“The world is a weird place,” Jimmy snapped. “Suck it up, buttercup.”
Mrs Thwaites did not respond immediately. She sat quietly serene and let the moment be. Jimmy was not quite so patient. She pushed out from under the table and sat up on the carpet.
“You don’t care what I do, do you? You get paid either way.”
“I don’t mind if you don’t wish to sit on the couch,” Mrs Thwaites replied. “I do wonder as to the significance of your choice, and your anger at my lack of concern.”
“I’m not angry,” Jimmy lied.
“You seem angry,” Mrs Thwaites replied. “I wonder why that is?”
“Maybe you’re imagining that I’m angry,” Jimmy said, putting the little silver ornament back where she found it. “Maybe I don’t actually have any problems. Maybe everyone else has the problems. Maybe I’m here because the world’s crazy. Actually, yeah, that is it. I’m here because the court will look more kindly on me if I show I’m willing to become another cog in the machine of society, if they think I got my head smushed and squished until its the right shape then maybe they won’t put me in a cage. And you’re telling me that I have to work for you to tell them that I’m good enough to be allowed to roam free.” Her face screwed up as she spoke, irritation and pain clear to read in every feature. “So, yeah, maybe I am angry. Maybe I’m angry because I did what I had to do to take care of myself and now I have to sit here and pretend that I’m broken so you’ll tell the court to let me go free.”
“Good,” Mrs Thwaites nodded. “You’re feeling frustrated at the position you find yourself in, you’re feeling unfairly judged by a society which, perhaps, you don’t think has supported you in the past?”
“Damn right nobody has supported me in the past,” Jimmy agreed. “Erin’s the only one who… she’s the only one who ever helped me. Ever. And now Monica I guess, but… yeah.”
“How is it to have Erin helping you?”
“It’s weird,” Jimmy said, taking the little ornament again and twiddling it between her fingers. “I mean, it’s really weird. She’s… I don’t even know how to think about her. Sometimes I don’t even know why she’s being nice to me. Actually, I never know why she’s being nice to me. I have no idea why she wants to help.” Jimmy shook her head. “Probably some kind of mental instability on her part.”
“You think it takes mental instability to care about you?”
“Yeah,” Jimmy half-laughed. “Maybe.”
“That’s very sad,” Mrs Thwaites said.
Jimmy looked up from the little ornament and saw Mrs Thwaite’s face. To her complete and utter surprise, Mrs Thwaites actually looked sad. Genuinely so. That was… odd.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” the woman explained. “I’m experiencing an emotional reaction to what you’ve expressed. That’s a perfectly healthy response when someone cares for someone else.”
“You don’t care for me,” Jimmy said quickly. “You’ve only met me twice and both times I’ve been rude to you.”
“Rudeness does not concern me,” Mrs Thwaites replied. “I’m not saying I enjoy it, but I understand that you’re scared and undertaking this somewhat against your will. That makes for a difficult time.”
“Yeah, it does,” Jimmy agreed. “And after this I get to go back to a lesbian commune. And that’s even weirder.”
“A lesbian commune?”
“You didn’t know?” Jimmy nodded. “Erin and Monica and Leslie are all together now. One big happy lesbian family.”
“Are they now.” Mrs Thwaites sounded a little concerned by the news.
“Yeah,” Jimmy nodded slowly. “Yep. That is a thing that is happening. A lot. It’s happening several times a day. Sometimes between all three of them, sometimes they pair off…”
Mrs Thwaites held up her hand. “I don’t think it’s therapeutically useful to talk about what Erin, Monica and Leslie are doing in their intimate lives.”
“It’s pretty untherapeutic hearing a whole lot of it in person,” Jimmy agreed. “The moaning and the squealing and the…”
“I can imagine,” Mrs Thwaites nodded quickly.
“I actually think they’re in serious danger of dehydration,” Jimmy added. “I mean all that lubrication, it has to come from somewhere right, and there’s not enough KY in the world…”
Mrs Thwaites let out a snort of amusement. Jimmy grinned.
“I am serious,” Jimmy said. “I try leaving out pitchers of water for them, but they never seem to get around to drinking them. They could go into kidney failure or something.”
“You’re very amusing,” Mrs Thwaites observed. “I’m afraid our time is almost up, but I think we’ve had a productive session. How did you feel about it?”
Jimmy shrugged and pushed hair out of her eyes. “I don’t know,” she said. “At least I got to tell someone about the festival of love going on at Erin’s place. I think someone’s going to end up pregnant. I know that’s not even biologically possible, but they’re having enough sex to maybe make it happen, I swear to god. It’s a medically improbable amount of sex. No, a medically impossible amount of sex.”
Mrs Thwaites tried and failed to hide her smile as she rose from her chair. “I’ll see you next week, Jimmy. I look forward to it.”
“Yeah,” Jimmy said, getting to her feet. “See you next week, I guess.”
She shoved her hands in her pockets and sauntered out the door which Mrs Thwaites held open for her, left the office and stepped out into the sunshine of another day.
Inside her left pocket, her fingers were still playing over that little silver ornament.