We’ve All Got Secrets By Samantha Engel Waking up at six he makes his coffee, showers, shaves, and reads the newspaper while sipping the warm caffeine that fuels his veins. He closes his eyes and swallows the caffeinated fuel slowly, feeling the warmth run down his throat. He puts on a dress shirt, dress pants, and nice shoes. The purple shirt is accompanied by matching purple socks. He believes in the old days when socks match the shirt just like women used to match their purse to their heels. As he thought of this he imagined himself holding a purple purse with matching purple heels. He shook the idea out of his head. What would they think? He fed his cat Mittens and walked out into the crisp fall air. He took a deep breath, feeling his nose hairs crystallize a little and then jumped into the car, tossing his briefcase into the passenger seat. The journey to campus was one for the books. He passed a five car pileup, a dead cat(Oh, poor puttytat! Thank goodness Mittens is an indoor kitty), a dead deer and watched as a bicyclist was almost taken out by an appliance truck. Parking was another issue. Students, in rebellion of the lack of parking, started using the employee lots and since the lots were entirely consumed with reckless drivers the university has not been issuing tickets because they are currently negotiating a new parking lot. The only open spaces at eight in the morning were in the farthest lot from his office, but he liked the exercise. Plus, maybe if his feet froze he could go home and hug Mittens and assure him that he will never get hit by a car. After walking across Siberia he finds his building and walks inside. He manages to find the elevator through the thick throng of students. As a psychologist in a large college he comes across many different people. One group he finds particularly interesting: The North Face-wearing, Ugg-boot-sporting, legging-covered young women. I thought their generation was taught to be individuals. But this particular group was not the one he had to focus on today. The psychologist enters the elevator, clicks his floor number and the door closes. He turns his back to the door and grins. Music starts playing in his head. He closes his eyes and thinks of Tim Curry’s entrance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The elevator comes to a sudden stop and he jumps as the image of a grand entrance leaves his
thoughts. He walks down the hall and is greeted by his secretary. “Good Morning! How are ya?” “Just peachy. Any messages?” “Nope but here’s your mail.” “Thanks, can you bring me some coffee? Black.” “Right away!” The psychologist had to hire a morning person to work for him otherwise the whole place would be cranky. Plus the floral dresses and granny shoes she wore were the farthest thing related to what he wished he was wearing. He goes to his office and sits at his desk. The secretary walks in and sets his coffee down. “You have one client that just came in, she’s very upset.” “Send her in.” The student was disheveled and still in pajamas. The psychologist offered her a seat and a box of tissues. “What’s wrong, hun?” “I just got my grade for my mid-term.” “Was it lower than you expected?” “Why else would I be c-crying!?” The psychologist paused to let her calm down, told her to take a few breaths and to explain calmly what happened. “Well, I studied weeks beforehand. I did all the readings, even a few of the suggested supplements. And I went to the TA’s hours and everything! I don’t understand!” “It sounds as if you deserve a good grade. Do you mind if I ask what you got?” “You’re going to think I’m an idiot.” “No I’m not.” “I got a B+” “Well what class was this for?” “Organic chemistry.” “I hear that’s a very hard course.” “It is, and it isn’t even in my major but I enrolled because I wanted to see what it was like.” “But a B+ is a very good grade for that material. That textbook is massive!” “I haven’t gotten lower than an A in all of college! I’m a junior! This is r-ruining my GPA!” The psychologist has had many students come in with unrealistic expectations about a lot of the material. He understands some teachers are not the best in some courses but there is nothing he can do besides console the students. The distraught girl left after he convinced her that a B+ isn’t that bad by telling her he was in the same situation for his Behavioral Neuroscience grade when he was an undergraduate. He said that he received an F on one test. But he didn’t tell her that the teacher dropped the lowest grade in the class so his GPA wasn’t affected. Around mid-day a male student came in because he was ordered by the university to seek treatment for alcoholism. He was drinking from a clear water bottle and the psychologist took note of his repeated sips of the bottle. After conversing about the
parties the student has gone to recently the psychologist thought it was best to ask what was in the water bottle. “Putinka.” The psychologist was able to convince the student to hand over the bottle and gave him an Alcoholics Anonymous number to call. “I’m trusting that you will call this as soon as you leave. I don’t want to see you in here again.” “Awesome.” As soon as he had left a very skinny girl came in with her hands in her face. His receptionist followed her in and handed him a note and walked out of the room closing the door silently. From the mother, she called this morning: She hasn’t called me as often as she used to. She stopped going to class and her grades have dropped. I have called the school to find out anything I can and I was told she stopped participating in marching band. She won’t speak to me or her father. Her friends have also stopped receiving texts from her and she deleted her Facebook account. I am very worried and I hope you can help my baby girl. The psychologist has dealt with enough depression cases to recognize them. She was very skinny but not to the point of anorexia or bulimia. She was obviously upset and with cutting off contact with loved ones she was not going to get any better. “I know why I’m here. My mother is very worried but I can’t bring myself to tell her what happened…” “You can tell me, this is a safe space.” “I… was at a party a few weeks ago. I’m only telling you this because I don’t want to feel like this anymore, okay?” She became very shifty and the psychologist had an inkling of what she was going to say, “Were you violated?” She gasped and her face became contorted with misery. She nodded and said, “I thought we were just friends. He introduced me to my first beer. He helped me get my fake ID and everything! He was so nice and I thought he was alright! But at that party he brought me upstairs. And well… I wasn’t in the right mind. I felt more woozy than usual. And he raped me.” The psychologist knew the procedure. He would have to convince the student to seek treatment in a hospital and report the rapist to authorities. When he did so she stood up and said, “I can’t do that! I took a pregnancy test! It had a plus!” “Y-you’re pregnant?” “Yeah!” She sat back down and curled into a ball. Looking at her frail body he said, “You don’t look pregnant.” “I know! I don’t know if I lost it or if the test was false!” She put her head back down and started to sob rather loudly. The psycholo-
gist got up, kneeled before her and put his hand on hers. “Listen, you are upset and you may feel ashamed. But this isn’t your fault. You must report him and seek treatment. If you are pregnant you must see a doctor to be sure everything is alright. He could have also injured you internally. But you must go to a hospital immediately. Do you understand?” “M-hmm. But mm-y parents… we’re catholic. I-I can’t do this.” “Honey, they’ll understand. Believe me. I have never met a person whose parents weren’t forgiving. Do you want me to help you call them?” “Could you?” “Of course.” The psychologist handed her a phone, sat next to her and held her hand and she clutched the receiver to her ear. Even though he was trained to deal with these situations, he has never experienced the heartache some people go through. He also started thinking about what Transsexual, Transylvania would look like. FOCUS! My God, get an attention span! He listened to the one-way conversation of the girl and gave her encouraging looks as she shivered and spoke to her overwrought mother who was currently online booking a flight into town. After she hung up she closed her eyes and took a deep yoga breath. “How are you feeling?” he asked as he grabbed both of her cold hands. She sat up straight, turned toward him and told him the rapist’s name and dorm room. The psychologist wrote it down in her file and once again asked if she was going to seek help. She assured him she was and he believed it. She asked him if he knew the nearest doctor for she and her mother were going to go together once her mother had landed. She walked out and shut the door. The psychologist put his head down on the desk and took a deep breath. He recollected the conversation with his last client and took a few more notes in her file. He looked up at his fake Monet across the room and hesitated to open the lower right-hand drawer of his desk. He cracked it open to reveal a partial jeweled heel. Some people use good grades to feel better, some use alcohol, and some need family. I like my heels.