'How much thinking and do I get charged for that time?'
'You've been working with lawyers too long,' she responds. But she's smiling, which I take as a good sign. 'Besides, your plan covers all of this, so don't worry about it.'
'And what were your thoughts?' For the first time since we started this, I'm genuinely interested in what she has to say. I also don't mind that she's breaking our rule.
'I know I'm breaking the rule not to talk about that day until the end...'
Wow, she's good.
'...so you can decide if you want to hear it now or later.'
I gesture towards her. A 'go right ahead' signal.
'Great! I actually think you do feel guilty about what happened. I mean, you wouldn't be here otherwise, right?'
I wait a beat, thinking it might be rhetorical and mentally score myself a point when she continues.
'Your anger and other symptoms certainly speak to you being unbalanced since that day, so you may be exhibiting your guilt in other ways. You might not consciously feel guilt, but it's there and we need to address it before too long.'
'I'll think on that,' I say, but I won't. She's dead wrong on my guilt. I feel none. I may be traumatized by the entire thing, but guilt hasn't been part of the problem. Not for what I did, anyway. Maybe for waiting to do it, but not for the actions themselves. Those fuckers deserved every bit of it and I would do the same thing all over again.
'You don't buy it?' That she's reading me so well is becoming troublesome. It's unnerving.
I just shrug, 'Not sure. I want to think on it a bit first.'
'Fair enough. How are you today? You have any more episodes since last time you were here?'
'Nothing I couldn't handle. I actually got out and about the other day. In fact, right after I left here, David picked my up and we went out to lunch. You ever been to The LightHouse? Just down the street on the left?'
'Yes! They have a great breakfast there'
'I'll keep that in mind. Had the chicken salad sandwich. It was good.' Although it's hard to screw up chicken salad. Shit, I really hope I thought that.
'Get there for breakfast if you can. They make any kind of omelet you can think of.'
'What else? You and David okay?'
'Better. The lunch was a sort of sit down for us. Just hashing some stuff out.'
Such as none of your business, is what I want to say. But since I'm getting better at censoring my initial thoughts, I say instead, 'I told him to come right out and tell me when I'm being a bitch. When I'm taking things out on him. He has a tendency to keep things to himself and with everything that's happened he's afraid of pushing me the other way.'
'What do you mean by the other way?'
'It was his term. I think he meant that since I'm pretty unstable, he didn't want to stress me out more by pointing out other flaws. I told him, that that would actually be good and I don't want him catering to me or babying me in any way. Him tip toeing around me has never been the way we've acted, so by doing that now he was making things worse. I want him to treat me like he's always treated me. Makes me feel more normal.'
'It's good you can talk to him about that.'
'Yeah, I've always been able to tell him things. One of the reasons I love him. He's never judged me or talked down to me about anything.'
'You should know that he is probably having a hard time, too. Typically, spouses aren't really sure how to react and will do one of two things. Either ignore it and pretend it never happened or over compensate. Babying, as you put it.'
'That's it? Don't some ever just get up and leave?'
'Well, I'm sure that's happened. I was just giving typical responses.'
'We talked about going away for a week. He's got vacation time and it might do us some good to get away from here and let things settle down. We started getting phone calls again. Just changed our number, too, but somehow the reporters got a hold of it. Did I tell you this already?'
She shakes her head, but I wonder if she would need to look at her notes to remember. How many other patients does she have besides me? How could she possible remember all the details of every session?
'Anyway, they've started calling again and we think going far away might be best. Just go on a cruise or out west for a week or two. Let some other story take over.'
'Do you think that will happen? You seem to be a story that is hanging on.'
'Yeah, little girl takes out three potential terrorists.'
'You consider them terrorists?'
'They were murderers. They can try to hide behind what ever reasoning was letting them sleep at night, but they were psychos, pure and simple.' A familiar edge enters my voice. Comes on every time I talk about the three of them. A touch of anger I have become comfortable with.
'How have you been sleeping?'
'A little better, but there are still times I can't shut down.' I consider telling her that I think these sessions seem to be helping, but decide it will pump up her ego. I don't want that.
'Have you still been watching baseball?'
