Kevin’s anger, his therapist said, was like a torrent of melting fears washing through him, uncontrollably. It’s like autumn leaves falling, she said wiggling a yellow No. 2 between her Duke undergrad and perfect opal wedding rings. It’s like the autumn leaves falling on that first really wide-open October day when they’re like maple-y birds or arrows coming down.
Kevin’s last memory of his father was the wrinkled too-tight T-shirt bunched at his shoulders as he wagged a bottle at the open back door screen and screamed at the falling leaves.
You’re not crazy, she said. The world’s filled with screwed-up people.
There was a baby in the supermarket with dimples and Kevin thought it looked too much like an old man. But not a Benjamin Button old man, just like a happy old man hanging around and doing nothing and enjoying every minute of it.
Kevin broke his hand when he punched a light post and someone said he should see a therapist. She writes with pencils because she said even she makes mistakes. Especially me.
I’ve noticed, he said. She reminded him of the wife of the assistant state auditor he worked for before he went back to school and got his master’s in journalism. She looked like the wife of his boss would look when she’d talk to other people at department parties. (The wife never seemed to enjoy her husband’s company.)
His father said he didn’t hate raking, just that he hated the boy’s mother telling him when it was time to rake. Nobody thinks straight when they’re drunk, she said. And he told her it would be the case from now on, that he wouldn’t talk about his father.
You’ll still talk about him, she said. You’ll just think you’re not doing it.
Kevin watched a documentary on Mark Rothko and envied the painter’s ability to drink endlessly, chain smoke, and eat whenever and whatever he wanted. He wondered what made Rothko use two means to kill himself. Which one was the failsafe?
She put him on Prozac and it made him too sleepy to remember to take the pills. Once he slept for two days and cried because he’d lost those days. Later he tried standing at his window hollering at the fallen leaves and it only made his neighbors mad.
People confuse me, he said. And I think I confuse them even more. It makes me afraid.
She put her pencil down and turned to a previous page in her blue composition book. He wanted to ask her why hers wasn’t black like everyone else’s. I thought we’d had this conversation, she said, but it looks like we haven’t.
She looked at him and it reminded him of the way the wife used to look at the boss when she’d come by the office to drop off one of their kids. Like she’d caught something unimportant that was falling and was handing it over to the person who cared.
I had a dream about you, he said suddenly. And you were a big leafless tree that was casting shadows in every direction, like the sun was spinning around you at a high rate of speed. I think there’s something very important to that dream.
She repeated that she didn’t do dreams, that it was something that psychology considered passed. It’s like if we went back to living in log cabins, she said.
Kevin drove home into an unseen sun that purpled the low clouds like children had been going at them with crayons. While it didn’t make any firm sense to him, he felt this was the sort of thing he should spend his time thinking about. There wasn’t much reason anymore trying to figure out why people had done the things they’d done.
Falling leaves, he told her office voicemail when he was announcing he was ending his treatment with her, don’t concern me anymore. They don’t really concern anyone.
Causes Sean Jackson Supports
PFLAG, Amnesty International, AA, Catholic Social Services