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Sep 25, 2020 10:10 AM
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The woman in the armchair across from him is middle-aged and kind-eyed. She wears a soft sweater and a floral pin with a small clay dove. Her pen hovers over her clipboard.

"How have you been doing this week, Stephen?"

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"Z."

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"Right, I'm sorry...Z."

She smiles apologetically.

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"...How have you been doing?" she repeats, patiently, resting the tip of her pen on the paper.

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"Do we really have to do this?"

He's refused to lie down on the couch. He's sitting, instead, but hunched over.

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"It's important that we keep track of your mood while you're adjusting. We want to make sure you're in the best health you can be."

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"You could stop shooting me up with hormones I don't need. That'd help."

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She sighs.

"St–Z, this was..."

She checks her paper.

"...your fifth offense. You do need this treatment, even if you don't understand why."

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"I'm not hurting anybody."

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"You're hurting yourself," she says, gently. "And the other men you've been offending with."

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"Fine."

 

"...I've been doing fine."

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"Well, that's good to hear," she says.

 

They talk, for a while. He lies about hobbies he doesn't have, she suggests churches and social groups he'll never go to.

And when she leaves the room to get his other papers–

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Someone else appears in her place.

 

"This is what you're holding out for?"

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"You're not real."

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"That's certainly news to me."

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"I told you you can't have my soul."

Couldn't, he corrects himself. Even if this were real.

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He sighs.

“And I told you that I don’t want to keep it.”

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“Sure.”

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"I assure you that I'm being completely honest with you."

He crosses his heart, in an X rather than a †, and his finger leaves a brief trail of flame behind.

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"...funny way for you to swear."

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"It's far enough from its origins by now that I think it's fair game."

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"...just because I'm a fucked-up person doesn't mean–"

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