IN THE ROOM by Minette Cummings

We are in the room, and she is talking. Her words are sad, but her face is not. None of the sadness coming out her mouth dribbles onto her skin, a fact which is sadder than anything she is saying.

While she is talking, the blond man listens. His hair is swirled back like Archie in the old comic, a hairstyle that preoccupies. He places his elbow on his knee to show concern. I imagine he learned this trick in a business seminar as he has the look of a man who frequents such places. I dislike him for the swirling hair, the practiced lean. I myself have neither, saddled instead with a tangled mop and a rigid back.

The woman talks, the blonde man leans, and the architect scowls. The architect’s problems are the kind that make us uncomfortable. Sexual problems. We listen to him explain them on many nights and carefully move our heads in ways that suggest concern: tilts, nods, etc. He is not as good as the rest of us at pretending. When we share our problems, he often shakes his head and makes a hmph sound with his nose. He feels we are disturbed. We disturb him.

The therapist watches while we speak. His eyes have setting moons beneath them. This is a way to say he looks tired. His superpower is being still and quiet while staring without blinking. It feels ironic that the helpful response might be silence, but it seems to be true. He is Audience. Without him, we would be writing in journals or boring our friends. With him, we are being seen and heard, his theory being that outside the room, many are blind and deaf.

The Archie imposter is certainly seeing and hearing. He says many things that sound like the right ones. I am trying hard to pay attention. I try so hard that my head begins to ache and throb and even bounce up and down a little on my shoulders. This happens sometimes. My head bounces up and down and then off my neck to the floor, whirlpooling on the carpet, moppy hair swirling, until it comes to rest by the architect’s black loafer. The therapist’s eyes follow it. I imagine there is much he could say about my disembodied head or my headless body, Freudian things, but I am not surprised when he chooses silence. The architect and the leaning man are facing the woman. They do not see me: body, head, or torso. They do not see me. I imagine the architect will find it disturbing when he does finally notice my head resting near his left foot (the one he once told us was smaller than the other).



Photo used under CC.