Monday, March 1, 2010
Fractured Fairytales: Cinderella’s Therapy Sessions, Part 1
“Yes, doctor.” The receptionist’s voice drifts from the tiny box speaker.
The door opens and two women stroll inside. One has a manilla binder as she hands it to the doctor before leaving the room. The other carries a large satchel as she rushes toward the lounge chair. At a snap of the latches, she reaches inside the canvas sack and pulls out a bottle of Clorox bleach spray and a clean rag. The woman furiously scrubs at the leather, working the rag into the cushion nooks and rubbing down the wooden legs. Once done, she places the cleaning products back into the bag and lays onto the reclined chair.
Dr. Moreno takes a seat in his own chair, leather lightly squeaking as he finds a comfy position. With one leg crossing over the other and his clipboard resting on the bent knee, he studies the agitated woman.
“Tell me where it hurts,” he says comfortingly.
The woman sighs. “I don’t even know why I came here. I should be at home. I have better things to do. Nothing is wrong with me.”
Dr. Moreno tilts his head slightly. “Nothing wrong? If that were true, then your husband wouldn’t have contacted me. If it were true, you wouldn’t have stepped into the carriage to come to the office. You wouldn’t have walked through my doorway if you truly believed nothing was wrong.”
“DON’T PLAY THE DOUBLE-TALK GAMES WITH ME,” she screams. Then the woman draws in a shaky breath. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted. Papa said it’s not polite. I’ll make it up to you. Let me clean something.”
“Let’s leave the bag where it is for right now.” Dr. Moreno takes out his pen from the shirt pocket. He snaps the button on top, causing the woman to flinch. “Instead, let’s talk about your father, Cinderella.”
“Cindy. Everyone calls me that for short.” Cinderella crosses her arms onto her chest. She rubs her fingers absently. “Papa was a good man. When Mama passed away, he took wonderful care of me. And I took care of him.”
“How did you take care of him?” Dr. Moreno asks.
“I did everything Mama used to do. I cooked and cleaned and did the shopping. I did all the chores. When Papa came home, he had this sad smile on his face. He would say, ‘You poor, dear child of mine. You deserve so much for doing all this for me.’ Then Papa opened his bag and gave me little trinkets he bought at the market: wooden tops and colored chalk and straw dolls. He gave me so much. We were happy together, just the two of us, for almost ten years. Then...”
“Then what, Cindy?” Dr. Moreno prompts.
Cinderella huffs, “Then he got married to my stepmother and her two horrid daughters. They barged into our house. They changed around everything to how they liked it.”
“You mean they changed around everything from how your mother used to have it. You saw them changing away the memories of your mother once being there.”
Her bottom lip quivers. “Yes.”
Dr. Moreno scribbles on his clipboard. “How did you react to that?”
“I moved everything BACK,” Cinderella snarls. “It didn’t matter if it were a vase or a pot or even a doily on the table. I placed everything where Mama used to have it. Then I made sure things stayed that way.”
“How did you do that, Cindy?”
Cinderella’s face screws up into a lopsided grin. “I kept doing all the chores. I didn’t want those people touching anything and messing it up. I knew I could keep an eye on everything. Papa saw how hard I worked to make everything perfect. Despite marrying my stepmother, I knew there was no way he could forget about m... Mama.”
Dr. Moreno lifts eyebrows. “That wasn’t what you were going to say.”
Cinderella shifts on the seat to look at the shrink. “What?”
“You weren’t going to say, ‘Mama,’ Cindy. You hesitated. I think what you really wanted to say was, ‘me.’ That your father wouldn’t forget about you.”
Cinderella’s lips open, then quickly shut. She looks away from the doctor as she lifts her bag from the floor. From the front pocket, Cinderella pulls out several Handi-wipes. She tears the packets open with her teeth and begins scrubbing her hands. Obsessively.
The doctor sighs and checks the time on his watch. He knew he should have eaten lunch before speaking with the patient. “For ten years, you were the center of your father’s life after your mother passed away. Then he became married, and you became jealous. He had someone else to shower affection on and buy gifts. But you didn’t want to share him. Saying that they wanted you and your father to forget about your mother was just a handy excuse. Cindy, what you really hated was the fact that you were no longer the center of attention. In an effort to have your father all to yourself, you took control of everything in the house.”
“I did,” Cinderella breathes. It didn’t seem so much as a question than as perhaps recognizing a truth that always lurked at the edges of her perception.
Dr. Moreno says nothing, letting his patient soak in the possibilities as he continues taking down notes. After eight minutes have passed, he again glances at his watch before pressing the clipboard against his gurgling belly. He rises from the chair.
“Let’s break for lunch, Cindy. I think we could both use a break to clear our heads, and I really want to go in-depth with you concerning the next part of your life. We’ll meet back in my office in about forty-five minutes.”
Dr. Moreno holds open the office door as Cinderella slides from the reclined chair. She bustles toward the door, her large satchel pressing protectively against her chest. Yet when she reaches the entryway, she stops and shyly glances at the doctor.
“It would be nice if I didn’t have to carry all my cleaning stuff around. Perhaps I was wrong about saying I shouldn’t be here,” she murmurs.
Dr. Moreno nods. “Yes, it would be nice to leave the bag at home. Just tell me where it hurts, and I’ll try to make the pain go away.”
Stayed tuned for the next chapters of Fractured Fairytales: Cinderella’s Therapy Sessions, where Dr. Moreno explores the causes of Cindy’s obsessive compulsive disorder, her chemical addiction, and her hallucinations of fairy folk