part one and part two
“Thank you for the water.”
Cinderella hands the empty glass to Dr. Moreno as he places it on the desk. He settles back into his chair and lifts the clipboard onto his lap. Then he laces his fingers.
“You’ve told me about your family. You’ve told me about your hallucinations. It’s time, Cindy. It’s time to face the last of the pain. Tell me where it hurts. Tell me about your chemical addiction.”
“It started in my dreams,” Cinderella whispers. “I did so many chores during the day that I would dream about doing them at night. Along with the dreams, I could still smell the chemicals: on my hands, in my hair, soaked into all my clothes. I never thought much of it.”
“You never thought much of it at first, right? It happens to all addicts this way. It doesn’t seem like much - the urge. A little here, a little there. Then the little bit becomes a little bit more and a little bit more. Soon, the cravings take control.” Dr. Moreno scratches his nose.
Cinderella sighs. “I went for days with just cleaning the house. At all hours, scrubbing and rinsing and washing. I bought more house cleaner than food. The smell, it comforted me. It filled my nose with its sweet perfume. It filled it so much I sometimes found it bleeding.”
“Why?” Dr. Moreno asks.
“It smelled like my family. It smelled like that special time when Papa would come home. Sometimes I stood in the hallway expecting the door to open and Papa would be there with his bag full of toys. But when the door didn’t open, I went back to my cleaning. I drew in the old smells and it took my mind into relaxing bliss making me forget about bad memories.”
Dr. Moreno leans forward with interest. “What bad memories, Cindy?”
Cinderella shrugs. Her eyes dart around avoiding the doctor’s stare.
He settles back on the cushion, realizing things wouldn’t be this easy. “So you didn’t notice the problem while living with your step family. It was only when you married your Prince Charming?”
Dr. Moreno eyes the large satchel on the floor. “Your life changed then. You had everything: a husband, a palace to live in, and a multitude of servants to wait on you.”
“They did everything for me. The cooking. The grocery shopping. The...” Cinderella hesitates.
“Cleaning.” Dr. Moreno quickly shifts from his chair. He grabs the satchel before she can. Cinderella’s body trembles, her hands wringing together as she lifts them to her nose trying to catch a whiff of leftover Clorox bleach. He places the bag on the other side of the chair, waiting for an argument or her mad dash. There is none, as he takes this as a good sign. Encouraging. “Prince Charming once found you locked in the broom closet.”
“I just wanted to be near my joy. Near the things that make me happy. He bought the satchel for me so I wouldn’t feel homesick. I filled it with my cleaning products. Everyone thought it was charming.”
“But it wasn’t. It only feed your addiction,” Dr. Moreno said.
“I took out my products and cleaned off things that I thought the servants missed. I’d go to the marketplace and fill my bag with something new to dust or wipe or sanitize. I’d hurry home and take the things out, rearranging them about. I’d sit on the floor like I was a child again playing with my...” Cinderella gasps.
“Toys.” Dr. Moreno finishes her statement. “Like the toys your Papa would bring home in his satchel. Like the cleaning products you carry to remind you of your father’s absent love.”
“Yes.” Cinderella swings her legs around from the reclined lounge chair and faces the doctor with a forced smile. She stands and walks toward his chair to lean down. She gives him a big hug. “I understand now. I understand why I’m like this. The hurt is gone. Thank you, Dr. Moreno. I can start over with my life. I can fight off the addiction. I don’t need my bag any more.”
Dr. Moreno’s arms stay by his side instead of sharing in her hug. His stern voice catches her attention. “Sit down, Cindy.”
She lifts away, a quizzical expression on her face. “But... doctor...”
“Sit. Down.” Dr. Moreno taps his pen impatiently on the clipboard. “You can deny the pain to yourself. But don’t think you can hide it from me.”
“I haven’t denied anything.” Cinderella becomes defensive. She huffs and plops onto the cushion.
“Yes, you have. You denied the reason why you resorted to ‘huffing’ the fumes of the cleaning products to get yourself high and forget your bad memories. You’ve denied why you believed you saw fairies. You’ve denied why you think mice talk to you. You have denied the guilt for so long while afraid of the pain.”
Cinderella’s face turns pale. Her voice stutters, “W-w-w-what guilt?”
“The guilt concerning your mother.” Dr. Moreno places his clipboard down and rises. He stands before Cinderella as her head bows. “You’ve told me about everyone in your life but skipped over her. What was she like? How did your mother pass away?”
“I don’t remember. I was too young,” Cinderella pouts.
“I can tell you. I pulled the toxicology records from the coroner’s medical files. She was poisoned. She ate rat poison.”
Weeping comes from her bowed head. Cinderella’s palms cover her face.
Dr. Moreno kneels. He lays a comforting hand on her knee. “Why did you do it, Cindy? Why, at such a young age?”
“Papa paid more attention to her than me. Always buying her roses and candies and jewelry. I wanted those things for myself. I should have had those things. I was his poor dear child - not her. I should have mattered more. When she was gone, I got the attention I DESERVED FROM HIM.”
“Yes, you did.” Dr. Moreno rises to his full height. “Until he passed away. By that time you became obsessed with cleaning in an effort to keep his memory. But the fumes from those products made you hallucinate, bringing back the memories of your mother in a disturbing way. She became your Fairy Godmother, giving you what you demanded almost in a forgiven fashion for murdering her. The mice speaking to you became the metaphor for the rat poison you fed her. The imaginary pumpkin could be interpreted for the happy home you once had, turning into a beautiful carriage when you just had your father, but rotting away back into a pumpkin when the step family moved in. The satchel represents your father and the little love toys he gave. The cleaning addiction became an obsessive-compulsive disorder as you tried to clean away the controlling guilt of your crime.”
Dr. Moreno pushes the call button on his desk. “Miss Sophie, you can let them in now. The session is over.”
The office door opens as two officers enter. They strut to the lounging chair, place handcuffs on Cinderella, and escort her from the office.
Dr. Moreno collapses into his leather chair. He gives the satchel to his receptionist as she hands him a different manilla folder. “Your next patient is waiting in the lobby. Her name is Snow White. Supposedly, there’s an issue with the paternity of her son with Prince Charming. Seems as if it’s possible she was involved with other men before marrying him. Seven, I believe, at one time in a small cottage out in the woods.”
“Oh, lord, give me strength. Okay, Miss Sophie. Send her in.”
The receptionist strolls out. In a few seconds, the client enters. She rushes to the reclined chair and sits, humming absently as small woodland creatures scamper inside and surround the distraught woman.
Dr. Moreno sighs and removes his pen from his shirt pocket. He clicks the button and begins writing. “Snow White, I’m here for you. I’m here to find your pain. I’m here to help you deal with it. But first you must do something for me...”
“...tell me where it hurts.”