him. It was reasonable. He was certainly a reasonable person. His step-father wasn’t.
“Well, please call me back and let me know what you want to do. Thanks.” He hung up the phone quietly and then sat back in his desk chair and rested his head on his right hand and let out a sigh as he watched the phone. He wasn’t waiting for a return call. He knew that would never come. He just took a moment to consider the situation and looking at the telephone was as good of an object as any to stare at while pondering.
Maurice is a fairly mentally healthy person. He used to be an emotional mess. Through years of meeting with his therapist, with Dr. Sandberg every two weeks, and from spending a lot of time pondering, he had managed to get himself in order. His life is comfortable. His work good. He is content with his life. No, he didn’t need to go to a therapist at the moment, he decided. Instead, it was for good measure that he felt it important to keep the habit going. He had reached a point in which he had been meeting with Dr. Sandberg only once a month for occasional fine tuning. And now for some strange reason unknown to him, his therapist won’t return his calls.
He attempted to shrug his shoulders for the benefit of his empty apartment, but couldn’t quite do it. He then pushed himself away from his desk and went into his kitchen and poured himself a glass of iced tea. Iced tea always made him feel good. It helped him to think, to cope. He wasn’t stressing, but felt that he should do something about his situation. He would call a friend to discuss it with him, but he had none. He had people who were friendly to him, but no true friends.
He carefully sipped his iced tea as he walked back to his desk. He sat down and checked his email and found that he had over a hundred messages waiting: all spam. After deleting them all, he decided to lie down and take a nap. Napping was another method of coping for him. He would let go of what was disturbing him and when he woke, he would not revisit the problem until it intruded itself on him later. It was a bit of avoidance, but not much. He looked at it as regrouping.
The telephone rang. He answered. A voice said, “This is Dr. Wilson. You left message for me to call you.” It was now two months since he left his final message with Dr. Sandberg, who still had not called him back.
“Yes, Dr. Wilson. Thanks so much for calling me. Yes, I’d like to set up an appointment to meet with you.” He tried to sound cheery, but not phony or eager. Dr. Wilson said nothing. Maurice then quickly added, “as a patient.”
“Alright. Is this your first time in therapy?” He could hear Dr. Wilson flipping pages in an appointment book as he asked this.
“No, I’ve been in therapy for quite a few years now.” Actually, it had been over ten years that he had been with Dr. Sandberg and he had never gone to any other therapist before. Still, he didn’t want to sound pathetic and he thought to say that he had been in therapy for over a decade would not be good.
“Oh, really. Who were you with?” The pages of the appointment book had stopped whispering, stopped shushing.
“With a Dr. Sandberg. Do you know him?” He asked nonchalantly in the hopes that they did not know each other.
“Yes, I know him quite well. He’s an excellent psychologist.” Maurice’s heart beat pick up the pace a bit. “I don’t understand. Why would you want to leave Dr. Sandberg?” And there it was, the question he dreaded, the question that would unearth his shame in the psychological community: his therapist won’t return his calls. You’re supposed to be honest with your therapist, but he could not bear to reveal this truth to this therapist. He could recover easily enough from being adrift as he was from therapy, but not without being able to secure another therapist, eventually. He told himself that he had options and he couldn’t let the loss of one option taint all others.
“Oh, I just feel I need a change,” he offered up in hopes that politeness would rule the moment. It didn’t.
“Well, I can’t in good conscience take a patient away from Dr. Sandberg. I just wouldn’t feel right doing that.”
He interrupted, “Excuse me, but isn’t that my decision?”
“Yes, it is, but I wouldn’t want to risk offending him. At a minimum, I would like to talk to him about it and maybe get some copies of his notes, if that’s alright with you.”
“I’d rather you didn’t do that.” He tried not to sound concerned, just professional.
“Is there a problem between you and Dr. Sandberg that I should know about?” Credibility was now in dispute. The option was closing fast.
“No, no problem. Listen I think maybe I should reconsider this idea,” he said as he felt that he was rapidly losing mental control over the conversation. He knew he had better ring off soon or he was going to fall into little-boy mode at any moment.
“Alright, I’ll wait for you to call me back,” the doctor said as the hushed sound of his hardcover bound appointment book closing pumped once through the line. They said their good-byes and thus ended their professional relationship forever.
Maurice sat slumped in his chair with his head resting on his left hand, slightly clasped. With his right hand, he straightened the telephone and its handset’s spiral wire so that it hung over the right edge of his desk. He then straightened his computer’s keyboard which was already straight. He wanted to straighten more things on his desk, but there was nothing out of place. He was a very tidy person. So he sat in the same position, with his right hand, on his desk, ready in case something should go out of place. Nothing physical did.
