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Hold Back the River

 
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Lucy Mitford
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Hold Back the River Reply with quote

“Do you want to tell me why you’re here?”

Light filled the elegantly appointed treatment room through unshielded windows. The sky was overcast, but bright. Lucy looked out at the damp back garden, birds beginning to emerge after the morning rain, the stone pavers just beginning to dry.

“I don’t really know where to start.”

“What made you make the appointment?”

“Another doctor---my friend’s doctor---suggested I might--that I should see someone.”

“Why did the doctor think you needed to see a therapist?”

Lucy watched the pencil move as the therapist took notes on a lined yellow pad of paper. “My friend hasn’t been well.”

“And you’ve been having difficulty with that?”

“Yes.”

“What sort of difficulty?”

“It’s just--it’s hard. It feels hard.”

“What is it about your friend’s condition that is difficult for you?”

Lucy looked out the window again. “It--” she sighed, “--it’s hard to see someone you love suffering.”

“Is it a physical condition?”

“Mental.”

“I see. Do you feel responsible?”

“For his--his situation?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“But it makes you sad to see him.”

“Yes.”

“How often do you see him?”

“Every day.”

“Every day?”

“Yes.”

“I see.” The pencil moved across the page. “Can you tell me more about his condition?”

Lucy watched. Yellow pencil. Yellow pad. Then she looked out the window.

“Ms. Mitford this might be more effective, more useful to you, if you opened up a bit more. Can you--”

“No, listen. I’m sorry.” Lucy rose. “I’ll--I’ll pay you for the whole session. Thank you for your time.”
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Lucy Mitford
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“If you’ll just remove your shoes before you--”

“Remove my shoes?” Lucy looked at the new therapist with a raised brow.

“Yes. I find it creates a more intimate environment.” The therapist smiled and held open the door to the treatment room.

Lucy hesitated on the threshold then finally stepped out of her shoes and bent to line them up neatly in the hall before moving into the treatment room. Her eyes narrowed to adjust to the dim lighting, the space lit only by the flicker of phony electric candles. The therapist took a seat among the floor cushions while Lucy looked for a chair. There wasn’t one.

“Please, have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.”

“Comfortable. Right.” Lucy arranged a pair of cushions before lowering to a seat, folding her legs beside her, trying fruitlessly to tug her pencil skirt down to cover her knees.

“Settled?”

“Sure.” Lucy pulled an extra cushion into her lap to hide the bottom edge of her skirt.

“Marvelous. I like to start each session with a few moments of meditation.”

“Oh--well I actually do that--”

“It creates a good--”

“Right.”

“Let’s close our eyes together.”

“Sure.” Lucy closed her eyes.

“Breathe with me.”

A bell rang. A tinkling sound. The therapist took a deep, noisy breath before exhaling audibly.

“Ommmmmmm….”

Lucy opened her eyes.

“Ommmmmmm….”

She watched the therapist for a long moment as the woman rocked in chant.

“Ommmmmmm….”

“I um--this is not quite--” Lucy rose. “I’ll pay you for the whole--for the--session--I’m just going to get my shoes.”
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Lucy Mitford
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Hey, Lucy, right?”

“Yeah, hi.”

“Come on, have a seat.”

Lucy hesitated before stepping inside the small room. There was no desk. A couch, a couple armchairs. A bay window that looked out on Yarrow’s Green---one of New Haven’s small parks. The bookshelves were packed, double-stacked, but for the section dedicated to a sizeable record collection. “I appreciate you seeing me.”

“Well, Artie and I go back some days.” Pushing up the sleeves of his sweater, Martin James moved to a dry bar set against the wall and began to fix himself a drink.

“Artie?” Lucy watched the older man with a raised brow before she settled at one end of the couch.

“Dr. Leister.”

“Oh, right, of course.” Her eyes drifted back to the record collection a moment before returning to him.

He sank into the armchair across from her, setting his glass down on a side table next to a pair of reading glasses.

“Yeah, I’ve um--I’ve had some trouble finding someone.” Lucy smiled faintly. “And--and I haven’t quite found the right fit.”

