Post by ⋆｡ﾟ☁︎ kaitlin ☾ ﾟ｡⋆ on Oct 18, 2022 17:45:44 GMT -5
Doc and I sit in silence for thirty-seven minutes and twenty-six seconds before, finally, I break the quiet.
"You know you're supposed to ask me questions, right?"
"Do you want me to ask you questions?"
The edge of my thumbnail has been dragging along the other's cuticle, pushing the skin back and gouging it off. I didn't start there though. My nails have been ripped raw in the last near hour, the skin around them bleeding and ripped from where I picked at them. My ministrations stop when Doc finally asks me the first question as a response to my own, a dick move that doesn't go unnoticed, causing every muscle in my body to go still. Something shudders over my skin, cold, goose flesh rising in its wake.
"I don't care." I will my mouth not to frown, find indifference instead by looking away and shrugging my shoulders. Something thick sits in my throat. "Your time to let me waste."
"And your father's dollars."
I almost laugh, but it'd ring hollow so instead I just let it echo in my chest, letting out a faint huff that sounds a little too much like a scoff. Mind your manners, I hear my mother scold.
"Don't let yourself be fooled," I quip. "It might've been my stepfather who made the appointment, but those aren't his dollars. You can thank Tanaka Holdings for that fat paycheck you're going to get."
"Tanaka Holdings, your mother's company you mean?"
"Said as if she has any actual interest in its management." I shake my head, swallow, roll my eyes as I shove my hands under my thighs. I study the tree in the courtyard outside Doc's window closely, spot a small bird perched in its branches. I can't hear it's chirping, but I wonder if it feels as trapped in this place as I do. "She's shows up for a yearly photo-op with the workers, and checks the quarterly earnings reports. She has other 'passions' to fill her time."
I raise my eyebrows at the work passions, quick and rude, the kind of subtle expression that my mother likes to tell me is unbecoming. I pry my eyes away from the window to look back at Doc.
"It sounds like you disapprove of her work ethic."
"Oh, she's got plenty of work ethic, she just doesn't channel it into her work. She'd have no time to play with her little dolls if she paid attention to the books."
"Her little dolls?"
The question in Doc's voice is clear. I want to look away again, but that feels weak, so I bite my tongue for a second instead. It doesn't work though, the words tumble out of me anyway.
"Her book club friends, my little sisters, her husband. All those cunt women from the society pages two decades ago who are afraid to realize the world moved on and left them behind."I shrug. "Me, once upon a time. Ren Tanaka dolls, the lot of us."
Post by ⋆｡ﾟ☁︎ kaitlin ☾ ﾟ｡⋆ on Oct 19, 2022 17:17:35 GMT -5
“I read your new book recently, The Koi Fish Girl? It was a work of art. I have to admit, I was surprised you managed to get it published. Seems like the sort of story that wouldn’t resonate with most in the Capitol.”
“Pretty sure my editors didn’t get the point is how,” I shrug my left shoulder, noncommittal. My tongue flicks across my lips before I say anything else.
“The point being?”
“You say you read it. You tell me.”
“Are you afraid to admit to me what it’s really about?” Head whipping to meet her eyes, I stare back at Doc for a long second. I feel moisture collect in my palms where they’ve curled into loose fists in my lap. She goes on; “It read like a story about the importance of teaching kids to do things on their own. At least on the surface.”
I scoff, which makes Doc scribble something on her notepad, which drives me a little bit crazier than I was before I’m pretty sure.
“Yeah, sure, that’s exactly what it’s about,” I say alongside a smug, close-lipped smile. It feels as fake as the rest of the Capitol does. “Kids should be independent.”
“I think it’s really a lesson to the parents reading the children’s story though,” she pushes, and I don’t have anything smart to say to that, so I say nothing. There’s a discomfort to being seen I don’t quite know what to do with. “Koi Fish girl is beautiful, but she’s nothing without Mom. Her mother feeds her daughter everything, carries her through the world so that she never grows tired, effectively keeping her daughter on her hip until she grows too weary to do it any longer.”
There’s a pause, and then — “that’s not how it ends.”
“How does the story end then, Chanel? You tell me.”
Fucking Doc, turning my bullshit on myself. My nails run over the cloth couch cushion I’m sitting on, tugging at the texture under my hands before just pulling my knees up to my chest. I wrap my arms around them to hold them there, hands gripping either bicep, keeping the pieces of me together.
I can’t look at Doc when I press on, so I stare at the tree again. I think I’m starting to memorize the thing.
