“The dreams have started again,” Rachel said, sitting upright on the pristine sofa. Her hands clasped together, resting in her lap and she tried to hide her fidgeting, scraping one thumb nail over the other in repetitive fashion.
She looked straight ahead at the balding, middle-aged therapist who leaned back in his own chair with ease and comfort, holding his yellow legal pad. He looked at her from above the rims of his reader glasses that were pushed down to the tip of his nose.
“Which dreams?” he asked.
She blew out a long sigh before answering. “I’m wandering through the desert. There’s nothing in sight in any direction. I feel lost and panicked, like I’m trapped. Then, out of nowhere, these giant hands reach up from the earth like they’re going to grab me and pull me under.”
“Do they?” the therapist asked.
The scent of vanilla spice wafted through the room, probably intended to have a calming effect, but Rachel was too on-edge to get the full effect. She could hear the exaggerated thumping of her pulse in her ears.
“I don’t know. I wake before I’m buried alive.”
He uncrossed his legs and leaned forward in his chair, removing his glasses in the process. “Rachel, what is keeping you in this marriage?”
All the true reasons passed through her mind. None of those were the reason she gave. “He needs me.” It was rehearsed and mechanical.
He stared at her in awkward silence, imploring her to continue.
She felt her defenses go up as her arms folded across her. She began brushing the pad of her thumb across the skin of her bicep.
“If I leave him now, he’ll think it’s because of the accident.” Which was still preferable to the truth, she thought.
Her face reddened as her mind went to the night before, how Blake, her lover, had taken her, standing, her back pressed against the wall. It was true that her husband, John, could no longer walk, or do much of anything from the waist down anymore. But she’d never admit her affair with Blake began long before the accident.
She cared for the man, loved him, even. But over time, her love had faded into a muted, passionless obligation, a distant memory from what it once was. She longed for the intense desire she once felt for a man who hadn’t shown dominance or control in their relationship in years. Now, he couldn’t if he wanted to.
Then she had met Blake. It was a business trip, and she admired his take-charge approach, his powerful demeanor, and his conspicuous flirtation.
“I’m not one to put much stock in dreams, Rachel. I do think your subconscious is working hard to balance out all the things you suppress and don’t deal with head on,” the therapist explained. “I firmly believe your antianxiety medications would not be needed if you had an open and honest conversation.”
It was not just applicable in the current setting with Dr. Whitmore, but with her husband as well. She knew it, but she couldn’t bring herself to admit certain things to anyone.
She also knew the fantasy she lived in with Blake would not be half as seductive if it weren’t taboo, and that was what she wanted to protect the most.