“Fit is important.” He nodded, leaning back. “And some therapists are pricks.”

Lucy sniffed a surprised laugh. He took a sip of his drink.

“Did Dr. Leister--did he tell you anything? About me?” She twisted her fingers together.

“He told me he thought you needed someone to talk to.”

“Okay.”

“Do you?”

“I mean--” Her eyes drifted past him to the collection of records on his shelf. “Probably.”

“Okay.” He followed her attention. “You want to pick some music for us?”

“Won’t that be--won’t it be a little distracting?”

“Distracting from what?” He smirked, lifting a hand to scratch at his scruffy white beard. “You think we’re going to be doing nano-engineering here?”

She smiled faintly, watching him a moment. “No. I guess not.”

“Okay then.”

She rose and moved towards the albums. “Are these alphabetized?”

“Somewhat.” He watched her, resting his glass of scotch on his knee. “You’re from Earth then.”

“Yeah. New York.” Lucy slid an album out to look---Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin---before returning it. “You?”

Martin nodded. “Been here a while.”

Lucy looked at him over her shoulder then back at the albums. She pulled one out and raised a brow in surprise. “Dead Kennedys?”

“Hey, hey.” He pointed at her around his glass. “Don’t go judging a book by its sweater vest, okay?”

She laughed and returned the album. “Alright.”

“I was young once.”

“So was I.”

He snorted. “You know how absurd it sounds when someone your age says something like that?”

She pulled an album out and then turned it over in her hands. “Is this--this is--do you know how hard this is to find here?” She carried the album to the record player. “May I?”

“You may.” He smiled.

“I haven’t heard this since I got here.” She lined up the needle with the cut she wanted and set it down. Nick Cave’s voice filled the small space, covering Helpless by Neil Young. Lucy smiled.

“You like Neil Young or Nick Cave?”

Lucy smiled. “Am I allowed to say both?” She drifted back towards the couch. “I like music--almost--almost everything.” She scrunched her nose as she settled. “You’re not going to read into this song choice are you?”

Helpless? Should I?”

“I don’t know.” Lucy shrugged. “You’re the professional.”

“Professional?” He smirked. “I’m retired. A friend called me and asked if I would do him a favor. Far as I’m concerned, we’re just having a conversation here.”

“You think that will help me?”

“What do you need help with?”

“I--I don’t know.” Lucy frowned. “I thought that’s why I was here.”

“Lucy.” Martin set his drink aside and leaned forward. “I don’t know what you need help with yet. If anything.” He rubbed his hands together. “If you’re looking for someone to psychoanalyze you, someone who will ask you a host of rhetorical questions and hope that you eventually arrive at some sort of mentally healthy place, then I’m afraid you’ve hit another wrong fit.”

“Then--then what’s the point?”

“That’s up to you.”

“Is it?”

“Yeah, I think it is.” He leaned back once more. “All I can say is that I’ll be here. Every Tuesday and Thursday at three in the afternoon. If you want to talk, I’ll be here. If you want to cry, I’ll be here. If you want to just sit and listen to records. I’ll be here. This is your space to just be. Okay?”

Lucy watched him a long moment. “Okay.”

“Okay then.” He reached for his drink. “You ever seen Neil Young play live?”
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Lucy Mitford
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9228.28 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Everyone keeps telling me to be patient.” Lucy stood in front of the window, her shoulder against the pane.

“I take it you’re typically not a patient person.” Martin watched her from the armchair

“I just don’t know why I’m supposed to be patient.” In the park across the street, a little boy and girl ran from one pile of leaves to the next, leaping and tossing them at each other. Lucy watched the pair of them, the giddy way they wove in and out around each other, the sound of their laughter audible even across the street inside. “I don’t--I mean--why is it so wrong to want Fin out of there?”

“Why is it so important to you that he not be there?”

“Because he’s in the hospital, Martin!” She turned to face him, her voice rising. “He’s not just--just living somewhere else. He’s in a hospital.” She paced a step away, then turned back again. “When your friend is sick, don’t you want him to get better? Why is that so--why is it so hard to understand?”

