Stale air from too much talking. That was the first impression followed by “at home”, make shift comforts: A donated, second hand sofa that had seen more arses than parliament benches; dog eared magazines leafed through but never read and a garish, hand woven rug to remind you to tread carefully. The harsh bell ringing as the door closed behind didn’t fit with the intended laid back vibe. The chirpy receptionist rushed through like the girl next door, waiting for you to come home and play; face like a moon with moonlight ambience and just as pale. Her job was to be the first comfort and set you at ease and she was a natural. Tea was offered in nearly chipped mugs bearing the faded slogans of yesterdays High Street businesses. It tasted like too much tannin had stained its forever bearing insides. Maybe there was a point to that.
After a short time that seemed longer than it was, the facilitator arrived. Gliding into the room silently like an owl. Long hair with evidence of grey from the toll of other peoples shit. Baggy, colourless clothes to give some sense of freedom and the faint smell of something like incense. She ushered direction with a slight of the head and an understanding smile.
The next room was trying to be more clinical but failing in its tired decor. A faded poster declaring positive speech to empower, hung in desperation.
Two chairs. Two souls and a deafening silence. A test to see who would speak first as softening eye contact tried to break the walls. The quiet remained along with the steadfast protection.
“So, how are you?” An offering.
“ Fair to middling.” Cat and mouse. This shouldn’t be turned into a game but with such questions how could you not?
“OK. What are your expectations from today?”
“I never have expectations.” The comment bounced around, unable to fit in a space. “Wait, that’s not entirely true. My expectations are never met or my expectations are too high. It’s one of those three.”
“Thats an interesting start,” she said.
Neither agreement or disagreement was offered. The statement was opinion. Her turn.
“Why do you think your expectations are never met?”
“I have theories. Are yours ever met?”
“Yes they are,” she replied with confidence. She had to be admired for that. “Are we talking about your expectations from people or life?”
This was more astute. Consideration was needed.
“The two are intwined, are they not?”
She smiled. It wasn’t a smirk but it had a play to it.
She made a note. Evidence. Secret scribes. Maybe it was just a doodle, it didn’t matter, it was all to enhance the byplay.
“Let’s start with people. Your thoughts?”
Maybe she deserved a little give now. “I don’t trust them.”
She stiffened with delight at the gift. “ Even those closest to you?”
“Even those.” The response was an honest one to a poorly followed question. You sometimes had to give a piece on the board in order to take the Queen further down.
The room was far too warm.
“And do you think you’ll be able to trust me?” The fact that she’d had to ask meant the answer was a no.
“Looks like time’s up…give or take ten.” There was no point in her disagreeing. The session was cut at precisely the point it needed to end.
As the bell on the door chimed freedom, the fusty- fashioned safe- haven made way to stable concrete floors, stone construction and neutral faces. A sea where one could swim unnoticed.