You hear the latch, the turning handle, the base of the waiting room door brushing the carpet as it swings open. Your heart skips, it could be for me?
Inside, your lifted spirits sink a little as a stranger walks in, nervously glancing at you, too polite to ignore you, but too self conscious to be more gracious. A social etiquette dilemma, ever so British, as two strangers now sit in a shared silence, waiting to see their respective therapists.
The waiting room door swings open again, you both glance in the direction of the doorway, you’re more cautious, and then relieved, seeing the familiar smile of your therapist.
“Ready?” he asks with a warmth and confidence that quickly begins to put you at ease.
You gather your coat and bag and head out through the open door, turning immediately right and toward the open door of your therapist’s office.
His door open, revealing the interior, allowing you to easily recall the setting, welcome and familiar, reassuringly unchanged since your last visit.
The soft couch, finished in a dark tobacco leather, cracked and worn, and so comfortable. And across the open room, a single deep armchair, where your therapist waits to sit.
You set down your bag and coat, before laying back on the couch, looking up into the wide white ceiling and losing yourself in the void, for just a millisecond.
Glancing over to the door, you watch your therapist gently closing the door, his name etched in bold, black letters, of Times New Roman, set into the brass plaque: Dr. Guy Fox.
“So, how have you been?” He asks, kindly, still smiling, settling himself back into his armchair and allowing you all the time you need to centre yourself.
“Oh, it’s been mental as ever.”
“Well, that job I took turned into a nightmare, the management were awful, under trained, incapable of support and with ridiculous expectations that became demands, literally shouting and being abusive. Unbelievable.”
“Are you there now?”
“No. No, I had to say no, my health is worth more.”
“I’d have to agree.”
He leaves you space, not expecting you to say more, but he also leaves the door open, so to speak, should you want to continue.
“I just got back from Dubai” you offer, shifting the conversation from how have you been, to what have you been up to?
You notice him making a note, his open A4 pad resting on the upper thigh and knee of his crossed legs.
You imagine him writing Dubai, and suspect him of wondering if he should charge you more for these sessions. But in truth he’s written, denial, his shorthand for you choosing to change the subject.
“How was that?” he asks, his warmth and sincerity undented.
And in a slightly anxious panic you fluster to convey how it was sort of paid for, or mostly free, because you have a friend in the airline business, Virgin in fact, and well, when you get these crazy opportunities you can hardly pass them up, can you? After all you only live once.