Andrea watched a trainee, and psychology student working as a PA for the week, walk briskly from the room Christine had just entered across to the reception and the rooms that lay beyond.
Finally Andrea turned back to the blushing Keith, still standing around like some sort of idiot. She would have offered him a chair, but it didn’t seem appropriate at the time.
Andrea raised her eyebrows at him.
“So… You know her then? And don’t lie, because it’s obvious from what Miss Barkham said…”
And then it hit her.
Andrea hadn’t recognised the woman at first, but then she hadn’t been smiling. She had been wearing a fur-lined coat instead of a classy, and sparkling, black dress and pink jacket. And she hadn’t had the arm of a man around her shoulder… The same man who was standing in front of Andrea now.
“She was just someone I used to know,” Keith said, “Let’s just forget about it, okay Andrea?”
“She was the ex,” Andrea gaped at Keith, “Keith, what is your ex-girlfriend doing here at the same time as you?”
Keith blushed even redder.
“What are you saying? That I planned this? She was here for her mother, right? Andrea?”
Andrea sighed angrily. Suddenly she was starting to regain the same doubts that she had formed at the beginning of their relationship.
“You could have picked any day of any week… But you picked today; you arrived mere minutes after she did.”
The anger was starting to bubble up inside Andrea now.
“Andrea, it’s not like that,” Keith muttered, “You know it’s not.”
Keith reached out to Andrea but she turned away. Any minute now another member of staff would come along and she would be relieved of dealing with this one client…and Keith.
If he’s still in love with this…Christine…then so be it. I’m not going to stand in their way.
“Please…” Keith walked up to Andrea and placed a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off.
“Don’t, Keith. Just don’t.”
The trainee returned, accompanied by another member of the clinic. Andrea would have liked it to be Alexis, but this wasn’t her department of psychology. She was into the whole ‘analysis business’, whilst Andrea took a far more practical approach to her work.
Planting a fake smile on her face, Andrea passed the two staff members, to whom she handed over the ‘clipboard of observations’ that she was holding. Andrea refused to look back, no matter how tempting it was to see Keith; she didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. She couldn’t have him following her.
Continuing to the reception room, Andrea planned to take a right at the first turning off (which would have taken her back to Alexis) but then her feet kept walking…right out the front door.
Turning to where the dumpsters were, she collapsed against the brick wall, tears burning at her eyes. It didn’t feel good, yet it didn’t feel bad either. Andrea’s head swam with contradictory points: ‘you never really liked him’, ‘oh, he’s really nice’, ‘it’s obvious that he likes her’, ‘nah, you know he likes you really…’
Then why isn’t he showing it? I don’t understand; is this jealousy, or just practical feelings?
Screaming into the frosty air, Andrea purged her mind of everything that had happened, and then, taking a deep breath, prepared herself to head back inside.