Chapter Twelve: A Real Man

Mark wished he would never wake up. Waking up was a shock to him every morning, and had been for the last three months. Richard had left him to go back to his wife. A wife that Mark didn’t know he had or their two children. The bed felt so cold and empty without him. He sighed. It was time to get up and get dressed. A no-notice cancellation with his psychiatrist would cost more than he could afford. Working as a shelf stacker at the local supermarket didn’t pay much but it was better than no job.

“Hey Mark,” his roommate said. “How are you tracking today?” Gerald was so lovely. He walked that amazing line between showing you care but not intruding either.

Mark shrugged his shoulders and walked away to have a shower and a cry. Real men didn’t cry his father had always told him. Guess he wasn’t a real man then. The hot water poured down his face, masking his tears. This was the only place he could cry without feeling ashamed. He felt so pathetic and weak.

He towelled himself dry. He looked down at his body. No wonder Richard had left him. Who would want to stay with someone so fat? His potbelly disgusted him. He lived off fast food these days. Pizza and McDonald’s were his friends.

He shoved his jeans on and almost zipped his joystick. Guess he wasn’t using it anyway but damn did it pinch. Time to shave his face. He hadn’t for a month now and it was getting itchy with weird red patches in it. Fuck. He knicked his face. Well, I guess that is what happens when you rush it. He couldn’t be stuffed to put on aftershave. At least he put on a t-shirt, Mark thought to himself.

By the time he had finished his shower, Gerald had already left for work. He lived up to the stereotype and was a hairdresser. It made him the butt of jokes but when you are good at something, embrace it.

It was time for Mark to put on his big boy boots and go see his psychiatrist, Dr John Gifford. He was a disturbingly honest man in his early 50s. He had already started greying and had a bald head. John did that weird thing where some men comb over their baldness. It doesn’t hide it but maybe it helps. Everyone has their blanky they take into the world. John’s was a combover. Mark didn’t know if he had one. Perhaps that’s was why he was falling apart.

“Come in,” John said sonorously. “Sit wherever you’re comfortable.”

Mark felt like he had walked into his second home. John had this amazing ability to put him at ease. Was it the tone of his voice? He sad on the blue couch in a white room. The most colourful thing in it was John. He felt alive while Mark was passing time.

John handed Mark the tissue box. He was right, Mark thought, he was about to go through another tree’s worth.

“I dreamt about him again last night.” Mark looked down into his lap, his hands writhing like snakes. “This time he came back to me, said he’d left his wife. I actually woke up smiling, happy, until I realised it wasn’t real.” A tear slid down his left cheek.

John was patient and non-judgemental. He waited for Mark to wrangle his feelings together. He understood his clients had chaotic minds. Why else would they be here?

Mark looked up at the poster of the wall behind John’s head. It said, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

A rope was a good suggestion.

Categories: Bedtime Stories for Purple Girls, Books

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