A few weeks later, while standing one evening in a downtown bar talking with a woman with whom he was acquainted, he tried to shift the conversation to something personal to him. He wanted to talk about how he felt about his daughter living so far away from him with his ex-wife, growing up without him. This was a painful thought that he had to deal with occasionally. It hurt him. The arrangement hurt his daughter. He often had to remind himself that the divorce was best for him and his daughter. He had determined several years ago with Dr. Sandberg listening that it would be better for his daughter if he were divorced and happy, than to continue to be married to his daughter’s mother and be miserable. He predicted that to continue in the marriage until she grew up would teach her by example that marriage and life were miserable states that one endured. Instead, he felt that she would eventually be happier if he were happy. Sure she would be even happier if he could have been happy living with and being married to her mother, but that was not possible. So, he had decided on the best possible solution. The results were good: he was much happier now; his daughter was growing up in better conditions and hopefully would not make the same mistake he made in marrying someone too quickly. If she did, though, he felt that she wouldn’t wait over ten years to do something about it. She would have the courage to fight for her happiness based on the difficult example he now presented her in his life. That was his overriding hope: that she would learn how to be happy.
Still, there were times when it was hard for him to endure not being close to her everyday. And now he doesn’t even get to see her on weekends anymore since she moved across country. He only sees her now once every few months, and talks to her by telephone once a week at most. He has to wait for her to call him as her mother has blocked his number. He isn’t sure why his ex-wife did this since they don’t argue and he’s very civil towards her. Nevertheless, the result is that he must wait for his daughter to call him and that means once a week at most if she doesn’t forget.
“I miss my daughter terribly,” he began, but paused to judge the reaction.
“Oh, I imagine you do. You only see her on weekends. How old is she now?” the woman asked trying to show interest and to get herself focused on the new subject that was obviously beginning. Despite her attempt, though, her comment and question showed that she remembered very little of his circumstances.
“She’s eleven.” He chose not to correct her about the weekend situation. At this point, he should have continued on along the line that he had begun about his daughter, but he felt disheartened as he realized that if this woman could not remember that he no longer sees his daughter on weekends, that he hasn’t seen her on weekends for two years, she won’t remember anything he would tell her now, nor would she care. She might show sympathy, but she won’t care, not really.
The woman looked at him waiting for him to say more. She waggled her head as if to flash her ears at him to show that they were unobstructed and that she was listening.
“That’s all. I just miss her,” he added to indicate that he was finished with the thought. He then sipped his drink for effect, to show that he had no intention of saying anything else on the subject. She nodded her head, with her eyes doing a little searching slide from center to the left then to the right and then ending center again — all smoothly and quickly. She then gave a pulse of a smile as she realized that he noticed her eye moments.
He left the bar a few minutes later and walked home rather than taking the subway. He preferred the quiet of the night over the noise of the ever florescent underground. He wanted time to process his thoughts. Although the woman didn’t suspect, he realized that he had been trying to use her as a substitute for his therapist. This can work with friends sometimes, but she was only an acquaintance. One can’t simply dump emotional thoughts and pain on an acquaintance and expect it to be therapeutic. It doesn’t work and it isn’t fair to the acquaintance, he told himself.
He knew that he should probably try again to get a new therapist, but he didn’t have the heart for it. Besides, one usually first goes to a therapist when one is very troubled and he was only mildly troubled and only in small doses occasionally. The number of sessions involved — maybe three months worth, going weekly — in getting a therapist up-to-date on his life and his attitudes would be frustrating. He would have to endure all of that only to be able to in the end to say that he feels fine and just wants to keep a therapist on-call for when a crisis strikes. No, he would wait until there was a serious problem that would make the start-up time worth it.
Two months later, Maurice decided to look to another therapy, that of sex. For him, sex can soothe him, center him in a way which was astonishing. Or rather, he thought it astonishing and the level of astonishment unique to him. Nevertheless, it calmed him so as to be able to cope with life much like a good nap would, but much more so. He didn’t have a girlfriend at the time and had no energy to try to develop such a relationship. Nor was he so daring of a person as to be able to find a woman in a bar and bring her home for sex for one night. If he was to engage someone verbally, emotionally, he thought that he would feel bad having sex with them and then not calling them again in the interest of pursuing a relationship. He felt it would be hurtful to do such a thing to a woman — despite the fact that the woman might only be interested in a one-night sexual encounter with him. It should be mentioned that Maurice never had such an opportunity, at least not to his knowledge.
