This story is one of the March Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
“What do you mean, ‘she’s gone?'”
My therapist looks at me quizzically, the way that only a therapist can. I wonder if they learn it in school, as I repeat what I’d just said: “The girl I was last year is gone.”
Dr. Kal sighs and stares at me. “Care to elaborate, or should I keep asking?”
The attitude is okay. I pay her to keep me in check. I prepare myself to open up, to pretend that this person in front of me is just an extension of myself, a mirror, and I begin.
I tell her about that night, nearly nine months ago. That night in my room, in my room on the first floor of our one-story house, that night in my room in the house I happen to share with parents and a sibling. I tell her how I was nearly asleep when my father came in without knocking and hovered on the threshold. I tell her how I opened my sleepy mouth to ask, and within half a second, he was next to me with his hand on my lips. Confused as I was, I was too close to sleep to put up a fight. Mistake #1.
Though my body kicks into alarm mode as he slips off his socks and lays down next to me (too much room left on the bed — mistake #2), I still say nothing. My vocal chords are frozen. And they remain frozen as he touches my pant-less legs (mistake #3), and the night begins.
I stop, and she looks at me with a face that I can’t read. “And, let me guess — you told no one, and now you’re here? So that I can whip out my wand and fix this?”
I know I told her to be as strict with me as she likes… but this is a little much.
“I mean, yeah, I guess — like, I know you can’t fix it, but —”
I bite my lip and curse the inexplicable wetness forming behind my eyes.
“I don’t KNOW. They don’t even know I’m in therapy, for goodness’ sake. My mother doesn’t even know what happened, and I just—”
She interrupts me again: “Cass— stop. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth telling anyone. You’re going to get your father in trouble, your mother, yourself. Me. You can’t ruin the life you’ve built, that your family has worked so hard to build. Have you seen Harvey Weinstein in the news lately?”
I sit there, mouth agape, words unable to form.
Dr. Kal looks out the window. “No,” she says. “Not worth it.”
Okay, so this definitely wasn’t taught in therapy school. Or was it?
I finally talk. “Um, what about the whole ‘me too’ movement and everything?”
Dr. Kal stands up, picks up her bag, and I stare at her as she walks to the door.
“Cass, I’m sorry. Maybe I’m just not the one to help you with this.” She leaves.
And I’m in shock.
It’s only after I’m on the bus, looking out the window like Dr. Kal was, that I realize what I just potentially learned about Dr. Kal’s past.
I walk into my house, click on the first helpline Google generates, and dial the number.