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State

by

Cynthia Burke

Upon entering the clinic he led me directly into his office past the poor woman waiting in the sad, satin coat. He looked intensely at me as if I were to utter a deep secret. I announced myself and he was perplexed we were double booked. As he explained the situation to the other woman, I volunteered that it must certainly be my luck that created such confusion. He took my appointment and sent her away.

His square jaw and gaunt face seemed sad and familiar. Truly, in this life, such attractions are rare if at all real. I flashed forward to languid Sundays as we read the paper and shared coffee. Long defunct evolutionary chemistry, what would drive someone instantly to such madness?

We settled into our session. "Tell me about your character," he began. His eyes clear and blue like the sky that September. A blue that disarms; that makes you believe no damage could possibly be done. No pain, no destruction could come, not in that blue.

My character is myself? I wondered of whom I should speak. The person who worked in a government building or made the evening meal? Should I describe the newly-wed who just moved into the home where she planed to grow old; the hopeful, one day, mother-to-be?

The notion of classical homeopathy is discovering root causes like cures like, he explained. So what of my roots? How far must he dig to find them and would they be healthy or twisted with rot? The mere idea that someone might see such depths ignited a slow longing.

The interrogation continued as the cool, evening air crept through the window. I grew exhausted as my words were never clear enough for him. "That's not an emotion," he barked. "No, go deeper," he demanded. We discussed my tendency to lie; my desire to feel intelligent. The shock in me when others felt I was less or insignificant, my need to control all. Too many hours, I had to leave. "I'm in control now," he beckoned.

As he studied the notes from our session and contemplated the alchemy he might employ, mutual glances were stolen. Suddenly his decision was made: "opium." This substance would potentially bring about a state of deep healing. I was speechless. Should a struggling addict take opium? But there was trust in the blue.

The homeopathic opium dissolved under my tongue. Upon waking I rolled over, pushed my legs about the bed, and explored the cool pockets inside the sheets. I spoke his name and smiled. There are an endless number of doors leading inside the human heart. So many paths, and we often choose one and blindly follow, ignoring the alternate routes and
twisting roads. How do you bend fate to forge a new path in another's heart? As the day began a quest was started and he became my constant mental companion. We made love and exchanged stories of past beauties wondering out loud why now? How complicated it was: he there, I here with a husband and lovely life.

When the world was sleeping and the sky was filled with the dawn's blue haze I rose to spend time with my love. Inside I was me again, wholly myself, loved and free. Like water following gravity my thoughts returned always to him. To his face, his body, his warmth, but anxiety slowly overcame everything. Weary from the indulgence I wrote a bold message and confessed everything. My attraction to him was too strong to continue treatment and I exhaled for the first time
in days, years.

A message flashed in my mailbox. It is okay to be attracted to him, he said. It is okay if he is attracted to me, he said. The problem lies in the fixation. The fixation. His face. The fixation. His name. He gave me "permission" to feel this way it must be part of what needs healing, he said. He said.

Plumbing the depths of this mystery his eloquence, determination and compassion were beyond seductive. My form shriveled and daily life ceased. The quest consumed me. No longer were there evening meals or stories of my day exchanged with others. There became only fragments of the person left in the body my once husband knew shards tangible enough to cut through and remind him of what was.

Each question the doctor asked about my love drew blood from my veins. The pain; I pulled further and further away from myself until I was no longer in my body. My hunger for him was insatiable, ravenous. And anger welled that made the most violent act seem kind. The fixation. But the quest, yes, healing, yes, fulfillment; I pleaded for clemency, begged like a pauper for his touch.

"Though I may have desires," he confessed in a late night message that brought me to my knees, "I cannot lose perspective."

"The proper substance" he insisted. "This would bring inner peace which is a prelude to intimacy."

Intimate, have we not been? I was his and it was never dissuaded, never judged. Fantasy and reality had merged into a purgatory where I was trapped. Just beneath the concrete wall I could feel his presence. If this was as close as I could be all the strings in me snapped it was here I would stay. And remain in the state of my new freedom.

He grew exasperated of my insolence and finally sent me away; there were sadder, satin coats waiting. Beyond hope, I suppose, beyond healing. "Close this chapter;" he must have felt charitable that day or the strength of my delusions slammed into him with cataclysmic revelation. Or was it that he too felt trapped? The concrete wall will never be destroyed or reveal such secrets. They are only ours to guess and wonder.

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