“It’s not. It’s not hard to understand.”

Lucy paced away again, then turned back. “He’s sick and I--I want him to get better. I want him to get better and come home and be with people who love him.”

“Is it possible that this just isn’t as simple as that? That he’s not just sick.”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “Obviously.” She looked at the window again, then back at Martin. “Why does everyone do that to me?”

“What?”

“Treat me like I’m a *** child. Like--like you have to talk me out of how I feel.”

Martin stayed silent.

“I should be allowed to be angry. And sad. And--and however else I feel.” She looked at the window again. “I spent half my life not being allowed to show how I felt and--and I don’t want to do that here.”

“Okay.”

“I don’t want to do that here.” Lucy let out a breath, turning back to Martin.

“Okay.”

She came back to the couch, sinking into the cushions. Martin said nothing.

“Sometimes he won’t let me touch him. Or he cringes when I do. Or he just--he just sits there.” Tears filled her eyes. “Everything I say is wrong.” She reached for the box of tissues on the side table. “People--Cris--he tries to tell me what to say and what not to say but as soon as--as soon as I see him, I just forget. And then it’s a mess again.”

The muffled laughter of children floated through the room again. Martin set his glass aside and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “There’s nothing you could say or do to help him. You cannot fix him, Lucy.”

“I know.” Lucy dabbed her nose with the tissue.

“Do you?” Martin watched her. “Do you hear what I’m saying to you now? This is not your fault. This is not a problem you can solve.”

Lucy looked away, trying not to meet his eyes. “I know.”

“No, you don’t.”

She lifted a hand to cover her nose and mouth, her hand shaking. “I could’ve been--I could’ve done something---”

“---no. There is nothing.”

“Are you sure?” Her tears fell one after the other, her voice broken. “How do you know?”

“Because the woman I’ve been sitting with these last few weeks is loving and compassionate. Because you have spoken of him with nothing but admiration and heartache. Because you’re a good friend, Lucy.”

She couldn’t do anything but cry.

“You’re a good friend.”

Eyes on her lap, she pulled another tissue from the box, then another, dabbing at her face, blowing her nose.

Martin sat back again.

Lucy sniffled. Then she picked up the tissue box and threw it against the bookcase.

Martin raised a brow. “What was that for?”

“Your tissues are cheap.” She dabbed her nose. “They’re going to mess up my skin.”

He snorted. “I’m gonna need another drink.”
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Lucy Mitford
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“How did you lose the memento you had from your grandmother?”

“Hrm?” Lucy set her handbag aside and looked across at Martin.

“Every time you get something from your purse, you mention that you used to have something of your grandmother’s there.”

“Oh.” Lucy smiled softly. “It was a lighter with her monogram. And a matching cigarette case.”

“What happened to them?”

“I don’t know--” she shrugged, “I must have misplaced them.”

“Was it the only thing you had of hers?”

“Um--” Lucy lifted a hand to tug at her left earring, “--maybe.”

“That must make you sad.”

“I guess.” She turned her head to look out the window, watching the snowfall.

Martin sniffed in amusement. “You do that a lot, you know.”

Lucy looked back at him. “What?”

“Dismiss your own pain.” He took a sip of his whiskey, then set the glass aside. “You accuse other people of doing it to you but---Lucy, I have to tell you---you do it more than anyone else.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your birthday, for example. You were disappointed, weren’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“You had plans. To have a good summer, to embrace life, you said---we’ve talked about that, right?”

“Yeah.”

“--to celebrate your thirtieth birthday with your friends, right?”

“Yes.” She sighed and tipped her head back. “But--but it wasn’t anyone’s fault that--that it didn’t turn out that way.”

“No, but we’re not talking about blame. We’re talking about sadness. Regret. Loss.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s petty.” Brow furrowed, she looked across at him. “What was I supposed to do? Just--just throw a big party or--or even a small one--some dinner or whatever--with--with everyone--everyone still reeling. With Fin being--” she sighed again.

Martin didn’t respond, just watched her across the space of his study.

