Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

School counselor.

Originally posted to blockquote.org on in Chicago, Illinois

1.

“and my therapist says, [redacted],” she says.

“Your therapist?” I ask. Winter, bare trees, overcast.

“My therapist,” she says.

“[redacted] mentioned seeing a therapist,” I say.

“So do [redacted] and [redacted]. And [redacted],” she adds, “and [redacted] and [redacted] have the same therapist.”

“Am I the only one in the group not seeing a therapist?” I ask.

“We get six weeks of it included with tuition,” she says. “Maybe you should give it a try,” she says.

2.

A lounge of browns and grays, institutional cushioning, recycled computers, secondhand magazines. I ask for the restroom. The receptionist smiles. I take a candy. The skies are oppressive. They’ll call to schedule.

3.

My footfalls grind salt into the steps. Thick gray air. The receptionist directs me to the lounge. I take a candy. She smiles.

Intake is a room of desk lamps. He reviews my answers to the questionnaire. History of depression? “No,” I reply. Medications? “None.” Feelings of hopelessness? “I’m in grad school.”

Beat.

Shoulder laugh.

Support system? “My parents. And a couple friends up north. My best friends. They’re great, I love them.”

Beat.

“You … ‘love’ them?” he asks.

Beat.

“Yeah,” I reply.

Beat.

Scribbling on his legal pad. He looks up at me looking at him. There’s a question on my face. He leaves it there. He has more questions.