So, he looked on the internet for web sites listing prostitutes in his area. This would be strictly a business relationship, much like what he would have with a psychologist. At the end of his therapy with Dr. Sandberg, he had only been meeting with him once a month for emotional centering. He decided that a prostitute could do the same for him for about the same price of a hundred dollars.
It took him some time, but he managed to narrow the list of women offering their services. He chose ones that had looks that apealed to him. He chose ones in locations that were convenient, but eliminated ones that were too close. He didn’t want to risk seeing the woman on the street between sessions. He also eliminated ones that he felt would be intimidating to him. From his complex criteria, he decided on five women. From this short list, he hoped to select two with whom he would be comfortable, to be able to visit them each once a month. After having worked with one psychotherapist and then losing him, he thought it best to have two prostitutes in case he lost one along the way. He could then continue with the other as he looked for a replacement for the one lost.
With their web pages bookmarked, he began making calls, pulling up each one’s web page again to examine their alluring photographs while he spoke with them and they quoted him prices. Two turned out to be far too expensive, wanting three-hundred dollars an hour for their services. Maybe they were worth it, but he didn’t want to pay more than the cost of a session with Dr. Sandberg. He was adamant about this. Another he called had her telephone disconnected. She may have left the business. The fifth one he called was a young Asian woman with a sweet voice he thought. She charged eighty dollars an hour for her services. He was pleased. He asked her if she was available at the moment and she said she was and gave him her address. He said he would be over in fifteen minutes. They hung up.
He could have walked to her apartment, but it was over a mile away and he didn’t want to be tired by the time he reached her. He decided to take a taxi there and to walk back afterwards. He imagined based on the distance that a taxi would only be about five dollars. He still would be spending less than he did on Dr. Sandberg and would be driven to his appointment. He was becoming more pleased.
“Hi. I want to go to 104 Customs Street. How much would that cost me? About?” he asked the cab driver through his partially open car window. The driver had been sitting there in his taxi at the cab stab a few blocks from Maurice’s house reading a book while waiting for a fare.
“Probably eight dollars or so.” That was more than he thought, but he was still pleased. He could even afford to take a cab back afterwards if the woman drained him too much and still be within one-hundred dollars if he didn’t get carried away with tipping. Then he thought about the money in his pocket. He had two fifty-dollar bills (he kept them in his wallet for emergencies), a twenty, a ten, and a five. With one fifty, the twenty, and the ten, he could pay the prostitute the eighty she wanted. If the taxi were only be five dollars, he could pay it and have a fifty left over. But if it were to be more than five dollars, unless the cab driver would give him change for a fifty, he would have to use the ten or the twenty to pay him. He could give the prostitute two fifties and ask her for change, but she probably wouldn’t have change, or at least wouldn’t admit it. He didn’t know which he trusted less to lie about not having change for a fifty, a cab driver or a prostitute. He decided that they are both the same in this way. They were birds of a feather to him much like he was seeing prostitutes and psychiatrists to have commonalities. ‘What a wretched world I am beginning to perceive in my fall from grace,’ he thought to himself.
“Um, I only have a fifty. Do you have change?” He reasoned that if he could get the cab driver to admit that he had change before he got into his cab, he wouldn’t be cheated on the other end. The cab driver squirmed and shrugged and slowly felt in his pants pocket. Obviously, his favorite trick to get larger tips was being foiled and he wasn’t prepared with a comeback. Just then two young women walked up in the interest of taking the cab. Maurice smiled at them and gestured to the cab and said, “Please. I’ll take another.” They thanked him and got in. The cab driver nodded and drove off with them, perhaps pleased at the prospects of them over him.
Maurice walked to the McDonald’s on the corner across from the now empty cab stand. It was just after midnight and there weren’t many stores open. He could have just asked for change for a fifty, but he figured they wouldn’t give it to him and it would be better to not reveal his true purpose. Instead he would buy something to eat with it. He looked down at the registers as he entered to see if there was a sign stating that no bills larger than twenties would be accepted. There was one on each cash register. He chose to ignore them and walked up to the counter and was greeted by an eager young man, perhaps in his first job of responsibility. His badge said, Shift Manager and did not include his name. The young shift manager asked him if his order would be to-go. Maurice said it would be and glanced at the menu overhead behind the young man, feigning interest. He asked for a cup of iced tea with a small hamburger. He had no intention of eating. He was too nervous. Besides, he didn’t want to interact with the prostitute with onions on his breath. He certainly didn’t want to ask for a hamburger without onions. That would take too long and he was already almost late in meeting her. The young man asked if he wanted a medium or large iced tea. He said he’d like a medium: it would be cheaper and take less time to fill the cup. The young man then asked if he would like french fried potatoes with his order. He said no. The shift manager then advised him that for only a few cents more he could get a meal package which included a hamburger, a medium drink, and french fried potatoes. He said no. The young shift manager relented, but not without looking a little disappointed. He rang up the order and then spun around to get the hamburger and drink. He was back at the counter a minute or two later with the false provisions and then recited the total cost of the order, despite the fact that it was glaring at Maurice on the back display of the cash register. Maurice put the fifty-dollar bill on the counter without apology. The boy picked it up without thought, punched in the amount in the cash register, the drawer opened and he took out the change the cash register instructed him to give the customer and gave Maurice forty-eight dollars and some coins and thanked him for his custom. He was definitely a new shift manager, Maurice thought.
