‘Beverage? Either of you?’ Marilee’s eyes lit up.
‘Coke? Water? Coffee?’
‘I’d love a Coca-Cola,’ Marilee said smiling.
Samuel leaned down to his mini-fridge to fish out a Coke. ‘Ben? Anything?’
‘No, no. Tryin’ to quit.’
Handing Marilee her drink, Samuel leaned back in the chair and folded his hands in his lap. He hated that he was the stereotypical psychiatrist but he also knew it was true. He just couldn’t shake it.
‘So.’ He smiled. ‘Why are you here?’ A good question he thought, that by the time people actually made it into a psychiatrist office, the answer to was often forgotten.
‘Well.’ It was Ben. He looked sideways at his wife who was busy carefully pulling at the tab of her Coke can. ‘Mary?’
‘Mmm,’ she said nodding, and having successfully unsnapped the tab, took a big swig. ‘You read our notes and all that? Our letters?’
‘Yes, I did. But it’s always helpful to have you tell me in person. Right?’ He cleaned his glasses with a soft cloth that was always folded inside his top pocket and set them gingerly on his rather beak-like nose.
‘Yes of course,’ she said.
‘Of course,’ Ben reiterated.
‘We’re just a bit concerned about Bobby and his… communication with us. Or really lack there of,’ she said, looking pleased with her proper usage of ‘lack there of.’
‘Yes, I got that much from your letters,’ said Samuel. ‘And this is something new? His not being interested in communicating with you?’
‘Something new, yeah.’ Ben said, leaning forward and resting his folded hands on Samuel’s desk. ‘He used to be much more demonstrative with us. And now… ‘ He lifted his hands a bit and shrugged. ‘Nothing.’
Marilee nodded. ‘I think you’ve got it right there, Sweetiekins.’
‘Bobby is how old now?’
‘Bobby is seven in April.’ Marilee answered promptly.
‘Seven in April,’ Ben nodded. His voice was low and melancholy.
‘Okay. Can you tell me perhaps, what led up to his withdrawal from you as parents? Any significant events?’
They looked at each other.
‘Well, we moved.’ Marilee said. ‘From a little cottage out in Westdale into the city.’ She had finished her Coke and had set it carefully on the edge of his desk. ‘This was nearly two years ago now. I think that could have been upsetting to him. Big change and all.’ She crossed her chubby legs as daintily as she was able.
‘Yeah, upsetting.’ Ben shifted his bulk in his chair and continued. ‘I got a job working with well. Not worth going into really,’ he chuckled with a glance at his wife. She avoided his eyes. He cleared his throat. ‘We tried to make the move as seamless as possible for Bobby, but you know how these things go. We had to find another school for him – more of a daycare I guess you’d say.’
‘That’s good to know. Helpful,’ Samuel said.
Marilee beamed surprisedly at her husband, as if to say ‘Well done! You’re smarter than I thought you were.’
Samuel felt something akin to bile in his throat. He suddenly didn’t want to be in this room. He could see the crane out the window, and fervently wished to be in its cab, having the power to tear the place limb from limb. Maybe it was time for a sabbatical. He gave his head a mental shake.
‘Let’s nail this thing in the first session,’ he thought but aloud said, ‘Anything else out of the ordinary for Bobby?’ He discreetly massaged his right temple.
They seemed more reluctant to talk about the next ‘out of the ordinary’ situation. A silent battle of wills took place between the couple until Ben leaned forward again, his hands on his knees. Marilee had taken to chewing on her lip.
‘It was our anniversary. Romantic day and all of that.’ He waved his hand, as if to waft a smell displeasing to him. A hurt look passed over his wife’s face, but disappeared so fast, Samuel thought he’d imagined it.
‘We were in the bedroom.’ He looked at Marilee. She nodded subtly. ‘And we… well.’ He cleared his throat, as the heat rose to his face. Samuel raised his eyebrows as if asking what came next, although he knew very well what came next.
Ben seemed to have stumbled permanently over what he was trying to say. Marilee was wringing her hands.
‘We were having intercourse!’ she stated vigourously, taking over. Then she went beet red
‘As in… you were talking? A romantic anniversary conversation?’ Samuel wanted them to say just what it was. They were all adults here. How ridiculous.
‘No,’ Marilee said. ‘Sexual. Intercourse.’
‘So. You were having sex. Got it,’ Samuel said, knowing he sounded more snappish than he should but he was getting frustrated with these people. Ben seemed to regain his composure and decided to redeem his lack of ability to communicate.
‘As we were… as this was going on,’ he made motions so large with his hands that Marilee backed further into her chair, at risk of being accidentally slapped. ‘He came into the room.’
‘And what did Bobby do?’
‘Nothing. He just stood there, looking at us.’
Samuel looked at Marilee for confirmation of this. Her eyes were wide and staring, like she had fallen into some other dimension. She blinked.