“The daughter can’t take care of her mother when she asks her to, having grown to be an old woman. The daughter has no hands, she has no feet, she has no will.” My illustrator had done such a fantastic job, twisting the girl into the creature her mother made her. “She’s just like one of the koi fish in the pond they keep in the backyard, a useless mouth good at nothing but being fed.”
Gaze hard, looking out, I pull my lower lip between my teeth as my breathing quickens.
“So the mother throws her daughter to the sea, where the freshwater koi drowns on the salty waves. On cloudy days, Fisherman can hear a girl crying, voice carried on the wind.”
“Quite an end for a children’s story.”
“You’re the one who said the story wasn’t meant for kids.”
Post by ⋆｡ﾟ☁︎ kaitlin ☾ ﾟ｡⋆ on Oct 19, 2022 17:33:30 GMT -5
“Did you ever spend time with your mother? Outside the home, I mean.”
“I tagged along once to my mothers book club.” I try not to bristle at the word home. It makes me uncomfortable, like my skin starts to itch. “She said she thought it would be good for me, spending time around 'civilized' ladies.”
“And what happened when you went with her?”
“I stared daggers at the screen for twenty two minutes while all the mothers around me curled up on their plush couch and sobbed ridiculous, ugly tears. Capitol Boy Bitch of the moment was crying over his dead girlfriend in a movie about two kids in the games.” I roll my eyes. We spend half our lives talking about the games, and the other half spinning fake stories about them. “You ask me, Panem has got to get some new hobbies.”
“Does it bother you to seeing people upset about the games?”
“It bothers me that they made the damn movie in the first place.”
“So, you were angry with the women in that room before they’d ever gotten upset.”
“The women in that room are always upset. They drink their expensive white wine, sob into their handkerchiefs about fake dying kids after they condemn real children to die, and then weep about their pathetic excuses for lives as stay at home socialites, all while their nannies sit at home raising a brood of kids those women had with men they hate.”
“Sounds like you think they were miserable, conflicted about their choices.”
“Yeah, well, being conflicted just means you get to be shallow without bearing any of the consequences, and there’s nothing worse in the world than fake fuckin’ bitches. So I swiped one of their precious bottles and went in the bathroom, drank it with the vengeance of a teenage girl thinking she’s doing something to get back at her mother.”
“Was I what?”
“Getting back at her?”
There’s a long, slow second that feels a little bit like being set on fire.
Post by ⋆｡ﾟ☁︎ kaitlin ☾ ﾟ｡⋆ on Oct 30, 2022 14:59:13 GMT -5
"When was the last time you saw your mother?" Doc asks me on a Tuesday afternoon in late May, clearing her throat before she does so to get my attention.
A flash of annoyance fractures in my chest, my breathing switching to short, shallow breaths. Her voice breaks the quiet around me into little shards, words needling under my skin until I can feel them under my nails. My pen scratches across the page, careless, giving away my panic. I foolishly hope Doc doesn't notice. I've taken to using the mandated therapy sessions to go over my notes lately. I'm pretty sure this pissed Doc off at first, but I fed her a line about this feeling like a safe space to review my own thoughts that she lapped up like a dog with a water bowl.
My mouth twists, half distracted by the thought that I've compared Doc to a dog, which is unacceptably rude.
"Or spoke to her?" she presses, and I tuck my pen into my notebook, attaching it to the little spiral.
I want to tell her the answer to this question even less, so I look at her harder, try to hide in plain sight without flinching. I think I've been getting better at this. I've been practicing; pulling my ears back helps.
The last time I called home my step father answered the phone, told me that my mother was upstairs with Emi, who had come down with something after going out with her friends the weekend before. I've been burying myself in a story about one of the new Exy teams out of the districts to pretend he never said anything to me about it, which Doc would tell me isn't a healthy coping mechanism, but it's that or the flask of bourbon in my purse turns into a bottle, and I drink it until her couch slowly eats me alive.
"Ratmas," I say, unhelpfully, after too long. "We wished each other happy new year."
Fucking Doc, she doesn't even skip a beat.
"You mentioned wanting to call her for her birthday last week." Doc doesn't say anything else. My own words hang between us, the truth, a fact and a weapon. I'm glad I have my knees pulled up to my chest, my notebook still perched there on the top of my thighs, leather stuck to my thighs. I feel safer like this. "Why didn't you?"
I busy my hands with something else, put my feet on the floor and slip my notebook into my purse, tug the zipper across the top of it. My thumb nail catches on the lip of my flask but I dig it into the soft pad of my pointer finger instead of pulling the metal tin out. I fiddle with one of the million chunky rings on my fingers when that starts to hurt, letting the sharp sting ring in my ears instead of the hot shame that's vibrating through my bones.
"I never said I didn't."
"So you did call her?"
"I called the house."
