Author's note: I doubt anyone cares anymore (it's been a very, very long time since I've updated this story) but I'm procrastinating about an essay (several essays, actually) and so here goes another update. Feedback is always appreciated, cherished, fondled, etc.
But that which gives my soul the greatest spurn
Is dear Lavinia, dearer than my soul.
Had I but seen thy picture in this plight,
It would have madded me; what shall I do
Now I behold thy lovely body so?
Thou hast no hands to wipe away thy tears,
Nor tongue to tell me who martyred thee.
-- Titus, Titus Andronicus, Act 3, Scene 1
The first time Maureen went to see the therapist was a week and a half after the night she'd called Olivia from the phone booth.
Olivia had found the therapist, made her an appointment, and driven her to the building at ten o'clock on a Wednesday morning. They'd sad idling in her car, Maureen starring unseeing out the window, Olivia tapping her fingers arhythmically on the steering wheel, shifting slightly in her seat. She glanced at her reflection in the rear-view mirror, stretched the skin of her jaw with her tongue, a habit she was only half aware she'd picked up. Her face was much better, only a memory of tenderness, and a gentle shadow of a bruise that could have been a trick of the light.
"Do you remember the room number?"
"Would you like me to walk you up?"
"I'll be here when you're done."
Maureen slammed the door with more force than was necessary. She did not look back at the car. She made her way through the glass doors of the office building, not making eye-contact with anyone. The tag of her t-shirt was sticking up at the nape of her neck, and her socks didn't match, though they came close. Her jeans were clean, mostly, but had a new tendency to slip down off her waist.
While waiting in the office, after quietly identifying herself to the receptionist, Maureen starred fixedly at the large fish tank burbling quietly to itself in the corner of the waiting room. The fish slipped with casual ease in and out of tacky ornaments at the bottom of the tank. A snail slimed in lazy cuneiform along the delicately algaed glass.
Maureen jumped when someone cleared her throat to get her attention. A middle aged woman smiled at her, greeted her by name, and extended her hand to be shaken. Maureen took her up on her offer without enthusiasm, and for a time slightly shorter than the minimum of social acceptability. The woman had unselfconsciously gray hair that stuck up from her head at odd angles, but with the exception of her hair, and some glasses on a beaded string comfortably nestled in the same, she was otherwise neatly groomed and professionally dressed. She led Maureen down a corridor towards he office. Maureen kept her head down, and followed the scuffle and clicking of shoes over linoleum.
The woman opened a large, heavy door at the end of the corner, and closed it again after Maureen had gone through. She sat in a leather office chair, arranged herself comfortably. Her legs were crossed and her hands were clasped over her knees. A crisp, blank legal pad sat on her desk, with a capped bic sitting on top of it at a 45 degree angle to the lines. Her chair was pointed towards Maureen, who, slightly slumped, played with a thread that was threatening to come loose from the hem of her t-shirt. There was a pigeon on the window sill, strutting around importantly. The hem of the t-shirt puckered more and more until the thread finally snapped. Maureen rolled it back and forth between her fingers, it fluttered around like a tiny insect trapped and in distress, in its dying throes.
The pigeon on the window sill flew off. The therapist smiled. Maureen did not.
Finished with the thread, Maureen let it go of the thread. It drifted downward in an erratically elegant spiral, and touched down lightly and finally on the institutional gray carpet.
Olivia watched Maureen as she disappeared into the building, and sat starring at the place where she had last been for some time beyond that.
She reached to flick on the radio, stabbed at the scan button a few times, and then turned it off again. She ran her fingers through her hair, and then spent some time fixing the resulting mess in the rear view mirror, without great success.
She looked up at a window near where she imagined Maureen might be. A pigeon swooped down off the building and executed a landing on the sidewalk near her car. It began a bobble-headed walk up and down and in circles. Olivia imagined that it was cooing.
With a decisive flick of her wrist she set brought her car to life, and set out into traffic, reasoning that she had the best chance of arriving at her destination if she didn't think about it too much while she was getting there. She turned the radio on again, and focused on that.
Detective. Elliot Stabler was not starring at the clock on the wall, nor at the watch on his wrist. He was not drinking the lukewarm, yet frighteningly strong coffee in front of him, nor was he eating the muffin on a slightly chipped saucer near which did not match the coffee cup.
He was waiting. It was usually something he was good at, a skill he had been forced to learn in the army and which he had had the chance to perfect during years of stakeouts.
He had a good view of the window from where he was sitting, and he was able to scrutinize every car that passed that could be Olivia's, and look at every woman who went passed who could be her.
So it was odd that he didn't notice her until she was sitting across from him, arms crossed in front of him, sardonic smile on her lips.