"How are we all feeling today?" Mr. Greeves, Richard he asked us to call him, smiled blindly at the five of us in the circle. It was a rhetorical question. We all felt shitty, or we wouldn't have been here.
Margaret Michin answered, of course. "I feel a need to express myself."
"Go for it, Margaret." Richard, Dick as I liked to call him, always encouraged us to be expressive.
"Well, okay, I was shopping for shoes. I found this great pair of heels for $59.99 so I bought them. But then I walked around a bit and found the same pair of shoes selling for $44.99!"
"Bummer, babe." Ian Blaymore's remark sent a couple of us off to giggle-land, myself included. Margaret was perhaps the dumbest woman ever to see the light of day.
"Ian! Be considerate! Or perhaps you'd care to open up today? Hmm? What's on your mind?" Dick's chastising usually quieted Ian down. This was no exception. I turned to Sarah next to me to make a snide comment when I noticed that she was smoking. Not a cigarette or a cigar or even a pipe, but her ears. Smoke was pouring out of her ears.
She looked at me with a slight smile, "Yes?"
Dick noticed our short conversation, "What's that, Peter?"
"Well Dick, sorry, Richard. Sarah's smoking."
"Yes." I didn't quite understand why no one else saw it. Or at least no one else seemed disturbed by it. Perhaps I wasn't being clear. "Her ears are smoking."
Nigel, sitting on the other side of Sarah, perked up. "Hey! Pete's right! Sarah, you're billowing smoke!"
"Sarah," Dick cut in, "Do you want to be smoking?"
"Well gosh, it's not really bothering me at all."
Dick nodded his head in approval. "Fine. Ian, I believe you were going to express yourself."
"Yes Richard, I was going to express my complete disgust of Margaret."
"Guys!" I shouted over the polite but useless conversation, "And girls, sorry. Sarah's ears are billowing smoke!"
"Yes Peter, we've established that."
"Richard, isn't that...odd?"
"Peter, Sarah has learned to deal with the situation. It is her obstacle to overcome. Please respect her privacy and leave her alone."
"Really Pete, shut up." This from Nigel.
"PETER!" The crowd turned ugly, so I shut up. And backed away from Sarah.
"Ian, won't you continue?"
"Thanks Richard. I was saying..."
I turned to look at Sarah, had that sound come from her?
"...that I feel that Margaret is incredibly dim."
Sarah sitting there, smiling.
"And Margaret, how do you feel about Ian's feelings?"
Definitely. It was definitely coming from Sarah. I decided to interrupt again.
They all turned towards me very slowly. Snarls on all of their faces. Richard spoke.
I swallowed hard. "Sarah is now counting down."
They looked unfazed.
"Counting down?" Dick was obviously not the least bit interested in this new development. To him, I was simply infringing on his time.
"Yes, from 10 to 1."
"She's at 4 now."
Dick stared at me blank-faced, uncaring. "And what, pray tell, do you expect to happen when she reaches 1?"
"I think she's going to explode."
"Yes." I got up and moved away from Sarah, who was still sitting there, smiling.
"Peter. People do not, I repeat, do not explode in my sessions."
0 - HAVE A NICE DAY
She exploded. Flesh everywhere. Nigel, still next to her, suffered burn and shrapnel damage, mainly from her jewelry. Margaret squealed at a pitch even dogs couldn't hear. Through the lifting smoke I looked at Dick. I smiled. He looked at me with wonder, fear and entrails on his face. Then he forced it all down, hid his emotions, and turned to Ian.
"So you don't like Margaret?"
Ian nodded slowly, still staring at the space which used to contain Sarah but which now contained a smoldering chair. I sat back down and giggled.
I love proving my therapist wrong.