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“Another Visit”

Mrs. Wainright sat down, guiding her skirt under. The stately Dr. Pell, after a survey of the room, checked Mrs. Wainright in.
“How are things?” she asked. She was straightening her glasses.
“Great!” responded Mrs. Wainright, who was ready to get things over with. All she could think about was, get a box of macaroni and cheese on the stove before Mrs. Carlton dropped off Jordan. 5:30. Actually, usually about 5:26. It was just like the Carltons to be early.
She looked into Dr. Pell’s eyes, or tried, as, those of the latter were covered by glasses.
“You should have told me you were going to be early,” said Dr. Pell. “I’m afraid my office is a little cluttered.” Mrs. Wainright was a little impatient. These visits were routine. This was her third one. Along with some lingering hope for a replenished perspective on parenting, there was a gut antipathetic reaction to all things that repeated. She waved her hand and smiled peremptorily, thinking a response unnecessary.
“Well,” continued Dr. Pell, “just to recap what we went over last week, if you remember, we were covering Dr. Broussard’s model of achievement motivation. You had said that you thought such a model made sense, but was erroneous existentially, seeing as, in a dog-eat-dog world of capitalism and Darwinism, one woman’s victory is another woman’s downfall.”
“Yes,” replied Mrs. Wainright, still trying to gauge any expression in Dr. Pell’s eyes, an exercise that was for the moment in futility.
“Do you have any more thoughts on that?” Dr. Pell was skewing her lips in a way so as to appear both extra sympathetic and hyper-professional. Mrs. Wainright, in her mind, remembered saying this. It was on a sunny day, the first Tuesday after the autumnal equinox. This particular day was rainy, she was feeling lethargic, and had a feeling traffic was going to be especially bad, with accidents out in the weather.
“What are your thoughts on it?” asked Mrs. Wainright.
“On what aspect of it?” asked Dr. Pell, quickly and affronted.
“The part that would have to do with my parenting,” said Mrs. Wainright.
“Well,” trod on Dr. Pell, “technically it all has to do with your parenting…”
“Yeah, I know,” said Mrs. Wainright. “It’s just that my parenting is part of the world, too.” She was suddenly feeling very shy.
“What do you mean?” asked Dr. Pell, concerned. Mrs. Wainright was skeptical as to Dr. Pell’s readiness to receive the thoughts that she herself had in mind. She was skeptical as to anybody on Earth’s ability to receive them. They were a heavy enough load for herself at that.
She felt an attraction from Dr. Pell, and noted the color of her blouse, a mellow orange that she liked.
“I was just thinking,” she finally said.
“Has it changed what your child wants to achieve, in the last week?”
“Well it’s hard to say what she really wants to achieve. It all seems connected to me. Like if I told her that making wind chimes was the thing to do, she’d probably want to make wind chimes. She’s at a pretty impressionable age.”
“Yes,” answered Dr. Pell, “10 is very impressionable.” She said this nodding and unconsciously clasping her pencil with extra tightness.
“And I’ve talked to you before about our agoraphobia.”
“I think I remember.”
“Having to do with being overwhelmed at the wide array of expressions you’re bound to see in people who pass and whom you pass, and the potentially high stakes of the situations that can manifest from even the most routine junctures.”
“Sure, sure.”
“Ya know,” said Mrs. Wainright, kind of chuckling at the rouged lips of Dr. Pell, “you can’t really divorce parenting from everything else. I could be the best parent in the world and still be saddled with the ubiquitous human burden.”
“It’s quite possible.” Dr. Pell said this, and from the way she said it, Mrs. Wainright could tell what she really, actually meant, but it didn’t help things. She saw the displeasure in the eyes of those like Mrs. Carlton, a robot of her own breed, progenitor of a lineage of function, first in line, worthy and scrutinizing. It was raining outside right now. Rain seemed to typify life’s struggle — it’s beautiful, people go swimming in the water, Hiroshige the Japanese post-impressionist portrayed it with a stupefying attractiveness, but it could make you sick, it could make your kid sick, car tires could skid, aquaplane; it was a force greater entirely than the individual human.
In the Catholic grammar school Mrs. Wainright as a girl had gone to briefly, she’d heard about the concept of heaven.
“I guess I’m living for heaven,” she finally said.
“Aren’t we all,” said Dr. Pell, slowly nodding. “And does Jordan perceive this in you, and if so, what’s her share?”
“All of it and more, doctor,” said Mrs. Wainright, with a hand on a wrist, over her purse.
“Well this might be a good stopping point for today, then, because I totally agree with you, and in weather like this, sometimes the best we can hope for is to get home safely, and transmit the positive feelings we might have.”
“Ok,” said Mrs. Wainright.
“But how are you feeling, overall?”
“Touched.”
“Touched?”
“I feel touched because I really think I’ve made progress.” It was, in fact, a courtesy, that she paid Dr. Pell, to say “I’ve made progress,” rather than “You’ve taught me,” or “You’ve opened my eyes.” She was Dr. Pell’s patient, and knew the psychology of doctors well enough to know that plenty of people kiss up to them, and they’re probably sick of it. She knew she was Dr. Pell’s pride and joy. She thought she might be alright ’til Christmas.
“Would you like to continue our meetings?” asked Dr. Pell.
“I was thinking that,” said Mrs. Wainright, in a low, soft tone. “You know, I’m really feeling pretty good. I feel like we’ve connected, and it’s nice.”
“Without a doubt. Well then I’ll leave it up to you, I’ll be at your beck and call, so to speak.”
Mrs. Wainright was nodding and smiling. Secretly she wished that Dr. Pell could come to her home that night, maybe have some wine and talk some more. She knew that Dr. Pell desired this too. Jordan probably wouldn’t mind either. They’d all be feeling pretty good. The wind chimes would really be sounding, and life was better than it had ever been before, for whatever that was worth.

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