The rich shrink can’t help himself when he’s depressed, can’t self-medicate with pills and stuff, he needs a therapist to help him out, to sell his house and clean his mess.
You should buy that house, my therapist says and I trust him, it’s not that I don’t, for he’s old and wise, like the rich shrink, only he’s not rich, like the rich shrink, or like me. I tell him I’d rather go back in time. That’s what therapists do for god’s sake; they take you back in time to examine causes. He says I suffer from covert OCD and I shake my head as I don’t seem to mind messes, yet he insists I enjoy time travel stories for it’s control I long for, over the most uncontrollable mess, that is time. I don’t intend to control time, it’s her I want to control. She’s been ungrateful, I say. He says I should buy her the house. You’ll get her back, he adds then croons something like you can’t buy love, cause he likes paraphrasing songs and I like to pretend that I don’t hear him.
The rich shrink can’t help himself, he’s been a total mess, he just wants to get rid of the house, claims that will heal him.
My therapist knows, for he’s the rich shrink’s therapist, who’s unapproachable but also too messed up. My therapist needs a therapist too, for from time to time, he can’t control himself, I have to remind him I’m the patient here, not him. That house, he says, that house, he repeats, like that house has been his own dream or nightmare, not the rich shrink’s, not my salvation. He turns my way, unbuttons his coat, like he’s suffocating, he coughs once, coughs twice, then fixes his eyes on the ceiling, like the answer is up there. I look up but see no answer, I look back at him and now he smiles, his white teeth shine bright, hiding his face, blurring the image and I smile too, can’t think of anything else to do. He mumbles some words I don’t hear, his thoughts are too scattered to fit into words, but he goes on, ranting, venting, as if I’m not there, and I already feel stupid I handed him the straw to suck my soul out of me, mend it and put it back where it belongs, only he mocks my soul, like I’m a hopeless case, and I’ll have to go on pretending I’m not part of the joke, for that’s what people do with therapists. I cheated on her and she left. I offered her gifts but she insists you can’t cut a piece of love, however tiny, and pretend everything is fine, because suddenly all love is in that little missing piece and the gifts don’t count anymore. That fake plastic house is what you need, says the therapist, crooning again about a fake plastic love, cause that’s what he does, he talks in songs he thinks I don’t know, but I’m familiar with pop music, only I feign ignorance to not hurt his feelings.
The rich shrink can’t help himself, he needs my therapist to keep him sane, but he has a house that can help itself and clean itself.
That house is too big for me, I say. It needs too much effort. That’s another problem I have; I love the idea of things but not the actual things, the idea of a big house, but not the house itself, or the work it involves. I assume she too liked the idea of me but not the real me. My therapist smiles like he knows better, he says it’s a self-help house, like the owner is a self-help guru, it comes with a maid.
The rich shrink is bored with that house and my therapist is bored with him. He has repeatedly advised him to keep a low profile but the rich shrink can’t help himself. And I can’t help myself either.
I’ll buy that house like he advised me, that fake plastic house, and I’ll buy me love and I’ll be fine and I know my therapist thinks that purchased love doesn’t count, I know for he’s been repeatedly paraphrasing songs, sings them to me, thinking that I don’t hear them. My therapist rubs his fake plastic lies onto my face, longs to be one of us, part of this fake plastic everything, but he pretends that money is useless, my money is useless, that I don’t count as much as I think I do, he puts me down again and again, for that’s what poor therapists do to rich people; they don’t know, they can’t know what money can do.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction and Best Small Fictions nominated writer, her work can be found in many journals, such as Litro, Maudlin House, Tiny Molecules, Defenestration and others.