The Long Road to Madness


anna_icon.gif bella_icon.gif

Scene Title The Long Road to Madness
Synopsis Anna has her first court-mandated session with doctor Sheridan.
Date November 21, 2010

Suresh Center

It's been quite a week for Dr. Sheridan. Clients in and out, examples of what Bella has dourly dubbed emotional triage. Two weeks after the 8th, there are still people dragging themselves from the rubble, their own mental state in various degrees of ruin. Mostly it's not so bad. Just people who need to talk. People who feel as if paying to talk to someone is somehow more curative. Bella does not disabuse them of this notion. This is, after all, her living.

The psychiatrist is dressed in a charcoal grey suit, with dangling silver earrings and her hair drawn up behind her head in a ponytail. A notepad is close at hand, simple yellow lined paper, with a pen resting just at the pad's edge, weight not quite enough to send the pad tumbling off the arm of her chair. She checks the clock on the wall. About time.

Up and to the door, open and leaning out. "Anna?" Bella calls her next client.

Anna was seated in the waiting room, hood over her head in an attempt to not make it immediately obvious who she is. The girl absolutely hates being seen anywhere close to here… but she has no choice. So she's here, and she is going to make the best of it. Part of that means trying to preserve as much anonimity as possible.

When her name is called out, Anna gets up from her seat and moves on to the door, "Yeah." She says grumpily as she heads over to Bella, holding out her hand for a shake… even if it won't be a very enthusiastic one from her end. "That'd be me…"

Bella's smile is beneficent, pleasant, well crafted. She takes Anna's hand and shakes it. "I'm Dr. Sheridan, but you can feel free to call me Bella. Please," she steps aside, holding the door open for Anna, "come in. Have a seat."

Once they are safely inside, Bella closes the door, enclosing them in the sacred bubble of therapeutic privacy. She settles into her chair, crossing her legs and smoothing out her skirt. "So…" she's reviewed this file, "let's talk briefly about why you're here. About the circumstances of your counseling. It's… difficult for a therapist, dealing with someone who is being forced to enter into the relationship, and that's to say nothing of how difficult it is for you. So, please, let's get this out in the open immediately."

"Well," Bella says, folding her hands in her lap, "I'd like to invite you to explain, in your own words, why you think you are here. I've heard the official line, but I'd like to hear your own opinion. What is the purpose of forcing you into extended counseling?"

"Because I made a stupid mistake." Anna responds to that question, shrugging. "Tried to light some books on fire in a bookstore, and didn't think it all the way through." The girl's voice is barely more than a whisper, but she's speaking the truth. "Shouldn't have done that, really."

"What motivated you to do that?" Bella inquires, no judgment evident in her voice, "did you go to the store with the intention of trying to burn books, or was it a sudden decision? An impulse? Please, explain what you were feeling at the time."

"Anger… hatred." The girl responds, "And read your files, I prepared some gasoline to make the burning go faster… so I could be sure they'd be burned before the sprinklers could go into effect." Anna shrugs, "Look, I'm not proud of what I tried, but… I can't change the past, you know…?"

"I'm not here to jump to conclusions, nor to judge your reasons or intentions," Bella says, giving a small shrugs, "if I give that impression at any point, inform me, and I'll revise my behavior. For all that there is a corrective impulse behind this court order, I don't see therapy as operating in that way. If we're going to work through the emotions that motivated this act, we have to do it on your terms. And you have to want to work through it. So: why aren't you proud?"

"Because it was a stupid, bull-headed move fueled by racism." Anna answers, looking down, studying her feet intensively. The girl sighs, "Racism is bad… I shouldn't blame all Evolved for the actions of a few bad apples… yet it's hard not to, you know? It's far easier to blame all of them… especially since the people I should be blaming are all dead…"

"We have limited control over our feelings," Bella says, "it's our actions we're responsible for. At least under the law. Of course, it's not so simple to separate them. A strong enough emotional impulse makes action feel almost unavoidable. The law's concerned with your actions. I'm concerned with your feelings, and understanding them. So… let's talk about this hatred. When you think about the Evolved, about what you hate about them… what is it you think of?"

"How they're responsible for the death of my family…" Anna responds, still studying her feet with the same intensity. "How they ruined my life forever…" She sighs… "I was eleven years old when the midtown man took away everything I knew… everyone I loved… I just.. I couldn't handle it…"

"I was on medical rotation at the time," Bella says, dipping her head in somber acknowledgment, "I was shuffled into triage. I saw what happened, all the suffering. I didn't lose anyone, but I have a sense. So of course, you want someone to be to blame. It would, at least, have the horribly tragedy make some sort of sense. It's perfectly understandable." She brushes a stray strand of hair behind her hear. "But that's an emotional redirection. Your grief, your pain; none of it will be resolved through hatred. Hatred is self-supporting, it'll find ways to feed itself. You'll be stuck."

Anna just listens to that explanation, her head still lowered. The teenaged girl doesn't seem to have a response to that explanation, nor does she seem to have any inclination to form a question of any kid.

Bella lets the quiet roll out for a few moments, permitting Anna some space to think (or not), to mull (or not). She lifts a hand and taps a finger against her jaw, once, twice, thrice, then: "What is the quality of your hatred? Just… talk. Don't be afraid to be as vehement or angry as you'd like. Don't bottle it up. Let's see if we can work through it, get to the source of the issue."

"I don't know." Is Anna's response… "I just… don't know what to think anymore.. what to do.." The girl sighs, "I don't even know if I hate them anymore…" Still that them, Anna's files would show her to be a registered Evolved, "I just… don't know…"

"I guess…" Anna sighs a little.. again, before looking back up. "No, I haven't, doctor." The girl responds to the question, "What does that term refer to, if I may ask?" Not that Anna doesn't expect Bella to explain it anyway, it's just a formality thing on Anna's end.

"It's an expression, based off of what may be an Orientalist story, but the principle still holds," Bella says, hedging herself briefly, "it refers to a story in which someone receives a gift - a White Elephant - that they can't give away, but seems to ruin them, to wreck their lives. I've found that newly manifested, or recently cognizant, SLC Expressives," like Anna, is the implication, "find it very difficult to come to terms with this new, unbidden, unwished for addition to their lives. Their ability is a white elephant."

"Whatever." Is Anna's response. She looks down again, apparently not intending to say any more on the subject… except for, "Is there a point to what you're saying, or are you just rambling about?"

"I had hoped you'd draw the corollary," Bella says, seeming unperturbed, "all I mean to say is that it's far from uncommon for confusion and upset to occur around the discovery of SLC positivity. Manyfold moreso in a case such as yours, where the cognitive dissonance is even greater."

"You say that like I'm SLC positive." Anna responds, "I'm not an Evo. There's been a mixup." Denial, how lovely a force… "If you want to help me, let's not go down that route, okay?" Yes, she just closed off that path… or tried to, anyway.

So that's how this is going to go. "Who's to say I'm helping you?" Bella asks, "I mean, the court seems to think you need help. And you did express an interest in overcoming your feelings and impulses. But help is something first sought, then given. So… what do you feel you need help with?"

"I dunno." Anna answers, shrugging. "I'm here because of that court order, and I'll show up, but I don't really see why it's necessary." The girl responds, "But I do know that that route leads to nowhere."


"Then we'll see what other roads we can explore," Bella replies, pleasantly enough, "but it will have to wait until our next court-mandated session." The psychiatrist rises to her feet, setting her pad and pen aside, unused from the look. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Anna. I hope our time together will be of some use. In any case, I'll endeavor to make it as useful to as possible."

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