“Lana? Honey, you’re going to be late.”
She closes her eyes vainly to reality, to the sound of her husband’s voice. She rolls onto her stomach, pressing her face into the cool of the pillow.
“Lana, can you hear me?”
“Yes. Reese. I can hear you. I am getting up.”
“Do you want me to drive you? I’m going back to the department anyways. That’s the one good thing about this shit, lots of overtime.”
She can hear him leaning against the door. She will have to scrub it clean tomorrow, the stain she knows that disgusting hair gel will leave on her white door.
“How will I get back?”
“I’m sure you can catch a cab from the city. Or you can come by and ride with me if you don’t mind waiting around for a little while.”
She reaches out to check her phone. There is a message from Dean.
“Give me five minutes.”
“I know that he doesn’t love me. I know it. But it doesn’t stop me from hoping for his messages to meet him, and in the back of my mind I am always waiting for them to say something else. Maybe he misses me. Or he was thinking of me today. Did I tell you he missed my birthday? He told me he was going out of town and not to expect to hear from him until he got back. The week after my birthday. But that didn’t stop me from checking. I thought, surely, he would remember, I kept hoping. Even for a few days after. But he never said anything. Like I’m not a person who continues to exist and go on after I leave him…”
Lana lays back on the couch.
“I know, in my head, that he doesn’t love me. That the only thing he is looking for is physical. I get that, rationally. But. There’s this piece of me, that part that goes back every time to meet him, that thinks this time, if I am good enough – if the sex is good enough – he won’t want me to leave.”
“Why do you think you feel this way?”
“I don’t know. There is something – magnetic – about the way he needs my body. And I keep thinking, it’s just a matter of time before he needs the rest of me that way.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“No. Yes. Sometimes. The way he talks sometimes, like he really cares. No.”
“What about your husband?”
She is quiet. The clock ticks slowly until she finally speaks again.
“I don’t want to talk about him.”
“I think we should.”
She can hear the subtle shifting of paper and pen. The realigning of thoughts.
“Alright. What would you like to talk about?”
“Dream…” her voice is soft, her mind somewhere else.
“Have you been dreaming of something in particular lately?”
“What?” The light is too bright suddenly.
“I asked if you have been dreaming of anything specific, anything you’d like to discuss.”
She hadn’t thought of her mother in years. As soon as she said the words though, it seemed true. Like she had been missing her every day and just not realized it.
“Your mother died when you were very young, isn’t that right?”
She suddenly remembers the smell of her. It is warm, enveloping. It is the smell of a gentle hand on her forehead when she was sick. Of crawling into bed with her at night so neither one of them would have to be alone. She had forgotten what mother smells like.
“Yes, I was six.”
“What happened then?”
“I went into the system.”
She remembers the woman who came and took her from her home. It was the smell of a car that had carried too many children away from too many homes. Of a single suitcase and one lone pillowcase stuffed with belongings to remember a different life by. She does not remember anyone ever smelling warm again.
“I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to talk anymore.”
“Lana, eventually we are going to have to deal with some of these issues. And I think we should start with Dean. He seems to be the only thing you are willing to talk about.”
Silence invades the room, seeping slowly over her, pushing away the warmth she had so recently found. When it is apparent that she will not speak, the pen and paper move again.
“Our time is almost up for today as it is. I’ll see you in two weeks.”
She leaves the office feeling cold, an unusual stench filling her nose. It feels oddly familiar, but she cannot place it. She checks her watch, thirty minutes before she meets Dean. She briefly considers arriving early, but the thought of his rage at her disobedience is enough to keep her wandering through the streets.
It begins raining lightly. Not enough to force her inside, but enough to send the chill further to her core. She shivers and wonders what, exactly, she is doing. She is disgusted by this pathetic display. Standing on a curb in the rain, like a common whore, just because he said he wanted her. It makes her sick, the power he holds.
What had her therapist said? Dean is an issue.
She doesn’t want to be treated this way. She wants to go home. When she wipes away the wetness from her face, she can’t be sure what is weather and what is despair. Why, Lana?
She hates herself for being so weak. She knows she should go home.
Stepping out of the rain, she takes a breath. Then, checking her hair in a mirror, she strides across the hotel lobby.