'No, it's lost me. Too many boring games in a row. We splurged and got HBO, so I've seen 'Anchorman' about 50 times this past month. Been trying to catch up with 'The Sopranos', too, but they haven't been showing them in order. I might need to rent the DVDs to get up to speed.'
'Didn't they just show the final episode?'
'Yeah, and I've seen that one already.' This earns me a funny look from Therapist. 'I know. David said it's like reading the last chapter in a book, but I don't care how it ends. I'm more interested in how it began and the stories along the way.'
'Did you like it? I heard a lot of people weren't too happy with how it ended.'
'It was okay. Did you watch?'
She shakes her head.
'I just didn't get the whole thing about the daughter parallel parking. I was getting impatient with it. Just wanted it to end.'
'Think a lot of people would agree with you. Feel like doing an exercise with me?'
She does this a lot. Gets me talking about mundane, every day things then shifts gears and gets to what she really wants to do. That it is effective is even more frustrating.
'The last exercise we did left me a mess for days afterwards,' I reply. I'm referring to her forcing the memory of Angela being marched out the door to her death. Not exactly a moment I like to relive.
'Sorry about that. We therapists call that flooding. It forces a bunch of bad memories on you at once in order to get you used to dealing with the worst ones. It's supposed to make you feel less over whelmed with the trauma. I think I pushed that on you a bit early.'
You think? Fairly certain this was only in my head again. I'm getting good. 'So what's this exercise?' I ask.
'It's fairly simple. I have a sheet here,' she reaches to her left and picks up a single piece of paper, 'that has descriptions on it. Single words that describe feelings.' She leans forward and hands it to me.
On it are two columns of words. Things like 'angry', 'sad', 'happy', I pick out right away.
'I want you to circle the words that best describe how you felt during certain parts of the ordeal. This first sheet will be when the men first came in and you understood what was going on.'
'When they first came in and when I first realized what was happening are two different moments.'
'That's okay, let's combine them. Circle any words that best describe what was going through you during that time.'
Immediately I wonder if 'urine' is on the list and nearly laugh out loud. I bite my lip, scroll through the words and circle the following: scared, angry, sad, confused, helpless, desperate. At the bottom is a blank line for me to fill in any words I wish to add that aren't on the list. I leave that blank and hand it back. Therapist places it face down on the desk, picks up another of the same sheets and hands this new one to me.
'Now let's circle the words that best describe how you felt after everything was over.'
I take a minute to browse the words again. I'm not even sure how I felt other then numb, but that isn't on the list. I circle sad, angry, confused, scared and pause looking for others that fit. I don't see what I'm looking for so I write a single word. More than any other description, this is the one I felt most acutely.
I hand back the sheet and, again, she places it face down on the desk without looking at it. 'Ready for your question?'
'Ready!' But I'm wondering if she'll look at that last sheet before I leave. I'm already regretting writing in that word; afraid it will reveal too much about myself. About how sick I may actually be.
'When did you know you had to do something?'
'You mean when did I.....?'
'When did you know the men were there to kill people?'
'After Susan. After they took Susan. I was trying to listen to who they were talking to, but they didn't seem to be talking to anyone. There were no demands to the police, no threats or discussion. They barely said anything to each other. They just picked one, walked out the door and when they were done would come back and pick out another. They were very....don't know what the word is...deliberate in what they were doing.'
'Susan was which one?'
'She was the receptionist. They killed her second.' I have the sequence memorized. Tracy, Susan, Megan, Charlene, Angela. I was supposed to be next.
'So after Susan you knew?'
'Or suspected at least. I kept waiting for the men to do something. Say something. But they just sat there. They did nothing.' I can no longer hold back my tears thinking about this. The men. The power brokers and leaders of the company sitting there like little children. Eyes wide, hearts and heads narrow and only thinking about self preservation. 'Why didn't they do anything?!'
'Traumatic events like this cause...'
'BULLSHIT!! Don't you see? I saw as it was happening. They sat back because they were safe!'
'I don't understand. How were they safe?'
I wipe my eyes, blow my nose. Crying time is done. My anger has taken over again. Pure, ice cold rage. 'They were killing the women first. The men were safe until there were no more women. Those FUCKS!'
And here my tears start again. Despite my rage or because of it, I am inconsolable.