Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
They were 40 minutes into their 50-minute session and were still stuck in the same place as when the two started. Taran tugged at their collar while they talked, sweating from nerves and the gradually rising heat as the setting sun pierced through the window and shined on their dark leather pants. Dr. Sullivan turned on the fan sitting by her feet, keeping her attention on her client.
"I mean, like, it's not gonna kill me if Jin won't talk to me right? I mean, I don't know. I'll just get my groceries somewhere else. Yeah, it'll be more of a walk but it's worth it if I don't have to talk to her while she's still mad about me siphoning gas from her car."
"Taran." She said sternly, and they looked up from their boots sheepishly. "We've talked about your avoidance. I know it's hard to let go of the fight-or-flight instinct, especially when it's kept you safe in the past. Is it really going to help keep you safe if you don't address this with her?"
"No..." Taran said begrudgingly. "I know she understands, she's just upset that I didn't ask. But I apologized already, and someone else got to the jacket I was gonna give her first, so I don't even have that to make up for it. What do I do?" They ran their hands through their hair, but their fingers kept getting stuck in knots along the way so they twisted their fingers together in their lap instead.
"Well, what can you do that would show her you understand how it hurt and inconvenienced her? Is there anything you can do to make up for the time she had to spend because she didn't have the gas you took anymore?" Dr. Sullivan wrote down what made Taran's fidgeting worse in her notes.
"I, I don't know. Maybe I can watch her little sister next time she goes for a run? Or I can help her with restocking? I think she's supposed to be getting a shipment soon, and I know she doesn't like the guys who're dropping stuff off. I could go with her? Or, instead maybe?"
Dr. Sullivan smiled and nodded, then looked at the cracked watch on her wrist.
"I think those are great ideas. Our time is almost up for today, so why don't you talk to her and see if any of those ideas land with her, and we can talk about it next time. Is there anything else you wanted to bring up today that we didn't have time to get to?" She readied her pen in case they had anything to bring up for the next session. Taran shook their head.
"No, I think I'm ok. Not like that'd be the end of the world anyways." They stood up and wiped their sweaty hands off on their jean vest. Dr. Sullivan just sighed and nodded. Taran thanked her for her time, then grabbed their spiked bat sitting by the door and walked out into the dusty street. They were hit with the familiar smell of smoke, twisted metal beams towered above them as they left the old office building Dr. Sullivan stayed in. Taran headed down to the shop Jin ran out of what used to be a gas station. The sun burned red on the scorched earth below their feet, kicking up dust with each step forward.