Trip Into The Unknown By D.I. Jolly
“So what’s brings you to me today Mrs Williams? What seems to be the problem?”
Dr Edwards could see the woman’s face contort slightly as she ran the questions through her mind, and wondered which one was giving her trouble.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Nothing is wrong. My children have finally settled in at school, my husband and I are getting on in a way we haven’t for years and… and just last week my doctor told me I was totally cancer free.”
Dr Edwards frowned, slightly puzzled.
“For the first time, in what feels like a lifetime. Nothing is wrong.”
“So what brings you to me?”
She looked up at him and her eyes filled with tears.
She buried her face in her hands and began to weep. For a minute they just sat in silence as she cried.
“My life has been lurching from one crisis to another for so long and now it’s finally over, and, and I should be happy but I’m not, and I don’t know what to do. Everyone around me seems so happy for me, and say that I must be relieved and happy but now, I don’t know how to live this life. I… I…”
She looked up at him and he made sure to keep his face calm, neutral and open, while she continued to cry.
“I almost wish I hadn’t beaten cancer so that people would be sorry for me. Or that my children were battling at school or on drugs … I mean my God, what kind of mother does that make me?”
He stared at the woman for a few seconds, part of him was waiting to see if she had more to say, part of him hoping she would keep talking and give him more time. But it quickly became apparent she was done. Slowly he took off his glasses and rested them on the table between them.
“Do you want to know my honest opinion on why some people seem to go from one abusive relationship to another? Their bodies become so used to the constant flood of chemicals that come with the pressure and the stress. It’s as if they have to go through withdrawals only no one thinks about it in those terms. Everyone is just happy for them, never imagining that there would be something missing from their daily lives. But it can be addictive.”
Mrs Williams stared at him as though he was successfully justifying something terrible.
“The fact that you’ve come here, to me, looking for help and not started sabotaging your life, is a good sign. You’ve recognised something is wrong before acting on it. Most people don’t do that. You want my opinion. Take those feelings and do something with it. You have spent that last God knows how many years successfully dealing with crises. Become an ambulance driver, get a high-pressure job, become an extreme sports person. You’ve been the victim of your life for so long you’ve forgotten how to be the hero, but that’s what you are. You beat cancer for fuck sake. Own it, don’t suffer from it.”
Dr Edwards reached across the table, picked up his glasses and put them back on. He could see the wheels start spinning in her mind and part of him wondered if she wasn’t just going to start screaming at him.
“Th… thank you, doctor.”
They once again sat in silence for a few minutes just looking at each other until he couldn’t stand it any longer.
“Susan, the world is out there waiting for you. Go and get it.”
Her back seemed to straighten and she stood up, suddenly looking like a different woman.
“Thank you, doctor.”
“My pleasure, if you ever feel like you need to talk, feel free to come back.”
She smiled and him and quietly left the room. He waited until the door was closed before once again dropping his glasses on to the table. With a shaking hand, he pulled open his bottom desk drawer, pulled out a half-full bottle whiskey, and took a few long drinks before putting it away and calling for his next patient.