The Poisoned Therapist

Water. The sounds of dripping water reverberated often in Mercer’s head. It would drip into a puddle, sometimes pour out like a fresh pail feeding spring’s floral children. But when Mercer hears her ears fill with water, all she is able to do is to be entranced as she drowns in an endless, wondrous, cosmic ocean of oblivion.

Tonight was one of those nights for her, and Mercer remained still for hours, laying transfixed in bed. She was just about to get ready to wind down for the night, maybe check her schedule for tomorrow’s clients, and then drift off to sleep. As soon as the plinking sound of water started, she was paralyzed with a soft sensation – was it adrenaline? It rushed through her veins like channels of streaming water, and her mind washed away of all thoughts and consciousness.

It was the blaring ringing of her phone that finally snapped Mercer out of trance. She jumped, in a daze, and grabbed her phone to answer the incessant noise.

“Hello?”

A nervous voice spoke up after an uncomfortable shuffling moment. “Oh hi Mercer, I was just calling to see if we could actually talk tonight? I finished my project early so I uh, I have the time now.”

Mercer quickly sat up and reached for her compact notebook from the nightstand. “Ohh! Yes, yes of course Cordelia, this is perfect. Then I can meet with Wallace tomorrow evening. How did the paintings go?”

“Well,” Cordelia let out a soft sigh. “It was good, it was good. I’m still adjusting myself to finding that outlet for me, you know? Sometimes I’m filled with thoughts that are always racing, never ending. Like a loop. They just keep on flowing and I don’t quite know how to stop them. So I painted an infinity sign in gold and then I just repeated that pattern. It’s rather hypnotizing Mercer, but today I felt proud. I was able to channel these thoughts into my artwork and it was adorned in this beautiful golden paint I purchased from Joanne’s. It was like, I could engrave my thoughts in each infinite band. Oh and, the other bands were of course other metallic paints I picked out back home.”

Plink. Not now, Mercer thought. She took a quick breath and walked to the kitchen to make herself a small cup of coffee. “That’s wonderful Cordelia. Having that outlet to express your thoughts, it’s one of the best things humanity created as a remedy to our own struggles. Art is, that is. What were some of those thoughts you were having, Cordelia?” She opened the cupboard and started on her black coffee with almond milk.

Cordelia paused for a moment, and then quietly detailed her thoughts. That she was a failure for not graduating college, for having a broken family and a broken heart. Being 25 and unemployed because of her depressive state led her to live with her aunt Terrissa out in the countryside. Cordelia always thought things would get better over there, especially because Terrissa was kind and gentle to her as a child, and the exposure to nature could brighten her mood. Terrissa was rather toxic within the confines of her home; she was constantly pressuring and reminding Cordelia of how much her presence set back Terrissa’s lifestyle of tranquility and remarking on Cordelia’s much changed stature. One day, Cordelia had taken a stroll out back along one of the fences that gated the south pasture, where her favorite mare grazed, and Cordelia saw Terrissa disposing some strange parts. She circled back later that evening and vomited on the spot from what she had seen: Malary, the house cat, was butchered viciously with charred bits and pieces of fur.

“I was just, you know, trying to get some breakfast sorted for me this morning and Terrissa just snapped at me. And then she just started yelling at me about how ungrateful I was to not ask if she was hungry and how I had no manners. She always makes me food and I did feel remorse but I just wasn’t thinking properly when I was so hungry. And honestly I wanted to throw the knife I was using to cut the cucumber at her throat and just, I don’t know, just scar her forever, and make her mute. I wanted to hurt her, Mercer.” Cordelia’s voice quivered.

Mercer took a sip of her coffee, felt a growing sense of trepidation, and drowned it down with more coffee as she clicked her pen to jot more notes. “I know you’ve tried your best. You stay out of her way when possible, and you’ve tried talking, reasoning, heck even bargaining. I want you to consider, possibly, now to change your environment instead of your relationship. You’ve been out of work for a couple years, I want you to prepare a list of potential jobs you see and like for me next week.” Mercer paused as bubbling sounds floated past her ears. “She’s not only toxic as we’ve established – Cordelia, she’s emotionally abusive to you.” A small sniff stuttered from across the line.

“I knew it at heart but you know I can’t leave her. She’s sick, Mercer. And I’m sick.” Her voice was strained, but remarkably held its composure.

Mercer felt her eyes droop with empathy. “Every day is a fight, but you’ll be the one to win the war. Okay? You have to believe in that, that’s the only way it becomes real. You’re sick, so you’ll find that remedy, even if you carry scars as a part of you for life. Heck, maybe even you have it for life but you will manage it. You don’t just stay down, that would have happened 5 years ago and you very well know that.”

More sniffles and a shuddering breath stifles through the feed after a long pause. “Thanks Mercer. I appreciate this tonight, I’m sorry if I took up more time this session than slated but this really helps me and I think I can sleep tonight.”

“Happy to help, darling. That’s what I’m here for. We can correspond over email on confirming the next appointment.”

“Okay, that sounds great Mercer. Thank you again for the kind words tonight, good night.”

“Good night.” Click.

Mercer felt herself slipping in the sofa chair as she clinked her coffee mug with her metal spoon. Clink, clink, plink, clink. Another long night. The therapist is not exactly religious, but Mercer believes in a soul, in spiritual energy. The souls, vessels and conduits, or reservoirs of internal energy is transferred to another soul, or a spiritual body. Perhaps a ki or a chakra of some sort. Cordelia was filled with uncertainty, and thus Mercer felt a growing sense of trepidation. Mercer “knew better” but still allowed – or perhaps, unable to stop – it to happen. These days, the sighs grow longer and wispier.

Soft ethereal sounds of falling water cascaded in her ears again. Mercer closed her eyes and felt a cold wake splash against her temples. It corrupted her, clouded her mind with billowing fog of emptiness. She felt like the hand of a clock, ticking mindlessly, inanimately, in the race of time. This watery sound knew how to render her a kind of stillness she never knew before. She listens, and understands her heart synchronized to the dripping of water. It filled her spiritual body and drowns her, and where dread once resided, there was nothing but solace. Alone in her chair, she sunk to the depths of this oceanic torrent. It was poisoning, and Mercer let it flow through her with a single breath.


Inspired by Matt Nasir – The Last Train

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