Editorâ€™s note: This is the fourth installment of the fiction story â€œInside the Hollow Sun,â€ which will run throughout the rest of the semester.
My session with Dr. Clermont didnâ€™t go well the next morning. He made me unwrap my wrists so he could take photographs of the fresh scars.
â€œYouâ€™re symptoms are getting worse,â€ he said.
â€œYeah, I guess so,â€ I said. He just shook his head. It was a long hour for the both of us. He started suggesting extra sessions, and I argued against it. I couldnâ€™t imagine spending more time in here with all of them. We reached an agreement: any more fresh cuts and Iâ€™d have to go to evaluation.
Evaluation is where the head panel of the trauma center reviews your file. They can give you a new therapist, multiple therapists, or even require permanent residency in the trauma center. Like I said, it was a long hour.
I waited for Elizabeth outside of office 533 after therapy. Her sessions ended later than mine. I watched people drag their feet through the hall. It always squeaked when they did because the floors were freshly waxed each morning. The sound made me clench my teeth.
â€œHarrison?â€ said Elizabeth as she walked out into the hallway.
â€œHey,â€™ I said, standing up and offering my arm. Elizabeth reached out and grabbed it. She was wearing sunglasses again. Sheâ€™d taken to having them on all the time. â€˜Iâ€™d rather people wondered why Iâ€™m wearing them indoors,â€™ sheâ€™d told me. â€˜Not wonder if Iâ€™m blind.â€™ We walked out of the building together and headed toward Morenoâ€™s.
Greg usually met us there for lunch on the Mondays. It was a cafÃ© that was roughly located between all of our homes, so it had become a place we liked to frequent. Greg already had a table when we walked inside.
â€œAfternoon,â€ he said.
â€œHello, Greg,â€ Elizabeth replied. I patted him on the back and took a seat across from the window.
â€œDo you want anything off the menu today?â€ Greg asked Elizabeth.
â€œNo, thatâ€™s all right,â€ she said. Greg and I had guessed that reading the menu out loud embarrassed her. She tended to just get whatever the special was for the day.
The waiter approached us a few moments later. â€œHi, my name is Anthony and Iâ€™ll be helping you today. Can I start you off with anything to drink besides water?â€
â€œIced tea please,â€ said Elizabeth.
â€œActually, Iâ€™ll take the same,â€ said Greg.
â€œAndâ€¦ Iâ€™d like a glass of cabernet sauvignon,â€ I said.
â€œIâ€™m sorry sir,â€ said Anthony, â€œbut we donâ€™t serve alcohol before noon.â€ I pulled out my phone to look at the timeâ€” 11:14. Damn it.
â€œWaterâ€™s fine,â€ I said.
â€œVery good, Iâ€™ll be back for your orders in just a moment.â€
â€œThank you,â€ said Elizabeth as Anthony walked away.
â€œSo, are you still planning on Idaho?â€ asked Greg.
â€œYeah, Iâ€™m leaving on Friday,â€ I said.
â€œAnd youâ€™ll be backâ€¦â€
â€œSunday.â€ I had a type of anniversary to honor. July 2, the day Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.
Fiction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.