‘Mrs. Mahoney, it is quite clear to me that you need fixing,’ Dr. Schwein said paternally, interrupting Jess mid-sentence and reaching for his prescription pad. ‘I can give you some pills to help you move on from your parents’ deaths and stop you from driving your husband mad by talking about it quite so much. It’s certainly driving me mad. My wife found that taking these after – ’
‘But I don’t want pills. I want counselling. And it’s Miss Mahoney – I haven’t got a husband.’
‘Oh dear, at your age? I’m so sorry. No takers? Having trouble finding a husband? You’ve left it a bit late to have children you know? What have you been doing all these years?!’
‘I’m in a band. You know, a musician? Been touring all over the world. You may have heard of us: The – ‘
‘Having trouble settling down?’
Sense of dissatisfaction, particularly with self, he wrote.
‘No, that’s not it at all…’ Jess stared at him in disbelief.
Dr. Schwein scrutinised her face, squinting over the top of his half moon specs.
‘Manic depression? Bipolar? You mustn’t dwell, you know. Get fresh air and exercise and how about a hobby? Get a pet? My wife found she was able to be much more practical again when she began to control… And you never know, you might meet Mr. Right…’
‘Don’t dwell?! But my whole life has been turned upside down. The two most important people in my life have gone. Just like that!’ She screwed her palms up tightly until her nails cut into her skin.
Dr. Schwein watched. He saw the marks.
Anger, he wrote. Self harm? he wrote.
‘Please. Can you refer me to a counsellor? I need to talk to someone.’
‘Some pills to tide you over, I think. I don’t want you to be a danger to yourself – or anyone else for that matter. I’ll put you on the waiting list, but you’ll find you probably won’t need it after a month of taking these.’
‘I’m not depressed! I’m not a danger! I’m grieving! I need time to talk about this and rebuild my life. I know what I need!’
‘I think I’ll be the judge of that. I am the doctor here, after all. You have some issues I’m not happy with. That anger could get dangerous. And the sadness from being lonely and childless when most people your age have a family by now… It’s understandable. I see plenty of women who have lost their sense of purpose and femininity these days. It’s so sad. You could try dying the grey hair away you know.’
‘I don’t use chemicals.’
‘And what about the way you dress? And that’s quite a scar you have on your face – have you considered cosmetic surgery?… Hang on… a friend of mine… where’s his card…’
‘Look! I realise I’m not flawless. How long is the waiting list for a counsellor?’
Dr Schwein leant forward in his chair. ‘Some things can’t be just talked away you know? What do you think talking will achieve? It won’t fix anything. I know it must be difficult to stop feeling sorry for yourself when you’ve only got yourself to think about – no family to worry about. This sense of emptiness you feel is most likely because you’re not fulfilling your role as a woman. Obviously, yes, the guidance and support you must have received from your father has gone, but if you were married, you’d have a husband to keep you on the right track. You wouldn’t have been gallivanting across the world all these years like a loose canon. Have you noticed how married women are so much quieter and calmer?’
‘Oh. Ahem. Well, it’s healthy for a woman to have someone to look up to, you know. We men are natural leaders and natural decision makers. Who’s in charge of your er – band?’
‘I am. I write all the songs and I’m lead guitar and lead vocals.’
‘All girl group, is it? He smiled predatorily.
‘No. The others are all blokes.’
Dr Schwein lost interest and swivelled his chair back to the desk to write a prescription. ‘Come back in six weeks and see one of my colleagues. I’m retiring today.’
He turned back and passed the piece of paper over, creating finality to the appointment.
‘Can’t you marry one of them?’
No. They’re my best friends. I can’t marry one of my mates. Besides I don’t fancy any of them.
Oh dear, dear. Are you a lesbian? Hormone imbalance. That explains a lot. Sit back down.
(inspired by the prompt word ‘balls’ )