Heidi Chu ’19

You Know What You Have To Do

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

David hurried into the office; his shoes shuffled impatiently down the checkerboard carpet.

“Sorry, sorry, I-there was traffic and then I-” he murmured in between heavy puffs of air.

“That’s fine, Mr. Shapiro, just take a seat so we can get started,” Dr. Larson said calmly.

His hands were folded neatly in his lap, and a notebook sat on the corner of the glass table in the center of the room. A clock ticked away on the opposite wall, a tauntingly silent reminder. David placed his briefcase down beside the couch and laid down, but his feet hung slightly off the edge. He had grown a great deal since he first started seeing Dr. Larson. It took him a few moments to get situated. The material of the couch was plushy, and a row of metal studs lined one side.

“Are you ready?” Dr. Larson asked gently. David nodded slightly and lowered his head onto the armrest of the chair.

“Right then. Tell me, David, how have you been feeling lately?” Dr. Larson asked.

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

“Nothing out of the usual,” David replied solemnly. He shifted his head and peered out the window at a tree that had just begun to blossom in clusters of white flowers. Every so often a breeze would pass through, and the branches would swing from side to side like a quiet greeting to all admirers. How peaceful. As Dr. Larson spoke, David noticed how perfectly the words formed from his lips. For as long as he had known Dr. Larson, nothing was ever out of place. Even his office reflected his composed demeanor. His Ph.D. hung squarely on the opposite wall. Vicander I. Larson.

“David? Did you hear me?” Dr. Larson asked again.

“I’m sorry what was that?” David responded, withdrawing himself from his daydream.

“I asked you if things were getting easier at home. Have you thought about what we talked about during our last session?”

“I-I’m not crazy,” David stammered.

“I’m not saying that you are, David. I’ve known you your entire life and have treated almost everyone in your family,” Dr. Larson stated in a calming tone.

What family? David muttered under his breath. They’re all gone.

“I’d be surprised if you weren’t having problems especially considering all you’ve gone through. I’m here to help you, David.” Dr. Larson continued on, “Now tell me, have you been thinking about them again?”

David turned his head and spotted a pile of dilapidated toys crouching in the dark corner of the room. Among them was a particular doll dressed in a white nightgown. Her face was frozen in a permanent state of despair. If he looked at it long enough he swore he could see a tear in the corner of its eye.

“She loved that one. She’d take it everywhere and refused to sleep without it. Sometimes Mol and I thought that doll was a part of our little girl,” David said quietly. My Paige. He winced and turned away. He could not bear to look in her vacant, sullen eyes any longer. Dr. Larson walked over and brought the doll over to David.

“You hold on to it. I imagine a part of Paige might bring you some comfort,” he said. David held the fragile doll in his hands and felt a lump growing in his throat. He swallowed the sadness and allowed it to boil into burning hatred.

“Why do you think she would do that to me? How could she hurt herself? How could she hurt Paige?” David asked angrily, “It doesn’t make any sense.” He shook his head violently and looked away.

“There are some things we can’t change, David,” Dr. Larson said. David turned around and looked straight into Dr. Larson’s eyes with intense anger. Dr. Larson kept his gaze coolly, completely unphased. He was engulfed in the shadows on the opposite side of the room, but David could still sense his foreboding presence.

“Tell me, have you thought about trying to see them again?” Dr. Larson asked.

“How could I? They’re gone,” David sighed. He looked up at the ceiling and traced the outline of the air vents with his eyes, “You and I both know good and well that there’s nothing I can do to change that.” Dr. Larson clicked his pen twice and hummed in a low tone. He looked up and David noticed that his eyes had changed from his normal shade of amber into a deeper shade. It was no longer a color, more like, an unsettling emptiness.

“You don’t think I haven’t wanted to?” David shouted, “Of course I’ve thought about it. I would do anything.” Dr. Larson stared at David for a long time until David felt his gaze growing colder and looked away.

Breathe in…

Breathe out…

“I think you know what you have to do,” Dr. Larson finally spoke. His tone was ominous and echoed deep until David felt like the words were ringing in his skull. I have to do this. The room was quiet again except for the sound of the air vents whirring softly. Once again he lost himself in a daze, but this time it was about Mol and Paige. They were standing in the corner of the room, right behind Dr. Larson’s chair. Paige reached out her hand and her pudgy cheeks revealed a baby toothed smile. She called out for him repeatedly, but David felt paralyzed in his seat. Her coos quickly turned into shouts as she cried out for him, but even then, he could do nothing but suffer silently. He closed his eyes and wished it away.

“David?” Dr. Larson said suddenly. His voice cut through the silence like a knife, “It seems our time is up.” David opened his eyes. His mind was foggy, and he did not feel like himself. David. He said the name to himself repeatedly but did not recognize it. It was almost as if he had said it so many times that it had lost all its meaning. However he quickly grabbed his things and began walking to the door. When he had almost reached the doorway, he heard Dr. Larson speak,

“David, if you do this, I know it will make things better for you,” he said, “Do this and all your sorrows will be lifted.” David nodded and left.

As he pulled into the garage he noticed the overwhelming stillness around him. The silence was suffocating. He looked over at his briefcase and noticed a tuft of white cloth peaking out. He tugged at it and the doll fell into his lap. Its grim eyes looked up at him and he swore he could hear Paige calling out for him. The garage door closed with a thud. The keys were still in the ignition. I know what I have to do. I know what I have to do. David laid back, closed his eyes, and dreamt of her.

Breathe in…

Breathe out…