I was his first
“I wish I could tell you my first impression of him. It’s lost, really. There was a song playing, or perhaps there was singing, or music at least, and I joined in. Couldn’t help it. Poured straight out of my soul. Well, it felt right, anyway.” I paused as I remembered what it must have felt like. It was too far in the past.
“Isn’t that something?” I said. “To feel it immediately? Goodness. I hadn’t thought about it in ages. Is that why you brought it up?”
“You brought it up. I asked of your earliest memories in general. So, what was your next impression of him?”
I had to dig deep for that one. I counted the petals on the flowers in the painting on the wall behind her desk. Cheap painting. Odd. You wouldn’t think I’d be here.
“He doted on me,” I said. “I was his first.”
“Yes. You’ve said that a few times. What does it mean to you, to be his ‘first?'”
“Well, I’ve learned a lot since those days.” I paused and looked around the room. I wasn’t going to blab it all in the first minute. Why does everything have to happen so fast? Everything of consequence, that is.
“It was fast,” I finally said.
“Fast? How so? Can you elaborate?”
Fast wasn’t the right word. ‘Overwhelming’ was better, but I couldn’t say it. I don’t even allow myself to think it. Those kinds of words should not be used for him. If I can’t utter them, then they can be left unsaid. “He had a way of making me feel like I was the only thing in the world. And then, I wasn’t.”
“Why, do you suppose that happened?”
“You’ll have to ask him.”
She smirked at that. I saw it. The corner of her mouth tilted, her cheeks puffed slightly, as her eyes beamed at the floor.
“It’s okay if you don’t believe me,” I said.
“Julius, please, I don’t judge your words. I’m a counselor. It’s the sincerity of your words that is important to me. I only weigh-in if I feel you’re avoiding something or getting off track from where you were heading. I’m here to help.”
“Yes, and you are. He hurt me, you know? God.” I said the words before I could get them back, and watched them float across the tiny throw-rug between her desk and the chaise. The rug had brown coffee stains, but their neglected presence didn’t stop her from detecting my meaning. Her head bobbed up and down on her shoulders.
“And my name’s not really Julius.”
She stared at me a moment.
“You’ve waited till the last two minutes of our session to share this…bomb?”
“It’s not a ‘bomb’ bomb.”
“Well, then it can wait till next time.”
“If you say so. I can’t be responsible, then.”
“What’s your real name?” It hurt her to get it from her throat. Anger vented out.
I stood and bowed. “My real name’s not important. I’m sorry. I’ll come back next Tuesday, if that’s okay.”
“No. Maybe. Responsible for what?”
“Be careful, please, mystery person, with what you say next, because if you’re not my client, which you may not be in the next minute, and you threaten someone, I will not hesitate to notify the proper authority.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything different.” I waited to make sure she wanted to hear what I had to say. “It hurt to be abandoned, you see, and what I’m not responsible for are someone else’s actions. You don’t have to worry about me. No one is in danger from me.”
Her eyes hardened. Maybe it was the mention of ‘danger.’ A woman alone in her home office with…me. I opened the door.
“Wait,” she was almost out from behind her desk. “I have twenty minutes before my next appointment. Please, continue.”
The twenty minutes had been forty minutes ago, and another knock came at the door. There had been three. She answered the first one asking for a few more minutes. She did the same on the second, and didn’t seem to notice this third one. I continued talking.
“…I had my back turned, you see, and the music was very loud. Everyone was shouting. I knew he might be there, but I didn’t turn. I regret that.”
“Sure. I planned it. I made it happen. The least he could have done is to let me look him in the eye before launching me out of his life.”
“What did you mean, ‘he returned?’ Returned from where?”
“He’d been with you people. So, if you can picture this…” I stood from the chaise lounge. The scene needed to be painted. “Everyone is there and when I say everyone, I don’t mean everyone, it was only a segment of all of us, but it was still a lot. Now, see, I’m facing them…”
The person outside began to pound on the door and scream. He was loud and trying to sound authoritarian. “Mrs. Thompson?! Mrs. Thompson, please!”
“May I?” I asked. Before she could respond, the door handle turned and opened to reveal the man standing in the doorway, with one hand ready to knock and the other in his pocket, which he quickly removed when he saw me.
“Where’s Mrs. Thompson?” He now placed both hands on his hips as he tried to peer around me into the room. I lowered my voice so only he could hear. His face, close to mine at first jerked back, but his feet quickly followed as he headed out the waiting area door.
“He forgot his coat,” I said, closing the door.
She looked at me, and I knew that she knew.
“What did you say to him?”
“The truth. I told him he needed to stop looking at the porn sites that reminded him of his mother. It’s just stupid.”
Now she was beside herself. It was thick in the air like sex or fear or…hunger? She really wanted to know. If she wants to know, who am I to hold it from her.
“Who are you? When you say you were his first…who is the ‘he?’”
“Don’t you know? Does it matter? I thought my words weren’t as important as their sincerity?”
She sat down. I hadn’t noticed, but she had actually hidden herself from view of her client. Okay. She should know.
“Okay, if you must…”
“Wait. I know. I think. Let me just ask this: if you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently?”
“Oh.” The word popped out of me again. She had a way of doing that like I’d never experienced with anyone before. Odd. Here. Her. Me.
“I am me,” I said. “I don’t think I can be any different than what I am. Can you?”
“That’s what’s on record, thank you, goodbye.”
Damn. Remember, you are in Hell. Remember. So that’s how the door opened. Damn. Very funny and yes, if I had to do it all over again, I’d shake it up like it deserves. You hear me? Yeah, you hear me.
Bill Sells is a former newspaper correspondent turned children’s writer, poet, and flash-fiction something or other. He has two books on the market and stories online. He lives in Chesapeake Beach Maryland with his wife, Sue, and their three-legged dog, Jaybird.
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