“It’s a paradox, isn’t it?”
Luz had been pretending to scratch her nose to cover a yawn. She had been up since five cleaning the house then getting the kids off to school and herself to work. They were down three social workers at the Intermediate Unit and she knew the minute she got home a pile of things undone would be waiting by the door. Luz had been debating supermarket chicken or frozen pizza when she realized her new patient had asked her a direct question.
“I’m sorry,” Luz said glancing down at her notes, “Sullivan, my connection is a little slow. Could you repeat that last bit again you were breaking up.”
The dark haired boy chuckled. With a sprinkle of freckles and big bright eyes, his pixie face was central casting adorable. Only his thin smile made him appear older.
“Yeah sure late nights make bad bedfellows. I said therapy is a paradox. Talking to make things better it is so stupid, bro. I mean talking is boring and lasts forever and only makes me madder then I do things and then then I need more therapy,” Sullivan said. “It’s like a vicious circle.”
“You’re very insightful, Sullivan. I understand therapy is weird and uncomfortable. But let’s give it a chance. I’m here to listen to you. What would you like to work on with me?”
Luz gave her patient her warmest concerned therapist look. He stared back with dead doll eyes. They stared at each other for several moments. Creeped out by the kid, Luz returned to the notes from BetterSpace.
They read: Sullivan Pine, 15, adult guardian Joseph Pine (grandfather) concerns: truant, ignores curfew, slipping grades, poss. oppositional defiant disorder. Luz gave a slight groan. Her day job was filled with ADHD, ODD, kids with a whole host of alphabet disorders. Stifling another yawn, Luz knew she would be too tired to stop by the market.
“So Sullivan tell me about your life a little,” Luz asked.
Another bout of stares stretched between the boy and his therapist. Luz glanced up at the clock over her monitor, parsing out the rest of the night.
“So you live with your grandpa.”
“He’s not my real dad. He doesn’t own me. No one owns me. His way or the highway, right. Everything has to go his way and he’s never wrong. I’m sick of his shit. I’m not a kid. And I don’t have to take it.”
A scowl settled over his cherubic face. Sullivan vibrated with anger. He tapped his foot against the chair he was sitting on in his living room. Thunk, thunk, the wooden raps grew louder.
“I’m not a puppet. I have my own mind, my own voice. I’m not going to do what he tells me. I’m not going to just sit and take it. I will speak my peace. He’s the only one I have problems with. Just him. I can’t wait until I am out of this house. I’m never going to see that dickhead again.”
“Okay, I hear you. What do you think is behind you two not getting along?”
Sullivan pushed back from the table, shouting. “Not getting along! That’s not what I said. You’re not listening. You’re taking his side. Making it like I have the problem. Like I get angry for no reason. He pulls a string and I have to jump up and do my chores, tell him where I’m going, when I’ll be back. Like it is my job to help me. He should get off his old ass. It’s not my responsibility he’s old and sick. I have to beg him for money, beg him for rides. He thinks everyone has to be like him to be legit. Reading books and being old and boring. Then if I say I’m going to do something and I legitimately forget. He calls me a liar. Then I guess I am a liar. I’m a liar! I’m telling a lie now.”
Luz watched as Sullivan swept a shelfful of delicate wood carvings to the floor.
Sullivan roared, “I’m telling a lie right now.” Each word was punctuated with snapping, cracking wood.
With a sharp crunch, the boy stomped his overturned chair. Luz watched from across the state as an older man ran into the dining room screaming. Sullivan pulled back his arm with a splintered chair leg in his hand. Luz’ screen went dark.