Dr. Brian Matthews picked up the phone receiver and dangled it awkwardly in his hand. Sitting slumped over his desk, guilt loomed over his head as he thought about Annette Gardner. He dialed her number, hoping to explain.
“Annette? It’s Brian, hey, listen, I–”
“No, you listen. No one speaks to me that way, you understand? You completely overreacted! You wouldn’t even talk to me, instead, you jump right on in and scream at me like I’m some irresponsible child!”
Dr. Matthews felt his cheeks redden. “Well it was irresponsible, you have to admit. I mean, can you seriously say that telling your unstable sister-in-law that you’ve been seeing her psychiatrist was helpful? You’ve got to be kidding!”
“If you called me to apologize, you’re doing a fine job,” said Annette with spite, “I’ll give you one more chance.”
Sighing as he released his pride, he said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
“You’re damn right you were wrong…I’m sorry that I didn’t ask you first, but I don’t like to hide things. Believe me, that alone was more than difficult to keep secret.”
Dr. Matthews twisted the cord as he listened to Annette’s voice. It was so forgiving, so easily comforting.”What do you say about dinner Friday night? I’d like to make it up to you…to us.”
Annette smiled, and even blushed a little bit. “I would like that very much…You know Brian, I really do like you. I hope these dates can maybe become something more someday…”
A grin spread across Dr. Matthews face as he heard the words he had been longing to hear for so long. “I’d like that too, more than you’ll ever know. See you Friday. Seven o’clock. Be there.”
Reclining in his chair, Dr. Matthews smiled with intentions less than innocent.
The shades were drawn in Elaine Gardner’s bedroom as morning turned into midday. Laying in her bed, Elaine stared at the ceiling with the blank stare that had become a regular feature to her face. Her eyes were hollow and her temples throbbed with tension. She was locked in her thoughts, for the time being.
Teddy. I’m doing okay…I mean, as good as I can, I guess. You know, it’s funny how people think forgetting someone makes all their problems go away. Not remembering something makes it all easier somehow, somehow easier to accept. They’re wrong. Of course, you know that. I don’t want to forget, that’s probably the trouble.
Elaine turned on her side, wrapping herself tighter and tighter in the tangled bed sheets. Her pillows had lost the comforting coolness she had come to expect from them. She wanted to leap from her bed and throw open the windows, but the sheets tied her down. The story of her life.
I won’t forget you Teddy, but I can’t stay like this. I’ve been talking with the doctor, and he says I’m doing all right…but I know I’m not all there anymore…not that I was ever there to begin with! You know what I mean. It’s just so hard…I can’t deal with this on my own. Mom and Dad are always here, I know that, but they can’t understand what it was like to lose you. I’d never want them to, but they can’t understand it.
She glanced at the pill bottles that littered her nightstand. The Prozac caught her eye. I’ve just been so unhappy…She picked up the bottle and withdrew a tablet, then placed it in her mouth. Reluctantly, she took a gulp of water.
My little happy pills…happy…happy. Elaine repeated the word over and over again, hoping it would be true.