“I’m starting to worry about her, ” he says to the Therapist.
“Oh? Why is that?” The man in the argyle sweater vest bites on the end of his small square framed reading glasses. They look like a pair you’d pick up at Walgreens on you’re way out as an after thought.
“Where do I even start?” He scratches his ears and releases a quick sneeze.
“How about from the beginning,” the Therapist puts the Walgreens reading glasses back onto the rim of his nose, readying himself to “read” his patient.
“I suppose it starts with the good bye.”
The Therapist nods so he continues.
“It used to just be one. Just one good bye and then she’d leave. It was fine. Normal. I appreciated the salutation, you know? So I’d say good bye back and that was that.”
“And now it’s not normal?”
He rolls his eyes a bit and sighs, “No, it’s become a whole thing.”
“A thing?” Asks the Therapist.
He lowers his head and speaks a little quieter, “She says good bye at least 45 times now.”
“Forty five?” The therapist mouths.
He nods, “Just over and over and over. It’s just, good bye, I’ll be right back, I love you, I’ll be back, bye, I’ll be back. I love you.” He scratches his ear harder, this time with his back foot.
“Can I help you out with that?” The Therapist pats his lap and Harlow happily jumps on it.
“And then she puts a pile of toys in front of me. Sometimes even on me. As if I’m going to play while she’s gone and not just immediately fall into a blissful sleep.” Harlow pauses to enjoy the ear rub and push his head harder into The Therapist, “thanks Doc, that’s really nice. That scratch has been bugging me since the last one. Yeah, yeah right there.”
“It’s to the point where I’m like, who are you doing this for? You or me? You know? Like I said, I’m worried.” Harlow bites at his front nails, then continues, “what’s the thing called when people are afraid to leave their house?”
“Obsessed, yeah that’s it.”
“No, I said a mess.”
“I absolutely did not.”
They both look confused for a second then the Therapist continues.
“Sounds like separation anxiety to me. Does she ever chew things or cause destruction?”
“Just inside her head, I think,” Harlow turns around to lick his backside, then pauses, “sorry, do you mind?”
“Actually, I do Harlow. Several people sit on that couch.”
“Good call, who knows where they’ve sat before this,” Harlow jumps to the floor. “Between you and me, doc,” he lowers his head once more, “After she leaves, she almost only comes back within five minutes. I’ll be in the thick of a great nap and then she bursts through the door sputtering about a candle she left burning or a curling iron she left on. It’s always something.”
“Is there ever?”
“A candle burning?”
“No, I blow them out the second she leaves. Do I look like an idiot to you?”