About a hundred feet away from the McDonald’s, after taking a couple of sips of the awful tasting iced tea, he threw the bag containing the hamburger and the drink into a trash can along the sidewalk. He then proceeded to the cab stand where there were two taxis waiting. He got in the first one and said, “One-O-Four Customs Street, please.” He glanced at the time on his cell phone. He had told the prostitute that he would be at her apartment in about fifteen minutes. Twenty something minutes had passed already. He decided that it would be alright if he were late the first time. He wouldn’t tell her about the problem with getting change, but claim that he had trouble finding the place. He would just need to be sure to be on-time for future sessions with her.
Within ten minutes the taxi had taken him to outside 104 Customs Street. The meter said eight dollars and ten cents. He handed the driver a ten and said for him to keep the change as he got out. The driver sarcastically said thanks and then drove off. The apartment buildings in this neighborhood have a front door for the building and require visitors to ring the bell for the appropriate apartment from the street. Maurice scanned the list of names on the doorbell panel and didn’t see the Asian girl’s name. He then rescanned the list looking for any Asian name, assuming she uses an alias for her clients. There were none. So, he pulled out his cell phone and called her. She answered. He pleasantly greeted her and said that he had arrived and was outside her building. She said to come in. He pointed out that the door was locked. She said she just buzzed him in and he needed to pull on the door while it was buzzing. He pointed out that there was no buzzing on his end and that the door remained locked. To this she asked where he was and he recited the address.
“Not one zero four, one zero three. Apartment four,” she said irritably. This is what she said, not what he heard. She had a strong Asian accent and he could not quite understand her when she said three. He repeated ‘one zero four?’ She said no and repeated exactly what she said the first time without deviation in her accent. She repeated it a third time and then he said, “One zero three?” to which she said no and repeated herself again: “One zero three!” It sounded like she was saying three to him, but she said she wasn’t. Apparently, she couldn’t understand his accent very well either. He was thoroughly confused. Just then three Asian men were walking by — this was an Asian quarter, it seemed. He stopped them and said he was having some confusion understanding a friend of his on the phone and asked if one of them would speak with her and translate for him. One agreed to help him and took the phone.
At first he was concerned that she might tell them why he was coming to see her, but then remembered that she was a professional and would know to be discrete. The Asian man holding his phone and the prostitute spoke English to each other. He had supposed that they would speak Chinese of some sort. She told him her building number was one-hundred three. The man repeated it to Maurice and Maurice said, “So over there” and pointed across the street at a building with the number 103 on the side of it. The man looked over at the building with his head down a bit trying to listen to the girl in case she had something to add. He confirmed that he was correct. After thanking the man and getting his cell phone back, Maurice ran across the street and examined the list of tenants at its locked entrance. He again saw no Asian names, so he called her again and said he was now at 103 Customs Street. Before he could say any more, she buzzed the door and he opened it. She then said, “Number four, second floor,” and hung up.
He walked through a passage way into a courtyard and looked up at all of the apartments. Since it was now nearing one in the morning, most of the lights were off. He didn’t see any lights on in the second floor apartments, though. In fact, at first he wasn’t sure how to get to the second floor. So he wandered back to the building entrance and found a locked glass door to the right of the entrance in which he could see the stairs. Next to it were more names and doorbells. He didn’t see her name listed here either. He called her again. He said the door was locked and didn’t see her name. She buzzed the street entrance door. He said that was the wrong door. He told her that he was already inside the building, but couldn’t get to the stairs. She said, “Number four! Number four!” He apologized and said that he didn’t see a number four, that all of the buttons have only names by them, and that by the fourth button was the name of a Mr. Hammond. He didn’t think that was her name or the name of a family member, given her Asian origins. She mumbled something in disgust and hung up. After a moment, he noticed that one of the names, about the twentieth one had a label with the name Li handwritten on it, followed by what might be a poorly drawn 4. He pressed the button and hoped he wasn’t waking someone. The door to the stairs buzzed a second later. He opened it and went in and proceeded to the second floor.
