"Do you know why you're here?"
The window was open, air coming and going as it pleased, breezing over the concrete expanse of nearby buildings. They grazed the sky and envied the sun, but they still let in its light through the glass. Monica stared at the wall opposite her counselor's ear. There was a framed sheet of paper there expressing the woman's high education or something. She disregarded it and looked beyond the frame to the window, wishing she could fly to it and leap skywards off of the sill, never to envy the sun as the earth-bound skyscrapers.
"Monica, is it? Can you tell me why you think you're here?"
"To talk," she sat upright in her chair, meeting eyes with her counselor. "But in all honesty I have nothing to say. I'm fine." This was an outright lie but Monica believed it. She hadn't the slightest interest in spilling her guts to this woman. Counselors are cold. They only care what they get paid by the hour to hold a box of Kleenex.
"I was alerted by an anonymous benefactor---"
"My brother. I know what he saw. He came to you and told you I needed help. I don't cut myself anymore," she interrupted sharply. This doesn't have to take very long.
The woman's expression refused to change, as though it were stone. Her countenance was marble, with carved out hollows for cheeks and a lip-less mouth, deep-set, round brown eyes, and a helmet of solid-looking jet black hair. Her name was Lucille and Monica hated her solely because she was trying to help. I don't need her help. I know who can help me...but she can't help me anymore.
"That's not important. It's been called to my attention that you're not coping with the death of your mother in the way you should," her gaze bore into Monica's forehead. She could feel the two identical marks burning like an iron brand scalding her skin, smoke curling.
"I don't even remember why I did it, I really don't."
"That's a lie and you know it. You're not here to tell me lies. You're here to tell me what you did and why. It's my job to help you to fix it."
"I can't be coerced into this. So I scratched myself and I cried a little. I understand your concern, but...I think I'm going to be okay." I can't say for sure.
"Monica your brother Alex came to me on the brink of hysterics in fear that you were going to kill yourself. I wish you knew how lucky you are. Some suicide warning signs are dismissed, and that person's life is in serious jeopardy."
"I'm not going to kill myself. I don't want to die." She returned the stare she was receiving, getting nothing resembling a response.
"Then why were you cutting yourself? There has to be a reason. What was it? Guilt? Sadness?" She raised her eyebrows this time, and her stare dwindled to a soft gaze. Monica's throat grew sore, her eyes began to water incessantly. She could hear the music of the glass shattering as the windshield caved in, then Alex whimpering in the back of the car. All she could see was blood, and nothing else. Crimson puddles and streaks were everywhere, some containing fingerprints and others shards of glass. Her lips parted at the memory of screeching tires and her mother's silent testimony to her daughter's survival, of the crushed door and her brother's splintered collarbone. The first tear began to fall and she seemingly swatted at it, a pest.
"I don't want to die. I just want to suffer," She closed her eyes and cursed herself for saying such, but felt worse for her lack of composure. She was crying and there was no stopping it.
Lucille slid a box of Kleenex, as she had been trained to do, across the desk.
"The accident must have been extremely traumatic for you. Do you still think about it?"
"All the time. It's everywhere...no matter where I am it comes back. I can't get in the car without getting scared." She wiped at her eyes furiously with a tissue.
"Why do you think that it's haunting you like this? Some people get out of a car accident without remembering anything." What a stupid question. Is she really serious? I can't believe this. Monica cast her eyes to the charcoal-hued carpet, the furthest she could get away from the question without moving. She shifted in her seat uncomfortably, the polyester under her legs beginning to itch.
"Maybe if you tell the story it would help."
"I don't really remember," she lied, keeping her eyes down. She wished she'd brought a cap to shade her eyes.
"Put yourself back in the car the night of the accident. There were other people, yes? Close your eyes and focus on them."
Monica shut her eyes. She remembered that night down to the slightest detail--what shoes she was wearing, the color of Alex's shirt, what the conversation had been about. She can almost feel the breeze of the air conditioner. It had been a warm spring night and there was no object Kitty loved more that that air conditioner; it was turned on in June and didn't get turned off until the very end of September. It's probably just the wind. She liked being in the vacuum of her memory. Everything was here, safe and sound, far away from Lucille's prying eyes. She concentrated on her mother's voice teasing Alex about the dance, the malicious yet playful glitter in her eye. She feels her seat belt pressing across her chest like a belt that had been tightened past its usual hole, eyeing the rosary beads knotted on the mirror. She's wearing a cheap pair of sandals, the kind one would buy at the craft store for decoration. They're comfortable and the only pair of her shoes that were nearby when she was getting ready to leave that night. She remembers Kitty calling her name, telling her they had to leave as she placed a note explaining her absence in case her husband came home on the counter. The roads are relatively clear around eleven, most people staying in on the balmy Thursday night. Monica blinks against the streetlamps illuminating the street.
"So can you see them? Can you remember exactly, or is everything fuzzy?"
"No, I remember. Kitty was wearing a gray tee-shirt and a pair of well-worn jeans...her hair was tied back but wasn't really cooperating. She was in a pretty good mood I guess. She wanted to hear about the dance...Alex. He was wearing a bright colored polo shirt, I think it was blue, almost teal, and khakis. He was disappointed about something...a girl wouldn't dance with him."
"That's good. Would you describe the moments before the accident as fond or unsavory? Do you ever think about them if you think about the accident?"
"We weren't fighting or anything, but it wasn't really happy either. It was just a couple of minutes. They could have been any minutes of my life...they were ordinary."
"But do you ever associate them with the crash? Do they come to mind first or second?" Lucille was taking notes quickly as she was listening and asking more questions, the gears in her head turning rapidly.
Monica's attention went straight from the floor back to the open window with the wind coming in, the air's hand brushing her scar lightly. She shuddered and then answered-----
"Never. I never think about them...I never thought they would mean anything. What happened that night was horrible and will always be in my head. I can recall every part of it because of the pain I associate with it," she then looked at Lucille with her lips trembling and her eyes refilling with tears of reminiscence. "What's done is done and I can't bring myself to let it go."
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