One of the greatest joys in life is getting something in the mail. I don’t mean bills, medical statements, or junk mail, but real mail. A postcard from a friend abroad. A handwritten letter from your mom. A gift package from your best friend. It’s great because you can come home from a lousy day at work to a surprise on your doorstep. It’s like Christmas except better. It’s unexpected.
I remember last Thursday being one of the worst days I have had in a while. It was raining. And not a light drizzle that clears up and leaves a bright, shimmering rainbow in the sky, but a downpour. It had been like that all day. Tuesday and Wednesday were dreary and drizzly, but on Thursday morning, the sky opened up and just showered my world in a cold October rain. I woke up feeling groggy. All night I had tossed and turned, waking up periodically from nightmares. It took everything in me to get up, shower, and get ready for the day.
So I trudged off to work, no umbrella because for some reason I don’t own one. I am the only person that I know who doesn’t own an umbrella. From time to time I consider purchasing one, but then I think about the hassle of opening and closing them, shaking the remnants of rain off of the polyester before entering a building, and then trying to find a place to stash the umbrella for the day. Not to mention I cringe at the memories, yes plural, of when I was a little girl and always pinched my fingers trying to open and close umbrellas. So, no thank you.
Thursday. I schlepped my wet, weary body into the office, wishing that I had an umbrella. No, not really. I was wishing that I didn’t have to be there at all. Wishing that I could have just stayed in bed and kept hitting the snooze button on my alarm.
“Dr. Scully, you’re soaked to the bone! You really should carry an umbrella you know,” the receptionist chirped from behind her desk. Thirty years my senior and she treats me more like a daughter than my own mother. It’s so annoying.
“Shirley, you know I don’t believe in the conception of umbrellas. Anyone else here?”
“Nope. You’re the first as usual.”
I walked past the desk. I could have stayed in bed a bit later, but I hate getting to the office and having to start my day off with small talk. I need quiet. I need coffee. I need to enjoy my coffee in the hushed solitude of my office with just a small lamp to illuminate the dank room.
I had an hour before my first appointment arrived. An extremely nervous, balding, 45-year-old man who suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Harold had suffered a nervous breakdown about two years ago when his wife left him for the barista who made her coffee at Starbucks. She made the claim that “He knows exactly how I like it” and I had a feeling she wasn’t just referring to the coffee. That’s when Harold started coming to see me.
In truth, we all need a little bit of therapy from time to time. A little over a year ago I should have sought out my own help, but I’ve always had too much pride for that. A shrink seeing a shrink? I’m supposed to be able to keep all of my puzzle pieces together, and if one falls out of place then I should be able to put it back together myself.
I don’t want to say I fell apart after my engagement ended, but I definitely didn’t have all of my puzzle pieces together. I stopped listening as closely to my patients. I found their stories to be tedious and boring. Sheer whining. My problems were my own fault anyway, and perhaps that is what I should have gone to therapy for in the first place: My own screwed-up mind.
Wasn’t it my own fault that I let a guy love me and leave me three times? I thought the third time would be the charm, but it wasn’t. My fiancé accepted a new job in Washington D.C. and called off the engagement. Most people said that I was lucky because we hadn’t made any actual wedding plans yet. He didn’t even ask for the ring back. He just packed his bags one night, left on the red-eye, and blocked my number. I haven’t heard from him since.
It’s okay. That’s why I have my own prescription pad. Medication always helps to numb the pain.
So the morning dragged on with client after client complaining about their poor, pitiful lives that make them want to hide under the covers all day. They go through at least a box of tissues a week. The rain never let up. It just kept coming down, forming torrents down the windowpane.
Finally I had a break in my day. Not only did I have an hour for lunch at noon, but my 1:00 client, an agoraphobe who has to take like five Xanax before she can even leave the house, had to reschedule for another day. (It wasn’t the first time she’s done this.) So I took a long lunch. I actually left the office and went to a local café where I could sit with my coffee and be left alone to just stare out of the window at the dismal day.
I had been gone just a little over an hour when I finally grew bored of watching the slew of unhappy, damp patrons come and go and decided to head back to the office. I could pretend to catch up on some paperwork. Really what that meant was that I would make another cup of coffee and probably look up funny cat memes on my phone.
It was a quarter after 1:00 when I arrived back at the office. Shirley was already back at her desk, diligently typing away at – well – something. She always seems like she is busy working and scheduling appointments, rearranging clients, and answering the phone, but really I think she is e-mailing a secret lover that she met on the Internet. It’s none of my business, though. I couldn’t care less.
“Dr. Scully,” she greeted me with a smile as I sloshed through the door and into the waiting room. “A package arrived for you while you were gone. I left it outside of your office. Your door was shut.”
“A package? Do you know what it is?”
I wasn’t expecting anything.
“No idea. Some kid just dropped it off for you, so I scurried myself down the hallway like a little mouse so that you would get it when you returned from lunch. Did you have a nice lunch?”
“Sure. Yeah. It was nice. Thank you, Shirley.”
I figured it was the shower radio that I had recently ordered online. I could have sworn that I entered my home address, but it wouldn’t be the first time that I messed up my work and home address when placing an online order.
I moved at a sloth’s pace back to my office as I was in no hurry to really open this package. It was unexpected, but nothing to get overzealous about by any means.
There it was.
Propped up against my door was a brown cardboard box about the size of a filing cabinet drawer. A little large for a shower radio. The box was haphazardly taped, but I must note that there was a lot of tape on it. It was almost as though the deliverer did not want me opening this package to be a piece of cake.
I picked up the package and unlocked my office door, leaving the overhead light off and clicking on the lamp again. I just can’t stand bright overhead lights. I prefer a darker, calmer atmosphere with dim lighting. I set the box on my desk and grabbed a pair of scissors from my desk drawer. (I don’t keep scissors on my desk anymore ever since a schizophrenic teenager went off in a rage and tried to stab me with a pair.) I have very few things on my desk and within reach of my clients.
I turned the box over and over, but there was no return address. Just a neatly typed label that read “Dr. Merissa Scully” on it. I opened the scissors and set about cutting away the inches of packaging tape and slicing along the edges where I could. Finally I was able to open the top of the box. I lifted the cardboard flaps to reveal what I assumed would be a bunch of packing popcorn, but was astonished at what I found inside.
Packing popcorn for sure, but nestled in the pearly shades of pink and yellow packing popcorn was the severed head of my ex-fiancé. I didn’t scream, shriek, or even gasp. I simply closed the flaps of the box back up and set it underneath my desk. This would make an excellent addition in my China cabinet at home.
LiAnnah Jameson is a pen name with a long story behind it. She teaches middle school English, owns three cats, and loves sock monkey pajamas and bedsheets. In her spare time, LiAnnah, or simply Annah, enjoys reading psychological thriller books and writing. You can find her at ifidienowwhowillfeedmycats.wordpress.com or on Twitter @annah_li