EVERYONE DESERVES A HAPPY ENDING
Dr. Rowney smiled politely. Maybe it was a real smile and he was just too good at hiding his feelings. "I'm more interested in talking about you at the moment. If your mother has problems she can come and see me herself."
"That would be a good trick. She died about twelve years ago."
"Don't worry. At least she never got to see her only son become another daughter."
"Would that have upset her?"
"How could it not? No one I knew coped very well with it, and none of them were as protective of me as her. Most of my friends stopped coming round. My mother wouldn't have done that, but her politeness would've been deadly. I could never cope with it when she was polite to me."
"If she had been around and had actually coped with the idea, been supportive even, would that have made things any easier for you?"
"I don't know." I looked at the scattered papers on his desk, but couldn't read anything upside down. They probably didn't say anything about me, anyway. "Maybe."
Dr. Rowney sat and looked at me in silence for a while. I had learned to recognise this trick: it was his way of drawing me out, making me want to fill an uncomfortable gap in the conversation. Now I knew about it, I refused to play along. I don't like being manipulated, even if it's for my own good. Instead, I looked down and picked my nails.
"All right. Tell me, is there anything new in your life, anything of note happened since last time we met?"
I thought about this for a moment. "Not really. Nothing interesting has happened for a while, has it? Maybe I like it that way. I've probably had enough interesting things happen already for one lifetime, or two for that matter."
"And you don't worry that playing it safe isn't leading you anywhere? Every time we meet you complain that you don't feel like you're adapting. By hiding yourself away from the world you're not really giving yourself a chance to experience the kinds of events that shape us as people."
"I know. I turned forty a couple of years back, though. Don't you think by the time you reach that kind of age you're pretty set?"
"No. Not really. Anyway, you're an exceptional case. You've had to build a new life for yourself as a completely different person. That person has to develop beyond what you were. You're not letting her live that life."
"I wish it were that easy."
We played the silence game again, and I won, again.
"It's just about time to wrap up for today," said Dr. Rowney. "Before, you go, however, I have something I'd like to suggest." I sat up in the seat and tried to maintain eye contact. "It's a bit unorthodox, and maybe even slightly unprofessional. Are you open to a suggestion?"
"Probably, as long as it isn't an attempt to seduce me."
That earned a slightly more genuine looking smile. "I had something a bit less intrusive in mind. There's another one of my patients I think you might like to meet. She reminds me of you, in some ways at least. I believe that there are things you could teach each other. At the very least you might be able to offer each other some support."
"Maybe." I shifted awkwardly in the seat, uncomfortable at being put on the spot. "I mean, we could meet once and see how we get on. If you think it's important."
"I don't know about important, but it may be beneficial to you both. Anyway, from what you've told me you haven't made many friends down here yet. Maybe this is a chance to cultivate a new one. I'll get her to give you a call, if that's all right."
"Fine." I shrugged. "Whatever."