The Kind Of Therapist She Pretends to Be

“Riddle me this: what’s a sickly yellow colour with the I.Q. of a newborn giraffe?”

Like a pervert, Fat lounges comfortably on the blue duvet watching me change out of my work clothes. I might be flattered if she didn’t make it a point to dry heave every three seconds.

“Fat,” I pull my head through the top of the tank top, “Just once, spare me the pretense. We both know you’ve got some kind of cruel commentary on something that’s a sickly yellow colour with the I.Q. of…” Of the two armholes in the tank top, I achieve a fifty percent success rate of putting my limbs where they’re supposed to go. Effort ceases because I see a familiar black clip peeking out from under the saggy folds of Fat’s fur.

“That’s my work ID tag your rolls are resting on, isn’t it?”

Beaming with tremendous satisfaction, Fat looks up at me as though she holds the coordinates of Atlantis.

“Boss, you ruined the big reveal. I ask the question, you offer a backwoods guess. That’s how this usually works. This back-and-forth in turn lets me move like so,” Fat flops over to her side so my work photo stares up at me, “and in grand ‘ta-da’ tradition, I repeat the question and say, ‘THIS GIRL!’” The feline bursts out laughing at the expense of past me and laughs harder at the mortification of present me. Fat’s chuckle carries throughout the apartment and she rolls onto her back trying to catch her breath. “How have I not seen this picture before?”

I loathe that picture. It was taken almost exactly two years ago. My hair is a mess, the yellow florescent lights in the room casts me in what appears to be a state of jaundice and my mouth looks all weird. Thirty seconds previous to the picture being taken, all the new hires were gorging on chocolate croissants. The expression on my face and forced closed-mouth smile remind me of how certain I was that pastry was stuck in my teeth. Didn’t even get to see that photo until it was generated on my ID tag. And now I’m stuck with this nightmare indefinitely. Generally, the picture is conveniently hidden behind my area safety chief badge.

I reach out with the arm that managed to thread itself through the hole in my shirt and flip the badge over.

“We don’t need to look at that.”

Fat’s paw draws across her face as though wiping away a tear. “Something that bad deserves to be shown to the world. It could be turned into a meme. You’re so yellow.” Another peal of laughter comes from the grey cat.

“So help me, Fat, if that ends up on the internet…” Finally, my second arm bare-knuckle-boxes its way out of the fabric of my shirt and I’m wearing clothes like a grownup again.

“Chill out, boss. The last thing I want is for the CIA to burst into the apartment and give you the same treatment they gave your cousins that landed in Roswell. Besides,” Fat doesn’t even give me a second to acknowledge the alien comparison, “what kind of therapist would I be if I didn’t keep a few of your secrets?”

“The kind of therapist who is an unlicensed fraud?”

She speaks over me, generating the words she was hoping I would say, “A great one. Exactly.”

Hear no Evil

“Oh, God. I’ve gone deaf.”

I look up from my book. Fat is parked at the edge of the sectional, while I’m cozy in the corner where the couch becomes perpendicular.  I watch the back of her head bob and weave as she watches Boyfriend’s fingers fly across the ivory keys of the no longer pristine upright piano.

Fat’s voice becomes increasingly fraught with worry, “Oh, God. Oh my fucking damn. I’ve been struck deaf. I don’t have the thumbs or the patience to learn sign language; I’m not a monkey for Christ’s sake.” I see her spine straighten as the metaphoric lightbulb appears above her pointed ears. “Hold up. I can hear my own voice. Wait. Is that the voice in my head? I can’t tell. Hey. Hey, guy,” Fat’s paw reaches out in the direction of Boyfriend as if to will him to pay attention to her, “can you make some noise so I can tell if I’m deaf or not?” Her paw pathetically sweeps side-to-side in the air. Boyfriend plays on, letting his body lean into the notes he plays, completely oblivious to the feline behind him.

“For a self-appointed shrink, you’re a colossal dumb ass.”

Fat jumps with shock and comes heartbreakingly close to bailing off the couch. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky as to bear witness to one of my dreams coming true. “I forgot you were there. Book without pictures, I see. I’m proud of you.” Fat momentarily regains her charming demeanor. She blinks twice when my words finally become sound in her brain. “I can hear you.”

“And goody for me, I can hear you too. Seriously, Fat, what’s your deal? We agreed it was time to take a break from the catnip.” I reach my hand between two couch cushions and pull out my bookmark.

“Kicked the stuff. Cold turkey. Don’t need it. Nope. Fine without.” Fat throws looks over her shoulder at Boyfriend between her chopped sentences. “I don’t understand it, boss. The whole thing reeks of voodoo. He’s like the Charlie Chaplin version of King Midas; everything he touches turns to mute. Guess that explains why I never hear you two having–”

“I will pay you fifty dollars not to finish that sentence.” I cut her off, even though it doesn’t matter if she finishes the sentence or not. The next time Boyfriend and I find ourselves on the cusp of a XXX throw down, I’m just going to picture Fat with her pervy ear pressed against the other side of the door. At least we have the forethought to lock her out of the bedroom. Who knows what kind of advice would spring up at our next therapy session if she had a front row seat to that show.

“Aw, hell, Fat. His headphones are plugged into the piano.” I silently hoped I could ride out her potential deafness a little longer for amusement’s sake, but the conversational path we stumbled upon is one that certainly does not need to be travelled. I toss the library book onto the coffee table.

Fat invites herself to curl up against my sternum. Her ears flick as they absorb the surrounding noise. She lets out a contended sigh, “Creepo downstairs is listening to old school Alanis Morissette. Neat.”

I scratch the back of her ears, “You can hear that?” Aside the hum from the refrigerator, I don’t hear anything.

“Believe me, boss, when I’m not having a deaf day I hear lots of things.”

I’m instantly uncomfortable. If she can hear the downstairs neighbour’s music… I crane my neck to look down at the feline, she has some sort of nervous tic with one of her eyes. I watch it rapidly close and reopen. Almost like it was intentional.

She repeats the end of her last sentence, “Lots of things.”