Short fiction inspired by MLMM Photo Challenge #382
“I’m an earth sign,” I said, halfway through our second session, and the first time I’d volunteered information. So far, I’d sat in Trappist mode, occasionally grunting responses to her probing questions until Nerys narrowed her eyes and cracked my carapace.
“If you won’t talk to me, Jane, how can I help you?”
I shrugged. Even I was getting annoyed with my pig impersonations.
“There is nothing you can say that will shock me. I will listen to everything, no matter how worthless or trivial you think it is. We don’t need to talk about what’s troubling you. For instance, what’s your star sign?”
Pretty innocuous, I thought. We could spend the rest of the time cosily discussing my horoscope.
“Taurus,” I mumbled. Then added the fact I was also an earth sign.
“Interesting.” She made a note on her pad. “What does being an Earth-Taurean mean to you?”
I swear I saw the word bullish forming in her mind, which put me on the defensive. So I opened my mouth, intending to give her some drivel about having a practical nature, but out came a torrent of words.
“I need to be grounded, but I’m drifting through the river of life with no apparent purpose. Stuck between stepping-stones with no land in sight, and I’m not comfortable in water, I need the support and security of solid land. I realise I should try to move, but I am too scared because I can’t pull myself together. After Tim left, I sorted out the house and found somewhere to live with no problem. But trying not to worry about money and fear of what the future will bring is crippling me.”
I ran out of steam, and a big fat silence descended and tried to mop up the spillage. Nerys let it clear some of the debris away before she spoke.
“How do you see your life at the moment?”
“In what way?” I am so suspicious these days; the simple offer of a cup of tea makes me question people’s motives.
“Is life a burden?”
I gave no answer.
“Do you feel trapped?”
The verbal volcano bubbled up again. I seem to have no control over my life or my mouth these days.
“There’s a book, which I’ve never read, by Maya Angelou. I don’t know what the story is about, but I have a theory of why the caged bird sings. The poor sod is bored, trapped behind bars, with life slipping away. It doesn’t matter if the cage door is open because the bird is too frightened to leave.
“All she does is sing of places she will never visit and of things she will never do. Her body is captive, and only her spirit free to roam.
“But I’ve trapped my mind and forgotten how to sing. If I can get my voice back, then I’ll have the strength to break out of this prison I’ve locked myself in.”
Nerys was staring at me in, I like to think, wonder, rather than fear. “That was very eloquent, but I’m afraid we must end today’s session. I’m sorry to stop now, but I have another client due. However, this is an excellent start. We’ve made such progress today.”
“We have?” I said, sounding for all the world like someone fishing for compliments.
“Yes.” Nerys nodded. “And next time, we can talk some more. You will be here, won’t you?”
“You bet your life I will, Nerys.” I smiled at her for the first time. Maybe I wasn’t ready to sing, but I could try humming.