“Then once the summer had gone by and--and I mean--I had a nice thing at the holidays. That was nice.”

“It was,” he agreed.

Lucy fiddled with the zipper on her handbag. “I’d rather just--just focus on the gratitude now. That--that Shae is alive and--and recovering. That everyone survived. I mean--even Fin now--he’s getting better. I think he’s getting better so--so I don’t want to--to hold onto the summer I didn’t have when--when I should just be grateful.”

“Are you grateful? Or should you be grateful?”

Lucy shot him a withering look.

He held up a hand in defense. “I’m just asking about you. What about you? Are you getting better?”

She didn’t answer.

“You still have nightmares?”

Lucy nodded.

“You haven’t been able to work?”

She nodded again.

“You still visit Fin every day?”

“Yeah, so what?”

“Lucy.”

“What?”

“What happened to your grandmother’s lighter?”

She dragged in a breath, turning to look out the window again. “I lost it.”

“When?”

“The day we--the day I helped Shae at the warehouse. The lighter and--and the cigarette case were in my handbag. I had to leave it behind when we ran. When we ran from--from--” She exhaled. “They’re gone.”

“Did you tell anyone? What you lost?”

“They’re just--they’re just things.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“It doesn’t--it doesn’t matter.” She lifted a hand to wipe a tear from her cheek.

Martin watched her.

“I’m just grateful.” She dragged in a breath. “Just really grateful.”

“Okay, Lucy. Okay.”
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Lucy Mitford
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“You’re allowed to be happy, Lucy.”

“Hrm?” Lucy looked back from where she had been gazing out the bay window at the wet spring snowfall.

“I said, you’re allowed to be happy.”

“I know.” She lifted her shoulder in a little shrug. “I wish spring would just come already.”

“Mm. This is a bit much, isn’t it?” Martin followed her gaze to the window. “Very Hemingway-esque, I suppose.”

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t know the quote?” Martin’s brows lifted high, then he shook his head. “Really, Lucy. This decision you made that you were dim has cheated you of an education.” With a put-upon sigh, he pushed to his feet and moved towards his bookcase.

“I never--” she started to defend herself, but just let it trail off. She tipped her head back against the couch, eyes up at the ceiling for a moment. She couldn’t recall deciding she was dumb. She simply always felt that she was. And no one had ever tried to convince her of the contrary.

“Have you seen this fellow again? What’s his name?” Martin trailed his fingers over book titles, looking for something specific.

“Ketch?”

“Mm.”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“And--” Lucy sighed and raised her head from the back of the couch. “I guess I’m not as angry with him as I thought.”

“Mm.”

“What?”

“I think that’s for the best. If you ask me.” He returned to his armchair with the book in hand.

“I didn’t.” She smirked.

He raised his eyes and fixed her with a look. Then he returned to paging through the volume.

“I don’t know. It’s just--” Lucy glanced towards the window again. “--It seems like he’s suffered. Like he’s been suffering.”

Martin glanced up.

“I don’t want him to hurt Fin. I don’t--I don’t--” She sighed. “I don’t know how fragile Fin’s recovery is and--and I don’t want him to hurt Fin.” Her brow furrowed. “But when I look at him--when I look at Ketch I just want--”

“What?”

“To be a soft place. A soft place for him to fall.”

Martin watched her a moment. She looked away from the window and caught him looking. At first he didn’t say anything. Then finally he gestured towards the book in his hands. “I’ve found the passage. It’s from A Moveable Feast.” He turned it around in his hand and offered it to her. “Why don’t you read it aloud?”

“The whole thing?” She slid to the edge of the couch to accept it, then sat back.

“As much as you like.”

She read silently at first, her eyes gliding over the passage.

With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall.

Lucy’s voice lifted to continue, “Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

“In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.
” Lucy looked up at Martin.

He smiled at her. Her eyes dropped back to the book.

the spring always came finally
the spring always came finally
the spring always came finally

but it was frightening that it had nearly failed
but it was frightening that it had nearly failed
but it was frightening that it had nearly failed
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