Saturday, May 10, 2008

Season 1 - Episode 8

Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office

I looked at the appointment book - my next and last session was with none other than Coach Daniels. A mixture of fear and eagerness welled up inside of me wondering what he wanted. I couldn’t tell him anything about Jason without breaking a whole host of rules, something I wasn’t willing to do nor did I desire to do so.

Still feeling perplexed at this unexpected turn of events when he arrived, I couldn’t help but notice what a big man he was as I studied him for any clues as to why he made this appointment. Instead of feeling threatened, I felt safe in his presence and I found that perplexing as well as intriguing.

Greeting him with every ounce of professionalism I could muster, I gestured for him to have a seat. His frame dwarfed my otherwise cozy and comfortable chair that most of my patients looked lost in.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here.” His voice cut through the uncomfortable silence.

“As a matter of fact - yes,” I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. “Yes, I am”

“I’d like you to come talk to the team about the recent violence on campus.”

His request surprised me.

“I’d be happy to.” I took a deep breath. He must have noticed the questioning look on my face.

“You’re curious about my request.”

“Well - yes. It’s not everyday that someone from your area of expertise asks for help from someone from my profession.”

“Then we’ll just have to be the first, won’t we,” his voice was soothing as if he was coaxing a child to take a daring step forward.

A smile formed inside of me at the realization that he was using some of the techniques from my profession to get his way.

Just what did this man want? My mind started to whirl in speculation. Then a sudden sense of acceptance came over me and I didn’t even try to stop myself from finding out.

“I think we have the same objectives,” his voice broke through my wandering thoughts, almost reading my mind. “In fact, why don’t you come to the team’s practice tomorrow and see how we train. We start at four.”

My shock must have registered on my face.

“They don’t bite - not really - despite your experience with Jason. He’s just a confused kid.”

A long moment passed before I answered. “I’ll have to check my schedule.”

“I can wait - I still have twenty minutes left for my appointment.” His smile nearly melted me right then and there.

I moved as gracefully as I could, walking past him to get to the outer office area to check the master calendar - or at least pretend to. My evening schedule was really my own but I needed some distance from the overwhelming presence of this man to collect my thoughts and decide how to respond.

A voice in my head said no, but a deeper voice in my heart said yes. I decided to listen to my heart over my head this time. It was just a team practice after all. I’d still be home in time for dinner.

I returned to my office to find him looking at the certificates and pictures on my wall. He turned towards me when I closed the door.

“So, can you make it to the team practice?”

“Yes, Coach Daniels, I can,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“It’s Greg.” He stepped closer, his eyes locked with mine. Everything unfolded in slow motion. At least that’s how it felt.

I held my breath as he came even closer, finally realizing he was asking me to call him by his first name.

“As one colleague to another.” He extended his hand towards mine. My hand felt small in his as he firmly but gently sealed our deal with the customary gesture. “Don’t forget - sixteen hundred hours.” He turned towards the door and smiled at me as he left.

It felt good to have a strong, good-looking man take such a positive interest in me. I allowed myself to enjoy the moment and then strongly reminded myself that this was business and would have to stay business.

He really was a good-looking man and his smile was to die for! Did I really just think that? Yes - yes I did. I grabbed my coat and purse and enjoyed my happiness all the way to my car. The drive home was one of the most pleasant I’d experienced in a very long time.

Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home

I returned home to find a note from Dana. She was out with friends. I reflected on my time with Coach Daniels - er Greg - and decided that I needed to be cautious - very, very cautious. The question - was it my heart or my professional voice that needed cautioning.

The answer was both.

Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office

Back in Regina’s office for the first time in weeks for one of our sessions I felt different - it felt different - being here. She was looking more like her old self but I could tell she was still deeply disturbed by the recent round of school violence, even if the threat was a hoax. I looked at the calendar and realized just how close it was to the anniversary of her son’s death.

“How are you doing?” I was the one asking the questions today.

“Hanging on.” Her words were simple but her voice spoke volumes.

“Then hang onto me.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her with me towards the window that had offered me so much solace over the years. I put an arm around her and realized just how frail she had become these past few weeks, something I couldn’t ignore. She was my dear friend, my lifeline.

I had needed her and now she needed me.