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The one with Gail Peck in therapy
By Kristina K
At least the couch is comfortable; Gail thinks and then sits back deeper into its cushions.
The office is bland, though, all in grays and whites and occasional ocher, maybe a bit of green and yellow And then there's that red pillow, sticking out like a sore thumb in all that drabness, looking like Gail feels. Exposed.
She's not used to it, talking about her feelings. Well, talking, period. Her family never really discussed things; they mostly just silently disagreed with situations or opinions, gave each other meaningful looks and assumed understanding unless stated differently. So talking, not her strongest suit. Unless talking meant insulting someone, even in the most affectionate of ways, like she insults Dov, for example, and then he calls her something equally insulting right back,at which she smirks because that kind of communication she understands. That awkward never-know-exactly-where-you-stand type of relationship is how Gail Peck grew up. It's how Gail Peck operates. It's where she feels safe from any and every type of emotional harm.
"You know," the Therapist because Gail hardly bothered to remember the woman's name straightens her glasses and leans back in her chair, "last time I could sort of understand the lack of actual cooperation on your part since you were mandated by your CO to come in and talk to me. But today," she shrugs and tilts her head at Gail's blank expression, "it seems odd since I have it stated here you requested me personally as your trauma counsel. So why aren't we talking about what it is you want to talk about?"
Maybe it's fear, Gail muses. If she actually opens her mouth, says it out loud to someone who isn't directly involved, she will give the world the ammunition, a weapon against her. She can take it as long as she has the venom to shoot right back. A snide remark. An observation that may hit a bit too close to home for her opponent. A jab that'll hint at just how dangerous she might be if provoked. But never sincerity. Never that. Sincerity is overrated and just look where it gets you. You get left alone in the parking lot to freeze your ass off, you get replaced by your less neurotic colleague with better social skills. And you do the one thing you never thought you'd do. You lash out and you cheat and you end up feeling like the worst person in the world. And the other party just moves on.
"Hmm?" She breaks out of her trance and blinks at the Therapist.
"It's been fifteen minutes since you've said anything."
"Aren't you supposed to ask me questions? Ask me about my relationship with my mother? Show me some ink stains or something?"
"I'm your trauma counselor. I'm here to listen to you talk. Maybe offer some advice on how to handle the aftermath of recent events?"
"And you did such a fabulous job the last time I was here."
"You came back, didn't you?"
Gail groans. "Fine."
"So tell me," the Therapist clicks her pen on, "how are you coping?"
"I'm fine. I'm not the one who got shot."
"No, seriously. Not a scratch on me."
"Physically. How about emotionally?"
"Well. It sucks." Gail wipes her palms against the legs of her pants, picks up a few pieces of inexistent lint. "Everyone's shaken up. I guess it's normal."
"But how about you?"
"I told you. I'm fine."
"And yet you're here."
"Ugh. This is not how" Gail shakes her head exasperatedly. "I don't know who to talk to. I don't really have anyone I can talk to about this. Well, I do, but I'm not ready for the talk with those people on this particular subject yet. So I guess this is trial run. See how this goes."
"Only thing is I needed someone who knows this stuff and can shed some light on a potentially extremely confusing situation as of late."
Gail shifts in her seat and all of a sudden the couch is not so comfortable anymore. The walls are too bright, and ocher is such an ugly color, why would anyoneThe pillow. She'll use the pillow as an anchor.
As soon as she places the pillow on her lap, the Therapist jots down something on her pad.
"What did you just write down there?"
"Just some notes for later. You were saying?"
This is a bad idea. This will end badly. You can deal with this on your own. You should deal with it like a Peck. Suck it up. Be. A. Peck.
Gail clears her throat. "So that new friend I told you about last time, Holly?" The Therapist nods; she remembers. "Well. I'm not really good at communicating my needs and feelings, or so I have been told. I'm brash. I'm snarky. People don't like me much. Which is okay, most of the time, since I don't like people much either. And then Holly. She talks too much. Uses these big words I don't understand half the time. I tell a crude joke and she laughs. I call her a nerd and she smirks. I offhandedly insult her choice of wardrobe and she simply lets it slide. She doesn't frown, she doesn't pout, and she doesn't criticize me. She accepts me."
"So. I kissed her. The day of the shooting. Before the shooting at the station. She just showed up and I kissed her."
"Is that all?"
"What? No. Of course that's not all. I need you to tell me what to do."
"What do you want to do?"
"I want to keep her in my life, obviously. She's one of the few people I do like, so."
"Have you spoken to her about this?"
"Which part of 'I don't do words' don't you understand?"
"What I understand, Gail, is that you like this woman, this friend. You've made it perfectly clear last time."
"Yes, you must be so glad you've been proven right." Off of Therapists confused look, Gail sighs. "About me being a lesbian."
The Therapist chuckles and it's annoying. "I never said you were."
"You smirked. It was a knowing smirk."
"Tell me what it is that's really bothering you."
"Holly does. She makes me say things. I tell her stuff. I share. We bond. Next thing I know, we're making out like tenth graders. It's confusing."
"Which part of it is confusing for you? That she makes you open up so easily or that you like her the way you do?"
"Oh my god, you really do suck at your job don't you?" The Therapist gives her a look over the rim of her glasses and Gail exhales. "Sorry." She says. "It's just she's a woman. A woman. I'm in my late twenties and I'm just now realizing this? What have I been doing for the past twenty-odd years?"
"When did you know?" The Therapist is taken aback, she can tell, so Gail puts the pillow aside and leans against her knees. "I may be clueless when it comes to my issues, but I'm still a police officer trained to observe and notice subtle hints. Also, I've seen your handwriting."
"It's individual," The Therapist chooses to dodge the question, "Just like attraction to the opposite or the same sex is. You may be attracted to men, women, both or neither. Sexuality is not a straight line pardon the pun."
"So what you're saying is ?"
"What I'm saying is be yourself, Gail. Despite your ardent need to come off as aloof, you're not. Don't look at me like that. I am a professional trained to observe and notice subtle hints, too. You're scared, that's natural. And if you care about your friend the way you leave the impression that you do, talk to her. Let her make you open up. It's not a bad thing letting people in."
"I have been proven otherwise, on more than one occasion, actually."
"But you said it yourself: Holly is different. She makes you see things about yourself others never could? She makes you comfortable enough to tell her things? Go with that."
Gail sits back, ponders the Therapist's words. Is she right? She might be. Or maybe Gail just happened to stumble upon a person weirder than herself
Her phone buzzes in her pocket and she fumbles to fish it out.
"It's Holly." She says and answers it despite the obvious remark that dies on the Therapist's lips. "Hi." She's breathless and a little giddy, but she stops Holly mid sentence and covers the mouthpiece. "So, how's Thursday?" she asks the Therapist. "See you then? Five o'clock work for you? Great."
"Gotta run, doc. You've actually been helpful today." Gail grins widely. "See you Thursday."
"Miss Peck!" The Therapist yells at the door, but the officer is gone. She sighs, clicks her pen on again, finds the date in her planner and crosses out her dentist appointment on Thursday at quarter past five. On the margin next to it she squeezes in Gail Peck and underlines it.
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