The Therapist

by James Ellis

She said it had been traumatic.

She said not traumatic like explosions or being in a war.  She hadn’t been buried alive or anything. It wasn’t that sort of traumatic. Nothing like that.

She said she felt silly but if she didn’t talk about it she’d go mad. Not literally mad, of course. She meant she would… fragment. Like glass.

She said look, she knew there were people who were worse off but maybe what was traumatic for one person was… more… or less… for someone else. Some people might like being buried alive. Look at moles.

She said cancel that. That was a stupid thing to say.  Moles had nothing to do with it. She said moles were equipped with forepaws and preferred a subterranean lifestyle. Obviously she wasn’t a mole. Obviously she hadn’t been buried alive.

Not physically.

She said sorry, that sounded pathetic. She said the truth was… the truth was… She said the truth was she didn’t know why she’d come in the first place.

She said she was sorry about the crying. She must have sprung a leak. Crying was supposed to be good, wasn’t it? Which was odd. Wasn’t the whole purpose of life to come out of it happy? Maybe not happy in a ha-ha, cartwheeling sort of way…

But just to come out of it not crying.

She said it must be nice to be a therapist.  Sit back and put on a pretend-sympathetic expression, A sort of half-smiling, encouraging, pretend look, and say, oh yes, that is good, very cathartic, keep crying. That’ll be a hundred pounds, please.

She said nobody really cared. Not really. Other people’s problems didn’t interest other people. It was depressing. Sweep it under the carpet. Forget about it. Man up. Have a drink. Have a laugh. Have a kit-kat.

She said she shouldn’t have come. Did talking ever help? Really? Everyone said it did, but did it? She said it was funny, wasn’t it? All this. All this… stuff.

She said thanks for listening.

James Ellis recently completed an MSt in creative writing, was a prize winner for the Real Writers Short Story Awards and recently read at the 2015 Brighton Fringe Festival.

  1. #1 by Joy Manne on September 3, 2015 - 7:16 am

    Very good. Tender and insightful. What an aware client. What an observant writer.

  2. #2 by Shirl on September 3, 2015 - 10:41 am

    I really liked the voice in this piece.

  3. #3 by Linda Daunter on October 28, 2015 - 1:33 pm

    Really enjoyed this. I don’t know her story, but I know her.

  4. #4 by fixoffiction on November 6, 2015 - 8:46 pm

    I loved the aching tone of this voice.

  5. #5 by Krista M on July 12, 2022 - 11:42 pm

    Thank you foor sharing this

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