Conversation With A Doctor

.. now. Our neighbours saw the whole thing, but they must have thought we were moving out. No, we have no idea where they are. Our lawyer tried to trace them, but they disappeared.

He figures they used an assumed name. It’s funny, though. We had him examine our insurance policy and he figured out that we will get money for everything that was taken. As long as it’s been stolen, he says, we get paid for it. The company is complaining about it, of course, but we’re sure we’ll get paid for it all.

More than I thought. You don’t realize how much you spend on things like that over the years. How much do you think the things in your house are worth, doctor? Well you should find out, have everything appraised, in case there’s a fire or something. OK. I honestly can’t tell. It feels wrong, but I’m a scientist and I know feelings are not supposed to mean anything.

If our lives had happened differently we might have decorated the apartment this way ourselves. If we had come into the antique store a day later maybe they would have sold our old chair and we would have bought the new one. And who know, maybe then we would have chosen the blue paint. And the colour of the kitchen does brighten it up. Objectively, I can’t find anything wrong with it.

Subjectively, I can’t live with it. I wake up in the night and I don’t know where I am. I hate these people for getting rid of all our things but I don’t know what was so special about it in the first place. If all we had was tables and chairs and paint and even books then what did we really have? Symbols? In a way but there is something more than that. No, the change is very real.

I can hear it in her voice. She seems disconnected from me. Yes and no. We go through the motions, but we’re not all there. Worse, if anything. She spends more time with her friends, not that I mind that in itself, but she acts as if there is something wrong. But there isn’t.

That’s for sure. Listen, have I told you about my childhood? Already? But it’s only– I understand. Goodbye, doctor. Tuesday Have I? You won’t tell Arnaud, will you? Good. It would kill him.

I have, yes. A colleague, a few years ago. And a man I met in a restaurant. And others. Because, well, Arnaud is … Arnaud. I did it to save our marriage.

I know that sounds crass but I don’t think I could have survived with just him for the rest of my life. I needed space to breathe. It hasn’t helped, that’s for sure. It’s made us both uneasy, and everything that kept us together is not there anymore. Not fights, exactly; hardly even disagreements.

We talk to each other and we’re not sure what we said. I look at his eyes and it’s as if I spoke in some foreign language. He has to think about what I said before he answers. He never did that before, we’re not living in the same world like we used to. We could talk to each other without weighing and judging what we said and heard.

We can’t seem to deal with each other like that any longer. He does. When I get up and go into the kitchen and see him there drinking coffee and reading the newspaper it’s like I’m watching an actor. I don’t know if it’s someone else pretending to be Arnaud or Arnaud pretending to be someone else. I’m still used to seeing him in a certain context — in that chair, with this music on the stereo.

I thought it would go away after a time, that we’d get used to it. I know I haven’t. I think Arnaud has, mostly because he doesn’t care about things like that. I haven’t had anyone over for dinner. I just can’t show them the rooms, I can’t tell them what happened.

I don’t want them to feel sorry for me. Because it doesn’t do any good. I mean, they don’t know what really happened to us, and they can’t understand. No doctor, of course you’re different. I guess I am afraid of that. I don’t know if it would be worse for them to feel sorry for me or for them to tell me how wonderful the place looks and how pleased I should be.

I could try. We haven’t decided. I think Arnaud actually likes it. He’s like a kid sometimes, the way he gets excited over things. He’ll get over it.

Thursday Ghyslaine has left me. You looked surprised. Didn’t she tell.. Oh. Well she has. She went to stay with a friend, just for a little while, she said, to sort some things out.

I don’t. When I came home there was a note and her things were gone. Just what she said, to sort things out. Never. We always worked things out together.

No sign at all. Last night we sat and watched the boats like we used to, but she said she hated the yellow chairs we have now. They’re the kind with metal frames and strips of vinyl across the back and the seat. And a table with an umbrella. I don’t know anymore. I know we’re not supposed to know what each other says to you, but do you have any idea what might have.. Well do you think you’re doing any good for us? What with…

That’s a cryptic thing to say. I suppose your job is to keep us sane enough that we’ll keep coming to you but crazy enough that we’ll still need you. Well I’d hardly call it a science. Fine, if that’s what you want. It’s just that, I don’t know, I’m not sure if we really want it to work any more.

