A phychiatrist tries to get a mute patient to speak.
The sound of her bare feet slapping on the tiles coupled with the steady clomp of her companion’s shoes awoke me from my contemplation. I hurried to tidy up my desk, shuffling papers to and fro, busily piling notes and paperclips into a semi-orderly mess. I looked up and saw her standing in the doorway, a ghost somehow impeaching on reality, her patient’s smock fluttering around her slender form. “Alright Albert you my leave now, she won’t be causing any trouble.” I instructed the black giant gently grasping her arm.
He turned in the doorway dwarfing it with his bulk and the fading thunder of his footsteps signalled it was time for the session to begin. “Take a seat, make your self comfortable” I bade her as I always do and she complied in complete silence as she always does. When she sat down I examined her more thoroughly. Her face was all high cheekbones and shallow grooves with a pair of livid dark circles under her eyes. She hadn’t be eating enough it looked like we might need to start force feeding again and she didn’t look like she was getting enough rest either. Her eyes were dull almonds looking out at the world like empty windows and her thin lips were a safe door locking in the words of this ghost and making her a silent wraith.
I began to talk as I always do, “How was your day?”, “How do you feel?” and a million other small queries attempting to draw out her voice but as always there was no answer. While my mouth motored on free from my minds control I watched perturbed as her hand glided over the desk to the pen I had left on the desk by accident. Poised above it two bony fingers swooped down and grasped the blue ballpoint and brought it up to her hand in one graceful motion. My mouth kept up its monologue but all my attention was focused on those two slender fingers and the blue object held between. I made sure not to stare instead watching out of the corner of my eye for fear of startling her. Her hand retraced its course back to a piece of paper lying in front of her and hesitated above it seeming unsure of what to do.
The pen danced and a squiggly line appeared upon the paper its brilliant blue mocking the emptiness around it. It wasn’t much but it was progress, finally a change no matter how small from dumb silence! I continued my one sided rant asking “How would you describe your life?” and the hand leaped into action inscribing a single word in the middle of the paper “ocean”. I was filled with equal parts excitement and perplexity. Finally a word, if not in speech, but still a word! But what did it mean? “Ocean” was it a thing, a concept, a place she’d been or a thing she’d seen? Was it related to what I said or something else in the conversation? I called up the conversation word for word from my memory, I have a very good one you see, and nothing seemed to match either.
The steady clomp of footsteps echoed down the empty halls startling her into dropping the pen in surprise looking slightly surprised that she’s been holding it in the first place. Damn it Al! We were making so much progress and who knew if she could ever be convinced to pick up that pen again. The footsteps stopped. Al was standing in the doorway mimicking the wooden frame in his still posture. “You may go now Cynthia” I told her in a calm and even voice while inside myself I was screaming at her to pick up that pen again.