On the second floor there were eight apartment entrances in a dimly lit hall. He paced up and down looking at each for some indication as to which was Ms. Li’s apartment or maybe apartment number four. There were no markings on any of the doors. You had to know where you were going. He thought to himself, ‘Why doesn’t she open the door so I’ll know where to go?’ He felt that he should just wait, that she might not be ready for him. He didn’t want to be pushy or appear desperate. After about two minutes, though, he realized that she wasn’t going to come out. So, he called her on his cell phone yet again. He listened for the ring behind the doors, but couldn’t hear anything. She answered after the fifth ring. He told her that he was there on the second floor, but didn’t know which door was hers. He was tempted to add that he was waiting with the eighty dollars in his top pocket, but thought that too vulgar. She said, “Enough. Bye.” She paused and he said nothing in return. He was confused. She said, “Do you understand?” He said no. She said, “You can’t come in now.”
He perceived the use of the word now to be an indication of timing. He thought to himself, ‘Does she have another guy in there that has just arrived ahead of me? How could this be? I didn’t see anyone else coming into the building.’ He said incredulously, “Not now? When then?”
She said, “No. Not when. Bye!” After a pause she added, “You understand?”
It took him a moment to process the possibility that she was rejecting him. This was all very new to him. It wasn’t like the rejection of a woman he was pursuing on romantic lines, so it didn’t hurt his feelings. Instead, it made him feel strangely empty. He was going to have to think about this later on.
“You don’t want me to come in? You want me to leave?”
“Yes, go,” she confirmed.
“Okay, have a good-night.” She hung up before he could take the phone away from his ear. He was not pleased and apparently neither was she.
He slowly, quietly, and respectfully walked down the hall to the stairs, down the stairs, and then out the building. He didn’t take a taxi, which was keeping with his plan and instead walked home to digest what had happened. He came to no conclusions by the time he arrived at home. He wasn’t angry. He didn’t laugh at himself as he recalled the events of the night. Nor did he condemn himself and cite this as another example of how life is against him and thereby classify himself as a loser. He decided that there were language barriers coupled with his fastidious nature that led to the fiasco of reaching the young woman’s apartment and that it had either become too late for her or that she had decided that she wanted nothing to do with such a person as him. Whatever her reason, it was her right to refuse business, to refuse a client with which it might be too difficult to interact. What was important to him was that he was not disgusted with himself over the incident. That was a major improvement for him psychologically. Before he first started going to Dr. Sandberg, he would have been severely depressed by the incident. And now he mildly cared and saw it as it was, his business had been refused. He was pleased with himself.
Lying back on his sofa at home after having drunk down a half of a glass of iced tea, he decided that the whole idea of going to a prostitute was silly and it was good that it didn’t work out. To this he fell asleep in his clothes on the sofa, something his critical step-father would have been immensely upset to observe.
The telephone rang on the table next to his couch and woke him at about eight. His eyes burst open. He seemed to have passed the night without dreaming. All he could recall suddenly were the very real events that occurred before he fell asleep. The phone rang again. He now became aware that it was that which had woken him. He twisted around and reached up to pick up the portable phone. He said hello in as clear a voice as he could muster. He didn’t want to make the caller feel that he had awoken him. He didn’t like to discourage people from calling him.
“Hi, Dad. It’s me.” It was his daughter. “Guess what?”
“Oh, hi, sweetie. I can’t guess. What?” he said as he pivoted around and put his feet on the floor, rubbing the top of his head with his free hand as he sat hunched over with his back now aching at the result of the night’s sleep on the sofa came to its worst.
“My friend Wendy called me last night and asked me to sleep over her house tonight. Mom said she’d have to think about it, but this morning she said okay. So I’m packing my clothes in my school bag to take with me to school.” She was very excited.
“That’s great, sweetie. Don’t forget your toothbrush.”
“No I won’t. I packed it already.” He then heard her mother calling from the other room. “Mom’s calling. I got to go. I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, too. Have fun. Bye.” She said she would and hung up. He was pleased.
He pressed the button to disconnect the line and laid back on the couch with his feet stretching out in front of him so as to straighten his back for relief, clutching the portable phone to his chest like a lilly over the chest of a cartoon person who has just died from a blow to the head. He laid there and stared at the ceiling for a while with a soft smile of contentment on his face and pondered.
“I don’t need a therapist,” he said aloud in a soothing voice, in a gentle boy’s voice. He continued smiling and then shrugged his body as if he had chuckled, but didn’t. He said, “I don’t need any kind of therapist.” He pause for a moment more and said, “All I need is to be happy and am that.”