Doc looks a lot like she wants to roll her eyes, but she just scribbles on her notepad. I think she knows it makes me want to stab her eyes with the pen now so she does it at the right moments, as a psychological evaluation.
I'm going to fail on purpose one day.
"Did you ask him if you could speak with your mother?"
I swallow, stop breathing.
"She was busy," I say on the exhale.
"Did she call you back later?"
"How do you feel about that?"
"You know better than to ask me that by now," I say, and I shut down. The life just slips out of me as I try to reach for myself, and Doc's face blurs a little bit before I decide to let it, all my energy just bleeding out of me until I slump back on Doc's floral couch cushions. She prods me a couple more times, but I stop hearing anything that she says, looking at her but not listening.
Eventually the hour runs out, and she looks at me with a grimace because there's a patient in her waiting room and I have to leave and she knows that I'm going to go home and do something self-destructive in the name of burning away the rot caught in my chest, like a nasty clot of blood.
Post by ⋆｡ﾟ☁︎ kaitlin ☾ ﾟ｡⋆ on Oct 31, 2022 17:47:46 GMT -5
“Work is shit,” starts the session, and I sort of spiral from there.
This morning I interviewed a woman whose daughter was murdered by her boyfriend, the sort of crime no one gets upset about anymore except for the girls mom. Doc seemed like maybe she wanted to unpack something about that when I said it, but I didn't want to give her the chance to ask the pointless questions today. I'm not in the mood to beat around the bush; I'm in the mood to pick up a fresh bottle of bourbon from the shop and drink it until I forget I'm writing a story about a vapid girl, and her vapid mother, and the ways in which the Capitol fucked both of them. I’d sort of felt for the mother at first, pretended not to notice the crooked grin or the jagged haircut when she showed me a picture of her little ‘princess.’ The girl in the picture looked a whole lot like she would've let her boyfriend rip my teeth out with a pair of pliers while she stood over my body, laughing. Mother's always seem to have a way of warping their own memories of their girls though and I learned a long time ago that a mother's selective memory is nothing to screw around with.
I make sure to air quotes the princess when talking to Doc. She gives me a disparaging look that I know I deserve, but I still don’t calm down or let it go.
“You should have heard the fucking line she fed me at the end of it all, showing me a picture of them both." I scoff, judgemental, thoughts red and ugly. "It was right out of a drama script.”
That’s when the mom had lost my sympathy. I hate realizing they're in it for their own image.
It’s the limp dick sort of evil that tends to rile me up the most. I’ll stare at my screen, that stupid line blink, blink, blinking until I feel like I’m going to blow my brains out. It makes me want to hook my pointer finger behind my eye and just rip them out, the way the flashing cursor drives up the pressure in my brain. It’s why I started writing in my notebook again, but I’ve got chicken scratch that would make doctors jealous for handwriting so reviewing my own notes is hell on burnt toast. It tends to just grind my gears even more when the story I'm writing is a dead girls last stand, told like some scripted plot line designed for Capitol TV screens.
I started thinking about my life in terms of how it would look on a book sleeve when I was a child, so I get where the lady is coming from. It's a product of being here, living in this place, where screens have taken over everything, violence fed to us through feeding tubes called television screens. Our names are designed to be read by others. Her daughter died, and it's not like I was the first reporter that she sat down in her kitchen and gave a cup of bitter coffee. She had a juicy story, and that's what the Capitol is all about: setting the human dumpster dive of an experience on fire, and calling it prime time.
"It often bothers you when people's emotions seem faked to you," Doc says, smart woman. I hate her for that every time. Every time. "Everyone grieves differently, Chanel. You know that. So this woman told you the story about her daughter dying a bit dramatically," she pushes. Always pushes. "Her daughter died. That is dramatic. Maybe she borrowed words from a show because she had struggled to find the ones to describe her own feelings and she identified something in those that gave her comfort."
I think back to Tallulah Crane, the sharp bursts of rouge on her cheeks, the cigarette she'd been puffing on while I interviewed her, rotting teeth soaked in tobacco spit. Reflexively, I wrap my arms around my midsection. There's gooseflesh creeping up my skin, unsettling.
I don't want to say anything, so I don't.
Doc doesn't let the quiet last for long.
"For god's sake, you're a writer, Chanel." Playing dirty today then, I see. It makes me bite the tip of my tongue in my mouth. "Of fiction and non-fiction. What on earth made you want to become a writer if not to see other people be affected by written words?"
She gets the same answer I've been using for years. Unfortunately, if she looks at it closely, she's going to realize what I'm really saying is that she's right, and I have a heart that just looks like a shadow with fangs. She'd realize all this anger really should be turned inward.