Daniel and I are sitting in Dr. Shaw’s office. Together. I’m both uncomfortable and delighted to have Daniel sit next to me and endure this process alongside me. It’s been a long time coming I can tell you that. But…(and there’s always a ‘but’) I wasn’t expecting him to join me so soon and for this session, no less. Let me back-track and tell you why…
I was in Daniel’s kitchen dialling for pizza. Which is what the kitchen is used for, obviously. If when scholars study the living situation of 21st century New Yorkers, they will find that we used kitchens as a base camp for ordering food. Not to cook in. Which makes me wonder what we’d have in the future. Maybe nothing at all. Maybe I’m just making up stuff. So far, I’m making a phone order.
“So,” I hung up once I made the order, “done and dusted.” Daniel stood before me and his eyes shifted from the floor and to the kitchen island. “What are you thinking about?” I wondered.
“Umm,” Daniel licked and grazed his lips with his teeth, “I was thinking that maybe I can come with you.”
I furrowed my brows. “Come with me where? Pizza’s coming here.”
“No,” Daniel chuckled, “I mean, with you to…therapy.” He sucked in a deep breath.
I raised my brows, not knowing what to say. I’d always asked Dr. Shaw how to ask Daniel to come with me to see her, but I never asked her what to do or say once he’d agree to come.
“Anna?” Daniel lowered his head to catch my eye.
“Mmm?” I asked. I could barely speak; matter fact, I didn’t want to say anything that could freak him out.
Matter fact, I had booked a kind of urgent session with Dr. Shaw because I wanted to talk to her about sex with Daniel after his leg is healed. And I wasn’t ready for Daniel to hear all that. I wanted to spend time with Dr. Shaw to prepare myself and what to say and tell Daniel when I was more courageous.
“So, you good?” Daniel asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m happy.” I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around Daniel’s waist.
Daniel dipped one arm around my back to pull the hug in closer, planting a kiss on top of my head. “I’m glad. I’m nervous.”
Me too. “Don’t be.”
I realised I could just speak to Dr. Shaw about our sex life later. But I didn’t know when I could tell her since she’s pretty hard to reach. Abort the mission because Daniel was coming.
By the time the pizza delivery guy came, we were due for our appointment and neither of us could sneak in a slice. Well, I did have a bite of my favourite part of the pizza (the tip!) and chew like a camel, but other than that, we ran out on empty stomachs.
We hopped into a cab and I told the driver where to go. As I looked over to Daniel, his hand on the back of the driver’s seat, bracing himself. His face pale, not even a faint colour in his cheeks; and a light sheen of moisture glistening his skin; something was up. The driver barely hit a block when he had to pull over and Daniel opened his door, throwing up on the sidewalk.
“We can turn around if you want?” I asked, rubbing Daniel’s back.
Daniel shook his head and pulled the cab door in. “No. Let’s go.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He did not look alright.
Daniel nodded and closed his eyes, dipping low and leaning his head back on the head rest. “I just need to breathe.”
I held Daniel’s clammy hand the whole time. At intervals, he would spontaneously tense and clench my hand in his fist. I’m so nervous for him. I half-felt he was doing this more so for me than for him at this point, and I just really hope he wasn’t forcing himself to come with me.
We stopped by a venue to grab a bottle of water and mints before we went on our way to Dr. Shaw’s office.
“Daniel and I here to see Dr. Shaw,” I said to the receptionist. A middle-aged woman with grey hair and an old, floral patterned dress with the hem to her knees.
The woman angled her brows. “Daniel?” She’d never heard the name before and only ever seen me by myself.
“Oh, you can just tell Dr. Shaw we’re here for couple’s therapy.”
The woman eyed the sweaty Daniel. I bet she thought he was on crack or something.
“Thanks,” I said when the woman wouldn’t move. What is she waiting for, a sign? Go now, please! Jeesh.
She rolled her judgmental eyes (and I almost wanted to punch her out) and stood over to enter Dr. Shaw’s office. “She’ll be right with you,” the woman said, coming back.
I smiled an obviously fake smile. “Thanks so much.”
“So, Daniel,” Dr. Shaw said, “welcome.”
Daniel grinned a funny-looking, twisted grin that made him and I both laugh without cause, making us look like two teens in love. It was a giddy and nerve-wracking experience I can tell you that.
“Glad to be here,” Daniel replied.
“Now’s a better time than any,” Dr. Shaw applauded.
“Well,” Daniel shrugged, “my wife thinks it’s the best, and I agree.”
Dr. Shaw’s mouth dropped and she flickered her eyes between the both of us. “Wife?”
“Wife?” I repeated.
“Sorry!” Daniel shot, shaking his head, “I meant, girlfriend. HA! Girlfriend, sorry.”
“Already thinking about marriage?” Dr. Shaw asked, surprised.
Daniel laughed shakily. “I always think of marrying Anna.”
I kept my smile, staying quiet my only means of remaining sane. On the inside, I was going crazy. How the hell do I react to this?
Dr. Shaw scrunched her nose as if to speak in secret. “Let’s talk about your sex life first before we start talking about marriage, huh?” She smiled widely.
I closed my eyes. Oh, boy!