‘You must look on the bright side. Focus on the positives.’ Moira, my grief counsellor says, uncrossing then crossing her legs.
Forty quid an hour for belters like this. I could have bought a book for a fiver off Amazon that would use less clichés. Still, she wants to help. I’m just not sure if anyone can.
‘How’s things with you?’ I ask to distract her, even though I know her life is more of a mess than mine.
‘Oh, Sue, I don’t know. I mean, nothing’s changed. I tried talking to Dan but well, you know how hard that is, talking to a brick wall would be easier.’ There she goes again. I wonder if she has a wee handbook of them at home.
‘And the other… problem. Anything happen with that?’ The flush in her cheeks confirms she’s still been fantasising about the guy from the gym.
‘You mean Dean?’ her voice has dropped to a whisper. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s scared someone will hear us, or if she’s switched to her seductive tone just thinking about him.
‘Unless there’s more?’ I ask, grinning. She shakes her head but smiles; she likes me implying she’s a bit of a player. I know she’d never cheat on her husband. She just likes the thrill of imagining she could, bless.
‘Enough about me,’ she says, straightening her glasses. ‘Let’s talk about the coping strategies we discussed in the last session.’
‘Oh, look at the time,’ I say. ‘I guess that will have to wait till next week.’
‘I guess it will,’ she replies, frowning. This isn’t the first time she’s been duped. I almost feel bad, but not enough to stop doing it every week.
I started counselling about three months after Diana… left. I thought I was coping fine, but after the funeral folk stopped calling to see if I was okay, and everything just kind of fell apart. The grief came on like a fever—sudden, debilitating. People tried to warn me, but I thought I’d be different. Only I wasn’t. I found myself staring into an abyss and all I wanted to do was jump in. I tried to end it; twice. Each time I heard her voice saying don’t you bloody dare, Sue! The fright I got. The first time, I dropped the razor down the toilet; the second, I shook the pills all over the floor. I could hear her laughing, bloody idiot. I must admit, my heart wasn’t in it.
‘Time is a great healer.’ Another of Moira’s overpriced words of wisdom, and a blatant lie. Time’s not a great healer, it’s an evil construct dragging each day out agonisingly slow, prolonging your pain until you’ve had enough… I’ve had enough. I smashed the kitchen clock last week. Took the mallet from under the sink and battered it into smithereens. Thought I’d teach time a lesson. It didn’t work, but then neither does the clock now. And I don’t miss its incessant tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc, like it was mocking me. All I could hear was she’s-gone, she’s-gone, she’s-gone. Moira seemed pleased that I’d moved from denial to anger. ‘This is progress,’ she’d said.
‘It’s time to get back into a routine,’ she announced last week, so I got in touch with Craig, my line-manager, and we agreed on two days a week—Tuesdays and Thursdays. He thought that would be best to start with. I don’t mind being back, I might even be enjoying it a wee bit, although Margaret, the moody cow, has her face on—the bulldog chewing a wasp one. She hates anyone getting special treatment. Doesn’t matter that Diana died. To Margaret I’m not pulling my weight. She won’t come right out and say it but if she rolls her eyes one more time they’ll fall into the back of her head. Either that or I’ll poke them out. Everyone else is being nice enough—too nice if you ask me. Half of them wouldn’t speak two words to me before, scared they might catch my queerness (I’d heard them call me that lesbian woman more than once). Now they’re fighting over who gets to make me coffee. It’s so fake! I can taste their bitter sympathy mixed with the cheap supermarket granules.
‘You need to start socialising again. Get yourself out there, have some fun.’ Moira said. I then made the mistake of telling her Louise and Paul had asked me to dinner. ‘Excellent! I do hope you’ll go.’
But I can’t face it. I only went before because of Diana. I only did most things because of her. She had a way of making anything fun. How we’d joke when we got back home, about Louise’s disaster of a beef wellington or Paul’s ever-expanding collection of Wham memorabilia, tears streaming down both our faces. God, I miss her laugh. It kills me to know I’ll never hear it again. But as Moira says, ‘Life goes on.’ And I suppose it does. Diana would hate the thought of me moping around. Trouble is, I don’t know how to fix it. How am I supposed to know what comes next?
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