Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 11)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

Clydene called a few times over the next several days. I always let it go through to voicemail and did not return her calls. She said she wanted to apologize, but I did not want to talk to her, or to her husband. I did not want to talk to her, because I did not want to get further embroiled in their problems. And besides—the real reason—I didn’t want to have to explain what had set me off or account for what I had said or how I had said it. That’s not what I signed up for.

Then one day, while I was eating lunch and reading another novel, Ange Hooper knocked on my office door. She sat down in my guest chair and sighed. “Ted and Clydene Jackson were in to see me today.”

I stared at her and stammered, “Yeah, I— I’ve been meaning to call her back. I hope she’s doing okay.” That was only a half-lie.

“Is it true that you called him an ice-hearted jackass?” She had a twinkle in her eye.

“Uh… Yeah, I guess I did.”

“I thought maybe he had misunderstood, and you had actually said ‘nice-hearted jackass.’” A giggle in her voice.

“Uh… No, he got it right.” I could feel my face getting red.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Might make you feel better.”

“You’re not my shrink,” I reminded her.

“Sure I am,” she said, “or who else is going to be one for you?”

“Hmm,” I grunted, not wanting to argue with her about whether a mental health worker can counsel a friend, because I agreed that in many ways, she was my shrink. She was part of my professional and personal support system. She had been a confidant in the past, and all she wanted now was to help me save my professional butt. But I still didn’t want to talk about my feelings, not to her, not to anyone.

“What did he say,” she asked, “that set you off?”

“What?”

“Something set you off,” she explained. “Maybe you’ve been under stress—I don’t know. But something set you off and made you tear into him. That’s so unlike you. So what set you off?”

“He disparaged my parents,” I admitted.

“Tell me about your parents.”

Oh, she was good, and she was clearly wearing her shrink hat.

“I don’t want to talk about my parents,” I said.

“Why don’t you want to talk about your parents?”

“Ange,” I said, getting upset, “not now.”

“Then when? Tonight? Tomorrow? The day after?”

“You’re infuriating, you know that?” I stared at her, fire in my eyes.

“I’m concerned about you, Mira,” she said sweetly, with worry in her eyes. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you look like you’re just about to tear into me, and I don’t even know what I did. Don’t you think you should at least level with me?”

I’ve never been very good at thinking up excuses under pressure. And I’ve never been very good at hiding my true feelings. I’m as transparent as a sheet of glass. And I’ve never been very good at avoiding a direct answer to a direct question. And the answer was that, yes, I did think she deserved an explanation. In retrospect, I could tell you, we both knew “what” she did to upset me. She started poking me in a sensitive spot. But at the time, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking that she was right: I was behaving out of character, and I did owe her an explanation.

More than that, a little voice in the back of my mind was telling me that I should talk to her, and that I should do it now, that I’d never encountered the right opportunity to talk about this, that I’d simply gotten used to not talking about it, that if I didn’t talk to Ange, right now, she would not force the issue, and that I’d regret staying silent.

“I just don’t know where to start,” I told her.

(To be continued…)


This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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