My heavy eyes opened fully, and I saw my dearest doctor there with me. Her ballpoint pen, heavy and expensive, rolled across the page on her clipboard. Lord knew what she wrote for she never told me and I feared to ask. I wanted to, of course, but to what end? Freedom came from progress, and to ask was to live in the past. It was important for me to move forward, or so she always told me.
“If you’re able, let’s resume from yesterday,” she said. “Explain to me again how it was you felt.” Her gray eyes, almost clear, settled on me and gave me a fearful twitch. She noticed it, and ticked a box. Was her skin paler now? It seemed so, as if the pale white of her flesh was woven into her lab coat, simply another layer to her form. It could be the lighting I suppose. Fluorescent bulbs do that to people. I glanced at my cuticles without moving my hands from the chair—movement is cataloged— and I could tell I was paler now as well.
“I was afraid,” I said after noticing her glance, her prompt that I was taking too long to answer. “I felt very cold. Vulnerable. There was a sense of loneliness so absolute that it’s difficult to explain.”
“Try,” she said as she took another note. She leaned forward slightly, as if a genuine interest had struck her this time.
My bottom lip trembled, and I cursed myself for showing that sign of weakness. Weakness is not strength, and it takes strength to make progress. I needed to be brave, to be strong. She often told me that. “There was a clarity in my mind at that point. I knew what it meant to die, but death itself is not to be feared. What’s to be feared is a life lived without sharing and receiving love. Death without love is the nexus of loneliness.”
A faint smile skirted her lips? I think so, but I shouldn’t be afraid. I should try not to be afraid.
“Have you lived a life devoid of love?” she asked. She shifted in her seat, soft and comfortable compared to the aluminum chair I sat upon. Her white skirt slid up from her crossed leg and exposed her bare knee. I saw that her skin was smooth and horribly pale. She must be wearing stockings, white stockings. Despite the fear I felt, lust intruded again. And she knows it. She’s logged it yet again.
“It’s hard to say,” I said, noticing my trembling fingertips. “I think I’ve loved. Or at least have been loved.”
A strand of her impossibly black hair slipped and dangled over her eye. She tucked it behind her ear with white fingers tipped with nails as red as flowing blood. The color matched her lips and the smile slowly growing across them.
“Do you not know what love is?” she asked, setting the clipboard down. “Have you never felt it?”
I was trembling now, again, and I tried to stop but I simply couldn’t. Her eyes beheld me, and her smile now revealed ivory teeth, hungry teeth.
“I don’t know,” I said, clutching one hand with the other, desperate to make the shaking stop, urgently needing the fear to subside. “I fear the love I’ve felt may have been a charade. A misrepresentation.”
She slid forward in her seat, my doctor, and her skirt slid up to her thighs, strong and bare thighs. There were no stockings. Just horrible, wonderful white flesh amplified by mechanical fluorescent lighting. “Do you know that I love you?” she asked. She leaned forward and laid a cold hand upon my own. “I love you very much. You are, without question, my favorite patient.”
That feeling came over me again, a horrible desire to succumb to all that which resides between those white thighs and parting smile. I wanted to look away, my fear begged me to look away, but I wanted to be strong, to finally make progress.
But I wept instead. My lips trembled and my voice broke and a single tear streaked my cheek. She caressed it, this loving woman, this beautiful and fantastic and tantalizing woman, with her soft skin so pale and cold like snow. Her eyes drilled into mine, dilating into a horrible darkness, and her face came ever closer. She whispered something, but I did not hear.
“What?” I sputtered, trying to be there for her, trying to show strength, trying to convey my need to progress from this nightmare.
The tip of her nose touched mine. “I love you,” she said with all-black eyes, the gray pushed away by an endless pupil. Her hand ran down my cheek and the scent of her breath danced in my nose, a metallic sweet. I wanted so badly to be loved then, and my loins bulged. She slid her lips across my cheek and I could hear her breathing in my ear. Ecstasy filled me, and her lips touched my neck. A sharp pain pierced my skin, just above my shoulder, and I climaxed in mix of lust and horror. She embraced me, and I her, but that feeling came again: absolute loneliness.
In weakness, I shuddered, both from the pain in my neck and the finishing of my loins, and I cried at my display of weakness, my failure to be strong. No progress was made today. Perhaps tomorrow.
She left me there to rest then, to be alone with my thoughts as she would often say. It was important to reflect on these sessions and try to make sense of them if I truly wanted to make progress. My neck was hot from her kiss, her bite, but my soul felt cold and empty. Alone. My vision blurred as she backed away, licking something from the tip of her blood-red nail, and I drifted off into a shallow sleep.