“Maybe I should just kill myself,” I said, sitting on that God-forsaken couch in that God-forsaken room. I saw a psychiatrist every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. My parents thought it would help.
“And why do you think that?” she asked, sounding unconcerned because she asked me the same thing a million times before.
“Because it would be more productive than sitting in this fucking room, that’s why.”
She scribbled something on her small, yellow legal pad and looked up at me with calm eyes. “So what have you been doing to keep yourself busy?” she asked.
I stared at the floor, fidgeting my feet. I put my hands in my lap and slowly rubbed them together.
“Yeah I heard you.”
“Well, what have you been doing with your free time?”
I thought maybe if I ignored her she would just skip to the next question. But when I raised my eyes and saw her glaring at me like a mother glares at her son when he doesn’t put away the dishes, I knew she wasn’t going to let it go.
“I’ve been writing a lot.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Oh? And what do you write about?”
“That’s as much as you’re going to get,” I said, annoyed.
Sighing, she set down the legal pad on a coffee table. She removed her glasses and looked at me with a sober face.
“Look, we’ve done this for five weeks now. And every time you come in here, it’s the same thing; I ask you a straightforward, simple question, and you’re a brick wall. You’ve got to let me help you. You’ve got to buy in. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including mine.”
I looked down again, feet fidgeting and hands rubbing.
“Listen,” she said, “this doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll put away the notes. I’ll stop analyzing. Let’s just talk. Let’s just have a regular, human conversation. Can you do that?”
The only sound to break the silence was the sliding of my sandy skin rubbing against itself.
“I guess can try,” I said.
“Great.” She straightened up in her chair. “We can start slow. That’s perfectly fine. Why don’t you just talk about what it is you like about writing. Why do you write?”
My feet became perfectly flat and my hands perfectly still. That question hit me like some kind of nerve-calming amphetamine injected intravenously just below the crook of my elbow.
Why do I write?
She sat in her chair, legs crossed and eyes fixated on my face. Everything was quiet. Time slipped for slow seconds. Everything fell away.
“I write because it’s the only thing I have,” I said. The words sprang on me as I spat them out. She looked surprised, too.
The dam broke.
“I write because there’s nowhere else for me to go. There’s nothing for me when I put down my pen. Nothing. When I stop writing, I go into the same shitty world as everyone else. I go out and pretend to be a part of something. But you want to know something? I’m not. I’m not a part of anything. I don’t belong, and I don’t fit in. I just pretend because that’s what everyone expects. I fake it so I can get by. I make everyone think that I’m regular and human because that’s how it’s supposed to be. Why do I write? I write because it fits in to me. I write because, for once in my life, I can speak. I have a voice. I can say exactly what’s on my mind, and it can be as weird or as normal or as fucked up as I want it to be, and it doesn’t matter. No one’s going to judge me or take notes on a yellow legal pad. No one’s going to question me. I can make worlds or people, and they can be as happy or as sad or as pissed off as I want them to be. It’s mine. No one can wreck it, break it, or taint it. It’s the only thing in the world that’s completely, absolutely mine.”
She stared at me with eyes like cue balls, wide and disbelieving. I could hear the clock tick as we sat there.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Finally, she grabbed her glasses, slid them on her face, and scribbled something on her small, yellow legal pad. “We’re done for today. You can go.”
Feet fidgeting and hands rubbing, I glared at her like a son glares at his mother when she forgets to pick him up from baseball practice. I stood up, grabbed my jacket, and walked into the world.
I walked into the world that made me feel like a tourist. I walked into the world that made me feel like food rejected by an upset stomach.
I walked into the world that wasn’t mine unless I picked up a pen.