I mean by that exactly what I said. Listen, all I’m saying is that this whole business has made both of us wonder if we should really be together. We just hadn’t thought about it before. Is there something wrong with us thinking, for God’s sakes? I still don’t know. I just know that for some reason we, we don’t hate each other or anything but we don’t know what’s going on anymore.

At least I don’t. Tuesday Don’t say anything. I just had to get away. From that place, from those things. Not from him.

Never from him. He’s a big boy. He should be able to tell. I made it pretty clear. He can take care of himself. I don’t want to hurt him.

If it stops me from going crazy it does help, yes. I just can’t stand living in that place. We’ll work something out. We still talk. It’s not as if we’re fighting.

We had dinner on Saturday. He had to meet me to give me some of my make up, so we went to a little seafood restaurant. We are still married, after all. I don’t know and I don’t care. They can say what they want.

Yes. But it’s only for a while. I don’t love him; I’ll go back to Arnaud soon. Of course not. It wouldn’t do him any good.

I’ve put him through enough, leaving and all that. I want things to get back to normal. He’s from the history department. I’ve known him for a long time, socially. He was married.

He’s great, in a way, but I couldn’t stand him for a long time. I look into his eyes, sometimes, and I see something there that I don’t like. He wears contacts, blue ones. His real eyes are brown. They look honest, at first, but if you look hard enough at the veins they look like cracks in china.

The iris are like wood and then the pupils are like a hole straight into his brain only you see nothing but there is something there, just there’s no light to see it with. I was looking at his eyes and I got scared and ran into the bathroom and locked myself into the bathroom panting for five ten minutes watching myself in the mirror. I told him, just a memory, just a flashback of something that happened when I was a kid. It wasn’t true. I just couldn’t tell him what really happened.

I was too afraid. No. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with him so it doesn’t matter. Yes, I’ve thought about it. I think it’s that somebody else has taken us over. When they replaced all our belongings it was like having a book published and going to the bookstore and finding that the editor changed every single world. I just want to shout, “THIS IS NOT ME!” Thursday You’re like a priest, doctor, taking confession.

I thought Ghyslaine was with a girlfriend, somebody she grew up with — she’s still very close with all her friends from her old neighbourhood. Every time I called she was out, but I never caught on. I heard it through the grapevine. I suspected it before — her tennis instructor, maybe, and others, but I never was sure. I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

No, she seems to think I’m still completely unaware of everything. On the phone she’s so cheerful, it makes me sick. I know it can’t go on but what am I going to do? If it’s just the apartment we can sell it, move somewhere else start over, but I don’t think it is. I think it just brought things out that were always there. Such as we really don’t understand each other and are deceiving each other all the time.

I just can’t believe that I’m lying to her. She phones up and I tell her I’m fine. She thinks I’m just waiting for her, sitting in my chair reading a book waiting for her to come back. I’ll understand. Of course I’ll understand. I’ll understand all too well.

And I’ll make her understand, too. I’m not going to kill myself over her. She wouldn’t. Or would she? If you think about it, it would be a lot easier for her if we were at least separated. She doesn’t need me.

I thought I did. But I think the her that I needed just isn’t there anymore. Maybe we should sell the apartment. I don’t know if that would keep us together. I think I do.

At least to try. Tuesday You’d be pleased, doctor. We had a shouting match on the phone, let out all our tempers. Very therapeutic, I’m sure. How cryptic.

We thought it helped; that’s what counts. It turns out Arnaud found out about my little escapade. Oops. He never got so mad in his life. Of course he did.

He didn’t really have any choice, I think. We sold the apartment (it was worth more than we thought: some of the things in it were antiques). We used most of that money and all the insurance money to buy a new place. Nothing there, at the moment, but we’ll take our time decorating it. I found a mirror just like the old one; I’ve already hung it up.

Together.

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