‘Harold, are you listening?’
‘Hmm, oh, sorry. I drifted off there.’
‘Sandra was just saying that you seem distant sometimes.’
‘Distant? No, not at all. I wouldn’t say that.’ He pulled himself up straight on the uncomfortable chair and gave Sandra an encouraging smile. It was met with an icy cold stare. He tried to focus on the what the therapist was saying.
‘Even in the time that we’ve been sat here, Harold, I’ve got the feeling that you aren’t fully with us.’
Too right, he thought. Anywhere but here in this beige, clinical room, with the drab curtains, scratched coffee table and claustrophobic atmosphere. He pictured an open landscape, snow-tipped mountains in the distance, green fields stretching as far as the the eye could see. Freedom.
‘Of course I’m here. Whatever it takes.’
Whatever it takes. Therapy was the price he had to pay. Make it look like you’re making an effort for a while. Do the right thing. But he knew it was over. They were maintaining a long distance relationship while living under the same roof.
The therapist was young. Too young. Too pretty as well. It didn’t help that she reminded him of Sandra when they had first met. Not so much in her looks, but in her attitude, her smile, her caring nature. How long before this young woman lost her empathy, worn away by nothing more than everyday life taking it’s toll. He also noticed she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, so how much of a specialist could she really be?
When he was younger he would have pictured the mountain scene with Sandra by his side. The two of them, a team – friends, lovers, companions for life. Nothing dramatic had happened to them. Work, children, all the usual things that get in the way. That was all.
Then he had found out about the affair. Part of him was angry, upset, betrayed. Part of him felt relief. Here was a way out where he wasn’t the bad guy for leaving her. Of course he still loved her, he always would. But did he want her to be with him every step of that walk among the mountains?
A couple more sessions and he could shrug, say ‘I gave it a try,’ and head for those distant hills.
‘Harold, will you please listen when I am trying to talk to you.’ Sandra’s voice, a touch of frustration bubbling beneath her tired sigh, broke his contemplation.
‘Sorry, darling. Of course. What were you saying?’