“Yes, well when I read your advert on the local web directory,” Eva seated herself on the park bench, “under the eye-catching title ‘Cry Baby Counsellor’, I immediately thought to myself, ‘Yes, that’s for me!’ Next, I followed the link and filled out the appointment form.”
“Did you find the process straight-forward?” Counsellor Diana Thebes asked, “And, you read all the information about how I operate, no problems as far as you are concerned?”
“No, none at all my dear, and I read them all again in your email reply.” Eva looked around the immediate vicinity, “I think it’s all rather novel, outside in the park, the fresh air, next to the river having a counselling session, with the old mill factories situated opposite. It’s rather scenic, I’d say.” She undid the top two buttons of her coat and placed her handbag next to herself on the seat. It had turned into a warm and hazy, late-summer’s day. “What will you do in winter? It won’t be much fun in the rain and snow, will it?”
Mirroring her new client, the counsellor unzipped the front of her fleece hoodie by an approximate hand’s width. “Well,” Diana smiled kindly at Eva, “I keep going, wrap up warm, a flask of hot chocolate and an umbrella.”
“And, your patients, they keep coming?”
“Yes, mostly. I have a couple of clients who break-off between November and March, as is their want.”
“I’m amazed!” Eva took out a packet of cigarettes from her handbag, with an accompanying brief laugh. “I don’t suppose you mind if I smoke, out here, do you?”
“No Eva, you can do what you wish.”
“What happens, if someone walks close by,” Eva puffed quickly on the newly lit cigarette, “or if someone wants to sit down on the bench with us?”
“Well, if someone walks close by, we can stop or continue, it is up to you, I will be guided by your lead. Incidences of someone sitting in between myself and a client on a bench are rare. If someone attempts to, I will prevent them from doing so, with an appropriate excuse.”
“Amazing, you have it all worked out.”
“Eva, many aspects of my approach differ considerably to conventional therapy.” Diana paused, while a suited man briskly walked past, his head leaning forward over a phone held in his hand. “Initially, what I suggest is, you tell me, how you understand our sessions will work. That way, I’ll know you have understood the explanatory notes I sent, along with my email reply.”
“That makes perfect sense.” Eva took a moment to gather her thoughts, drawing on her cigarette and exhaling a plume of smoke. “So, as far as I understand, I tell you my awful problems and you cry for me. That’s it, in a nutshell, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Diana replied calm and cool, “in a nutshell.”
Eva flicked the ash from her cigarette, which traced a graceful arc in the air, landing, caught between three overlapping blades of grass. “I love smoking.” Eva said. “Donald, my husband detests it. It’s not like I smoke lots and barely more than two or three in the house on any given day.”
“He doesn’t insist you smoke outside?” Diana asked.
“Hah! I wouldn’t. I’m not standing in the back garden to smoke. Where’s the fun in that? It’s as much my house as Donald’s. No, I don’t go outside to smoke when I’m at home, unless I want to.” Eva smiled, glancing at Diana, then looking out across the river. Numerous small ripples generated by the current, broke up the reflection of the white sky on the water’s surface.
“What makes you feel sad, Eva?”
Ignoring the question, Eva crushed the remains of her cigarette under the heel of her shoe. “Why do you do this Diana, take on other people’s woes?” A smile briefly flickered across her face. “Why do you cry for people?”
Under Eva’s watch, Diana fished out a thin wooden box from her rucksack. She carefully slid off the top and checked how many tissues were folded inside. “Because, I came into this world and grew up sheltered from trauma, the stress and hardship of living, proper day-to-day problems and worries.”
“It sounds like a privileged upbringing.”
“Privileged yes, very much so. Wealthy but not healthy or wholesome, which I gradually came to realise during my adolescence. Emotionally, I existed in a barren landscape, distant from my parents both mentally and physically. I spent my entire education within the environs of exclusive and strict religious boarding schools.”
“Oh my love, it sounds like you’re the one who needs therapy.” Eva reached across and stroked Diana’s shoulder.
“Well, I guess this is it, Eva. Therapy with a mutual benefit to both parties involved. Does it bother you?”
“Not in the least.”
“Good,” Diana looked deeply into Eva’s eyes, “alright then, let’s get started. I’m here to cry for you Eva. What would you like me to cry about, for you?”
Touched by the young stranger’s friendly manner, Eva unburdened her heart.
© Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a collage)