“Erica, if you want to cancel our sessions, just say so, you don’t have to lie.”
My therapist Dr. Scott’s voice was a pleasant cool tenor, even though he was fussing at me. I sat next to my Aunt’s circa 1962 free standing bathroom tub, shower running at full as I talked on my clunky “Emergency-or-extreme privacy only” cellphone. I used the non-braille neo-antique with home-made labels often enough to normally prevent the two mis-dials that I had made in my attempt to call Dr. Scott. What caused my epic phone fails had been nerves, pure and simple. I had called my professors and told them I couldn’t come in without a problem; no nervous dialing there. I had done the same with my voice coach, my group therapy rep, and my bi-weekly 4e D&D game, also without said nerves. But Dr. Scott, that had been a hard number to dial. I don’t know if it’s because he was my therapist, someone I could talk to about ugly feelings and horrible thoughts despite his lack of awareness of the spooky side, or because he wasn’t too much older than I was. He was still in his late 20’s, having finished all of his schooling super early cause he was wicked smart, and he had this amazing ability to go between boyish passion and calm maturity that I find oddly sexy. He had also helped me work thru the worst of my night terrors, and helping me get a good night sleep just multiplies sexy sappeal. I dunno why I had such a hard time. I’d talk to my shrink about it, but that’s a little too meta for me.
“No, Dr. Scott, I’m serious!”
A slight pause. “Erica, I’ve heard that meme before, it’s the internet equivalent to ‘the dog ate my homework’. I’m not falling for it.” Dr. Scott’s voice was more than a tad incredulous, and i’ll admit not without reason.
“I am telling the truth, please, you have to believe me! I promised I wouldn’t lie, and I don’t break my word!” A touch of anger creeped into my voice towards the end, causing it to rise dramatically in what I hoped sounded sincere. It helped that I was sincere, of course, and I suck at lying anyway, but I figured some good ole conviction would help sell the point.
“Are you seriously trying to convince me that you took an arrow to the knee?” The disbelief was palpable, but I think I was starting to make some headway. I had originally contemplated telling him that I had been in a car accident, despite the promise, and from a purely traumatic point of view, it would be true. But it wouldn’t be the truth, and Dr. Scott was a gurram human lie detector and he would known right away that I was lying. I found that out on our first session when he damn near pried all my spooky secrets from me just thru sheer Blade Runner-lvl interrogation ability when I refused to tell him where my nightmares had come from. I’d finally had to just say that it was important that I not tell him certain things, he had read that as being true and genuine, and had dropped the subject.
“YES! I mean No! Wait, I mean, it’s the truth, I promise! And it was lower thigh, not the… knee.” I was getting panicky now that even though I was telling the truth Dr. Scott still wasn’t believing me.
“Supposing I believe you, which I’m not saying that I am, but hypothetically-”
“Hypothetically, got it-”
“How did you come by this “arrow to the knee”?" His sarcasm replaced the bunny ear finger move that surrounded the unfortunate meme.
“Umm… someone… shot an arrow… and it went into my knee, er lower thigh.”
“Erica, you know what I meant. What. Happened.” His words were direct and sharp and it took almost all of my willpower not to just tell him everything right then.
“I… can’t tell you” I stammered.
“Not good enough, Erica. If you want this to be a positive relationship, you have to be honest and forthwright with me… Erica, is that a shower I hear in the background?”
“Why is a shower running in the background?”
Because I’m afraid I’m going to hex my cellphone with my Talent and/or overly-emotional bizarro voice!
“Because… I need to take a shower, and I use the white noise when I want some privacy from Aunt Em.” All true reasons, definitely, but not the major reason.
“Hmmm…” I swear I could hear his inner polygraph going crazy. “I feel as if there is more to it than that, but that’s fine for now.”
Oh Thank God. “So you believe me?” I was practically chewing on the reciever.
“About the shower, yes. About the arrow, maybe. One last question to be sure: Where did you recieve medical attention for your injury?”
My stomach sank. I couldn’t outright lie, because I had promised, but I couldn’t tell him where I had gotten my twenty stitches because I kind of didn’t know myself. I hadn’t asked Conor where he had taken me after that fight, although I could probably guess. But Dr. Scott would know I was guessing, so that wouldn’t work. Oh well, the truth or bust, right?
I took a deep breath and steeled myself. “I don’t know.” I said it as calmly and as matter-of-factly as I could.
“Not good enough, Erica-”
“Now you listen to me, Doctor!” I shouted into the reciever, my voice boiling with equal parts indignation and frustration. "I don’t know where I recieved medical attention because I was unconscious from blood loss. I woke up at home with stitches and bandages and a message that told me to stay off my feet for a while. I’m not going to go on the DART bus system with a blind cane and f****** crutches. It already takes me forever to get down there and I don’t feel like walking in the July heat just to satisfy some high-falutin’ notion that I’m trying to weasel out of our deal. You have my address, come up here in your car and I will show you my f****** “arrow in the knee” wound in all it’s literally true glory!"
There was a long awkward pause, and I considered apologizing about a hundred times within about ten seconds. Finally, Dr. Scott cleared his voice and spoke.
“Well, we certainly don’t need to go over any assertiveness issues. So I’ll reschedule for a house call in two weeks?”
“Umm, yeah that would be great, thank you” I said softly, irrationally afraid I might yell at him again.
“Good, got you down in the book. And be sure to wrap your knee and thigh in a plastic bag or something to keep it dry in the shower, ok?”
I melted a little from the concern in his voice. “Ok, thank you, I… really appreciate it, Dr. Scott.”
“Of course, Erica. Feel better soon, ok?”
“I will, thank you.” I hung up the phone, and let my head rest on the tub behind me. Well, that could have gone better. Stupid meme…