Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fiction: Therapy

"It's still there, doc," Harvey said. "No matter how much I try to forget it, it's still there."

Lovelace thought carefully, tapping the edge of his clipboard with a purple crayon. "Be careful what you say, Harvey," he admonished his patient. "I should remind you that you have just completed your rehabilitation training."

"Well... yes, doc," Harvey admitted, his tail thumping from side to side in an obvious gesture of apprehension. "But it's still there. No matter how often I tell myself that it doesn't really exist, that it's just a figment of my imagination, it's still... there."

Lovelace sighed. "Now look here, Harvey," he said gently. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"Doing what, doc?"

"Being difficult."

"I'm not being difficult," Harvey complained, sitting up from the couch. "I'm just telling you that it's still there!"

"You also told me that you passed the extended treatment with flying colors," Lovelace said. "You told me that you were a changed weezlefrum, Harvey. You told me, in the plainest terms imaginable, that you were cured."

"I... was," Harvey said dejectedly. "That is, I am. I'm cured, doc. I'm cured."

"Then what's all this about seeing things, hmm?"

"I... don't know," Harvey admitted. "For a couple of days, everything's fine. I wake up in the morning, I do my business in the bathroom, and I head off to work. All hunky-dory."

Lovelace made a few notes on the clipboard. "And then?"

Harvey squirmed. Lovelace noticed that he was grasping at his enormous tail as though it were a security blanket, and considered sending the weezlefrum in for further treatment.

"I heard its voice, doc," Harvey finally said.

"And what did you do, Harvey?"

"I ignored it for a while. I slept on it, like you told me to."

"That's good, Harvey."

"Yeah, doc," Harvey said, and this time his yellow eyes were wide and pleading. "But after a while I start hearing the voice in the middle of the night. When I'm in bed, even."

Lovelace removed his monocle and began cleaning it on the lapels of his white coat. "I see," he said. "Is this why you called me last night?"

Harvey looked up, his expression a mixture of agony and relief. "Yeah, doc," he said. "Last night... last night, well... I hear the voice again, and I wake up."

"And?"

"It's in my bed, doc. I was in my bed. And it was... calling my name." Harvey shuddered.

Lovelace replaced the monocle, gazing at the patient through his one eye. "And then what happened, Harvey?"

Harvey thought for a while. "Nothing," he finally said.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing, doc. Honest."

"You didn't try to interact with it? You didn't talk to it? You didn't sing, or laugh, or dance, or play games with it like you were doing when you first came to me?"

Harvey considered this for a moment. "No," he said. "All I did was pull the blanket over my head and try to sleep. But I couldn't sleep after a while, so I called you."

"Ah," Lovelace said, and rubbed his one eye. Harvey had cost him a good night's rest, but he supposed that he could take it out on the weezlefrum's bill.

"So what is it, doc?" Harvey asked.

Lovelace put down his clipboard. "Nothing, Harvey. It's absolutely nothing."

"Nothing? But... I'm still seeing it!"

"What does it say to you, Harvey?"

"What?"

Lovelace frowned. "I mean, what does the voice tell you?"

Harvey thought for a moment. "Not much, really... it just calls me, and..."

"I meant last night, Harvey. It was in your bed when it spoke to you last night, wasn't it? What did it tell you?"

Harvey thought for a while. "It asked me why I wasn't playing with it anymore. It told me that we were supposed to be best friends."

Lovelace closed his eye in contemplation. He was on familiar territory now. He picked up the crayon for a short while, changed his mind, and then put it down again.

"You're right, Harvey," he said. "You're cured."

"I am, doc? But I'm..."

"You're still seeing it, yes," Lovelace finished. "But you must remember what we discussed before, Harvey. Do you remember what we discussed before?"

"Which one, doc?"

"That this 'child', as you call it, is a manifestation of your own personal insecurities," Lovelace explained. "It doesn't really exist, does it?"

Harvey took a deep breath, his yellow dinosaur-tail thumping against the couch again. "It doesn't exist," he said, in the practiced tones of deep therapy.

"Of course it doesn't," Lovelace said.

"But I still saw it, doc!"

Lovelace waved it away with one astute tentacle. "Yes," he finally said after a while. "You can probably still see it. But that's part of the rehabilitation, Harvey. It's all part of the natural course of things."

"I don't understand."

Lovelace leaned forward. "You see, Harvey, the rehabilitation process only taught you more about yourself. It showed you that this 'child' -- or whatever you call it -- is only a figment of your imagination, created to deal with your inner insecurities. You created it because you couldn't deal with them yourself."

"So what does this mean, doc?"

"Well, for one, you dealt with the situation very well. You ignored it."

"I did?" Harvey asked.

"Yes, Harvey," Lovelace sighed, "you did."

"Wow."

"It's an indication that you're fully on the road to recovery," Lovelace explained. "Your imaginary 'friend' will most likely try to manifest itself every now and then, but all you have to remember is that it doesn't really exist. It is a product borne from your own weaknesses, and in order to move on, you must ignore it completely."

"Ignore it completely," Harvey repeated. "Yeah, I can do that."

"You can, Harvey?"

"Yeah, doc," Harvey said, his expression becoming far lighter than Lovelace remembered. "I can do that."

"Good," Lovelace said, picking up the clipboard and slithering back towards his desk. "I imagine that it should disappear in time," he added.

"Yeah, doc. I suppose."

Lovelace raised a singular eyebrow. "You suppose, Harvey?"

"I mean I do," Harvey corrected. "I just have to ignore it, and then it'll disappear."

"Good, good," Lovelace said. "I believe that means that we're done here. You just need to remember, Harvey: You are the one who is fully in control. There are no such things as 'children'. They are mere figments of your imagination."

Harvey moved towards the door. "Yeah, I'll remember that," he said. "Thanks, doc."

"Just make sure that you see the secretary outside. She'll take care of the paperwork."

"Yeah."

"And... Harvey?" Lovelace asked.

"Yeah?" Harvey answered, about halfway out the door.

"If this imaginary 'friend' of yours gives you any further trouble, you're welcome to come and see me again. Just be sure to make a proper appointment the next time."

"Yeah, doc. Thanks. Sorry about last night."

"It's okay, Harvey. It's okay."

Lovelace waited for the weezlefrum to close the door before taking a look at his sparse collection of notes. Harvey was one of the good patients, although with a little luck, he was unlikely to cause the office any further inconvenience. Lovelace considered this for a moment, then crumpled the session log into a little ball and threw it towards the wastebasket in the far corner. He missed.

"Miss Grace?" he asked, pressing the intercom button. "Please send the next patient in."



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4 comments:

Dominique said...

I saw the twist somewhere near the start, though I think that was intentional. It might have been weezlefrum that gave it away ;-) Still, I'm drawn enough to read it all the way till the end. Engaging writing, as usual, Sean.

Sean said...

Dominique: Good catch. Halfway through the piece I realized that I wasn't doing a good job of hiding the twist, so I decided to go back and adjust the elements to be far more obvious. It could have been much, much better, though.

Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

This lovely short reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit, which in turn always reminds me to be nice to all my stuffed animals... although I don't have a weezlefrum. Lotsa monkeys, no weezlefrums. :)

Sean said...

Ailee: I liked The Velveteen Rabbit. I feel that it was such a sad, sentimental story. (And this is despite the fact that most of the stuffed toys I own lean more towards plotting my demise.)

I have no idea what a weezlefrum is, though. For that matter, I have no idea where the term came from, although I suspect that borderline-illegal hallucinogenic drugs might have had something to do with it. :)