He walks behind her as they head towards his office. She holds her breath and counts his steps and focuses on remaining upright. The hallway seems to go on forever, until finally, finally, they reach the door. With trembling fingers and an unsteady hand she reaches out and grips the handle. She practically falls into his office but she holds it together long enough to shuffle over to her chair. She all but collapses into it and stares intently at the floor.
"How are you today?" he asks, following her inside.
She knows her voice is lost in the empty space between them, so she tries again.
"I'm good. How are you?"
She can feel his eyes on her as he makes his way over to his chair. He doesn't answer her question.
"You looked a bit wobbly in the legs, there. Are you okay?"
Damn damn double damn.
"I'm fine," she says, shifting her head so that her hair covers her face. Long hair makes an excellent shield, you know.
"How are you feeling?"
She can hear the anticipatory doubt in his voice. She works hard to keep her words even.
Fine, fine, fine.
I am fine.
Silence hangs in the air. She tugs a loose thread on her sweater and counts the beats between her breaths.
"You look really unwell." He is refusing to back down. She pulls the thread in her sweater a little harder. The seam begins to unravel.
"How are you feeling?" he asks again. There's a level of insistence in his voice. She knows he's not going to let it go.
"I'm a bit lightheaded," she concedes. The thread snaps. "And tired. I'm just tired."
She can practically feel the skepticism radiating out of his pores. She tries to ignore it.
"Yeah? How many times have you hit the deck this week?"
But he doesn't find it funny.
"I don't know. A couple of times." She tries to sound nonchalant. He is not fooled.
"Too many to count?"
She chews the inside of her lip and remains silent.
He shifts in his seat and changes tact. "What's your heart rate right now?"
She shrugs. "I don't know."
"It's right there on your wrist," he says, nodding towards her fitbit. "Check it. Please. Tell me. Please."
She hates it when he says please.
It is 43. She says 49.
They talk in circles. This is dangerous. I'm really worried. When last did you eat. When last did you sleep. How are you going with suicidal thoughts.
She says, I don't know how to qualify that.
He says, Are you going to fatally harm yourself today?
She says, No.
Circles circles talking in circles.
Can you see the dietician again. Can I call acute care. When next are you going to see your doctor. How are you feeling. Are you okay. Are you okay. Are you
She says, yes, yes, yes. I'm fine. I promise you I am fine.
He says, You're not fine. You need help.
She says, I have help.
He says, It's not enough.
You need a team.
She says, I don't want a team. I only want you.
"I'm not going anywhere. But a team can help in ways that I'm not qualified to help. Medically. With medication. They can help. Let's get you more help"
"I'm really scared of having a bunch of doctors all saying I need to do something I don't want to do."
"Doesn't that tell you something? If three or four medical professionals are all saying you need to stop, don't you think that means something?"
She tries to disappear into the chair.
It doesn't work.
Solid matter, and all.
He sighs a lot.
Says, I'm worried, a lot. I'm worried. I'm concerned. I'm scared.
She hate hate hates the scared word. He's not allowed to be scared. She is scared. She. Scared is her emotion. He is not allowed to share it.
At the end of the session, when she tries to stand, her Bambi legs made an appearance and she doesn't quite make it out of the chair. She sits there staring at the floor. He stands there staring at her. Indecisive. Unsure. Concerned.
She holds her breath
Slowly slowly slowly. Almost there. Slowly. But he wants to talk. So she has to breathe. And grip the arm of the faded chair in an effort to remain vertical.
He says, Are you always this unsteady?
She says, I'm okay.
He says, How the fuck do you run while you're like this?
She laughs. He swears so much. She swears a lot more because of him. He is a bad influence on her.
She says, Now you know why I hit the deck so often.
She waits for him to open the door.
He always does it.
But he doesn't.
He says her name.
She doesn't look at him.
But she waits.
He says, Can I walk you over to the hospital?
No. No. No.
She doesn't look at him.
Doesn't know if he responds.
The words tumble out of her mouth.
Bye. Thank you. Good bye.
She opens the door herself.
It is sunny as she walks over to her car. On the way she stops on her favourite patch of sidewalk. There's a manhole cover in the middle of the pathway. There's a label stamped into the cement. It says, 36 kilograms. She stands on it for a while until her Bambi legs go away.
She doesn't know why it makes her feel better.
But it does.