back in the chair and propped his feet against the desk. Ten minutes
till his next patient, ten minutes to find his balance. He rubbed
his finger through the gritty sand of his miniature Zen garden. He’d
lost the tiny rake sometime back. The mountains dip deep into the
rivers, he breathed. The yang pushes firmly into the yin. His pulse
slowed. He inhaled the faint sweetness from his aromatic diffuser
— lavender, bergamot, and ylang-ylang. He should have been a New
Age consultant instead of a psychiatrist. Fewer loans, same respect.
Screw this job anyway. No one appreciated what he
did, except for maybe his patients. Even then he wasn’t sure. They
all wanted a miracle solution, less talk, more pills. All that med
school just to be a pill pusher. And endure the look of disdain when
he introduced himself as a psychiatrist.
“Oh, you’re a doctor?” they’d ask.
“Yes, a psychiatrist.”
A subtle scorn would creep over their lips.
Didn’t stop them from coming to him. He’d
loved this job so much. Once. Anyway, what else would he do? Probe
and cut distended carcasses oozing putrid gases, foul-smelling pus,
and matted body hair? He shuddered. Cancers of the psyche were
subtler to find, and cleaner to the touch.
The intercom buzzed and his next patient was shown
into his office.
“Hello, Dania. How are you doing?” he greeted
her, and rose to shake hands. She’d made this appointment outside
of their regular sessions.
“Okay, Dr. Chalmers,” she replied. “I’ve
decided to try the medication.”
Of course she had. “That’s good. I think the
pills will help you, but remember, we want to continue talking and
working through what you’re feeling.”
“Okay.” Nothing more, just okay.
He sighed, taking out his prescription pad.
Theodore Chalmers, M.D. Mad Doctor. Delusional deliverer of the
maniacs, the maladjusted, the misinformed.
“Have you given any thought to the different
medications we discussed?”
He waited for a response. One, two, three…
“I would recommend one of the newer SSRIs, maybe
Zoloft or Paxil. Probably the Paxil. You don’t really want the
weight loss you might experience with the Zoloft.”
He scrawled the prescription on the page. “You
should start feeling a bit better in a couple of weeks. You might
experience some faintness, headaches, or nausea. But don’t worry,
the side effects will pass. We’ll keep up with our regular
sessions, so I can track your progress.” He looked up. “Any
Silence. Of course. Just hand over the
“Okay then.” He rose. “I’ll see you in a
few weeks and we’ll talk more about how you’re doing,” he
said. And then she was gone.
Ted sank back into his chair and scratched again
at his sand garden. Where the hell had that rake gotten off to? He
sucked in a breath of lavender and pulled out the file on his next
patient. No matter. There was no point in searching for something he’d
lost so long ago.
Vanitha Sankaran is
currently writing a collection of vignettes, to be titled Ordinary
Lives. Her current work can be found in recent issues of Prose Ax,
The Paumanok Review, and Mindprints.