Marion lies back on the couch, she knows she has become a cliché. Her therapist speaks to her through closed eyes. She is in this moment and she can’t go anywhere else without moving. The therapist is called Munroe, and Marion never wondered if it was a forename or a surname till now, she’s lying here with Munroe’s voice sliding round the room like the tongue of a snake. Munroe asks her to let go of the muscles in her back. Marion isn’t sure how to do this exactly, but she is willing to make the best of that. At sixty pounds an hour, it’s worth a try. Hell, at eighteen months of restless sleep it’s worth a try. She does her best to be as still as she can, but she still feels attached to all parts of her body, she isn’t really sure what to do to let go. Not only does Marion feel still attached to all parts of her body, but, disappointingly, she feels, her insides are still inside, and her bones are still holding it all together. “You need to release.” Comes Munroe’s voice. “Go with me”. This means Munroe is about to ‘lead’ her somewhere imaginary. Marion doesn’t always see the relevance of their destinations but at least she begins to concentrate more on whatever Munroe does with her for the rest of the session. “You are on the coast. Standing with your toes in the sea foam. The water is warm. Are you okay there?” asks Munroe.
“There’s a soft breeze” Marion confirms, and the therapist continues. Marion used to go to the sea when her dad took her for weekends. It’s a nice place for her, free from the strife that followed in later years. Munroe is most likely aware of this, and goes on to describe their destination. Marion isn’t listening; she’s peacefully going over memories of her dad. When he would pick her up in his beaten up old Morris Minor, and let her sit up front, all the way to Lewes. Playing Credence Clearwater on the tape player all down the motorway till they could see the sea, and then it was Van Morrison, full volume the rest of the way. Suddenly Marion remembers where she is, she remembers she needs to listen, she switches back. “You’re in the water now. Nothing is touching you; you are free in the water. All your muscles can go.” Marion is breathing faster and faster now. She’s taking it all too seriously. Her feet can’t feel the bottom. She’s too far out. Her muscles are not even weaker, they are just gone. Nothing is holding her up. She discovers she can breathe fine under the water and she’s calmer now but she is watching herself move, eyes wide seeing, through the blue. She’s not in her body, but she doesn’t think of it quite like that. It’s like knowing which one is you, in a dream where you watch everything happen. She’s swimming like a baby through the blue. She can’t feel her throat and she puffs her tongue right out of her mouth she’s chasing for breath but she’s under water and grown women can’t breathe underwater. She sits up on the couch and gasps. Its air she takes in. She’s opened her eyes to the room. It’s blue. She can’t get out of the blueness. She stands up and bursts into the hall. There is the desk, there is the receptionist. She sighs to be on land. She sighs twice. She feels the need to shake herself dry like a dog. She manages not to. There is a man on the end of the row of plastic chairs; he’s waiting to go in. From the outside, you can’t tell that anything is wrong with him. Her vision sways a little as she feels the coolness of standing in the doorway. No one is moving. Everyone here is letting her do this. She steadies herself with an arm on the doorframe, and calmly asks the receptionist to call her a cab, before returning to the room with the couch in it. She closes the door behind herself, and sits back down.
Munroe looks at her, patiently. “What was that?” She knows the answer she gives will have to get her out of here quickly. Put her somewhere that isn’t blue somewhere that isn’t so soft to sit. She searches her immediate thought for something deep enough to throw Munroe off. Something that will make Munroe want to deal with it next week, not now.
“I saw myself”, Marion finds herself saying. “Like the Nevermind album cover, you know? It made me think of Cali. It made me think of my baby.”
“How old would Cali be now?” Munroe poses, softly. It’s not working. Marion surprised herself when she said that out loud, but she needs some time alone with it now. She gets up.
“I’ve got to go. I’ve got to pick the boys up.” She’s reaching for her coat on the hook that’s on the back of the door.
“You still have fifteen minutes left for this session, if you’d like to talk about her.” Munroe’s a sneaky piece of shit, she thinks.
“No, they finish early today,” Marion lies, “I’ve got to go get them now. I should have said so when I got here. I’ll see you next week.”
Munroe asks if she will be okay till next week.
“Why shouldn’t I be,” Marion says bitterly, “I’ve lasted this long.” She shuts the door hard behind her and gets out of there as fast as she knows how. As she walks over to the surgery’s front door she passes the man she saw just before, he looks normal, patient, even serene. She wonders if anyone she knows can tell she sees a therapist. You wouldn’t know if you saw that guy in a queue in the bank, or stood near him at the library, that there was anything wrong with him. Then again, she thinks, as she climbs into the cab, there is nothing special wrong with her, she’s just been beat around by life a little extra. Maybe he has too? She gets to the school twenty minutes before it lets out, and she smokes a secret cigarette while she waits for her boys.