Sesame Seed: Chapter One.

by | Aug 25, 2023 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

“You don’t know what it’s like to lose someone. Someone so close, so young. She was too young to die. How can you ever know what it’s like?” Tony Patterson half-pleaded, half-argued with the man sitting opposite him.

That man was Alan Gordon Douglas Smith MRCPsych, a mountain of a man with a blaze of red hair and eyes the colour of a wild, unopened thistle head. His Melrose accent, by contrast, was as soft as Borders wool.

“I may not have had personal experience, Tony, but I know exactly how you feel. Many people have entered this office in the same unenviable position as you. How long have we been friends? Two years? Three?” The consultant gestured to the door and then leaned forward, gripping his clipboard in one massive hand.

“Coming up to three. Perhaps it was a mistake to involve you. I could have gone for another partner.” Tony was, at fifty, twenty years his doctor’s senior. He was a good-looking man with strong, regular features and hair resembling the tea and sugar mix miners used to take down the pit in a tin. The extra flashes of grey at the temple gave him a distinguished look. His navy blue sweatshirt and partly worn 501’s were a perfect fit and knocked a few years off his half-century.

“What do any of you know about it? You have all of these certificates,” he replied, jabbing a hand at the frames that adorned the walls of the surgery. “None of this. None of your academic studies can prepare you for watching life being sucked from your loved one.” His left hand balled into a tight fist and he clasped his right hand to his forehead. He dug his fingers into the skin of his furrowed brow and drew his lips back in a grimace.

“Tony, you’re doing well, really. Don’t hold back. Say what you think.” The Doctor relaxed into the high-backed armchair and crossed his legs, his thighs were as broad and muscular, stretching the material of his blue wool suit trousers. The sleeves of his jacket were under similar pressure from the powerful biceps beneath. “It is my job to take this from you. To get it all out. I know you’re angry, it’s a symptom of grief. That’s why you are here because you recognise this.”

Tony placed both hands over his mouth as if trying to block the words that had just left it. Holding them up in a gesture of apology, he blurted out. “I’m sorry Alan. I know what you’re trying to say and do – but it is so difficult to cope without seeing red. Sometimes, all I want to do is punch someone.”

“Please, Tony. There are no formalities here. This is your time, on your terms. Shall we continue? Or do you want a break? I can ask Sharon to make some tea. Earl Grey, right?” Dr Smith’s voice was calm and in no way patronising, drawing on years of experience.

“Yes, please Alan. I skipped breakfast this morning. I just don’t feel like eating. My stomach is a mess like it’s full of rats trying to get out.” Tony pressed both hands into his sweatshirt, just above the belt, and exhaled. “I can’t remember the last time I had a decent meal.”

“Ok, let’s stop there and I’ll order something in. There’s a great café a few doors away and they do excellent breakfast sandwiches. I won’t take no for an answer.” Dr Smith held up a hand and pressed the intercom on his desk with a finger of the other. “You can say what you like about my qualifications and experience but when it comes to food, I’m in charge.”

Tony Patterson made no effort to argue with the medic. The Doctor spoke softly into the intercom when prompted by his secretary’s voice. “Sharon, may I have two breakfast stotties from Nana’s, an Earl Grey, black with half a sugar, and my usual, please? Thank you.” The young woman’s voice chirped in acknowledgment.

“It’s the loneliness that gets me, Alan. It seems to compound all of the other feelings.” Tony placed his hands on the desk and inhaled deeply.

“It’s a catalyst, Tony. Like dropping sodium into water. The combination of your symptoms of grief and the solitude you’ve been left with are an explosive mixture. What we need to do is distract you,” replied the doctor. “Have you thought about work? It’s been a couple of months. I’m sure they’d offer you a phased return.”

“I’ve resigned, Alan. Handed it in last week. I really don’t want to go back. What I want to do is get out of here. This town, this country. I don’t even belong here. We only moved here for the schools and her…” His voice trailed off and Tony gave a groan of despair, “…mother.”

“I see. How is Pat? Do you see her? She’s probably struggling too, you know. Losing a child is harrowing no matter how old one is. Especially to suicide.” Alan stopped and placed a hand on one of Tony’s, “Perhaps you should reconsider.”

“She wrote me a letter, you know? Quite comprehensive. Two pages, basically telling me to fuck off and it was all my fault.” Tony snatched his hand away and slammed a fist on the table. “She doesn’t want me to visit anymore. Says it’s too painful seeing me. Aye, seeing me alive, she means. Fucking cow.” Just as the words left his lips the door opened and the secretary entered carrying a tray. “I’m so sorry Sharon. You shouldn’t have to hear that,” gasped Tony, placing his head in his hands, “this is a mess, the whole thing. I’m sorry.”

“Please, it’s fine Mr Patterson. I’ve heard worse. At least you have a good reason.” The young woman placed the tray on the desk, “here you go Doctor. The sugar is on the side and the sandwiches will be ten minutes. Is there anything else?”

“That’s all for now Sharon, thank you,” replied the doctor. “She’s right. It’s all part of the job.” He turned to his patient and held out both hands to the tray, “help yourself.”

“Cheers Doc. I feel like such a prick, offending everyone within reach.” Tony poured the tea and added a tiny amount of sugar.

“Let’s get back to Pat. So it’s over then?” Picking up his large Americano the doctor sniffed the brew and took a sip, letting out a long sigh.

“Point of no return Doc, I wish I’d brought the letter. It was vicious, the old witch.” Tony blew on his tea and took a gulp, “Jeez it’s hot. Bloody Karma, that is. She’s cursed me.”

“Tea tends to be hot, especially black, Tony. Do you not think you’re being too harsh?” The doctor reached for the paper handkerchiefs and handed one to Tony.

Tony dabbed his watering eyes and blew his nose.“Alan, I have something I want to share with you. Something which is right up your street. Marie had a problem, a, erm, mental problem.” Tony dabbed his eyes again, “I don’t mean the suicide, or at least not directly. It was a long-term thing. From her childhood. From her father.”

The doctor raised an eyebrow, cradled his chin in his left hand, and stroked his goatee. “I’m all ears, my friend. In your own time. We’re off the clock now. Let’s talk off the record and continue your session another time.” Alan Smith was no longer a therapist, he was back to being Tony’s friend and drinking buddy. He stood up and peeled off his jacket, throwing it on the chair to his left, then hooked one finger inside his Melrose RFC tie and tugged it loose. Closing his clipboard, the big man pushed the intercom button again, “Sharon, bring the sandwiches in when they arrive and cancel the rest of today’s appointments, please.”

“Did I get that right doctor? Cancel everything?” the secretary’s crackling voice filled the room.

“Yes please and get yourself away home. It’s Friday,” replied the medic, winking at his patient. Releasing the button, he leaned over and addressed Tony, “now then, where were we? Tell me everything, from the start.”

Chapter Two

The young woman, wearing her coat, entered the office with a brown paper carrier. Immediately, the room was filled with the aroma of bacon and eggs. Tony’s mouth began to water and his stomach gurgled…

2 Comments

  1. pgmorris1955

    Interesting start this could go anywhere keep it coming marra

    Reply

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